Temperatures aren’t the only thing heating up the summer. The Butcher Babies are touring in support of their third studio album Lilith, which dropped last October.
Not only is the quintet co-headlining the U.S. run with Nonpoint on the “Kings and Queens Tour,” they’re also tearing through the rock festival circuit. On the band’s recent stop at Carolina Rebellion AXS.com chatted with two of the Butcher Babies, before catching their intense set.
For nearly a decade, the L.A.-based band has delivered its signature, explosive energy to live audiences. Carolina Rebellion was no exception, as die-hard and newer fans, alike, reveled in the band’s brutal riffs, aggressive licks, and striking melodies. We talked with vocalists Heidi Sheperd and Carla Harvey about the band's latest album, resurgence, and more, in our interview below.
AXS: Lilith dropped late last year and it seems the band has come into its own on it. What was different about the writing process?
Carla Harvey: It was different this time because we actually had time to spend. We took a year off from touring to write and record and it was very liberating. Before we had written in stolen moments on the road or in very tight time schedules, so to have that time to write and then scrap something, rehash something and really hone what we were doing was awesome. We got to work with Steve Evetts who was an incredible producer, who likes it raw as well, so we really got a chance to dig in. We write together, by the way.
Heidi Sheperd: When we do an album, like [Carla] said, we write [as] the five of us. It’s never two or three people that take everything over. It’s really important for us to have that time, to sit in a room together and play through every single song. Something that was different about this album is we took a year and a half off and…. we knew every single song like the back of our hands before went in and recorded it. Not a lot of bands really do that anymore – they sit at a computer and they hash it out on the computer, so that was something really unique and fun for us. We’re excited to do that again for our next album; but we got to go in with 24 songs and sat down with our producer, we played all 24 songs and we picked the ones that represented where we are in the moment in our career. We’re very proud of this album. We explored so many different things, our harmonies for instance. We never really did vocal harmonies with our clean vocals. We’ve always screamed in harmony, that’s easy – but we sat back and we said, “We have two vocalists, let’s really hone in on what we can do with two vocalists.” And you can hear those beautiful harmonies on this album, and I think that’s what makes it stand out quite a bit.
AXS: With the more pronounced clean vocals, was that an intention when you went into the album?
CH: People forget that Goliath (2013) has a ton of beautiful singing on it, and Take it Like a Man (2015) not so much…. but this time we brought in these harmonies, where before we’d maybe do an octave difference and do the same pattern – [here] we have these really complex harmonies that we worked very hard on.
HS: That was something that we went into like, “Lets’ do that.” The more and more we explored it, the more and more we really loved it. So you can hear it maybe a little bit more on [Lilith]. And I think we’ll stick with doing stuff like that but we’re always experimenting, doing different stuff. I think that that’s what sets us apart is we’re really diverse in what we do. And I think that our fan base is really great because they allow us to expand and explore. In fact, they embrace it.
AXS: If someone is new to Butcher Babies, which song from Lilith would you play for them and why?
CH: The title track is a great introduction to Butcher Babies because it kind of encompasses everything that we are. There’s singing, there are both of our types of screaming and everything that we do, and there’s a beautiful groove to it.
HS: It was the first song that we released off the album I think for that reason – to be like, “This is what you’re going to get.”
AXS: When Chase (Brickenden) took over on drums how did that change the direction or dynamic of the band?
CH: Chase is a very schooled musician and he has a jazz background. It really opened up our eyes and our vision to do different things. You can definitely hear it on the album, we’ve just expanded our horizons which is always good. We’ve been a band for nine years so we needed a little bit of freshness sprinkled on it. He was very eager to write and record with us and it was a huge part of Lilith, and we’re very lucky. Chase was our buddy and he was doing us a solid by coming into the band, and it ended up being the best thing that could happen to us because he is a stellar musician.
HS: He brought this new energy to us. I think you hear it not just in the music but in the lyrics and everything on that album. It’s a rebirth of Butcher Babies. There’s been this wave of positivity that has been brought over this band that was so much needed.
AXS: When you’re on stage, it’s a force to be reckoned with! How do you channel that energy?
HS: It’s something that’s been natural to us. I’ve never gotten on stage and had to fake it.
CH: Heidi and I were in a cover band before and we performed exactly the same way. There’s never been a time when [she] or I didn’t have that energy. In fact, that’s why we became such close friends because we both shared this passion for music, especially metal. And it showed in our performances. I think that when we get up there, we’re still just the kids that loved metal and wanted to be in the pit.
HS: Another thing is our band, we’re all best friends and we all inspire each other. Before we get on stage, we all look at each other and we know there’s fire, and it’s happening. It’s a unique exchange of energy, we’re very lucky to have it.
Keep it here on AXS.com for more musician interviews and coverage from Carolina Rebellion 2018.