Interview with ex-Babylon A.D. drummer Jamey Pacheco – Part 1 of 2

Date: June 20, 2023
Interviewer: Olivier
Photos: Courtesy of Jamey Pacheco


Sleaze Roxx: So tell me about your decision to leave Babylon A.D. and why you decided to do it after all this time?

Jamey Pacheco: Me and my partner, John Matthews — we started this band and the band started to evolve and stuff by the time we were ready for a singer — that’s Derek [Davis]. So I’ve been in the band for like 37 years. What happens is that in 2017 when we did ‘Revolution Highway’, to me, that was the best and my most proudest moment of the band. Even our first record [‘Babylon A.D.’] was a major iconic type of record for the genre, and so was the one we did in ’92 with Tom Werman [‘Nothing Sacred’], I don’t think any of our efforts prior to that — ‘American Blitzkrieg’ was cool — but ‘Revolution Highway’ to me, it was the one that followed ‘Nothing Sacred’ in my opinion. The campaigns were great. The videos were killer. We did four singles. We were released on vinyl. We were released on CD. We were released on Frontiers Records, which had L.A. Guns. They still do. They have Journey. They had Tesla, Y&T…. All these bands were on this label and now it seemed like such a sure thing. Now, we’re going to sell at least maybe 10,000 records. We’re going to at least sell 20,000 records or something like that because this is going to be bad ass!

Sleaze Roxx: Right.

Jamey Pacheco: Original line-up with all the old songs and shit like that but ones that needed to see the day of light and be done with real production. The album came along. It just had a vibe. It was just a good time making the record with the guys and stuff. To release something like that and have it not do that good. I mean, let me put it this way. We got an advance and I say we still owe over three quarters of that advance.

Sleaze Roxx: Oh geez.

Jamey Pacheco: So when I do the math, I’m like, ‘What the fuck man?’ I cannot, I can’t do this again. There was a lot of other shit that was going on behind the doors. There was some business things and stuff like that. I mean, the band fires up for a couple of years and then disappears, right?

Babylon A.D.‘s “Saturday Night” video (from Revolution Highway album):

Sleaze Roxx: Right.

Jamey Pacheco: As you know. And it goes hard and then disappears. Well, I am lucky because I have a career. I love what I do. I am an art director and a designer. I was also a design educator for 22 years. When my band got dropped, when Babylon [A.D.] got dropped in ’93, I went back to college and got my degree in design. It took me six years to get it. I mean, the first two years didn’t count [laughs].

Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Right.

Jamey Pacheco: The weird part about it is that when I graduated, I even started freelancing, and then I got a job offer from a community college that I went to in Fremont [California, USA] and they offered me a teaching position. I was like, ‘How am I going to teach anything? I was on a tour bus for God’s sake!’ They gave me the job. I was there for like 22 years as an educator. I worked for a big brand company for the last 10 years. Simpson Strong-Tie — they’re like a Global 500 company and they have locations all over the world. It’s a manufacturing company. So in between those hiatuses, I didn’t really care as I was making great money and still am with my career, my new career. And when we fired back up, it was pretty cool because all of us don’t have to worry. I’ve never heard Derek — he has his own business. I’m not going to tell you what he does. I’ll let him tell you. But Ron, I think he’s into IT and stuff like that. John does electronics and shit. Rob — Rob works in a lab! Danny does sales and he’s very successful at it. I was the only one that really went back to college and got a degree. In between all the records, I’ve always been, ‘Man, it’s no big deal.’ Whenever we would fire it up, everyone would get all serious. Usually, it was on Derek’s call because he’d do his own solo thing and stuff like that. I kind of thought it was narcissistic in a way when he was like, ‘Ah, I just don’t feel like it.’ It was like, ‘Well, what about all the shit that I did?’ All the fuckin’ promo and all that shit. He would pull the rubber because he’s the singer.

Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]

Jamey Pacheco: You know how it goes. And so, honestly dude, when this came around, I got a phone call from Derek and stuff. I didn’t answer right away. I just didn’t want to because what I have done for the band in the past, I’ve done the art directing and the design and the packaging and the merch — all of it. All the shit! I did all the front end for the band. I was in charge of the band you know. The return for me was fuckin’ bullshit [laughs]. I get paid $150 an hour when I freelance, you know what I mean? For my brothers, it was no big deal. But towards the end in 2017 and stuff, personalities and weird stuff started happening. There were too many people outside the band that were hanging around that kind of still are and stuff. I just don’t want to be around that shit no more.

Sleaze Roxx: Fair enough. I note that there is a new live album that came out — ‘Live Lightning’ — but it was on Perris Records so does that mean that the Frontiers deal is over for Babylon [A.D.]?

