Disciples Of Babylon - The Rise and Fall of Babylon - Autumn 2017

Hollywood rockers Disciples Of Babylon are a band who deserve your attention. Their debut EP, 2015’s Welcome To Babylon, was simply ground-breaking. With elements of both classic and alternative rock, the band delivered a very unique, fresh and all-consuming sound that immediately pulled us in and held us captive. In our review we stated ‘never has a debut EP showcased so much talent’ and that the release comprised of ‘wonderfully produced tracks that deserve to be heard in stadiums’. Fast-forward to October 2017, Disciples Of Babylon now deliver their first full album The Rise and Fall of Babylon. Let’s be very clear – this is an absolutely stunning album! It’s a sonically huge offering with strong vocals, gorgeous guitars and big choruses throughout. Disciples Of Babylon have taken the time to create music of the very highest standard. Following such a strong EP was always going to be an enormous challenge but they have absolutely pulled it off.

On the eve of the release of The Rise and Fall of Babylon, we caught up with vocalist Eric Knight in LA and guitarist Ramon Blanco in Spain. Both were in fine spirits, brimming with pride as they celebrated the completion of their new album, immersing themselves in the hot sun of their respective locations. With the UK experiencing an extended bout of thunder and lightening, we couldn’t help but feel just a little envious. However, our poor weather was easily ignored as we sat back and chatted about the band’s last 2 years and discussed how the new album came together...

I would of course like to talk about the new album, The Rise and Fall of Babylon, but before we do let’s just take a moment to reflect on the success of your debut EP Welcome to Babylon. The record made a huge impact, with the single Karma being voted number 75 in the top 100 tracks of 2015, and the impact here in the UK has also been incredible. Tell me about your experience of the release of Welcome to Babylon and the success that followed. 

Eric – For us it was incredible to be able to do what we do with just a simple 3 song EP. That’s typically unheard of but we knew that we kind of had something special when we were recording that initial EP. We knew had something special with Karma right off the bat and we knew that we were going to go with that as our opening single. And it just caught on slowly. People would hear it and respond to it immediately. The impact of the EP was basically our calling-card in developing the foundation of the band and everything is kind of built slowly off of that, and we’re riding in that momentum to the next release.

So it’s been a couple years since your debut EP and while your fans have been waiting for a new record you’ve remained highly visible as a band. One particular venture you embarked upon was the You Tube series of programmes Stories of Babylon where we saw you in the studio, we had interviews and also some gorgeous acoustic performances. How did this concept come about?

RamonThe Stories of Babylon was something we wanted to do for our fans so we could tell them how we develop our music and the different things we were doing. These days social media is pretty important for us. You have to be on point so it was the perfect excuse for us. We have our music and now we are doing acoustic sessions or now we are in the studio etc. It’s about keeping the connection alive with our fans.

Eric – I think one of the biggest things too about Stories of Babylon that we all agreed on was that this video series would be a great way to introduce new fans that don’t know what we’re about to get an idea of who the band is and what we’re like, our personalities and characters. It’s a great vehicle for us to introduce ourselves to new fans who are learning about the band.

So fast forwarding to Autumn 2017, you now have a new album The Rise and Fall of Babylon. Tell me about the approach you took to writing and recording the album.

Eric - Basically the same approach that we have been doing since we started the band, me and Ramon, a few years ago. Typically it’s me and Ramon or me, Ramon and Gui (Bodi - bass), and we just get in to the room and just start exchanging ideas, riffs or melody ideas. Ramon will play me stuff, I’ll play him some stuff and then we just kind of figure out ‘Okay, this one sounds really cool, let’s start on this idea’ and we just start developing from there. Then typically we go through the songwriting session, trying to work out the arrangement to the song, and once we get an arrangement going we start thinking about melodies and stuff it kind of takes off from there. Then we bring it in to the band and we’ll get into a rehearsal room, or we get all of us in the same room and we just go over all the parts. That’s typically the way it works. We have a system now and we’ve been doing it for a while.

Ramon – basically, especially for the new songs – because we already had some songs written before we got the date to do all the recording - we wanted to write more songs so we have more material to show our producer and we can pick out the stronger ones. Those ones we did in an acoustic environment. Eric and I, or with Gui, would develop an idea or the map of the song. We brought in Chris with a cahon so we could get an idea of how those songs would sound with a real beat. It’s a rock song but but we’ll do an acoustic version. We have this theory that if a song works acoustically, it’s going to sound good when we add all the powerful electric guitars and the extra production. So that’s what we did. We set up some sessions with the producer, we picked the best songs and we went to the studio with everything pretty clear about what we were going to record. 

The title itself is actually quite interesting. Is it perhaps a reflection and a snapshot to describe the world we live in?

Eric – Yeah, definitely. It’s not a concept record in nature, even though some of the songs touch on what’s happening now, but definitely the title was a reflection on everything that’s going on now here in our society, here in the United States and what’s going on with the government, obviously the new president that we’re not very fond of. Just a lot of things I think are happening globally so I think it was a really cool title in the times that we’re living in right now.

