Disciples Of Babylon - Winter 2020
Disciples of Babylon is an international rock band based in Hollywood California. But you need to know more than this. You need to understand that they are perhaps one of the most important bands out there and that they are massively deserving of your attention. Disciples Of Babylon are doing something quite different. Firstly, there is nothing superficial about this band. They dare to take on strong subjects head-on but always from a firm position of critical observation and knowledge. This band absolutely know what they are taking about and they have the ability to make their point in the most entertaining way. Their arena-ready sound is beautifully demonstrated on their debut EP Welcome To Babylon and 2017’s full album The Rise And Fall Of Babylon, and now they are back with their latest single Liberty. The sonic power of this track is actually quite overwhelming with its passion and it’s call to arms message. Overall this represents a strong but also natural evolution. We catch up with frontman Eric Knight to find out the full story behind Liberty…
Let’s talk about the latest single Liberty. I have to say that I was absolutely bowled over when I heard this track. It’s such a hugely powerful track both sonically and lyrically. It absolutely has the Disciples Of Babylon DNA running through it though there appears to be a more industrial sound. To what extent would you agree with that?
I guess you’re probably talking about that looping guitar that’s coming at the beginning. That was actually all due to Chris (Toeller) our drummer who produced this track. It’s the first time he’s produced a track for us and he did such a brilliant job. It’s basically just his interpretation of what he was hearing in the track. When I was talking to him, when we were having conversations about this whole process and about him producing this track, I told him that I definitely wanted to start taking the band in a different direction and start broadening the sound and broadening the palate of sounds. So he came in and just hit it right out of the park. Again, it was a whole new way of working because we started building this song as Covid was starting to hit. It was different in the manner of our approach for the song because we were all kind of separate so it was kind of an adjustment period that we had to through to build this track. But what he ended up doing with it was just simply amazing! We felt as a band that he hit it out of the park. He had his own take on it and and it was something that we were just like ‘Wow!’. We loved the way that this was sounding. So yes, I guess you could say there is the element of that industrial thing, and I think it’s because of that looping guitar happening at the beginning of the song, but that’s what’s beautiful about when you’re creating music – in this case we had somebody in the band, he was producing so he was very close to the track. But I just thought he did a great job and we definitely purposely, intentionally wanted to start broadening that sound. There is a lot of different instrumentation going on in that track that’s kind of in the background that you might not hear it unless you were listening for it. I feel like there is a modernisation of our sound, not that our sound was dated before, but it’s definitely like 2020 to me. You have to make it sound like right now, today, but still have the elements of our DNA but have a modern twist to it.
Liberty is also hugely uplifting song but it’s also a serious one with its message of ‘people coming together, no matter what the cost, for freedom’. Where did the inspiration for this song come from?
The inspiration initially came from when I had this melody in my head, and typically when this happens for me personally – I know everybody else in the band when they’re bringing stuff into the band as writers has different approaches – sometimes with me I constantly think ‘thank God for our phones, that we are able to record quick messages and ideas’. So I just had this melody in my head and usually when that happens it means that I’m onto something. As far as developing an idea for a song, and typically I think of music first and melody but sometimes lyrics and words just come into my head. It just hits me and I immediately start writing down that phrase and I start building. In this particular case I do not know why this ended up happening, this phrase of ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ was just this famous speech that was written by Patrick Henry here in 1775. He was giving a speech to the Senate I believe in Virginia at the time and his famous last words of that speech were ‘Give me liberty or give me death’. That was such a striking phrase and I’ve always loved that quote, and the melody in my head was dictating that particular lyric that came out. I realised at that point that I knew what I was going to start writing about: everything that’s going on with this craziness. I think this has been a kind of continuation of the last record The Rise And Fall Of Babylon of where we were seeing what was happening and what was coming to fruition in terms of not only us as a country but around the world. We were once regarded as the best country in the world where everybody looked up to us and now we are starting to look like a third world country where everything is divided so down the middle, depending on who you voted for or or what your politics are you are instantly banished. I saw that initially in the title of that record. It wasn’t a concept record but was definitely a message of this is the mirror of what we are seeing now. With Liberty it was just that we’d already been 2 or 3 years into this whole new administration which has just been an absolute disaster and seeing the turmoil that it caused just made me realise that we were this close to getting into a civil war in this country, against our own people! So that’s kind of where that whole spark came from and why we decided we were going to release it leading up to the election. Our songs, we try to make them a mirror – this is what we are seeing – and obviously everybody interpret songs and lyrics in their own way. So there are some people who might not realise what’s going on and what this is about and putting their own connotation to it. We do try to have a silver lining in it. We all want liberty and even though we live in a free country as of today and we have a democracy, ultimately we’re all after the same goal. No matter what side you’re on – whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, a Martian from the moon - we all have our differences but it’s how do we get back to the centre and try to say ‘Okay, I don’t agree with everything you’re saying and I know that you don’t agree with everything I’m saying but let’s try to come to some middle ground and let’s start trying to care about each other instead of trying to kill each other’ and that’s what the ultimate messaging that song is.
In a year where where we’ve seen enormous impacts on people’s freedoms and potentially even question marks over how real democracy actually is, I would just like to reflect on the lyrics ‘Divide us and conquer, was that your goal? You’ve got your wish, how does it feel?’. When you wrote those lyrics, Eric, who or what was this in response to?