Jamey Pacheco: We got dropped. We got dropped a long time ago dude. Something happened. Something happened between closed doors that we don’t know about. Whoever was representing the band at the time kind of fucked up. It could have been some management thing or something like that but they just dropped us like a hot potato man. I tell you what — I was listening to it [‘Revolution Highway’] on vinyl the other night, kind of going through some of the videos that are on YouTube and shit, and it was a killer effort. It was a legit effort and I’m proud of it. Derek did a great job of producing it and stuff. I did the art work and shit. Everybody was all in. Everyone worked hard. It was a great experience. I think that was just a moment for Babylon A.D. you know and I still [can’t] see how it can be topped. There’s a lot of other things. I’ll tell you about my [current] gig but I hope that I answered your question. The return for me at this point in my life — I am going to be 59 in August — I just don’t see myself doing that anymore. And the return part for me, why would I want to do all that work and not get fuckin’ paid for it [laughs]? I’m used to doing it any way. These guys write songs and they get paid for it. It’s not about the money. It’s just the time, the commitment. It’s just not working so I have to put my time into this other thing that I got and it’s really successful. You can ask questions and I’ll answer them for you.

Babylon A.D.‘s “One Million Miles” video (from Revolution Highway album):

Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] We can go there right now. I know that you have Duran Duran Duran, which is a tribute band to Duran Duran, so how did you get involved in that, and what made you decide to pursue that rather than Babylon A.D.?

Jamey Pacheco: Towards the end of 2019, me and my girlfriend [Ronnie Wagner] were playing with Derek and his solo thing with this guy Kyle who’s a really good guitar player from the Bay area. We kind of have this kind of — I don’t know if you want to call it soul, bluesy kind of — I don’t even want to call it a dance band. A lot of people had a hard time figuring out what the fuck it was.

Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]

Jamey Pacheco: It was mostly soul. A little Jimi Hendrix maybe here and there. That kind of mood you know. Ronnie [Wagner], my girlfriend, had come to an audition for that particular band and she tried out but Derek didn’t want to do it. A month or two later, Derek decided he wanted to do it again [laughs] so we had another audition for her. She came down and that’s it. She’s been my girlfriend ever since I saw her. So we were in his band together even though we were a couple. We tried to always keep it on the down lo because you know we get the scolding. It’s almost like we are fraternizing.

Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Right.

Jamey Pacheco: We played a couple of gigs and I tell you, the gigs — I didn’t expect because they were just small bar gigs and stuff like that — it wasn’t working for me man. The amount of commitment that was being asked to put more time in, to practice and all that shit, I just didn’t see it for the amount of money that I was getting, and it really wasn’t for the money. I set the drums up. It’s fuckin’ a lot of work. It’s heavy, it’s heavy man and I’m older now — anyways! So these gigs started to have less and less people and the communications with the band the day after the shows were just ridiculous and stuff. So me, my brother [Eric Pacheco] and John Matthews at the time were working on a new record. My brother was engineering it. My brother is a bass player, and me, John and my brother were throwing fat licks and stuff like that. Derek came down and hung out. The next day, boom — he’s like, ‘You guys, I really don’t see this happening. The material is not strong enough.’

Sleaze Roxx: Oh no [laughs].

Jamey Pacheco: [Derek saying] ‘I’m going to go my own way. I’m going to do my solo thing.’ And I was in that band — his solo band — at that time, right.

Sleaze Roxx: Right.

Jamey Pacheco: I got so pissed. I got so pissed off because I was looking forward to doing another record with my brother, who passed away. I copied and pasted the same e-mail to him [Derek] and I left his band [laughs]. I said the same thing he said to me. I didn’t do his solo thing because he didn’t want to do Babylon [A.D.] so one day goes by and this guy named Bobby Cannon calls me up. He’s a friend of mine from way back and he had this tribute band, Duran Duran Duran, and they’d been around since 2008. He played gigs in San Francisco, over at the Great American Music Hall. This band could draw 2,000 people. Their gigs were better than Mötley Crüe’s and shit, and I told Bobby, ‘I don’t know. I’m a metal drummer. I don’t know if I’m going to get into it.’ Well, I gave it a listen and he’s like, ‘I am also looking for a bass player. Do you think your girl would be interested?’ I’m like, ‘Fuck yeah!’ ‘I’ll bring her into this gig but she’s got to do John Taylor [Duran Duran bassist] man!’ I really didn’t think much of [Duran Duran drummer] Roger [Taylor] but this guy Bobby Cannon, he owned that brand, and the day after I left [Derek’s] band, I may have talked to someone and it spread around that I was available. He made me an offer and I came and checked it out and it was pretty cool! I can tell you the story of how it evolved and transitioned. In 2019, I decided, ‘You know what, I don’t really see Babylon A.D. ever doing anything again but maybe they might.’ That’s why I put ‘Formerly of Babylon A.D.’ on my website because I wasn’t going to be involved anymore. And so, I had been doing the Duran thing for awhile. We had a couple of personnel problems and Bobby — he had to check out — so I don’t want to go into that stay too much because it’s kind of personal and I don’t want to say anything bad about him.

