When you’re ripping up rule books, wearing nipple tape and not much else in promos, and creating music with a controversial edge, you’ve always got a mountain the size of Everest to climb in terms of coming out of the closet that is the underground and embracing the commercial world. Even more so when you’re one of two female vocalists in a thrash-influenced groove-tinged metalcore band called Butcher Babies, where clean and harsh vocals meld into one and the vocal assault is a visceral, guttural, and daring attack that confronts you face on like Deadpool in a back alley of targets rather than a do-gooder sticking to the safe bet of the main road. You’ve got to have elephant-sized balls, much like they alluded to in the title of their sophomore record, ‘Take It Like A Man.’ For one-half of the Butcher Babies vocal assault team – and one of the creative masterminds behind the bands striking visual output – Carla Harvey, it’s less about being a woman who screams and more about being a woman in general: “I think there’s a stigma with us just being woman period, and there’s obviously a stigma with adding clean vocals to typical metal. I think that so many bands are mixing it up nowadays, and we’ve never really cared what other people think because if you care and put yourself in the public eye, you’ll be miserable for every day of your life. We just do what we do, we don’t worry what people are going to think, especially on this third album, we felt a lot of freedom to do what we wanted to do.”
When she talks about that illusive third album, she’s of course talking about ‘Lilith’, their upcoming – if you hadn’t caught it yet – third album, which drops into your ears with a bang on the 10th November. With a stripped back sound, their thrash-infused groove-laden metalcore matches the ferocity they light themselves up with in the live arena, bringing an edgy raw sound back to their sound: ““I think that finally, with our third album, with the producer that we chose, we kind of are like ‘wow, this is what we’ve been waiting for, this is who we are’ and I think the sound of the album itself had a lot to do with that. We worked with Steve Evetts who is an incredible producer but he’s also a very old school guy who likes a more raw sound; no auto-tune, no pitch correcting, no fake guitars, no fake drums, none of that, so we finally captured that live raw sound that we’re known for when you come to a Butcher Babies show.”
Along with a rawer sound, they’ve been frying their musical steak a little rarer than usual, adding a level of maturity to their songwriting craft that comes off of the back of two albums’ worth of relentless touring, the kind of maturity that changes the very nature of the music you hear, the very way it sounds as it aurally enters your mind, and that’s one of the most important factors for Carla in releasing ‘Lilith’: “I think if you haven’t matured and involved in a band in seven or eight years, you should probably quit what you’re doing, right? We’ve all grown as musicians and as people, so obviously there’s going to be a change in our music, and I think with this third album too, we felt more freedom to be who we are, to make it authentically us, no matter what the repercussions of that are. We all come from such different backgrounds of musical taste and you can really hear that on this album, and we’re really proud of that.” Arriving at this point of freedom, at this point of being able to wake up every morning and be proud of the record you’ve slaved over for a year, hasn’t been the easiest climb that’s ever happened, and it involved the band taking a creative hiatus, where they spent a year working on the many intricacies that envelop ‘Lilith’ as a whole: “there’s such an emotional rollercoaster involved with it, we were so nervous about this album, there was so much stress with writing it, but luckily we had a year to put together an album that we loved, and we are in love with it, and obviously you’re always a bundle of nerves waiting to see what other people think about it, but at the end of the day I think if you love your album, then that’s all you can do. So far the response has been great so we’re just really excited at this point.”
Their previous records, 2013’s Goliath and 2015’s Take It Like A Man, were individual slabs of their groovy metalcore, both acting now as conduits to a higher sphere of musical achievement. Whilst they set the standard of what to expect from the Butcher Babies, they were merely test pressings for what Lilith represents, for what it means, for what it stands for. Embodying all that is the ethos of Butcher Babies, everything that constitutes them as a band, is interwoven intricately into the fabric make-up of Lilith, none more so than the album’s first single, and title track: ““We always like to put out a street track before we put out a more commercial track, which is Headspin, and Lilith, I think pretty much embodies what Butcher Babies is, it really runs the gamut in the song itself, from all the kinds of screams that we do, to the singing that we do. It’s a very kind of sexy song, it grooves, it’s the perfect all-encompassing Butcher Babies song on the whole record, and that’s the reason why it’s the title track as well.”
Whilst their sound may now finally be all-encompassing, they’re still learning the ways of the warrior when treading the path of the music industry, and whilst their sophomore effort saw them invade the top 100 in the US, they’re fully aware of the struggles and hardships a band, let alone a heavy metal band, suffer from and undergo every single day. They understand the nature of the digital era, and the reincarnated desire and passion for materialistic products, for the collector’s items, for the things only true fans could possibly want. Pre-ordering Lilith isn’t your straight forward purchase, they’ve put up a bunch of bundles that’ll have you phoning a friend for the final answer on which one to get, sweating over it more than that middle-aged debt-riddled man on the million pound question of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?: “We’ve always been a very hands-on band, and we’ve always wanted to do things a little bit different, and a little bit more special, especially in this day and age you know, the music industry is so different, and I think you almost have to offer special items up for people. I’m an artist, I’m an illustrator, and I think it’s been really cool to illustrate the lyric book, I always loved lyric books when I was a kid, when I loved a band I brought everything they put ut, and we wanted to bring it back to that as well, where you have these very exclusive fan items. The lyric book is very special though as it’s illustrated by me, and we have necklaces that are hand made by Heidi, and we’re even doing the shipping for all these pre-orders, we’re doing everything for ourselves, that’s how much control we like to have over our things.” Control, it seems, is a key factor in the way in which the Butcher Babies ship sails and avoids the perils of sinking, as Carla navigates questions of the level of control a band should or shouldn’t have with ease, answering with a view that is as refreshing as an iced-cold lemonade on a summers day: “I find a lot of bands do themselves a disservice by letting their record label to dictate their career, a lot of people in bands just aren’t into the self-promotion, and doing things on their own, they want to show up at a video shoot and be told what to do, they just want to write their music and play their shows, which is fine, that’s fine, but we are not those kind of people, we like to be very hands on and we have our best interest in everything we do – every music video that you see that we put out, we have written the treatment for, set designs, done everything for it, and I just feel like when you’re that involved in your own business, everything means more to you.” Carla understands the dystopic nature of the music industry within the crux of the digital era, and is dead-set on surviving at any cost, no matter what sacrifices need to be made or how creative they need to get in order to be one step ahead of everyone else: “To survive as a band these days, you almost have to be like your own merch company as well, just to survive and be able to write music because you don’t make money from your music anymore like you used to in the past, it’s just a different time.”
With so much control over a record, and so much time spent, and so much emotion invested, and all of the creativity the world could possibly muster up channelled into Lilith, one must wonder if there’s ever a moment where doubt creeps into their minds and plays a game of cat-and-mouse. Can a band who call themselves the Butcher Babies, with two screaming vocalists, really be the real deal? Well, other than letting their music slay your soul with a sound few bands are daring to develop, Carla believes that the doubt stays away through their confidence in themselves, and the way they’ve been true to themselves since day one: “when we started off, and people were saying, ‘oh, these girls, they’re not real metal heads blah blah blah’ yet everything we’ve ever done has been very honest and people latched onto the honesty of the things that we do, and how much we love what we do, and how much we get into it, and that’s made it so people understand we’re deadly serious, and that’s what Lilith as a record stands for.’
Lilith is out on the 10th November via Century Media Records.