Interview with Babylon A.D. singer Derek Davis

INTERVIEW WITH BABYLON A.D. SINGER DEREK DAVIS
Date: November 3, 2017
Interviewer: Tyson Briden

AS A TEENAGER, I WAS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR NEW BANDS TO SINK MY TEETH INTO. MY FIRST INTRODUCTION TO BABYLON A.D. WAS BACK WHEN THEIR DEBUT ALBUM CAME OUT. MY PARENTS AT THE TIME WERE VERY AGAINST ME JOINING ONE OF THOSE RECORD CLUBS. YOU KNOW THE ONES, WHERE YOU BUY 11 TAPES FOR A PENNY. THAT WAS SUCH A HARD THING BECAUSE EVERYTIME YOU’D OPEN METAL EDGE OR CIRCUS MAGAZINE, THERE WAS ALWAYS FULL PAGE ADS SHOWING THE PRODUCT THAT WAS AVAILABLE FOR THE LOW, LOW PRICE OF A PENNY. SO A BUDDY OF MINE AND I DEVISED A PLAN WHERE WE WOULD SPLIT AN ORDER AND HAVE IT SHIPPED TO HIS HOUSE. BRILLIANT!!! MY PARENTS WOULD HAVE NO IDEA OF OUR DEVIANT BEHAVIOUR. 

WEEKS WOULD PASS AND FINALLY OUR ORDER ARRIVED. IN THAT ORDER WAS NONE OTHER THAN THE DEBUT ALBUM BY BABYLON A.D. THE FIRST TIME I POPPED THE CLEAR CASSETTE INTO MY DECK I WAS TAKEN BACK. I BELIEVE IN THAT ORDER, I RECEIVED MUSIC BY PRETTY BOY FLOYD, TORA TORA AND MR. BIG, BUT THE ONE I ENJOYED THE MOST WAS THAT BABYLON A.D. TAPE. I LOVED THE WAY THE SINGER EXECUTED HIS LYRICS, WHICH WERE A DIFFERENT TAKE ON THE ’80S DEBAUCHERY AND SEXUALITY THAT I HAD GROWN ACCUTOMED TO LISTENING TO. “BANG GO THE BELLS” AS A TEENAGER, IT MADE TOTAL SENSE TO ME. GENTLEMEN READERS, HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU SEEN A BEAUTIFUL GIRL FOR THE FIRST TIME AND THOUGHT “BANG GO THE BELLS”? IT WAS PURE GENIUS. FROM THAT FIRST SONG, THE ALBUM JUST GOT BETTER AND AS I WRITE THIS PARAGRAPH, I AM LISTENING TO “HAMMER SWINGS DOWN” WITH A SMILE ON MY FACE.

MANY YEARS WOULD GO BY BEFORE I WOULD GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE THIS GREAT BAND LIVE. LET’S FAST FORWARD TO MY 40TH BIRTHDAY. MY WIFE AND I VENTURED TO PEKIN, ILLINOIS TO WITNESS THE ROCK N’ SKULL FESTIVAL. WHAT A WEEKEND IT WOULD BE. CATCHING UP ON FRIDAY NIGHT WITH OLD FRIENDS BRUNO RAVEL, STEVE WEST AND ROB MARCELLO OF DANGER DANGER. IT WAS GOOD TIMES AT THE BACK OF THE BAR WITH ACOUSTIC SETS FEATURING KILLER DWARFS FRONTMAN RUSS DWARF, ROXY BLUE SINGER TODD POOLE AND ENUFF Z’NUFF. THE NEXT NIGHT WOULD FEATURE BABYLON A.D. SANDWICHED BETWEEN TUFF, BLACK N’ BLUE AND DANGER DANGER. WHO STOLE THE SHOW YOU MAY ASK? OF COURSE BABYLON A.D. WITH DANGER DANGER BEING A VERY CLOSE SECOND. I GOT THE CHANCE TO MEET THE GUYS OF B.A.D. BACKSTAGE. WHAT A THRILL THAT WAS. SINGER DEREK DAVIS AND I STRUCK UP A CONVERSATION IMMEDIATELY. I THOUGHT WHAT A GREAT, INTELLIGENT AND CONCISE INDIVIDUAL. IT WAS GREAT TO HEAR HIS ENTHUSIASM WHEN IT CAME TO TALKING ABOUT HIS OWN MUSIC. AS THE EVENING WENT ON, I WOULD TALK TO ALL THE GUYS IN THE BAND. THEY ALL SIGNED MY RARE VINYL COPY OF THE DEBUT ALBUM. BASSIST ROBB REID REMEMBERED ME RIGHT AWAY FROM THE SHOW. HE SAID “YOU WERE THE GUY IN THE FRONT THAT KNEW ALL THE WORDS. THANK YOU SO MUCH.” I GOT THE CHANCE TO TELL GUITARIST DANNY DE LA ROSA HOW MUCH I ENJOYED HIS PLAYING. TO THAT COMPLIMENT, HE HANDED ME ONE OF HIS CUSTOM PICKS THAT TO THIS DAY I DISPLAY PROUDLY IN MY BASEMENT IN A PICTURE FRAME HOLDING ABOUT THIRTY CUSTOMIZED PICKS I’VE ATTAINED OVER THE YEARS. BOTTOM LINE, B.A.D. ARE ALL GREAT GUYS AND A PLEASURE TO TALK TO.

