Babylon Mystery Orchestra Interviews
An archive of lost interviews with Sidney Allen Johnson

BAND ON THE RUN

This is a reproduction of an interview piece done with Cindy Peek of the Birmingham News in Birmingham Alabama on September 17, 2004.

Band on the run: Babylon Mystery Orchestra
Friday, September 17, 2004
CINDY PEEK
News staff writer

What: “I refer to it myself as a classic/Gothic/doom style of heavy metal,” Sidney Allen Johnson says of his one-man band. Babylon Mystery Orchestra is from Greenville.

Personnel: “As it stands now, I am the entire Babylon Mystery Orchestra,” Johnson says. “I am not against the idea of adding other musicians and possibly playing some gigs. I have always liked music and I have always thought the creative side of it was far more interesting than the performing side.”

Discs: “Divine Right Of Kings” was released last year and “On Earth As It Is In Heaven” this year. They are available on the Internet stores cdbaby.com, amazon.com, towerrecords.com and the musician’s Web site.

Behind the music: “All BMO material in some way is about Biblical prophecy, although it is far removed from the sanitized messages of comfort being sold in today’s churches,” Johnson says.

Band in making: “(In) 2001, I began assembling the first CD,” Johnson says. “I decided that nobody had ever taken this approach before and committed myself to making no less than four BMO records. I feel you have to keep working on newer and better material all the time. In the world of heavy metal and hard rock music, the idea of a single man band is anathema. Everyone worships the idea of bands. The fact is that bands are incredibly inefficient and undependable. I think that as music has proliferated, and more and more sub-genres created, that the rock band as we have known it is obsolete. The fact is most of them weren’t all they appeared to be anyway.”

What he hopes to accomplish: “I am trying only to put out records that are different from what else is out there,” Johnson says. “I am not guilty of telling people what they want to hear. The ideas expressed in BMO songs will challenge the belief system of the listener, not affirm it as most music does. Most music bores me anymore because the songs are about nonsense. Nobody sees beyond themselves to `the bigger picture.’ BMO is my attempt to point it out.”

Most requested song: “‘Ravishing Music’ is currently the most popular,” Johnson says. “It is a descriptive song about the music of 4000 years ago.”

Claim to fame: “Both ‘We Are Power’ and `Ravishing Music’ have been included on the sample discs that the magazine `Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles’ includes with each issue,” Johnson says. “There have been a few other appearances on various compilation discs as well.”

How it’s unique: “Unlike most music out there, it is dominated by the lyrics,” Johnson says. “The subject of the songs determines everything else. Most other music is beat or riff oriented or centers on the skills of the musicians. It also combines quite a few textures to its sound. The idea is to make the music sound like the story it is telling. Therefore it cannot bow down to the current trends in music.”

Air play: “I know for certain that BMO has been played in Greece, Germany, Portugal, England, Netherlands, Australia, as well as places all over the U.S.,” Johnson says. “There is also some Internet radio play as well.”

Influences: “I am a lifelong KISS fan with a huge collection of their memorabilia,” Johnson says. “So it all starts there even if that isn’t as obvious in BMO’s approach. I think with BMO you can hear a varying combination of Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Tiamat, The Sisters Of Mercy, Type O Negative and even The Doors among many others.”

Fans: “Overwhelmingly, the ones I hear from in America tend to come from a Christian background and they really appreciate the approach I take with the material,” Johnson says. “The people from Europe tend to be more into the Gothic metal and care more about the overall sound of the music. They look upon the material as mythology-oriented, which is not an unusual topic for metal bands.”

Name game: “When recording the first CD I wanted to use a name that had the word orchestra in it since I was the only one in the band,” Johnson says. “The first record was about `Mystery Babylon’ so it just jumped right out at me. As I indicated earlier, fans of this type of music generally abhor non-bands so I felt I needed to use a name that implied there was a band even though there isn’t. It is generally hard for an unknown act to get reviews, but I have not had any problem getting them. Apparently it worked. It is a name that piques a lot of people’s curiosity.”

In ten years: “Probably finished,” Johnson says. “I see clearly the path to take through five CDs. After that I will probably have accomplished all that I want musically. Plus, I think it would be refreshing to see someone say what they want and then go away.”

Web site: http://www.babylonmysteryorchestra.com.

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