Interview with Sidney Allen Johnson
Interview conducted by Michel Renaud
Date online: April 15, 2003
First things first. A one man musical project is quite an undertaking. How did you come to the decision of doing this project?
This has been a slowly evolving project. I have been assembling recording and musical gear seriously since about 1997. Tinkering with the idea of trying this. The concept of "Divine Right Of Kings" goes back as a working title back to 1987 or so. Around 1992 I began seriously rereading the Bible and reacquainting myself with a lot of Biblical doctrines as well as some new understandings. After some serious investigating I discovered that a lot of people see things as I do. There actually are quite a few people who see America clearly in the writings of Revelation. It was probably around 2000 that I decided I could try to make a record on this subject with a reasonable probability of success. Recording began in December 2001 and it was finished in December 2003.
Did you have any other musicians helping in the studio, or did you handle all the instruments yourself?
This record was done entirely by me. No one else contributed to the recording. Except for my cat. She's on there if you listen close. (Looks like she even followed you here ;) - Ed.)
What bands or projects have you been in before B.M.O.? How long have you been playing?
I was never in any band you would have heard of. I always wanted to get involved in recording original material and I always seemed to find people who didn't have that for a priority. Its still a problem. So I solved it by finding a way to record first. Any band will come later. I have been playing for a long time but from 1987-1995 I didn't play at all. I made the pilgrimmage to Hollywood in 1987. The great Heavy Metal Mecca. It was quite disillusioning. Too many unintelligent people in one place. I decided it was pointless at that time.
Just on the lyrical side it, looks like an enormous amount of work went into this album. How long did it take you to get the material ready?
The lyrics and vocals took the longest. The songs otherwise can be done very fast. But the lyrics give the songs their personality and I took a lot of time with them. There was a lot of rewriting phrases. However I had the whole record outlined and songtitles usually were the starting point for each song. "Crestfallen" being the exception. Then there was making the lyrics relevent to the Biblical elements in the story. It was very time consuming. However I do have a day job. If I could devote myself to music fulltime I believe it would have been done way faster.
Going through the booklet with numerous biblical references, one could think that B.M.O. is a Christian band, but that isn't so, correct?(or is it?) Care to expand on this?
As I understand Christian bands I don't think this will qualify. This material is most controversial to Christians in general. There have been several Christian musicians contact me about this and they pretty much like the idea of what I am doing but they tend to believe their bands are actually part of some ministry. Thats not my ambition at all. Find a Christian church that will tell you America is "MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT". You won't find one. To me the church is most dangerous to the people it should want to protect, its own flock.. I cannot in good faith make an alliance with the "church" as I believe the church no longer answers to God. Just as was Biblically prophecized 2000 years ago. I could go for days explaining why. I do however believe Jesus is who he said he is. I just don't think modern Christianity wants him running things. The world has gone to hell not because evil has gotten stronger, but because Christianity has gotten weaker.
You've suggested that America is "MYSTERY BABYLON." But what is "MYSTERY BABYLON?" Where did it come from in the first place?
The apostle John was given a vision of the future around AD60-90. In it he saw the events leading up to the Day of the Lord and his return and a 1000 year reign afterward. There is a lot in this vision. In chapter 17 and 18 of the vision (Revelation) he sees a future place he calls "MYSTERY BABYLON". Since it is refered to as a city you know that it is what we would call a country or empire as they commonly named empires after the main city of power. This City is described as a Great Whore who has apparently been very meddlesome in world affairs (refered to as fornicating with the nations of the Earth). This nation apparently knew God and was blessed with riches like the world had never seen. It was entirely too proud of itself and turned is back on God. The scary part is the descriptions of her wealth. It doesn't take a genius to see there is only one place in the entire history of the world that fits. The United States is the place. God DESTROYS this ENTIRE NATION in the space of one hour. If you claim to be a Christian you MUST believe this will happen. However the Churches solve this problem by denying it. Most churches teach that it is symbolic of a religious system. Read it for yourself. Always read it for yourself.
In this day and age (post-9/11, current war in Iraq) where sneezing the wrong waycan get you branded as anti U.S. or unpatriotic, have you gotten any bad commentaries do to the lyrical content of this album?
So far I have two bad reviews based on the subject matter. The fact is I am surprised how many people like the record. The lyrics are very often mentioned as being a major reason why they like the record. How many bands can claim that people actually like that aspect of their music. I have rarely seen it.
I don't think you see yourself as Anti-American for having written those lyrics. Could you expand on this further? If only to clear up any misconceptions.
This is an area where the Bible can be of great comfort. If a man sees an attack coming on his people and does NOT warn them. Then their blood is on his hands. However if he does warn them then he has done what was expected of him. What can be more pro American than sounding a warning of what is coming. This country still wants to claim to be a Christian nation. Lets see it. If I am entirely wrong, I have harmed no one and still made an interesting record. If I am right.......
And besides, Heavy Metal is supposed to be about courage. I like the Manowar attitude. If I believe this I should have the courage to say it. That what I have to say is not popular to the public at large should not matter.
I think many people are bound to miss the point that B.M.O. is trying to make. How would you suggest a listener should approach the album?