Oh, I was clearly talking about our chief president or lack thereof. The lyric was definitely about him, about Trump specifically, because his whole agenda has been about scorched earth and this whole dividing and conquer thing. Red states versus blue states, and if you’re in a blue state like we are here in California, screw everybody! The fires were all just a joke. And look what’s happening now. This guy won’t even admit that he lost the election. I attributed him to Nero - he’s waiting to burn the whole thing down because it’s all about him. So that lyric was specifically targeted at him which was ‘You’ve got your wish, how does it feel? How do you feel about this now? Does it make you feel good?’. So that’s where that lyric came from. It was taking a shot but the overall message in the song is that we want to unite people, we don’t want to further divide the issue.
Let’s talk about the artwork because yet again Disciples Of Babylon have created something quite visually stunning here with the broken coin. How did you come up with this concept?
That was actually an idea I had one day when I had an epiphany when this was starting to become more of a reality. This coin is a really famous coin that was created back in the 40s in the United States and it’s the Mercury Winged coin though is often referred to as the Liberty coin. When I was looking at it, I just went ‘Oh my God, this is what the idea of liberty is!’. Ironically enough, my father is like an incredible Photoshop expert and genius, he does a lot of our stuff where he corrects our photos. We have incredible photographers but he kind of comes in and dresses up all the stuff for our photos, and I talked to him about the idea for the cover of the single and how I’m seeing this coin with a crack down the middle. It was obviously supposed to be subliminal, how you are watching this coin and seeing how it says Liberty on it and you’re seeing it being cracked because liberty is being challenged during this whole time that we are in. So I wanted something simple and stunning and everybody loved the idea. We changed the colouring of the coin just to kind of make it a gold thing because gold is another controversial thing. So there’s all these little things in there and we changed the ‘In God We Trust‘ to ‘In DOB We Trust’. We put our insignia in there, so there’s all these little subtle things in there. It kind of reminds me of the old Iron Maiden records where you will see the different hidden messages in their artwork. Everyone was looking to see what the meaning was behind all this.
That is a really interesting point I know exactly what you mean when you talk about the Iron Maiden covers. For example the clock being set at two minutes to midnight on the Somewhere In Time.
But it’s absolutely wonderful that disciples of Babylon share that desire and creativity to create such an attention to detail in your visual art work. You’ve just mentioned a message on the coin that reads ‘In DOB We Trust’ and I think there is something quite poignant about that. Do you think that in some ways music is perhaps the only thing people can really put their faith in?
You know, it’s an interesting question. I’ve been talking about this in many interviews and I thought I had this poignant quote that said ‘music is my religion’ but I didn’t realise that it was Jimi Hendrix who had said that quote and I was like (sigh!) ‘Damn it – he took it already!’ (Laughs). But for me personally, and I’m pretty sure most of these guys would agree, music not only saved my life but it’s truly my religion and I believe that music is the only form of media that joins us together. It’s the only thing! I don’t care what religious background you’re from or what colour or race you’re from, I don’t care what your political affiliation is – music is the one thing that puts us all together, and I don’t think that that is a mistake. I think that’s something, if you’re a spiritual person, that there was a reason behind that. If you think about artists like Michael Jackson, there were tribes of people in these remote areas of the world that knew who Michael Jackson was and that’s how far this man’s music travelled. To me music is all. It’s everything. It’s what brings us together and so I feel if we can try and do it in such a small way – obviously we’re not going to appeal to all people and we don’t want to appeal to all people – but the people who do get hooked into what we are doing, that they see that our ultimate message is to bring people together and to unite.
You will understand that bringing us this single raises hopes and expectations of more. What plans do you have to create more new music?
Basically, what is happening is we are taking pretty much the approach that a lot of people are doing. Everything is kind of cyclical within the music industry and I feel like we’ve come back to a singles driven market where bands are starting to put more songs out more frequently, and fortunately for our style of music and what we do, we still love the completed works of ‘here’s complete project and here’s a statement with a beginning, middle and end’. But I think everything now has become this singles driven market. I think what we’re going to be doing is kind of like what Muse did on their the last record Simulation Theory. They dropped singles every few months and I think that’s kind of the approach we want to do. We’re going to be releasing singles in the New Year, probably 2 or 3 more, and then hopefully that’s going to lead us into the next record. The reason I say ‘hopefully lead us’ is because we are trying to navigate the situation of what’s happening with Covid. There is obviously promising news with the vaccine and I hope and pray that we can get out and start performing again, but we are trying to play it by ear because I’d hate to get ready to put the record out and then end up having to sit on it without being able to do anything other than release videos. We want to be able to support this so I would probably say, we’re going to be releasing 2 or 3 more singles in the following year and hopefully by this time next year, in the Fall – perhaps October time – we will have either the next EP or full-length record that we can go and tour to support it. This will give us the time to experiment with more sounds and things that we are doing with the music, and just take people for the ride!
As 2020 draws to a close, and with hopes for a brighter new year, what other plans do you have as band?
There’s going to be a bunch of other content that we’re going to be putting out as well. We did some acoustic stuff of our other material that we recorded for one radio station. We are going to do some cover songs too and we want to do a live stream so we can have at least have some sort of concert like a lot of other bands have been doing recently. Definitely the biggest goal is putting out more new tracks and hopefully being able to go out and start performing. Depending on how this vaccine gets rolled out, we will have to see how it goes, and that’s why we are navigating as we go. But the good thing is now that we have this new way of working remotely we are able to put out quality stuff and we are going to continue on that path. Like every other band we just want to get out and start building the base and tour, tour, tour. That’s what our types of bands do: we have to go out and tour.
Find out more at www.disciplesofbabylon.com and in the meantime enjoy the lyric video to Liberty below.