The most important thing is of course the music. With tracks with titles such as We Are The Ones, Freedom and Civilised it would appear that there are messages around taking control and fighting for what’s right. Would that be a fair statement?

Eric – Definitely. Some of the newer songs that we haven’t even presented to the public yet, at least me from a lyrical standpoint and what I’m writing about, are definitely a reflection of what’s happening now.

Ramon – We are a positive band and we want to send that message of hope for people who may be struggling through various situations. You can interpret these songs in different ways but we are definitely a positive band. We think that right now, in the world we are living in, we need positive ideas and thoughts. 

Even though the opportunity may have been taken to address important issues, the music itself is actually incredibly uplifting. The album has a huge sound and is quite simply stadium sized rock: strong vocals throughout and big choruses. One of the impacts The Rise and Fall of Babylon has managed to create is a very inclusive experience and one that tangibly draws the listener in. Right from the outset I could imagine myself at a Disciples of Babylon show singing along. Working with producer Andres Torres again is clearly a winning partnership.

Eric - You know how George Martin was the 5th member of The Beatles? I think Andres Torres is the 5th member of Disciples Of Babylon! The songs are like what Ramon said earlier. We have a test: if it sounds incredible when we play it acoustically, we know we have something special, and that when we start applying all the electric instrumentation and arrangements, we bring it up to a certain point when we actually get in a room with Andres. Andres comes in from an objective standpoint where he hasn’t heard these songs really. He heard a couple of them early on and he really liked them. I think as a producer, they come in and listen to the songs. What Andres did in the first EP, the songs were here (indicates a high level) but he took them to a completely different level.  Some of the suggestions he made we were like ‘Oh my god!’ They were simple but they were powerful and really took the songs to the next level. The great thing is that our relationship has grown. Ramon and Andres went to school together. We all went to the same school but at different times. 

Ramon – Andres and myself have know each other 8 years. We went to Hollywood Musicians Institute, we used to live in the same apartment complex and we became big friends. He’s from Colombia, I’m from Spain so we had that language relationship and cultural theme. We like the same kind of music, the same kind of writers and the same kind of production. When we decided to do our first EP he was actually playing drums on it. At that point we didn’t have a drummer, and he’s an incredible drummer too, so we went to his place and we developed the songs with him. So he really knows our band since the beginning, he’s known me a long time so he knows my taste, my criteria and my style regarding music. Of course when we decided to do the new album, we thought it has to be with Andres. Like Eric said, he just suggests small details that take songs to another level.

Eric – When I initially approached Ramon about joining me in the project and putting the band together, one of the things we agreed on automatically was our vision. If you go to a U2 concert, the audience are singing every word of every song, so when you said ‘stadium-worthy’ songs, that’s exactly what we are trying to go for. We want these songs to appeal to everyone. We could hear these songs being sung back to us in a stadium so it was really cool hearing your interpretation of the music because that’s exactly what we’re trying to go after. We want this to be an immersive experience with the audience. 

With only 7 tracks though it’s quite a short album. 

Eric – I think it’s like what Ramon said – less is more. You listen to like old Rush albums, obviously their songs were much longer, but we’re coming from the standpoint of less is more. We have such a high standard of what we are trying to write with our music and we don’t want any filler in any of those albums. We want every song to be able to be a hit and we really strive for that.

Ramon – We got to the point where we wanted to have the songs we really wanted on the album. We wanted every song to be able to be single. The other thing is that nowadays people tend to listen to one single. We just gave our fans our best seven songs that we’ve written. For us it was hard to pick a single because we really liked each song, and for us in the band it made us really happy!

You have an album launch show at the Viper Room on 5th October. What plans do you have to tour the record and more generally what plans do you have for the rest of 2017? 

Eric – I think it’s trying to get through this initial release and I think we’re going to be touring much more in 2018. We’re just getting all that worked out right now. We are still considered a baby-band by the industry so we’re trying to land booking agents for here in the States and the UK where we have been getting a lot of response on radio.  The UK has been an ambassador for the whole rock, hard rock, alternative rock movement we think. One of our big targets is to go to the UK but just the logistics of putting all that together and trying to get an agency that believes in what’s going with us to bring us there are the kind of things that were working on. But we are planning to play wherever they will have us!

As our conversation draws to a close, it’s with a huge amount of anticipation that we wait to see the impact The Rise and Fall of Babylon will make. The band have absolutely taken the right approach by limiting the album to 7 incredible tracks. And they are incredible tracks – every one of them. What we see here is a commitment right from the outset to release only the very best music. But will we hear the songs played in stadiums?  I think we just might!

To find out more, visit www.disciplesofbabylon.com. The Rise and Fall of Babylon is available now at iTunes. 

Enjoy the lyric video to lead single Without You below.