This hard rock/heavy metal artist Sidney Allen Johnson addresses many issues in society while delivering his music which is a blending of Black Sabbath with Sisters of Mercy and AC/DC. So far he has had an opportunity to release three cds. The first two cds are “Divine Rights of Kings”, and “On Earth As It Is In Heaven.” The latest cd is called the “Axis of Evil.” This journalist had an opportunity to learn more about the forming of Babylon Mystery Orchestra and the latest release.
How did you select the band name?
It wasn’t so much a “selection” as it was an evolving process. As I was recording what would become the first CD, Divine Right Of Kings,” I 1really had no name for the project. I was writing songs centered around the story of “Mystery Babylon” from the Biblical book of Revelation, so that was on my mind. I had in the late 90’s become enamored with the music of Therion, who uses a lot of orchestration and operatic elements in their sound and I felt I would like to use some of that as well. So I was toying with naming the project something along the lines of ORKESTRA. Clever mis-spelling? As I thought of it more I suggested to myself “Mystery Babylon Orchestra,” which didn’t really sound all that interesting but when I rearranged it to say Babylon Mystery Orchestra it sounded perfect. I knew I had something with that. I was certain it had the virtue of not ever having been thought of before. Plus I like the preposterousness of having the word “Orchestra” in the name considering I am the only one playing on the records.
Can you describe your sound?
As I indicated in the previous question I had wanted to use some orchestration within the doom/Gothic kind of sound I envisioned for this. Over the records their has been a tendency to use less of it as they have gotten heavier, but that makes the places where I do use it that much more important. I really think the Babylon Mystery Orchestra sound came to fruition on the third CD, “The Great Apostasy.” Overall I would call it a Cinematic, Gothic metal band. I tend to use the word Cinematic at times because of the way the vocals are delivered. They are meant to add character and atmosphere to the song as well as convey the lyrics.
Why do you consider BMO conspiring, controversial yet contagious?
When all is said and done, the world is full of conspiracies both real and imagined. The subjects of Babylon Mystery Orchestra songs reflects that. If you are a Christian then you MUST believe in a six thousand year conspiracy against mankind. We are told who initiated it and why, as well as the allies brought into it on his behalf. So if there is a powerful spiritual force working against us, trying to come between us and God, it will manifest itself as visible conspiracies in the world of flesh and reason. People have a general inability to see beyond their own reality so conspiracies that take generations to unfold will appear to be invisible to the arrogant mind that places all of its faith in reason and experience. Only the faithful will see what is really happening. These days there is a tremendously obvious spiritual element to the actions taking place right here in our own country.
What made you decide to be a gothic Christian band?
I really didn’t “decide” to do it this way. It is the natural way to present these ideas. Personally I prefer “hair metal.” I must have every hair metal record ever made. I think you can hear some of that in the way I arrange BMO songs for simplicity and directness…but in the end it doesn’t sound like hair metal at all. I don’t really consider Babylon Mystery Orchestra a “Christian” band although I certainly don’t have a problem with the categorization. Christians should be drawn to it, but BMO does not celebrate the relationship of Man to God so much as it focuses on the consequences of a lack of such a relationship.
Do you feel that your views as a Christian are reflected in your music?
Absolutely. I will not dilute that one bit. I am too old to have any reasonable expectation of becoming some sort of a rock star or otherwise acquire the accoutrements of a musician’s life that leads so many people to want to be in a band. Therefore I really don’t have much ambition beyond delivering an artistic vision. This is my pure unadulterated vision of the world. I’m not even particularly attached to the musical genre. It is just comfortable for these ideas. The Christianity is in me so that is ultimately reflected in these songs even though many times I am writing from a totally Satanic point of view. Sometimes that point of view clears things up.
What is the goal of your music.
My goal for the music is achieved every time I release new music. I have created it and brought it into existence. That is pretty much all I can control so that is really the only goal or objective I can have. If other people find something in it for themselves I, of course, am happy about that but I cannot control too much of that.
Your listed as the only member of the band. So do you play all of the instruments?
I do absolutely everything on these records. All the instruments are played by me as well as all the recording and mixing. I also write every word that goes into these elaborate booklets I package the CD’s with. I look upon that as just as important as the musical part of the presentation. I don’t write songs with vague lyrics hoping somebody will “interpret” the words for themselves. I am very precise in my presentations. I have something to say and I want it understood.