SO HERE WE ARE THREE YEARS LATER FROM THAT WEEKEND IN PEKIN. JON FREEMAN FROM FRONTIERS RECORDS SENT OUT AN INVITATION TO INTERVIEW BABYLON A.D. SINGER DEREK DAVIS. HAVING SPOKEN TO DAVIS PREVIOUSLY AS I NOTED, I JUMPED AT THE OPPORTUNITY AND I KNEW IT WOULD BE A GREAT INTERVIEW. WITH THE RELEASE OF THE BAND’S NEW ALBUM ‘REVELATION HIGHWAY’ ON NOVEMBER 10TH. IT WAS A PERFECT CHANCE TO DISCUSS THE ALBUM AND ASK QUESTIONS I’D BEEN DYING TO DISCUSS FOR YEARS. PLEASE ENJOY AND THANK YOU DEREK DAVIS.

Sleaze Roxx: Hey Derek, nice to talk to you. I am going to start right in about the new album ‘Revelation Highway.’ Some of these songs appeared on the original ‘Persuaders’ demo. With John back in the band, was recording these songs all these years later the next logical step? Maybe a feeling of unfinished business?

Derek Davis: I never actually thought about it that way, but yes. John felt strongly about doing some of the older material. It was just like that. They say good things come to those who wait. You know John and Danny [De La Rosa] played in a band together back in high school. They grew up together. I just talked to Dan three days ago.

Sleaze Roxx: I wasn’t going to touch on that subject because I wasn’t sure how things went down.

Derek Davis: Dan is doing his own album. It wasn’t like that. When it came time to talking about doing the new album, Dan said I really don’t have time. He wanted do his album. His kids are in baseball. Dan suggested we call up John and jam.

Sleaze Roxx: I am curious about the first rehearsal with John. What was the general feeling of the band when you all got together after all those years?

Derek Davis: It was automatic. We had a boat load of music. It was 23 years since we played with John. It was so weird. It was just tight. John was pretty excited. Babylon A.D. was his baby. It just came full circle. Funny it took this long. John is just burning it up. He’s on fire, which is really cool.

Sleaze Roxx: How is that the debut album did not include any of the ‘Persuaders’ songs from the original demo. Was this Arista Records’ decision?

Derek Davis: It was all Arista Records. It was funny because we got signed on those original songs. Then they’re not good enough. Next thing you know the 25 songs we had are gone. These are good, but we want you to write better songs. In comes the guy from Jersey, Jack Ponti. We wrote “Bang,” “Maryanne,” “Shot Of Love.” They liked that batch. The stuff John and I wrote was pushed aside. Pretty soon, John’s not getting credit. He got credit on one song. Babylon A.D. was John’s band. He started it. It was his vehicle and suddenly he’s sour about the music business. He suggested we get Dan, “He’ll fill my shoes.” Then it comes full circle, Dan leaves. What’s funny, Dan said,”Maybe you can get John.” Then we thought maybe he doesn’t want to. That was scary. Getting someone totally new, but John jumped at the idea. It was easy.

Sleaze Roxx: How did you go about picking songs from the original ‘Persuaders’ demos you wanted to re-record for this album?

