BUTCHER BABIES' HEIDI SHEPHERD On Her Early Influences: 'I Wasn't Really Introduced To A Lot Of Females In Metal As A Kid'
August 1, 2023
In a new interview with Radioactive MikeZ, host of the 96.7 KCAL-FM program "Wired In The Empire", BUTCHER BABIES co-vocalist Heidi Shepherd was asked if she was influenced by other female extreme metal singers when she first started getting into music. She responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I was more into like FLYLEAF and EVANESCENCE and stuff. But then when I heard the screaming, I was more of like a fan of males in metal because that's what I had grown up with. I had seen that. So I grew up in kind of like KORN and SLIPKNOT and LIMP BIZKIT. So I wasn't really driven by like other females in metal. But granted, my band is named after the first female to really grace this beautiful genre, which is Wendy O. Williams [of PLASMATICS]. And she had the song 'Butcher Baby'. But I didn't actually know about her as a kid either. I found out about her as an adult and really fell in love with and was inspired by the person that she was, standing up against the patriarchy of just, like, women are supposed to sound a way, women are supposed to be this way, women are supposed to dress and sound a certain way. And to me, Wendy went out there and she just defied all odds with the utmost power, which is actually the attire the BUTCHER BABIES first started with, which was the nipple tape and everything was what Wendy O. wore. So I would say that, throwing it back to that, but I wasn't even, I wasn't really introduced to a lot of females in metal as a kid — unfortunately."
Five years ago, Heidi said that she has no regrets about the period in BUTCHER BABIES' history when she and co-vocalist Carla Harvey used to perform topless with tape over their nipples, explaining that it was meant as an ode to Wendy O. Williams, who had a song called "Butcher Baby".
While Shepherd and Harvey's look earned them plenty of attention, they were labeled a gimmick by some metal fans, with purists accusing the women of oversexualizing themselves in order to gain popularity.
Asked in an interview with the "Talk Toomey" podcast if she looked back on the nipple-tape look as a good idea or a bad idea, Heidi responded: "I think it was a good idea. It was something that people were, like, 'What?' We did in our band previous to BUTCHER BABIES too, so it wasn't something new to us."
She continued: "It's an interesting question, because I think that, in a lot of ways, it definitely hurt how we've grown, but I also think that it was a message that we stood for. The people who didn't get it and it got lost in translation, well, now they know. But in Europe, it seems like more people understood, which kind of makes sense. But it seems like in the U.S., I'm, like, did people forget about [Wendy]? [Laughs] Does the metal community not understand this? But I don't think that it was a bad idea. I think it was something that I did and I'm proud of. I don't really hold any regrets. I think that in life in general, these situations build to the bigger picture, and I think that having had that past and where we are now, it's kind of a cool evolution of the band too. It's unique. We went from being these young girls, bouncing around in nipple tape, screaming hateful things into microphones, to women, almost a decade later, grown up in the industry, helped with this women's movement, if you will. And I think that that sort of thing helped me become the woman I am today."
Heidi said that the changes in BUTCHER BABIES' visual appearance in recent years happened naturally as the band toured around the world playing to thousands of impressionable fans.
"It's really interesting, because when we realized that young girls were looking up to us and we had a responsibility of being a positive role model, it really changed my life for the better too; I started living my life more positively," she said. "And I think you can see that in the evolution of our look; you can hear it in the evolution of our music. So, in that sense, I'm fucking proud of it."
Heidi also reiterated that BUTCHER BABIES' early image wasn't meant as a clever marketing ploy designed to ensure maximum exposure. "That was not ever anything that ever went through my mind: 'Oh, this will help us get attention.' Because I was in a band for a year prior to that, that I did that," she explained. "I didn't think that it would ever end up here. I didn't think that it would ever amount to anything. I just thought we were gonna have some fun playing some original music with our friends along the Sunset Strip, 'cause that's what we did before. The only difference was, before, it was five girls and [we were playing] covers. And that's the reason we created BUTCHER BABIES — to do original stuff."
Heidi's comments echoed those made by Carla, who told Metal Underground in a 2016 interview that the band's nipple-tape look "was completely blown out of proportion. When we first started this band, we didn't do it to go out there and strut around on stage like Playboy models; we did it as kind of a 'fuck you' to the cookie-cutter music industry," she explained. "We were paying tribute to a woman in metal that we respected, Wendy O. Williams. And that was it. And the show has never been sexual — ever."
BUTCHER BABIES released a double album "Eye For An Eye..." and "…'Til The World's Blind", on July 7. The double album celebrates the tenth anniversary of BUTCHER BABIES' critically acclaimed debut, "Goliath", released on July 9, 2013 via Century Media Records.
BUTCHER BABIES' previous album, 2017's "Lilith" was produced by Steve Evetts (THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, SEPULTURA, SUICIDE SILENCE) and marked the band's recording debut with drummer Chase Brickenden, who replaced Chris Warner in 2016.
In July 2019, longtime BUTCHER BABIES bassist Jason Klein announced his departure from the band. He has since been replaced by Ricky Bonazza.
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