JAM Magazine Main Features

Babylon A.D.

No Exceptions To The Rule ‘Cause There’s NOTHING SACRED!

I don't think I've ever interviewed anyone as excited about returning to Dallas as Babylon A.D.'s frontman, Derek. On the day of this conversation he was hanging-out at their publicist's office gearing-up for the tour supporting Nothing Sacred, the band's latest release on Arista Records. They will be rolling in to Dallas City Limits on June 19, and the night will also feature local favorites Cold Ethyl and Cherry Lane.

Although Babylon A.D.'s initial effort was considered successful by most standards, Nothing Sacred is undoubtedly the band's stepping-stone to obvious critical acclaim, and one their fans will embrace with open arms.

Derek Davis: I can't wait to get back to Dallas! We'll be starting the tour in Phoenix on the Tuesday just before the Dallas date, so City Limits will be the third gig of the tour.

JAM: Third time's a charm. When will the new album hit the stores?

June 9. So everyone should have their copy by the time we hit Dallas! With this mass of road crew and musicians and buses jammin' down the road, we'll be like the convoy from hell. Look out, Dallas!

JAM: You guys have been busy over the last few weeks preparing for the tour and shooting a video. But there was a slight altercation during the video shoot —what happened?

We were shooting "Bad Blood" and it was deep in Oakland, the night the riots started (just after the Rodney King verdict was made public) and at about midnight we were on stage filming, the crowd was in to it, and all of a sudden some people came running in yelling 'Somebody just got shot!' so we had to stop the music and find out what went down. Obviously some of the people started leaving because they were scared ­somebody had just been shot in the face right in front of the club. It was a gang thing, black on black. But we were afraid for both our fans and ourselves. Here we were, deep in the heart of Oakland and were probably the only white guys around!

JAM: Kind of ironic, I guess, considering the name of the song you were filming the video for?

Yeah, isn't that weird? We were all thinking the same thing.

JAM: Nothing Sacred is a bit different from your first album, in that you as a band had little outside help with the song-writing.

Right, with the exception of one song, "Psychedelic Sex Reaction," which I co-wrote with some other guys.

One out of twelve ain't bad, huh? On the first album we knew we could do it, but since Danny (DeLa Rosa) joined the band during the recording of the first album, his contribution really came into being with this release. He and I wrote seven songs together, and it made it easier having another person in the band who can write also, instead of just Ron and me. We're totally ecstatic with the outcome.

JAM: This release shows the band to be a lot more confident regarding the band's sound, and also there's a real blues sound present.

Exactly, and that's because of Danny. He's got that Aerosmith kind of bluesy feel with a lot of slide guitar, and you'll even hear some banjo. Ron and I write in a different manner than Dan and I. Ron leans toward the heavier type of riff, the gothic melodies with minor chords. Danny goes straight for the AC/DC big chord structure— big CI's, D's, E, and bluesy licks — so this album is truer to exactly what Babylon A.D. is all about.

JAM: I got a kick out of the song "Dream Train.," and almost expected to see a credit to Johnny Cash because of the country/rock beat.

Believe it or not, Johnny Cash is one of our heroes!

JAM: It seems that every new release that comes out these days has at least one well-known cover on it. Why didn't you follow along with the crowd?

We were gonna do a cover of a Motown group, just to trip everybody out — but why? There's no point in doing a song that's already been a proven hit, especially if it's done just to get on the radio. That's just not the way we think.

JAM: Is your show full of pomp and circumstance now or is it still pretty stripped down?

It's a lot more upscale than it was last time out. We've got a big backdrop, and it's a lot like a movie set now, with a better light show. And basically we're just a lot tighter and more confident now than we were last time. It comes from playing about 250 dates in fourteen months!

JAM: So load-in starts at the crack of dawn on the day of the show now?

No, it only takes about an hour for the road crew to set up the extra stuff we have, but we still have to be in about two hours before we used to. Plus most of the time we'll have two other bands with us, so it's a process of all the guys in the road crew working together to make everything flow smoothly.

JAM: Why was there such a long time period between albums? I picked up your Live at the Ronny compilation at Foundations last October, but wasn't there still an unusually long time period between your '89 release and Nothing Sacred?

One reason was because we wanted to make sure that all the material we had was up to par with what we wanted to do. But the other reason was because we wanted Tom Wennan (Ted Nugent, Motley Crue, Cheap Trick, etc.) and it took an extra six or eight months to be able to work with him. Werman was someone we'd wanted to work with since we were in junior high! He has such a great track record, and in the studio he always lets the band establish themselves in the manner they want, instead of what he thinks the commercial market should have thrown on them at the time.

JAM: Nothing Sacred runs the gamut of musical styles ­ there are the ballads and the straight-ahead rockers, but you've also addressed the pain involved with child abuse in "Redemption."

I always let the music dictate what I'm gonna write about. When Ron played the beginning riff of the song it was cloudy and moody, kind of melancholy. And I started thinking about salvation and redemption. Words just start coming to me when I listen to music. The story is about a girl Ron and I both knew real well, and something she went through when she was younger. We were totally shocked when she told us, and I guess I've always had that story in the back of my mind. She was having to deal with her emotions, if it was her fault it happened, her feelings about God, and how to handle her own feelings.

JAM: Babylon A.D. is often referred to as a "blue-collar" rock band. Why?

Who the heck knows! Hey, if Tesla, Scorpions, and AC/DC are all blue-collar rock, then yeah, we are. If they want to call it "white-collar” rock we'll be that, too!

JAM: Fifty years front now when we come to the term "Babylon A.D. " in the dictionary, what will be the definition?

"Modern hedonism at its best," what else!