Babylon Mystery Orchestra / Interview

August 22, 2010 |  By Dale Huffman (Metal Pulse Radio)

How are things going Sidney?

I think they are going as well as can be expected with a spendthrift socialist sitting in the White House.1

How did Babylon Mystery Orchestra get its start?

Perhaps you can blame the KISS reunion for Babylon Mystery Orchestra. I had long since given up on playing music. I pretty much lost all desire to associate with musicians after a pilgrimage to Hollywood in 1987-88. However with the return of KISS came the return of KISS merchandising and I jumped back into my old KISS Army habits with considerable enthusiasm. One of the things that I bought was the Paul Stanley Ibanez PS-10 guitar. It would turn out to be the main weapon of the future Babylon Mystery Orchestra.

I didn’t buy it just to look at it so as I began playing again I started taking an interest in the recording gear that had become available over the years. I could see that it was a practical possibility to acquire all the necessary equipment to make a recording by myself so I decided to pursue music from that angle. This way you really don’t have to be dependent on the dependable undependability of musicians. So that is the origin of the idea. Since I was partaking of this venture by myself I could likewise be bold in my choice of subject matter. Since I felt I was too old to be writing typical hair metal songs (I absolutely love that form of music) I decided to write about that which I spend most of my time contemplating…religion and politics.

How did you come up with the name Babylon Mystery Orchestra?

One of the few bands that came along in the 90′s that really impressed me is Therion. They make good use of orchestration. In fact it is the layering of those instruments associated with traditional classical music that really define their sound. I thought in the beginning that I would like to do something similar. Especially when I found out that their groundbreaking album “Theli” was essentially recorded alone with the choirs added afterward. So the word “Orchestra” was always in my mind. The first record was written around the theme of the Biblical “Mystery Babylon” as mentioned in the book of Revelation. So I was working with ideas like a mis-spelled “Orkestra” which I discarded because too many bands think mis-spelled names are cool. I was leaning toward “Mystery Babylon Orchestra” until I re-arranged the wording and decided I loved “Babylon Mystery Orchestra.” It sounds great, over the top, and since it is essentially built around a solitary figure the use of the word “orchestra” has a certain ridiculousness too it as well. Plus it has the added virtue of originality…no-one has ever used the name before and no-one else likely ever could have come up with that name.

When writing your songs what inspires you?

Everything. I essentially write songs through the viewpoint of my own interpretation of the world and how it got to be as it is. Therefore to understand me is to understand why Babylon Mystery Orchestra is as it is. This is really the way artists are supposed to work. The “audience” can’t be allowed to pollute the process. If you are writing music that you want to be liked then you cease to be an artist and you become an entertainer. There is nothing wrong with that. Almost every musician succumbs to the temptations and rewards that come with entertainers. But I object to calling these people artists. They are not.

Having said that, Babylon Mystery Orchestra music is a “revelation” unto itself. The musical representation of someone who grew up with a strong foundation in Christianity then set about to see the world only to find that he had it understood better before he left. Babylon Mystery Orchestra is in many ways my admission that I never needed to see or know the things the world had to offer. That is why I have chosen to deliver the messages in so forceful a manner.

Could you tell us about the new album?

All of the previous BMO CDs have been conceptual on nature. This one is the first one that really isn’t. I wanted to do a record that would allow me to write some songs on subjects that I could not work into a major conceptual piece and that I did not feel the need to develop into one. I have always planned to do a record like this and since I feel like Axis of Evil is something of a perfection of the BMO style, then this would be the time to do it. There are many songs that I have been wanting to do for a long time…particularly the abortion songs “A Constitutional Right/Jesus Save…” But the project also got somewhat hijacked in mid-production by the election of a childish Marxist as President of the United States. So half of the songs may be seen as a reaction to the Obama presidency. I therefore still have a few songs to write that haven’t been done for this record. But it will have to wait. The next record is already started and spoken for.

I have been telling people that The Godless, The Godforsaken and the God Damned is my Rock and Roll Over where Axis of Evil was my Destroyer. I am always one for finding KISS references. But it applies here since I was really just wanting to get a collection of songs that are right down the middle of the established Babylon Mystery Orchestra method of operation.

Do you get a lot of e-mail about the straight forward lyrics in your songs?

Absolutely. The direct nature of Babylon Mystery Orchestra’s presentation is designed to produce a reaction. In fairness I get just about as much positive response as I do negative…and that is from both Christians and non-Christians. There are plenty of non-Christians that appreciate that this is a valid point of view and that heavy rock music is a particularly good venue for presenting the kind of “salutary terror” messages that I have made BMO’s modus operandi. Likewise, there are plenty of Christians who do not appreciate such an aggressive approach. I receive a lot of criticism for the “lack of love and tolerance” displayed on BMO recordings. So it really cuts both ways. But BMO was designed to take advantage of the power of heavy metal music and combine it with powerful messages. I believe that songs of love, forgiveness and salvation are better suited to ballads. Fire and brimstone is a natural fit for heavy metal.

Have you ever thought about doing a label?

I have been contacted by a few labels that I really didn’t think could do more for Babylon Mystery Orchestra than I can do for myself. Also in the past I have sent promo packages to some of the bigger metal labels to see if they would be interested. I generally got positive feedback but since BMO is not a touring entity they were not all that interested in getting involved. I suppose it is just as well. There is a comfort factor in true independence.

Have you ever thought about taking BMO on the road?

Less and less as time goes by. In the beginning I thought it might be a good idea but over time I have become comfortable with what I have created and not worried about trying to make into something more consistent with everyone and everything else out there.

What do you think of the Christian music scene?

I really can’t say that I understand it very well. I certainly don’t see much evidence of a large fan base for Christian Metal. I see that those who support a more pop oriented and extremely compromising form of Christianity have a lot more to choose from. There also seems to be a large following for anything with a “core” in its musical description…but always I find the Christianity compromised in order to fit into a genre’s expectations. These bands ALWAYS look act and sound the way they are supposed to look act and sound. That said, I do like Saviour Machine…or at least what I have heard of them. I likewise like Stryper (doesn’t everyone?). I think they have become comfortable with themselves and their legacy in the Christian music scene. However I cannot say that I am really a follower of anything calling itself a Christian music scene.

I generally don’t like to promote the idea that Babylon Mystery Orchestra is “Christian” music. The presentation speaks for itself and it makes it that much more enjoyable when someone really gets offended by it…especially Christians. I have always contended that Babylon Mystery Orchestra irritates all the right people. That may be its entire purpose.

But while you brought it up…am I the only one who observes the tendency for “Christian” artists to lessen the influence of their faith as their audience grows?

How can fans access your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or the new cd?

Babylon Mystery Orchestra has lots of websites that have samples of the music on them. The best one, of course, is the one I maintain myself: www.babylonmysteryorchestra.com. That is where you can find the most information, reviews and interviews. There are others though. MySpace and Facebook have BMO pages, however the Facebook page is a recently added one.

Any final thoughts?

Another Babylon Mystery Orchestra record is already underway. I have two finished tracks and I am currently working on another one. Anyone wishing for me to go away is sure to be disappointed.

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