Many people do miss the point. It has largely been viewed as a political statement about American morality and government. I attribute this to the fact that there is not enough knowledge of or acceptance of the Bible these days. However once an artist makes a record He can't really control how others view it. Nor should he. Eye of the beholder does apply here. Since the response has been overwhelmingly positive I have no reason to complain. If I were to make a suggestion it would be this: The writer of Revelation believed this future place called MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT, a place with wealth and power the likes of which the world had never before known, would be annihilated in one hours time. I believe that the United States is the place. As always read it for yourself. Thats one reason I included the Biblical text in the CD booklet.
How do you interpret the massive non support (on a worldwide basis) of the war on Iraq if you "map" the events to the B.M.O subject matter?
The fact is America is the best nation on Earth in every measurable way. We know this and so does the rest of the world. This leads to envy and resentment even as the other nations of the Earth wheel and deal for their piece of our pie. Now when the U.S. starts weilding its power outside its borders this will always be looked upon as bullying. Even though this war could literally be the best thing that ever happened to Iraq, if they take advantage of this opportunity. But they too will come to resent us. The rest of the world kind of sees international politics in a Star Trek sort of way. They believe in a "Prime Directive" of not interfering with a sovereign nation irreguardless of the corruption of the government. For the most part the U.S. has even went along with this way of thinking. But this war was a pre-emptive strike on a nation that probably could not harm us.(As their inept military performance seems to have proven}. The fact that we have subdued this nation so easily and with a very few casualties will not discourage this from happening again. I look upon the inevitable U.S. victory over Iraq as the "coronation" of MYSTERY BABYLON.
Will future B.M.O. material revolve around the same subject, or will you expand into other matters?
A little bit of both. The next album will be dealing with Prophetic events even as it tells the story of something that happened 7000 years ago. Heres a hint: Rock and Roll was not born in the 1950's, it was resurrected! I even have the ideas started for the third and fourth records. I fully intend to make them come to life. I think the material, regardless of the primary topics, will always be viewed in religious and political terms. That is my nature. And let's face it. No one else is really doing anything like it. By staying true to myself I have stumbled on something that sounds different. It is different. Thats hard to come by.
Have you looked into having your material released by a label? Is that a consideration for future albums?
Yes. I would like to get this to a bigger audience that a label could provide. However I haven't even contacted so much as one yet. It has been my intention to release it and promote it myself and test the waters. A label tends to be more receptive to those artists who have a clear idea how to package and present themselves. I am working on a package now to send to some labels and see what happens. I have a track included on the BW&BK knuckletracks sampler CD. That might be the first all the labels hear of Babylon Mystery Orchestra.
What are the distribution channels for Divine Right Of Kings? Where can people get the CD?
Currently it is available at www.cdbaby.com , www.cdstreet.com , www.amazon.com , as well as www.babylonmysteryorchestra.com.
Would you consider getting some more people into B.M.O. to be able to play live gigs?
Yes I would do it. But sometimes a band is better off not being seen. The visuals that COULD accompany this music would be unbelievable. The reality is that a small venue/bar tour might be counterproductive. I have seen KISS over 20 times . All the Dio tours in the 80's. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest etc. But all of those bands have been scaled down in their visual presentation (except KISS). Babylon Mystery Orchestra could use that type of show but likely it can't be done.But I am open to the idea. I truly believe some bands are better off unseen.
You cite KISS as an influnce, but I don't hear it ( I have never been much into KISS, so maybe thats why.) What kind of influence did that band have on you? It just sounds wierd that a band known mostly for its stage antics and being more of a party-type of band would have an influence on such deep material as what can be found on Divine Right Of Kings.
I have been a KISS fan forever. However back in 1977 Gene described KISS music as being accessible to the average person. Though you may not really hear it I took those words into consideration. Babylon Mystery Orchestra is not about impressing other musicians. Just like KISS wasn't. Though there is a lot going on with orchestration being added to the basic gothic metal sound, the songs are not filled with a lot of overplaying. Since I want the lyrics to be noticed and important to the listener, the music is designed to enhance the lyrics and not distract from them. Plus I think my guitar solos sound kind of like Ace Frehley at times.
Do you have any suggestions of good reading material or other references for people who would like to dive more into the subject treated by B.M.O.?
I have listed a couple of links on the B.M.O. website to some interesting articles. There is an outstanding book called "America The Babylon" by R.A. Coombes that is very well researched. It even has a picture of the Statue of Liberty on it, just like "Divine Right Of Kings" (although the CD's artwork is considerably more appealing). However you should first pull out your Bible and read Revelation 17 & 18 for yourself. Always read things for yourself. The Bible was't written for pastors and priests.It is a wellspring for anyone who opens it.
Alright I'm out of questions...Thanks for your time! The last words are yours...
I want to thank you for the opportunity to talk about all these things
as well as the good review you gave of "Divine Right Of Kings." It's very
gratifying to have my work receive such a positive reaction. It is always a
risk to make a record. Especially one that dares to have a message and a
point of view. "Divine Right Of Kings" is definitely a peek into the world
as I see it. I believe every word of it!
Sidney Allen Johnson
|Other information about Babylon Mystery Orchestra on this site|
|Review: Divine Right of Kings|
|Review: On Earth As It Is In Heaven|
|Review: Axis of Evil|
|Review: The Great Apostasy: A Conspiracy of Satanic Christianity|
|Review: The Godless, the Godforsaken and the Goddamned|
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