Something that I enjoy doing here at Dark Knight News is bringing our readers interviews with people that you may not normally see on websites focused mainly on the comic book realm. The reasoning behind this is that a deep love for all things four-colored extends to all types of people and they don’t always get the opportunity to talk about it.
A prime example of this is the person that I most recently had the privilege of interviewing: Carla Harvey. Most folks know her as one of the frontwomen for the metal band known as Butcher Babies and, believe me, I did ask her questions regarding music. As a fan, how could I not?
But what not everyone may know is that she’s a lifelong lover of comics and has even had the good fortune of being involved in the industry, having collaborated with Anthony Winn on Butcher Babies comics as well as Soul Sucka, a project that she put much passion into. Not only that, she takes commissions, putting her own spin on popular characters via her unique illustrations and her first novel, Death & Other Dances, just celebrated its second birthday (they grow up so fast!).
Below you will find a transcription of our recent conversation, which had to be one of the best interviews that I’ve ever conducted. It’s great to talk to someone that’s also a fan of things that interest me and having a more conversational aspect to things really makes for the best type of interview you could ask for. It doesn’t always happen, so when it does, you’re left with an end product that is not only rewarding for you, but the reader as well.
We also had time for a “lightning round” of sorts that saw me ask Carla what some of her favorite things are, so be sure to stick around for that.
DKN: How has the summer been treating you? I heard that you and the band have been taking some time off to write new material and have played a few festivals. It must have been awesome to have been on the same bill as Rammstein.
Carla Harvey: Yeah, it’s been pretty awesome. We’ve been on the road for about four years straight and so we kind of needed a break. We’d go to certain towns and people would say, “I’ve seen you five times this year.” And so when that starts happening, obviously people are still coming to the shows, which is great, but we thought maybe it was time to take a bit of a breather, not only for the fans, but for ourselves. We needed to come home to reconnect with our families and our home life and relax a little bit.
We also are writing our new album while we’re home – album number three – which we are going to finish up in the fall and be released spring of next year. It’s perfect to spend time at home with people that we love and catch up on our other hobbies and also get to concentrate on a great third album.
DKN: I saw you at St. Andrew’s Hall back in March opening for Cradle of Filth and I honestly thought you had one of the best live shows I’ve seen.
CH: Oh, thank you! Of course, St. Andrew’s Hall is special for me because I’m from Detroit, I grew up there. I used to spend every Friday night of my youth at St. Andrew’s Hall for the club there. I don’t remember what it was called back in the day, but I would dance all night long at The Shelter and go see the big show upstairs. So it was a big part of my youth, so to be able to play there was pretty cool.
DKN: I know you might be sworn to secrecy, but can you give us any hints as to what direction the new album will go? Take It Like A Man was a bit thrashier than Goliath, so I’m interested to hear what your third LP will sound like.
CH: Well, I think that we will always maintain that thrash metal sound we started with. We kind of got a bit more melodic on Goliath and went back to our original thrashier sound on Take It Like A Man. I think we’ll always remain very thrashy, very heavy, but at the same time, we do want to try new things.
We’ve listened to a lot of ‘90s stuff recently: PJ Harvey, Fiona Apple, Poe, stuff like that. We’d like to incorporate a little bit of that kind of sound. I just want to branch out and try some different things, but of course, always remain true to who we are. That’s the important thing, when you try new things to remain being yourself at the same time. Not every artist gets to pull that off. Because my band, each member has a different background they come from, we’ve always been able to mix styles, so I’m excited to see what we come up with.
DKN: As am I. To me, Butcher Babies have a very authentic feel along with an energy and intensity comparable to Slipknot. Are the lyrics based on the personal experiences of you and Heidi [Shepherd, the band’s other vocalist] or do you aim to give a voice to those who aren’t always able to speak for themselves?
CH: Well, both because the experience we had growing up, we were those kids. I think that’s what makes our lyrics so special [is] that we have the experience of being the disenfranchised kid in the front row of metal shows. So everything that we write is very honest and very visceral and I think that’s why the kids can connect to it.
When we first started touring, we toured with one person in particular that I won’t name, of course, that we considered a false idol because they would sing about things that they pretended to be very passionate about but they haven’t been through themselves. And I think it’s important that if you’re going to be the voice for someone you should have felt those things as well. You should have been through that situation. Then you can be the person that says, “You can get through this moment. You can do it.” Otherwise, you’re being a false idol and that’s something we are never going to do.
DKN: I like how the lyrics have a personal feel, but I think a lot of it is very therapeutic regardless of what gender you are.
CH: Oh, of course. We don’t do things that are gender-based or whatever. Peoples’ emotions are the same whether you’re male or female. The way that we write, I believe anyone can connect to it. Any age group, male or female, any race can connect to what we’re saying because there’s really only seven stories that we all go through in our lives and it’s just how you relate to songs and what’s going on with you.
DKN: Do you find it more creatively liberating to work on something like Soul Sucka as opposed to a previously existing franchise? Conversely, if you could work on any superhero title, which would it be?
CH: Gosh, what superhero title would I work on? That’s what I’ll concentrate on first because there’s so many great ones. I really love the stuff that Dark Horse is doing right now. I love all their stuff. I think because my favorite characters of all time have always been The Hulk and She-Hulk, I would like to do something for that.