Did you have lessons or are you self-taught?
I had some guitar lessons when I was a kid that pretty much turned me off to the instrument. I was not being shown how to play anything I liked. Too much country music!
How old were you when you first got involved in music?
If you count the Partridge family I was about 7. But when I bought KISS Alive! I was about 13 and thats when my interest in music really began to intensify. As far as playing music I have done it off and on with varying degrees of seriousness. I went to Hollywood in the winter of 2008 to see the way the scene was at its prime. That pretty much cured me of really wanting to do a band. As much as I love that type of music the people in Hollywood were the most pathetic I have ever encountered. Guys were actually open about their desire to find women who would put them up and take care of them. It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.
What prompted the interest?
Four guys in makeup with smoke, fire bombs and platform shoes. Man, you can’t beat that…still can’t.
Can you tell me about the lp “Axis of Evil”?
Well as you will recall, after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade center President Bush gave a speech where he listed a new “axis of evil” that he described as the rogue nations of Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Though I would agree that these nations merit their distinction as rogue states and extremely dangerous to international order there really is no alliance between them as the term axis implies. The use of the term is representative of the time when Berlin and Rome had an alliance that they termed as an axis. However, I tend to see the world through less of a man made prism and more of a spiritual one.
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Therefore I see the true “axis of evil” as those elements that work toward creating the conditions described in end times prophecy. There have always been people who want to, and have, ruled the world. That is nothing that requires any effort. Human beings or humanity as a whole does not evolve. There are always going to be plenty of those people amongst us. But what spiritual powers are pushing us to those end-time conditions? Islam, the false religion: Socialism/Communism- the godless false doctrines of promising something for nothing and the myth of equality that destroys morality, ethics and individuality; and pure occultist elitism…often referred to loosely as the “Illuminati.”
Everyone involved in these evil institutions thinks they have all the answers and that they are the ones the world has been waiting for to usher in a Utopian society. We have seen their kind before. They are neither “special” nor as “intellectually evolved” as they have led themselves to believe.
Why did you select those themes?
Too many people believe in silly things. Someone ought to point them out. How often do we hear in this country that our strength is in our diversity? Then the same people bemoan the fact that there are inequitable distributions of wealth or prosperity! How can you champion diversity and then be offended by the discrepancies that are naturally produced by it? You cannot have diversity AND equality of distribution. Not even by government imposition. Different people must produce different results. Who would want to force equal distributions of wealth? Only truly evil people could ever dare suggest it…and we elected one of them to be our President. Try explaining is just one small attempt to sweep away the fairy dust that infests the music world. I didn’t make all those musicians belch out all their godless socialist nonsense…but someone ought to challenge them. Global warming? Multi-culturalism? Equality? Myths all.
Probably the biggest myth of all, however, is this crazy idea that music, particularly rock music, brings people together. It is easily one of the most divisive and destructive crafts ever conceived by a spiritual being…and it destroys on a spiritual level. People who do not understand the spirit world should not have anything to do with music. Like prayer, it is a dangerous thing for the godless to partake in. It results, just like prayer, in witchcraft.There are a lot of “things” out there that will answer your prayers, and they love music as well. Hell, they invented most of it and it serves THEIR purpose!…maybe that statement will give someone pause for thought.
In many ways I think I am describing the thinking to both “Axis Of Evil” and the forthcoming record. Or, for that matter…”On Earth As It Is In Heaven.” Everything In Babylon Mystery Orchestra music is inter-related.
What is your favorite track on the new cd?
I actually had to pick one up and look at the track list. I have been so fixated on the one I am working on that I needed to look to remember them all. It is probably the track “Crusader” because that is just a really direct anti-Islamic pro American attack song. I know it bothers a lot of people that I used the words “Kill em’ All” in the chorus but that also appeals to me. It irritates all the right people. Christianity or pro Americanism need not be docile or apologetic.
Describe your writing process?
More often than not, I have most of the lyrics first. I always write a song with a subject in mind even if it does not start with the lyrics. On all the CDs that have been released I have outlined the entire records in advance and even had all the song titles listed. Usually though, a lot of the titles will change as the songs are fleshed out.
