Girls gone wild

Girls gone wild

The shock and awe rock of the Butcher Babies

By Chris Jay 01/27/2011

 Photo by Xavier Miranda

It was supposed to be an ordinary local rock night at the Bombay Bar and Grill, but for those unsuspecting souls present for that fateful Thursday last October, it was possibly the strangest show ever presented there. Though the set was a short 30 minutes, the band in question laid waste to the front room’s small stage, belting out offensive metal songs, engaging in even more offensive stage banter, chugging Belushi-style straight from Jack Daniel’s bottles, spraying beer on the crowd and stage diving. All this, plus the band’s two front women were clad in virtually nothing but fake blood and electrical tape. It was beyond Alice Cooper shock rock. It was more like shock and awe rock. It was Los Angeles, California’s Barbie dolls gone bad, the Butcher Babies.

If you imagine that the band’s background would be a sleazy tale of bad girls gone worse, you’d, thankfully, be wrong.

In fact, Heidi Shepherd, who, along with Carla Harvey, shares vocal duties, has an upbringing that’s about as prim and proper as could be. Born and raised in Utah in the Mormon faith, she’s quick to point out, “Not the Big Love version.”

Shepherd’s family had more of a big love for music. Despite that, she was first bitten by the sports bug, competing in track and field, a pursuit that took her all the way to the Junior Olympics, traveling as far as Russia in the process. It wasn’t until college that music came roaring back into her life in the form of radio. After hosting her college radio station’s morning show, she graduated with a degree in broadcasting, which led to a coveted morning radio gig in Salt Lake City. Her talent on the mic and her blonde bombshell looks soon brought the attention of Playboy Radio, and Shepherd eventually moved to Los Angeles.  After a year with Playboy Radio, she decided it was time to stop playing other people’s music and start making her own. She immediately joined an all-girl punk band that was short-lived but notable, as it was where she met future Butcher Baby and best friend, Carla Harvey.

With an equally diverse and educated background, Harvey, a former Detroit resident who headed West for rock ’n’ roll, has a résumé that boasts Playboy TV host right alongside a degree in mortuary science. When their first band imploded, they immediately began recruiting new members for a band that would be even heavier and more visually striking.

And striking it is. While the sound is reminiscent of Slipknot with dual female vocals (Shepherd handles the screaming while Harvey does more of the actual singing), their show is more Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie theatrics with near nudity and vulgar banter that pays homage to the late Wendy O. Williams. Proudly proclaiming, “We’re the band wives won’t let their husbands come see,” they also know that by being attractive and female they can get away with a lot.

“Honestly, yes,” admits the friendly and polite Shepherd. “We push the envelope and we know we can get away with more on stage than if we were guys. We can kind of smile afterward and you can see the bouncer or promoter, ‘Well, they’re just girls,’ but we know if a guy said or did the same things, they’d be in serious trouble. At the same time, when we’re off stage, we’re totally normal people. That sometimes is more shocking to people than the show.”

Though their show and music may be dark, the Butcher Babies’ future looks incredibly bright. They’ve secured a solid backing lineup with Henry Flury on guitar, Jason Klein on bass and Chris Warner on drums; and with a growing following, a debut record due this year and a spot on a major tour this summer, 2011 could be their year.   

Butcher Babies will perform at Bombay Bar & Grill on Thursday, Jan. 27.


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