Duran Duran Duran‘s “Hungry like The Wolf” promo video:

Sleaze Roxx: That’s fine.

Jamey Pacheco: It came to a point where my name was on about ten contracts and he needed to check out. He just needed to check out. He wasn’t doing too good. He was sleeping too much if you get my drift.

Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]

Jamey Pacheco: So my girlfriend, she’s a retired lawyer and I am a branding designer, and we talked and we made him an offer. So we negotiated a price. I was already doing all the same shit that I was doing for Babylon A.D. — I was doing fuckin’ images, photos, and stuff. I’m a photographer too by the way. I was doing all the assets and then Bobby decides to bail after five gigs. I had scored 15 to 20 gigs. We were playing at any club in L.A., I mean top shelf places and he couldn’t handle it. So when we acquired the brand, now we had it, and we structured our business model — what we have now is just like Rock Vault. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of that.

Sleaze Roxx: Yup. Yes, I have heard of it.

Jamey Pacheco: It’s in [Las] Vegas. Have you heard of it?

Sleaze Roxx: Yeah, yeah. I have.

Jamey Pacheco: Our business model is like that. We have a cast of about 19-2o players and we rotate them in. Sometimes, some players are not available. We staff them based on availability, logistics, costs and all that kind of stuff. It’s developed into this really cool experience. That’s what we are really trying to do. We are trying to build an experience and like I told other people that have been interviewing me and stuff like that, I did the Sunset Strip hard rock thing already now. Now, I’m on the Vegas Strip and I want to take over there. So I want to be an entertainer dude! I don’t want to be in a band no more. I want to be a friggin’ entertainment act. It’s a whole different challenge I would say. I don’t look at it as a challenge. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a different thing because even if Ronnie and I don’t get our asses to a gig, our players still get paid. Our players get paid. They get rooms. They get meals. So when they leave the gig, they net the money that we promised them. I used to hate when I was on the road with Babylon [A.D.] and stuff — and it has nothing to do with the band — you get some dough, you have to get your own flights and all that stuff with the money that you are given and by the time you get there, you’re already in the red.

Sleaze Roxx: Right.

Jamey Pacheco: So it’s like, ‘This is fuckin’ bullshit!’ So we just decided to do this business model so we take care of our players and we attract the best talent. The people that we have here in Vegas are just outstanding. It’s fun dude! It’s totally fun! I could never see myself going back to that. This is a whole different thing.

Duran Duran Duran‘s “Notorious” promo video:

Sleaze Roxx: Do you find that there are bigger crowds for Duran Duran Duran than there would be for a rock band like Babylon A.D.?

Jamey Pacheco: It depends on the band. I mean, Duran Duran is a different nitch. No one does it. There are only a handful of bands that do it. That was another plus. If you look online for “Duran Duran tribute band’, I come up as number one out of one million 750[,000] search results because I know how to do SEO. I used to do that for the Babylon A.D. website too so we could get more hits and shit. So my point is this, they [Duran Duran] have sold 65 million records so people come to hear “Rio” man. They come to hear “Girls On Film”, “Union of The Snake” and shit. So it’s not really us. We look cool in the picture and shit like that but they’re coming to celebrate the music. We kind of do what Duran [Duran] does now. We kind of dress like them. We just try to portray them as they are now. It’s just so much fun now. I just got these two new singers, Vegas singers. One guy — he’s going to be coming out to the Bay area with us on July 15th at Club Fox over in Redwood City [California, USA] and he’s going to make his debut. But he’s a big-time singer here in Vegas. He plays on Fremont Street. He has a residency every Monday night for the last eight years and stuff like that. He’s very well known. He looks like [Duran Duran singer] Simon [Le Bon]. I talked him into cutting his hair so he’s going to look even more like Simon [laughs]. The people that come out, they want to dance, they want to have fun and they want to hear Duran Duran so our gigs are packed. It’s a great experience for once.

Sleaze Roxx: For once [laughs]. What led John Matthews to come back into Babylon A.D. because I think he came just before — actually just after ‘Revelation Highway.’