Which groups have been your major influences?
Well whether it shows or not Kiss is always there. Perhaps in the simplicity and directness of the songs. I abhor busy and unnecessarily complicated music. I am not interested in promoting musicianship. I will leave that to those people who worship at the altar of guitar magazines.
I think you can hear that I do have a great appreciation for Doom and Gothic music. Perhaps you can tell I like Therion, Tiamat and My Dying Bride. But I have been listening to music all my life. Everything is in there. I know where I felt Blue Oyster Cult, The Doors, Deep Purple or even Kansas has had an influence even if it doesn’t always seem obvious. Its all there…it has to be.
Can you tell me about “We Are Power”?
The last song written for the first CD. It is my representation of the United States Of Mystery Babylon. It is a rather Biblical representation of the arrogance of power. Its what happens when you believe your own propaganda and see yourself as not a “blessed” nation but an entitled one. It is a natural tendency when a country comes under the control of different people than the ones who built it, even if they are their descendants.
What are the goals for the future of BMO?
I always told myself that I wanted to do at least 4-6 records no matter what. I am about to be finished with #5. So I would be comfortable if somehow I never made another one. I have developed the idea of Babylon Mystery Orchestra to the point that it is recognizable as having its own distinct sound. That doesn’t mean I will stop making records but it does mean that any goals I started with have been achieved. The fifth CD will come out early in 2010 and then I will start working on the next one. I have two more major conceptual ideas I would like to develop, however I have started to enjoy writing songs that aren’t so tied to a story. There is a lot of stuff on the new CD that is reflective of current events, and considering the tendencies of the Barack Obama administration, I might find it hard not to write reactionary material in response. Still, I intend to work on one of the conceptual ideas…that may lead me to release an EP of some of the other type of songs in the meantime. I will have to see how that works. I wish I had more time to work on the music. I also will continue to write the essays that can be found on the website. That tends to provide a more immediate sense of relief for my political discomforts.
Why do you have your own label?
It really is a matter of necessity. I wasn’t going to allow someone else to decide whether or not this material would be released. Perhaps BMO will be signed with a label someday but I have not been actively seeking such an arrangement. I have made fewer contacts with labels with each release…and I never contacted more than six on any given release to begin with. I just don’t devote any time to pursuing that. If you look at most labels who advertise their releases in the metal magazines you can pick the name of any band on their labels and find next to nothing about them on the internet. Why is that? I have done a better job of promoting BMO than almost all of those bands are getting from their labels. Who needs them if they can’t do any better than that? If I were to sign to a label it would have to be to one that was going to actually do some promotion. Sorry to shatter the myth (actually I’m not), but touring doesn’t sell records. That is constantly being proven.
Where can individuals get your cds?
From the main website www.babylonmysteryorchestra.com, CDbaby.com and amazon.com. Those are the sites that I directly supply. It is also available for order through many retail outlets as well as Divine Metal Distribution. There are others as well…a few I am not even necessarily aware of. It is also available at all the major digital distribution sites too…although personally I love to actually have something to hold. Thats why I work on getting the packaging to be an important element to experiencing BMO.
Do you support any causes?
The radication of all so called “progressive” political philosophy. It is ruinous. It operates under many names: socialism, communism, liberalism, social democrats etc. All of them are oppressive to individual freedom. It is a parasite’s dream…until it consumes its host and brings everyone and everything down with it. Man does not evolve and neither does “mankind.” We are not improved over our ancestors. If we were,why does our president blame “greed” for our recent recession. Is greed something new? Technology may progress but man does not. Don’t listen to me:
Ecclesiastes 1: 9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
That is why the Bible is, and always will be relevant. Man does not evolve. He has made no progress. Don’t confuse technology and progress. They are not the same. By the way, there just so happens to be a song on the upcoming CD about exactly this subject.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
The new CD will probably be released in February of next year unless something happens. I am really looking forward to it as it deals with a wide variety of subjects…Hate Crimes, abortion, conspiracy theories, ufo’s, political philosophies and maybe a well known historical figure or two. I don’t have a title for it yet…at least I am not decided on it. Don’t miss it.