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

METAL COVEN INTERVIEW

This interview from early 2006 is easily one of the best ever conducted with Sidney Allen Johnson. It featured a lot more back and forth exchange than most written interviews allow for and the result is  most enjoyable.  The interview was done in the wake of the 2006 release of The Great Apostasy: A Conspiracy of Satanic Christianity.

BABYLON MYSTERY ORCHESTRA

Angel Bollier’ with:
Vocalist/Solo Musician – Sidney Allen Johnson
Online Interview
March 30, 2006

Hailing from Greenville Alabama, Metal Coven is honored to speak with Sidney Allen Johnson, vocalist, guitarist, song writer and all the above and below of the ‘one man’ project called Babylon Mystery Orchestra. We’ll be discussing exactly what his purpose was and the message(s) he’s trying to portray with his newest and quite possibly the MOST controversial album ever made, The Great Apostasy: A Conspiracy Of Satanic Christianity. I have to admit to something, this was a little hard for me to do, but I’ve purposely avoided reading any reviews or interviews concerning this album. My reasoning behind this was for me to let you, the reader see what I first saw in his work upon receiving and listening to the promo the very first day it arrived. I did not want to be influenced by what anyone else has said or written about the man or the new album. You will be reading this Interview with the same virgin eyes and ears that beheld me that first day. I hope you enjoy the new discoveries both he and I are about to present to you.

Angel: Greetings, Sidney! I’d like to first take the opportunity to thank you for taking the time to speak with me on behalf of Metal Coven Webzine and all its members and fans. How’s everything going over there in the good state of Alabama?

Sidney: It’s a cat’s life here in Greenville Alabama. Nice and slow.

Angel: Just for kicks, I was first going to title this Interview “The Witch and the Godman”. Would that have been fitting or offensive to you?

Sidney: It doesn’t offend me at all. “Godman” seems a bit much but if that’s how you perceive me, that’s fine with me. This is the 3rd CD that I have released so I have had a few names thrown at me. Some good, and some bad. I guess my favorite description came from a relatively negative review of the second CD. He called me “Heavy Metal’s Prophet of Wrath.” I have to admit, I kind of liked that. I have used it in some bios I have sent out. Its not that I would ever actually consider myself some sort of “prophet,” but if people are going to find ways to describe me, I like the way that sounds.

Angel: That’s cool because it wasn’t meant in an offensive way, I just thought it was rather funny, you being Christian and me, well, being… NOT a Christian. “Heavy Metal’s Prophet of Wrath,” that fairly well covers it. I like that too.

Sidney: Now if this was Islam we were dealing with you might have forfeited your head with such a remark. They seem to have a low tolerance threshold for criticism of that sort.

Angel: Haha, that’s true!

Angel: Sidney, we’re going to conduct this interview assuming that no one has yet heard about this album, much less Babylon Mystery Orchestra as a band, just as I have never heard anything about the band or your latest album, The Great Apostasy: A Conspiracy Of Satanic Christianity until it was sent to us in hopes of getting it reviewed. Upon first listen I thought it had a cool Gothic/Metal sound to it, you know, not thinking much about it but really digging it. Later I played it again and decided to read along from the booklet that contained the lyrics and I was stunned! I remember thinking “what the hell is he doing”? So I have to ask, what ARE you doing with this album? You do realize that it takes some pretty big balls to throw an album like this out there and expect people to swallow it without choking, right?

Sidney: Whether anyone chokes on the statements made with this record is their own affair. I cannot be concerned with how this tastes in someone else’s mouth. I have made a record which truly reflects views and concerns I have had for quite some time. I have seen that other people feel the same way about these things as I do. They either can’t or won’t give voice to their concerns. I have suggested that the church is not a refuge or sanctuary from evil but in fact, a tool for it. I know that will strike many people offensively, but the truth often offends people. Jesus didn’t end up on that cross because he was well liked by those in charge of the establishment or its traditions. Though I view this CD as being highly critical of the institution we call “church,” I am in no way suggesting that Jesus is not who he claimed to be. Quite the opposite. I am suggesting the churches are NOT what they claim to be. There is plenty of Biblical evidence that this was already the case in the early church as mentioned in the first part of the book of REVELATION. Out of seven churches specifically mentioned five were poisoned by something they were being warned would compromise them. One was already considered too far gone. Only one church, the one at Philadelphia, was considered to be in line with its intended purpose. This was only between 30 and 60 years after the crucifixion. Already 6/7 churches attacked and compromised in some way. Just think how that percentage plays out over the next 2000 years.