But, of course, I think that when it comes to doing something for an already existing franchise or writing something yourself, it’s easier to write something that already exists because the mythology’s already there, the origin’s already there. You can just come up with a new storyline. But when you are creating your own character, you really have to dig in and do character studies and come up with everything about your character before you start writing so you know where it’s going to go. There’s so many things to think about and I think it’s so special to take something from scratch and make it your own. That’s true art; from the ground up, creating a character, creating the character sketches, creating the synopsis, creating different episodes and then scratching it all and doing it over again. And it’s such a sense of fulfillment when you come up with a great storyline and are able to pull it all together. So I think that’s definitely way more fun.
DKN: Which character has been your most commissioned to draw?
CH: Do you even have to ask me that? I bet you know who it is. (Laughs) And it’s funny because it’s a character that I’m not really that fond of, but I get asked to draw Harley Quinn on a daily basis. I love drawing beautiful females, so I will never not do it. I love that her character has been adapted so many times and she’s got so many different looks. But I’ve just never been crazy about the character for a variety of reasons. There’s so many other female characters that are better and I wish girls would branch out and read something a bit different rather than just saying, “Oh, I love Harley Quinn. I love Harley Quinn. I don’t know anything about comics, but I just love Harley Quinn. She’s the greatest.” There’s so many characters that are much cooler than she is.
DKN: The funny thing is that I’ve been a Joker fan for my whole life. He’s my favorite supervillain and I didn’t really like Harley Quinn until a few years ago because I used to just see her as The Joker’s henchgirl. She used to get walked on a lot, but when Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner started doing the solo series, she broke out and became her own woman. Now, she’s distanced herself from The Joker and they gave her a full supporting cast, that’s actually what got me into her. I even got to interview Jimmy earlier this year and I was like, “Your book is what made me fall in love with the character,” and he thought it was the best compliment.
CH: And I do agree that she definitely has her own voice now. She’s not just the love bit girl, which is great, but I’m not really that fond of her. I don’t know what it is. I just never got into it. She needs to be a brunette, that’s why. I’ve always been partial to brunettes.
DKN: Yeah, for me it’s brunettes or redheads, mostly, but that’s neither here nor there. We all have those undefined reasons we can’t describe as to why we like or don’t like a character.
CH: And I think it’s totally fine. I’m not the kind of person to argue with someone. People get so passionate, especially about comics, arguing about characters. You can like what you want just like music. This is my thing, that’s your thing.
I’m always into the old school stuff, too, whether it’s old school thrash metal or old school comics. I’m still a huge fan of Vampirella and all these things that I grew up on rather than the new stuff, which I think is completely normal as well; to be in love with the things that you look back growing up and kind of having a resentment toward the new stuff. (Laughs)
DKN: A few months ago, I was on a livestreaming show and we were discussing X-Men and I actually fan casted you as Dazzler.
CH: Oh, cool!
DKN: But the other guys said you’re a better fit for Psylocke. If you could play any character in the X-Men Universe, which would you choose? Also, I should ask which Batman character you see yourself as since this site is called Dark Knight News.
CH: I definitely feel like I’d be a better Psylocke. I think she’s so hot. There’s also another X-Men character and I saw a drawing of her and I thought, “Oh my god, that does look exactly like me.” I forget who it was right now. [Editor’s note: She remembered once we stopped recording, so it’s possible this space may be updated.]
As for the Batman character, I think I’m definitely probably a Catwoman kind of chick; the costume, everything. What do you think?
DKN: Catwoman’s always a good choice. She’s probably been my favorite female character in all of fiction since I was like two years old.
CH: My favorite Catwoman ever was Michelle Pfeiffer. That’s the one that I grew up on and she was just so hot as that character as far as movies go. It’s funny because I always say that I’m not a huge Batman fan and then I think back to some of my favorite graphic novels and they’re all Batman.
DKN: There are some writers who say they’re more so attracted to writing for him because of his villains.
CH: Yes, he definitely has great villains. The graphic novels are the best that I’ve ever read, but I never considered myself a heavy duty Batman fan.
Favorite Batman movie: Batman Returns just because of nostalgia purposes.
Favorite Butcher Babies song: You know, “The Butcher” is my favorite.
Favorite Guns N’ Roses song: I have a tie between “Estranged” and “Coma.”
Favorite food: I love chicken shawarma. Growing up in Detroit, there’s so much there. I love it. It’s my favorite.
Favorite TV show: I don’t know; I never watch TV. I always read. I know that sounds terrible, but I’m not trying to sound pompous.
Bert or Ernie: Ernie.
Favorite pizza topping: Barbecued chicken. I love jalapenos, chicken, and pineapples on pizza. That’s my dream pizza.
Favorite video game: I don’t play video games anymore. I haven’t in years. But when I was a kid it was Legend of Zelda.
Least favorite thing to shop for: Groceries.
When in Detroit, Dr. K or Dr. Faygo: Faygo. My fans, when I go to the Detroit area, always bring my two favorite Detroit things, which are Better Made red hot chips and red pop from Faygo.