Butcher Babies’ Carla Harvey Recalls the Challenges of Being a Mortician
Korn's Jonathan Davis isn't the only rocker that once had a career working with the dead. Butcher Babies' Carla Harvey also spent some time as a mortician, and she's recalled what the challenges of the job were, as well as why she loved it.
Harvey caught up with Knotfest's Talk Toomey podcast to discuss Butcher Babies' fourth studio album, which they began recording earlier this year, her 2014 book Death and Other Dances and more. In the biography, she touched upon her experiences coping with grief as a child and how it's affected her adult relationships — particularly the way that she imagines someone is dead in order to accept that they'll no longer be a part of her life.
"That was a coping mechanism that I actually started when my dad abandoned us. I just pretended that he was dead... It was a way to protect myself. And as I got older in relationships and attachments, I found it was kind of easier to use that method of healing myself rather than to face the actual facts."
The vocalist admitted that she always had a preoccupation with death and dying, and being raised by her grandmother during much of her youth made her develop an affinity for caring for the elderly and sick people. She believes these experiences together may have influenced her decision to become an embalmer.
"Even when I worked at the mortuary and I did embalming and funeral directing, in people's last moments where I had to dress the bodies or embalm, I always want to... You know, of course they're not alive anymore, but even the corpses to feel at peace and okay. So I would speak with them a little bit, 'We're gonna take care of you, we're gonna make you look good, you're gonna be a smash at your funeral.' I've just always been like that," Harvey remembered.
"You get pictures beforehand. The problem is with families is... you look a little bit different when you're dead. Sorry to break the news guys, but you're dehydrated, you're always gonna look a little bit different, so we do our best," she continued, adding that people often got upset because their family members may not have looked like themselves.
"So you gotta wheel it back, and then wheel it back out without doing much, and they're like, 'Oh, that's much better!' But you didn't really do anything, they just have to get used to the idea that they're not alive anymore. But I was a very good embalmer, I was great with the hair and makeup. I really enjoyed doing it."
Listen to the full podcast episode below.