Sidney: I don’t see anything particularly wrong or heretical in criticizing the church. Although it has been an unhealthy practice in the past. This isn’t the “Black Metal” approach. The material is dealt with seriously and from the point of view of someone (me) who believes the Bible is the inerrant word of God. I, in many ways, view this CD much the same way as Martin Luther’s writings against the church in the 1500’s. At the time the printing press was the new technology and he put it to good use writing alternative interpretations of theology. He was wanting the church to recognize that it was in error and he tried to work within their system. He was a catholic priest after all. They were not too tolerant of him then, and it led to hundreds of years of killing over doctrines and theology. The man even had the audacity to print a Bible in the language of his own people so they could read it for themselves. Unfortunately, even today, most people get their theology and philosophy on Christianity not from reading for themselves, but from the guidance of the churches. I kind of view the new CD as the kind of record Martin Luther might have made if he were around today. They say he did like music.

Angel: I’m almost positive that many people are aware that the church is not what it claims to be, but so many of those very people are self-blinded. Closing their eyes and mouths and walking around like puppets. To me that’s a lie as well, and no better than the church itself. I can’t live that lie.

Sidney: That’s interesting. Many times I have heard that a Christian shouldn’t be a “stumbling block” for someone else. This is basically where the church tries to instill in someone the idea that others will be judging Christianity, as such, through the actions of its individual members. I grew up in what they call a dry county. There was no alcohol for sale at all here until the mid 80’s. This had a lot to do with the churches encouraging people to keep voting down alcohol sales in the local referendums. The idea being that Christians shouldn’t drink at all…ever. There is tremendous encouragement not to be seen engaging in that activity or any activity that can be perceived as sinful. But yet the church as a whole is beyond reproach. Many people within them wonder why they have an insatiable need to expand. Always acquiring more wealth and influence. Ultimately banding together in large groups like the Southern Baptist Convention. This is the single largest Christian denomination in North America. But why should a church in Alabama have to be in step with a church in Oklahoma? Why can’t the congregations grow and evolve independently? The reason is, that its not beneficial for the institution as a whole. There is more power and influence not over just the congregation…but on those outside of it. That’s how for years they could keep alcohol sales out of Butler County Alabama. It did not make the people any more pious. They just went to the next county, and the church was not just dictating behavior for its followers, but for nonbelievers as well. They were joining forces and exercising their influence over the community as a whole. So not much has changed over the centuries. Just the tactics evolve.

Angel: Just for the record, so no one thinks that I am bashing you or this album, I fully stand behind and support you and the message you are portraying with this album. In my opinion your message needs to be said. Hell, it should have been said centuries ago! This is the main reason why the album got my attention from the beginning and took me by storm…because of what you are trying to get across to everyone, and the fact that your words, and the entire point you are making is exactly what took me away from Christianity to begin with! And I hardly think I’m going to be the only one that thinks this or that will be affected by it.

Sidney: This message has been said over and over through the centuries. It’s really nothing new. Just what do you think heresy truly is? Criticizing the church has always been with us, but the church is not an institution that tolerates criticism well. Now don’t let me be accused of saying their is nothing right with them at all. Its just like it says in the Bible. Jesus knows their works and he knows what they have done well. But he also has something against them as well. I don’t believe there is safety in numbers. But there certainly is danger in it. There is a great truth in the Bible that most people never acknowledge. At no point in the Bible was the majority ever right about anything. Every time the majority was allowed to run things, the great Biblical calamities followed. Jesus was even executed by popular consent over Barrabas. That’s what makes the pretribulation rapture belief so dangerous to me. Most Christian churches teach that all the Christians of the earth will be swept away to meet Jesus BEFORE the great endtimes tribulation promised in Biblical prophecy. The fact that MOST Christians are believing this is the first reason to question it. If you were the devil and you knew the word of God has already detailed significantly how you were going to manipulate world events, how would you get around that revelation and deceive the Christians of the earth? You would find a way to convince them that what’s in there doesn’t apply to them. For some reason, there is an arrogance among Christians that allows them to believe that being a Christian somehow puts you out of the reach of satanic deception. In fact this arrogance increases their vulnerability. There is a popular series of books called the “Left Behind” series. It is a fictional account of how the antichrist will wreak his havoc on the earth AFTER the church has been raptured. This series has sold in the millions. I believe it is way more dangerous than any of the witchcraft in the Harry Potter books. “The Great Apostasy” in many ways is a direct refutation of the Left Behind premise.