Derek Davis: We had a bunch of new songs. Ron had ideas, stuff he demoed. We said let’s play every song we know. Stuff we’d demoed. Stuff we did live maybe only once. We’d say, remember that song, give me that cassette. We had 20, 25 songs. The cool thing was they weren’t dated. We’d have parties at the house, people would come over. Our close friends. Just hanging out. No one said, that song is shit. None of the songs sounded old. They were current — cool. Then we had 16. We dwindled that down too. We widdled away at them. The songs on the new album weren’t necessarily the ones that were the best. Let’s keep the ones that are different from each other. If we have two “Bangs,” let’s use one. Ones that may have the same beats. The leftovers we have are cool for the next album. Two from the ‘Persuaders’ days. They were never recorded. Really strong songs. Like I said, we didn’t want duplicates. Each song has different beats, tempos.

Sleaze Roxx: When re-recording the four songs, did you change much? I mean 25 years later, there had to be things that you wanted to freshen up? I actually listened to the songs one after the other, the biggest difference I hear is possibly a tuning change?

Derek Davis: That’s the biggest difference. We were young kids when we did those songs. We just went and played.

Sleaze Roxx: Tuning down that half step gives it a bit more edge

Derek Davis: Yes, a bit of weight.

Sleaze Roxx: What was the process in terms of writing/recording for the album? Where, when, how, etc?

Derek Davis: Basic tracks were recorded at Annex Studios. Then we moved to my house. There was no set schedule. No studio time to worry about. We went into the studio when we wanted, had a few beers. There were no time constraints.

Sleaze Roxx: ‘Revelation Highway’ is full of great catchy songs, “Crash And Burn” was chosen as the first video from the album. How was it decided that this would be the first release?

Derek Davis: We talked to record label. Listened to friends. We just fished around. It’s not necessarily the best song on the album, but as the lead-off single this was the best.

Sleaze Roxx: You recently did another video?

Derek Davis: Yeah for “I’m No Good For You.” For that we left it up to label. We left it up to them to decide what the next one should be. We think this is what they wanted. We actually just did another one “One Million Miles”, in Fresno Beach. It was 80 degrees. There was no one there and we got the best footage. That will be the next single.

Sleaze Roxx: I was just actually listening to that song. The solo is amazing. Very melodic and memorable.

Derek Davis: It is a great solo. I actually wrote it. I told the guys they could change it, but they left it. It’s got that ’70s, Thin Lizzy type thing. Actually the video fits the song perfectly. It goes hand in glove.

Sleaze Roxx: You guys are doing some upcoming dates with Y&T?

Derek Davis: Yeah, the 17th, 18th of November. We know them well. They put Oakland on the map.

Sleaze Roxx: How much material from the new album will you be playing live?

Derek Davis: Six songs right now, but we did eight songs at the last gig. “Tears” was one. It’s great because people react the same way as they do when we play songs like “Kid Goes Wild” or “Bang Go The Bells.” We used them as guinea pigs. Every person loved it. Fists in the air. We got great feedback. It was like we already had the album out. It was great that people reacted to the new stuff.

Sleaze Roxx: Funny you say that because when I saw you guys three years ago, my wife and I heard “Love Blind” for the first time. We bought the disc at the show and must have listened to that song ten times on our drive back from Illinois to Toronto. My wife isn’t really a fan of the ’80s era, but absolutely loves that song.

Derek Davis: That was a song that Ron [Freschi] and myself wrote. Those were songs that we found that were demoed for the second album. The A&R guy makes the decision that it should be left off the album.

Sleaze Roxx: At that show, I was stage right to Danny. I must say he is one kick ass guitarist.

Derek Davis: Dan kills it. When I was talking to him recently, I said that John was doing all his solos note for note. He said, “Really?” The fans want to hear them the same. Them growing up together and playing together in high school, they kind of have the same style.

Sleaze Roxx: What is the plan for promotion on this album? Will you be out touring extensively?

Derek Davis: A lot of festivals. January, February, March. Europe for two or three weeks. It works best for us this way. We all have businesses, families. It’s hard to leave our lives. So we must be realistic about it. A band like Y&T travels. That’s all they’ve done. They have a big fan base.

Sleaze Roxx: Well that about wraps it up. I’m all done. Thank you very much Derek.

Derek Davis: Great, thank you.

Babylon A.D.‘s “Crash And Burn” video:

Babylon A.D. – “Crash And Burn” (Official Video)

Subscribe To Be Alerted When We Add New Videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers / From the album REVELATION HIGHWAY. Get your copy NOW: http://radi.al/Bab…

Babylon A.D.‘s “I’m No Good For You” video:

Babylon A.D. – “I’m No Good For You!” (Official Music Video)

Subscribe To Be Alerted When We Add New Videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers / From the album REVELATION HIGHWAY. Get your copy NOW: http://radi.al/Bab…