It’s weird that in 2015, rock bands still encounter prejudice because they have female members. From early groundwork laid by rock legends Janis Joplin, Heart, The Runaways, The Slits, Girlschool and Doro Pesch, through ‘90s game-changers like Babes In Toyland, Lunachicks, L7 and Hole, to all-time-classic scene leaders featuring women (Electric Wizard, Bolt Thrower, Arch Enemy, White Zombie, how long have you got?), it’s clear that externality of genitalia has no bearing on the greatness of a band. So it was depressing to hear Butcher Babies singer Heidi Shepherd this week talking about the struggle her band has faced due to bad old-fashioned sexism – although a positive corollary is that this warped snobbery made the band all the more determined to succeed.
“It’s been an uphill battle, but it’s also a double-edged sword,” Heidi told Metal Wani, instantly impressing fans of mixed metaphors. “It’s been somewhat of a hard journey because of that, but I feel very lucky, because I think if it had just been widely accepted, I may not have worked as hard for it, and I may not still be working as hard, and we may have just floated under the radar… It is unfortunate that people immediately dismiss a band because there are girls in it. That’s ridiculous – that’s the dumbest thing ever. There’s no reason why girls can’t get up there and rock just as hard, if not harder than, the boys.” Butcher Babies were also this week revealed as a support act on the 30th Anniversary North American tour of Gwar, who have thrown up such iconic female role models as Slymenstra Hymen and Vulvatron.
Meanwhile, divisive pop megastar Lady Gaga continues her noble crusade to offer impressionable teenyboppers an access point to the wild world of heavy metal, appearing in style bible CR Fashion Book wearing a Number Of The Beast t-shirt and waxing lyrical about Britain’s biggest metal export. “They’re one of the greatest rock bands in history, in my opinion,” she declares. “Some people really don’t know the importance of metal and the scope of it. Those guys were filling stadiums, and they still are. And it’s because of the culture of the music, the poetry that’s so powerful, that whenever the fans come together they unite in the essence of what Iron Maiden is all about.” Many have been suspicious of Gaga’s motives in espousing the eccentric outsider spirit of heavy metal as a kind of ironic fashion statement, but let’s face it, she’s bang on here.
And however cynical anyone wants to get about women in metal, no female musicians ever did as much whining and sulking as we’ve come to expect from the Ozzy vs Bill spat, which lumbers on with no end in sight, mainly because people keep prodding the wound by asking Bill if he might drum for Sabbath again. This week it was 106.5 WSFL: “If everybody could get on the same page – my page,” was his answer. “I’ve been quite pronounced about my page, which is a signable contract and an apology over certain issues that Ozzy said about me that weren’t true. He said these things at the public level, so I’d like him to publicly apologise. He’s already responded to that, saying that’ll never happen. So, as long as that’ll never happen, then I probably won’t be joining the band in 2016… It’s not nice at all to be in this position, and it’s not an easy responsibility for me to maintain when uncountable amounts of people are angry with my decision-making process.”
He later seemed to ensure that the dream scenario of the original Sabs making friends and touring again remains a forlorn what-if, telling the Eddie Trunk podcast: “I wasn’t interested in the fucking album 13. I’ve heard 20 bars of it – that’s all I’ve heard – and then I turned it off and said, ‘That’s a pile of shit,’ and that’s the truth. I wanted to make sure that I went down the line and detached myself as much as possible. I had to stop loving them, because if you’re loving a dog as it’s biting you and ripping your insides out, it’s hard to love a dog that’s doing that.” Ouch, guys.