Jamey Pacheco: Yeah. John was M.I.A. [missing in action] for like 10 years. He just dropped out and was just kind of a recluse for awhile. He helped his Mom and Dad quite a bit, and lived close to them as they needed the care. He started coming around. He’s always been a wonderful friend to me. He’s a brother. He’s one of those guys that I consider to be a real brother and you know, him and I talk all the time. He showed up and he hung around for awhile. I guess — we hit the [Monsters of Rock] Cruise a couple of times. I think Danny [De La Rosa] had plans to do his own record after he came back from the Cruise. We did a couple of gigs in Europe with Danny. We didn’t really have any plans but we were getting offers. So we talked to John and John was into it. I told him, ‘You’ve got to do this. It’s your legacy man. Everybody knows you were part of the production of the first record but you need to put something down dude [laughs].’

Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]

Jamey Pacheco: He was real excited. We were all close friends. Me, John and Danny — we all went to the same high school. Danny and I used to hang out. When I was a sophomore, he was a junior. We went to a Van Halen concert with these two chicks [laughs]. They were sisters. Danny and I were the young ones in the crowd and we’d go see John play these keg parties and shit. John was a maniac you know. He was fuckin’ great! I was thinking, ‘I’m going to have to find a way to play with this guy.’ And when he came up, it kind of fell onto my lap, and we put together Babylon A.D.. So basically, he and I talked. You know what, the timing was perfect actually. When the word got out that we were making a new record, we got a couple of offers, and Frontiers was one of them.

Sleaze Roxx: Cool! Now what about getting your brother [Eric Pacheco] in the band. Robb [Reid] left I guess. What were the circumstances there and how did you get your brother in?

Jamey Pacheco: Well, in 2000, when we fired Babylon A.D. back up, after the ’90s — this was in ’98-’99 — we decided that we wanted to put another record out and we figured that our first two records… The first one, there was a rumour that it went gold but I think that was bullshit. It was never certified gold. I know it sold almost half a million units. I don’t know what the count of the second one [‘Nothing Sacred’] was but let’s just say it was 250,000. I don’t know. So we figured we must have at least 50,000 fans [laughs] that would want to buy our [new] record with our own record company, our own thing and stuff like that. Our own record company — we could do whatever we want. We figured out all the manufacturing and shit. There was CD baby, distribution and all that kind of bullshit. We did it ourselves you know. At that time, Robb had a job and he didn’t want to come back. He needed to work and shit like that.

So we brought my brother in. It was the first time that me and him got to play together in a real band, a professional band. We were never in a band together. When we brought him in, I swear to God dude, it changed the whole fuckin’ thing. It was so bad ass. My brother is like a cross between Nikki Sixx and Gene Simmons and Rob Trujillo in Metallica — like fuckin’ banshee style. He plays like that too. He plays like Nikki. He plays like Gene. He plays hard. So when he came — me and him as the rhythm section — it was just fuckin’ bad ass! So we said, ‘Fuck it, let’s do this.’ And Eric brought three or four songs to that record [2000’s ‘American Blitzkrieg’] including “American Blitzkrieg”, the lead track. He’s a great writer in his own realm. So that’s kind of how Eric got in and then, we started getting these offers again. After ‘American Blitzkrieg’ fizzled out, we got bummed again. We didn’t sell anything. I had those damn CDs in my garage for years.

Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Oh no!

Jamey Pacheco: Did anybody really like this or what?

Babylon A.D.‘s “American Blitzkrieg” video (from American Blitzkrieg album):

Sleaze Roxx: So I guess that you didn’t sell 50,000 units at the end?

Jamey Pacheco: Fuck no [laughs]!

Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]

Jamey Pacheco: We only made an order for 2,000 and sold like 500 I think. I don’t know the count because I never got to see reports and stuff like that so I couldn’t tell you how many we sold. When that fizzled out, we didn’t do anything for quite a while. Derek and I got into the blues. We started playing in a band called American Blues Box and stuff. We did that for a couple of years with my brother. And then, we started getting offers for the [Monsters of Rock] Cruise and all these big festivals. The timing was right. My brother was pissed but Robb came back as the promoters wanted the original line-up as that’s when the original line-up was worth something, you know? We got Robb back. We got Danny. We started getting a lot of gigs. Through that whole transition, Robb kind of fucked up a little bit. We kind of had to let him go and brought Eric back, and that was after ‘Revelation Highway.’ So we were looking forward to making another record with him. He was rehearsed. He was ready to go. He had finished up the gigs for ‘Revelation Highway’, the end of that tour whenever that was. It was like eight shows or whatever. So he came in and he was really counting on doing another record. At the end of 2019 when I quit, all of a sudden, Covid rolled around three or four months later where everything was locked down. So it didn’t really fuckin’ matter did it [laughs]?

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Sleaze Roxx’s interview with Jamey Pacheco!