Butcher Babies took their name from a Wendy O Williams song and they have her free spirited nature too. They are in effect a metal band with the core ethics of punk pioneers. They are true boundary breakers who defy the labelling nature we give acts today, pigeon holing them into this genre or that. Here vocalists Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd talk about their style and image and what has influenced their look the most.
You both have a very memorable style. What are your earliest memories of experimenting with a more alternative look?
Carla: “I remember being at middle school and I was really into The Cure and Guns N Roses and I loved the whole goth look back in the day. The white face paint and heavy black eye make up. I was gutted because my colouring doesn’t go with that look but I adopted the dark black racoon eyes, I love that look. I was a huge comic book fan back in the day and loved the character Death from the Sandman series. She was a very gothic looking girl. Also the character Dawn in the Dawn comic book. Death had a little Ankh on her face and I was totally influenced by that. I tried to do that when I was a kid all the time.”
Heidi: “I was also in middle school when I started doing the alternative look but I started dressing myself when I was in elementary school and my mom was pretty cool about it. She let me dress myself and I would always get myself up and get myself ready for school. Their was a lady neighbour who told my mom she should be ashamed because I dress like an orphan. My Mom was like I let her do what she wants so get off my back. Looking back I think it’s pretty cool that she let me express myself through fashion at a very young age. At junior high, that was with the skater kids and the metal kids, when they still went together, that’s when I started wearing the heavy eye liner. One thing that stands out to me as probably the funniest thing that I did to express my fashion was I used to use Crayola markers to colour my hair in streaks. There’s a picture of me with my sisters where they’re dressed all cute and there’s me wearing big black jincos a huge orange jacket and my hair crimped and coloured orange and really dark eye make up. I have some fond memories of the silliness of the way that I dressed.”
With make up what products do you use and do you stick with the same products or experiment with new ones?
Carla: “I tend to stick with the same products over and over again. I always buy new things then end up going back to the same old same old that I always use. I’m a huge fan of Urban Decay and have used their foundation pretty much exclusively for the last few years. I use a lot of Urban Decay eye shadows as well. They’re my favourite make up brand. I’ve recently gotten into trying out make up by a company called Morphe and they do some awesome eye shadow pallets. I love bright lip stick but it’s hard to wear on stage because I come off looking like The Joker afterwards. I do like experimenting with bright lip stick. Sugar Pill have this purple one I’m obsessed with right now.”
Heidi: “I like to experiment with different things. I prefer really thick foundation. I have a lot of freckles and discolouration in my skin so I need a highly pigmented foundation. I’ve recently found a Giorgio Armani foundation that covers everything up so well. I use a camouflage cream from Dermacolor and there’s one place in LA where you can get it. It’s one specific colour. With eye shadow I just recently started diving in to using different colours rather than just a basic black smoky eye. I’m trying different colours now and I think it’s fun. Carla and I will sit in the back of the bus and I’ll pull out all my different pallets. I’m so excited glitter is back in trend with make up because it was like that when I was at high school and it’s great that I can add it in to my make up routine. With lip stick I tend to just stick to a nude colour. When I had red hair I tried red and it just doesn’t suit my face very well. I can’t do the black like I did when I was a kid. It looks so bizarre on my face so I stick to the nudes.”
What’s your favourite ever make up item?
Carla: “Under eye concealer. It’s my favourite thing. I’ve always had dark circles under my eyes because I have dark skin. So the one thig I put on every single day before I go out and do anything is under eye concealer. In fact most days that’s all I wear.”
Heidi: “Well my eyebrows are blond and so I look like Billy Corgan if I don’t draw them on so I’d say eyebrow stuff.”
Moving on to hair. How do you look after your hair given the punishment it takes on stage with all the hair whips and stuff. And what products do you use to keep it in good condition?
Carla: “Our hair changes all the time. I have super thick curly hair that I have to get the Brazilian Blowout for. So I chemically straighten it every few months because if I don’t it’s completely unmanageable. I’ve been doing dreads for a year almost now and it’s probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life. You literally don’t have to do anything and I highly recommend them if you’re lazy… haha. For me the Brazilian Blowout, a super deep conditioner and on the road dry shampoo. I use the one for brunettes because it doesn’t leave a white residue.”
Heidi: “When my hair was red I had to use a pigmented shampoo and conditioner because red washes out so fast. So I would find myself only washing my hair about once a week and having to use that type of shampoo and conditioner. Now I still wash it once a week because it’s really difficult to dry all this hair. My hair is actually really short and it doesn’t really grow so I put in extensions so there’s nothing holding me back about changing up all the colours. Now I have black and red and blond but it’s not my real hair so if I feel like getting wild I can dye it.”
Where do you source your clothes from for on stage?
Carla: “All over the place. We used to use a lot of Black Milk leggings and their cat suits. A lot of our stuff is custom made. We work with Foxblood Clothing, Peep Show clothing and Kelly Gets Shredded. We take clothing and customise it. Heidi’s great at customising stuff too. She’s been customising stuff for the boys. I love vintage shopping and for a while all the dresses that I wore to awards shows were all vintage finds.”
Heidi: “There isn’t one specific place that I get my stuff. If it looks pretty cool I’ll give it a whirl. I like to mix a lot of things that shouldn’t be mixed together. Different patterns and different fabrics. Having a t-shirt on under a corset, that kind of stuff on and off stage. My style on stage really reflects who I am off stage too. Except on tour, on tour it’s a hundred per cent leggings and a sweat shirt. It’s real lazy on tour.”
As you get older and time marches on are you going to stay bad ass until your last moment?
Carla: “I don’t see myself changing. I was hanging out with my grandma recently and she’s just as awesome as she ever was with a cute hair style and cute clothes, so I don’t see any reason to change. I think I could totally see myself at 90 rocking the same blue dreads down to my butt. I’ve been wearing motor cycle boots since I was eight literally every day of my life so I can’t imagine ever changing that either. I think I’m going to stay the way I am.
Heidi: “I think as people get older their version of what bad ass is gets different. I thought I was a bad ass in junior high and I was. Competing in the junior Olympics, I was a bad ass then. My life has changed now and I dress and act different, I’ve grown in to a woman and I continue to be a bad ass whooping my hair back and forth. I feel that when I get older things are going to change, they’re going to change drastically but whatever you do just own it. There’s always an ounce of bad ass in everybody.”