Angel: Since The Great Apostasy: A Conspiracy Of Satanic Christianity is still a new album, exactly what have the opinions been like towards it? Can you share with us a few accounts of the publicity you’ve received so far from the Christian community as well as the non-Christian? Have you received any comments from the non Christian community as misunderstanding the album and assuming that you are bashing the church, religion AND Jesus as a whole, possibly thinking you are Anti-Christian?

Sidney: So far it has received only good reviews. But most of them haven’t been written yet. There are only a few so far. It’s still way to early to tell. However I have heard from many radio people in the Christian music community and they seem to be really supportive of it. So far there isn’t any Christian backlash and I don’t know that there should be. When dealing with the subject of church apostasy it is always easy to see it in someone else’s church and to view your own as the exception. The modern equivalent of the church of “Philadelphia” if you will. The CD actually follows a trajectory beginning with the song Holy Ghost about the promise of the holy spirit’s arrival and how Jesus must go for it to come as well as “Pentecost” which champion its actual arrival. So we begin with the idea that the church, as it is meant to be, is actually powerful, essential and rewarding. It then progresses into the “intelligently designed” conspiracy to hijack the church and its purpose. Because I went to such detail in the booklet I hope there isn’t much room for someone to misinterpret my intentions. I consider the booklet just as important as the music and the additional text and Biblical passages are meant to help guide the listener through my thought process. That’s why I hate the new Ipod way of getting music. You can’t get anything but the song. You need more than a 4-minute song to responsibly deal with these issues.

Angel: I fully agree. If I had only listened to a few songs on the CD and not bothered to read the lyrics and booklet, that’s exactly what I would have assumed…that you were Anti-Christian, and I’m almost positive that I would not have received the powerful effect of your entire message. And honestly, that would have been a shame.

Angel: Let’s discuss a little more in depth about the album itself and the work that went into it. Like I have already admitted in an ‘off the record’ discussion with you, I only recently discovered that you were the one and only person involved in Babylon Mystery Orchestra and that just blew me away. So that means that you play all the instruments on here yourself? Are there any, shall we say, artificial elements involved? It’s very well done and professional sounding for ‘one’ man is what I’m trying to say.

Sidney: Well first off. All the music you listen to is artificial. Guitars don’t sound powerful and distorted naturally. That’s a processed sound. Drums don’t ride high in a mix without a mixing board and a compressor. Vocals as well. And I am describing Mariah Carey’s production! Let alone metal bands. Nothing about modern music is natural. It is all artificially processed. Go back and listen to some old Hank Williams records from the 50’s and hear the difference in how the instruments come together. That is closer to a natural recording, and there is even still some processing in that! Having said that, there is nothing out of the ordinary in BMO’s instrumentation. I do play everything myself. I actually have fairly limited recording gear. No pro-tools computer setup. But I have gear that I am pretty comfortable with. I would be apprehensive to go into a “real” studio for fear that it could almost do too much. If you have 300 reverbs to choose from you will take forever to make up your mind. So in spite of the fact that doing everything yourself is a more complicated approach, I do try to keep it as simplified as possible. I want to focus the attention on what I am creating, not how I do it. I don’t like records where the musicians take over and their playing becomes the center of attention, so I definitely would not like for the production to take over either. However I am very happy with the way BMO records sound. I am glad they sound every bit as professional as any record made by anyone. I think that it is because I know what I want BMO to sound like and I know how to get that sound.

