Heidi Shepherd says 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 PLASMATICS frontwoman 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 a new interview with the "Talk Toomey" podcast if she looks back on the nipple-tape look as a good idea or a bad idea, Heidi responded (hear audio below): "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 latest comments echo 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' third studio album, "Lilith", came out in October via Century Media Records. The follow-up to 2015's "Take It Like A Man" was produced by Steve Evetts (THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, SEPULTURA, SUICIDE SILENCE) and marks the band's recording debut with new drummer, Chase Brickenden, who replaced Chris Warner in 2016.