Whether you're a man or a woman, chances are you've heard the phrases 'man up,' 'be a man' or 'take it like a man' at one time or another. We all have. Butcher Babies took that old school goading and transformed it into the inspiration at the core of their second full-length album, Take It Like A Man on Century Media Records.
"We all come from different places and backgrounds, but every member of this band had to fight to be the person he or she is today," affirms co-vocalist Carla Harvey. "That's the whole basis for the record. It's not a gender thing. It's the inner strength you have to find in order to pull your boots up and keep moving forward, whatever the situation may be."
The group - Harvey, Heidi Shepherd [co-vocals], Jason Klein [bass], Henry Flury [guitar], and Chris Warner [drums] - literally never stop. For the unfamiliar, Butcher Babies rose up out of the Los Angeles scene by throwing down a blood-soaked live show rife with the fierce theatricality heavy metal had been missing for quite some time. Their 2013 debut, Goliath, landed at #3 on Billboard's Heatseekers Chart, while the quintet charged across North America. Night after night, they delivered aggressively unforgettable performances alongside the likes of Marilyn Manson, Danzig, and In This Moment and on the Rockstar Mayhem Festival with Rob Zombie and Five Finger Death Punch.
Following up this whirlwind of touring, they hunkered down at a Hollywood Hills studio with producer Logan Mader [Gojira, Fear Factory] to cut what would become Take It Like a Man in November 2014. The structured 10am-6pm daily sessions allowed the group to amplify their attack exponentially.
"Goliath was written over a lifetime," says Shepherd. "We went out to prove something. However, it wasn't as heavy and thrash-y as we knew we could be. We wanted to embrace that side. We'd been touring for almost four years straight, and we saw what the fans liked. This is more us."
While penning lyrics, Shepherd and Harvey also opened up like never before. Blatant, brutal, and (sometimes) belligerent honesty was the only rule.
"You have to dig to get that emotion out," sighs Harvey. "Metal heads can sense authenticity. They know when you're real. Everything we write comes straight from the heart and our own experiences. It's not cookie cutter bullshit."
"Many times, Carla and I would be going over ideas together and be on the verge of screaming or crying as we literally extracted feelings we'd suppressed from childhood," admits Shepherd. "There were a couple of songs that came from really dark places in our respective pasts. We turned those negatives into positives."
As a result of that cathartic process, the first single "Never Go Back" pairs a bruising riff with the girls' haunting and hypnotic harmonies as a darkly catchy refrain takes flight.
"It's written for anybody who has had that moment in their lives where they feel like, 'I've been stuck in this place, and I'm finally free of it. I'm never going back!'" declares Shepherd. "You could base it on a relationship, but it could be any bad situation in life you're finally free of."
"Gravemaker" begins with an ominous hum before slipping into polyrhythmic assault and battery fueled by the girls' growls. "That's an important one," explains Shepherd. "You go on tour and kids will look up to you like you're a god. On the inside, you think, 'We aren't those people. We have flaws. We have things that will ruin others.' It reminds everyone we're normal."
Elsewhere a delicate clean guitar opens up "Thrown Away," simultaneously showing Butcher Babies at their most vulnerable and vibrant. "It's beautiful," Harvey goes on. "In this lifestyle, you go from city to city like a ghost. You walk through these towns, play shows, make people happy for a small period of time, and you leave like a ghost again. Your whole family is at home, and you're out on the road. There are moments at night when you feel completely disenchanted and lost."
At the same time, they find empowerment in the music, literally confronting abandonment and abuse on the searing "Dead Man Walking." It also ignites the titular line - Take It Like a Man - like an atom bomb. "The lyrical content is so personal for us in different ways, but it's similar," says Shepherd. "Carla's dealt with abandonment from her father, and I dealt with abuse from mine. It's about how that changed the course of both of our lives. It's extremely emotional to put ourselves back into those suppressed memories."
That openness has already turned countless fans into believers. Take It Like a Man espouses an inspiring final word. "We want to coerce feeling," Shepherd leaves off. "If you're a musician who does that, you've succeeded. We just want to inspire anyone who listens to us - and melt their faces off."
Heidi Shepherd - vocals Carla Harvey - vocals Henry Flury - guitar Jason Klein - bass Chrissy Warner - drums