Angel: Well put. Being that you brought up the subject of Hank Williams, have you ever received comments saying that not only does your sound have a Gothic/Metal vibe, but also a minuscule feel of Southern Rock? I’m saying this because several parts in this album yell out Skynard and Charlie Daniels to me. Sort of like a southernized version of a “Charlie Daniels Doom Metal” band. Now don’t get me wrong, I love both those bands and I think it’s absolutely amazing that so many different musical vibes and sounds can be found on this, yet it all fits perfectly. I might also add that you are one kick ass guitar soloist on here. The few areas where you’re ripping sends my veins throbbing and I’m always finding myself repeating those certain areas on the CD. I’m a MAJOR fan of shredding guitars, especially solos, and you do an astounding job on this album. You really should consider adding more shredding solos into a future album and making them longer. You wouldn’t see me complaining!

Sidney: Actually no one has said, that I can remember, that they hear any “southern rock” in the sound of it, but once a reviewer actually said he thought it sounded like “cowboy goth.” I don’t really know what that was supposed to mean. I think a lot of the BMO sound is really reminiscent of classic rock as much as anything. Did you know I actually live in the county that Hank Williams was born? He was born in Georgiana, which is just a few miles south of here and he spent a lot of time in Greenville as well. It’s easy for someone from here to bring him up, although I can’t say I really listen to him a lot. His songwriting style which he called “keeping it vanilla” is something I have taken to heart though. You have to write songs with an ear toward simplicity and not try to impress people with complex musicianship. I think that also leaves plenty of room to make the lyrics the most meaningful part of the song and keep the music in the role of support. Powerful support.

Sidney: I never have considered myself particularly accomplished as a musician. My guitar solos are, once again, designed to add something to the song and not just display instrumental prowess. I think they all reek of late 70’s Ace Frehley and Scott Gorham. But people don’t play guitar like that anymore so maybe it is a little different. I think the solos were a little bit longer on the first CD. I wasn’t consciously doing anything different but maybe they were shortened somewhat. Maybe I will make an effort to consciously extend them on the next one!

Angel: LOL, I think you should! You know, now that I think about it, perhaps that’s what I’m actually hearing here, that long forgotten 70’s guitar sound. In reality, that’s what I grew up on and that sound was my first love as far as guitars go. So I suppose in a way you’re right, it has been removed from today’s music styles, and greatly missed, without anyone even being aware that it’s gone.

Sidney: Too many guitarists, well all musicians actually, overplay everything. This is a real problem with heavy metal music. There should only be one instrument in the lead at a time and everyone else should be supporting that. That seems to be lost these days as everyone is full on the whole time. When the singer is speaking he or she is the lead instrument. Another thing I see getting forgotten lately.

Angel: Now what about that voice of yours, Sidney? I mean, let’s face it, to look at you and then hear that voice…well, it’s hard to imagine them actually being as one! Where the hell does that thundering power come from? On the last track of the album, the song titled Antichrist Superczar where you’re more or less talking in the opening then jump right into a SCREAMING YELL scenario in the last line just before the actual song begins nearly scared the piss out of me the first time I heard it. Even now I skip past it because of the feeling that I’m being scolded and punished for something. Do you have a deep voice like that in normal everyday conversation or does it only come out when you are singing?

Sidney: Not really. I learned to talk when I lived in New Hampshire so I actually don’t speak in what should be my natural voice. I don’t have a Yankee accent but I actually get tired if I talk too much. But the deeper more powerful BMO voice is actually easier on me. It’s very natural to do with the music. The fact is these lyrics do not need to sound “frivolous.” The words need to be the center of attention and need to be delivered with conviction. That is more important to me than a purist attitude towards singing. I believe that also lends to the music sounding somewhat more original than most.

Sidney: I thought that intro to Antichrist Superczar would catch some people by surprise. I truly do love that song.

Angel: And what about the third song on here titled I, Lucifer? Is there a reason or a purpose why this particular song was made to sound so enticingly seductive? It makes one want to grab the bible, a bottle of Jack, summon up the devil and have a good ol’ argument with him…or try and seduce him, either or. I mean, was not Satan supposed to be more beautiful than God? I’d suspect he’d be quite the ‘Hottie’.

Sidney: I have been working on that little instrumental for some time. I wasn’t sure something that sounded like that would really fit in well with the rest of the record but it actually works perfect in there. That’s something I strive for though, I don’t like records where all the songs sound the same.

Sidney: Oh yes. Satan would not be ugly at all. Nor will the anti-christ. Very beautiful and very charismatic. You know he has to have charisma. Even in the form of a serpent he got Eve to peel that fruit and give it to Adam…Of course she peeled it. Adam wouldn’t have eaten it if he recognized it for what it was. But he didn’t know what it looked like on the inside!

Angel: LOL, I like your thinking.

Angel: I noticed that you also have two previous albums out. How do you feel about this album in comparison with your previous 2 releases and how are they different? Do they each have different themes as this new one does?

Sidney: Well, as any other artist would say, I think the new one is the best one yet but I am still relatively happy with the others as well. I think as an artist releases more records you see some changes and evolution to the sound. Each record should be unique, yet remain within the realm of expectations created by previous works. I certainly think that is the case with BMO records. All BMO records so far are built around a big theme with several lesser themes swirling around them. The first BMO CD, Divine Right Of Kings was built around the Biblical prophecy of Mystery Babylon mentioned in Revelation 17 & 18. The suggestion being that the United States IS this place. A place that will be destroyed in one hour. The second CD, On Earth As It Is In Heaven is taken from the “Dead Sea Scroll” books of Enoch and Secrets of Enoch as well as part of the Genesis story from chapter 6. This CD suggests that music was a key corrupter of the pre-flood world of Noah as well as some 200 meddling fallen angels. The correlation is made between the ancient music of that time and the current evolution of Rock music in ours. Since that ended badly and Jesus said “As it was in the days of Noah, So shall it be also in the days of the son of man.” I am suggesting that the music of today is in fact a sign that we are in the Biblical last days.

Angel: What does Sidney do when he’s not making music? Do you work at a full time job doing something else?

Sidney: Absolutely I do. I build patterns at a wood laminating plant. Huge arch patterns that are used to cut out big arches that more often than not are used in…Churches. Oh the irony I’m sure you will find in that. The guy who wrote this CD is actually involved in the construction of hundreds of churches every year. Reality is stranger than fiction. Isn’t it?

Angel: Yes it is, and that’s very interesting. Sydney, you mentioned something just now about the United States being THAT place and how it would be destroyed in one hour, and I would simply adore hearing more about that but I fear that we might be getting close to ‘that time’, perhaps another interview when the next album comes out.

Sidney: It’s a very interesting possibility and you will find that a great many people believe it likely the United States is Mystery Babylon. The churches don’t want to acknowledge that though. How could the nation with the most Christian churches possibly be worthy of such a fate?

Angel: Let me ask you one more thing before we close. What are the fans in store for on your next album? Please tell me there will be another!

Sidney: Well two songs are already recorded for the next CD. It is probably well over a year and a half away at the pace I have been doing things lately. There will be a message on this record that no one has ever dealt with before. The greatest crime of Satan is his mocking of God. And that will lead to the greatest fear of all of Christianity. I have seen it clearly, but since the church has rewarded itself by teaching that they will all be removed in a rapture before the great tribulation, they are totally unprepared for what will be done to them. I won’t reveal it until the record is finished. Suffice it to say that Satan has brilliantly played his hand. That message will play a dominant role on the CD. There will also be several underlying themes as always. I haven’t dealt with Islam on record yet. But already one song about that is done. As I have said many times, Babylon Mystery Orchestra will not shy away from difficult subjects. I shall embrace them.

Angel: That’s awesome! I can barely wait! Please, by all means get Metal Coven a copy as soon as it’s released, we would be honored to review it on here. Oh, and don’t forget more of those shredding guitar solos.

Sidney: I will definitely keep Metal Coven high on my list. We’ll just have to see how things work out on those shredding solos.

Angel: Well Sidney, I’m sure that I’ve pulled just about everything from your little soul that I could possibly think of, is there anything else you’d like to share more, or elaborate more on before we close?

Sidney: I can’t think of anything. I just want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. If I had to leave with one statement this might be a good one: “Good people do good things and bad people do bad things. To get a good person to do a bad thing you need religion.” Jesus is not a religion.

Angel: Thank you as well, Sidney, it’s been a total pleasure talking with you about this new album. I think you are the first TRUE Christian I have ever met in my entire life, and I wish you nothing but the best.

Babylon Mystery Orchestra’s Website: http://www.babylonmysteryorchestra.com

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