Babylon: Sweetly superstitious
by Halee Hastad
Long dark hair, leather cowboy boots, pinned denim, and strange superstitions. Babylon is a band that looks like they sound and they sound damn good.
I met up with them on their 17th of a 30-something day tour with Japan’s Acid Mothers Temple. The venue was a small, dimly-lit BYOB spot just off the train from Manhattan to Jersey City. Audience members were humble and cooly diverse, clearly there for the music, and not so much the social media induced gathering so commonly found at shows of late.
Babylon played just after nine, facing each other throughout their entire set, a tactic they employ to maintain a steady vibe between the four of them – Gabe Flores (guitar), TJ Lemieux (drums), Andy Caly (guitar), and Gorge Camacho (bass). This rendition of the L.A.-based band is the latest of many, Flores explained. With the addition of Lemieux just about a year ago, they finally feel a sense of steady ground beneath them as they travel the United States on their first tour together.
Their sound is established nonetheless, and feels mature, timeless. Sparse vocals blend with pseudo-drone riffs and an effortless yet complex drum and bass to create a euphoric sound that is both invigorating and curiously moody. The result is something of pure rock and roll, the type you listen to while coasting on a motorcycle across a desert scape under the hot sun; leather-adorned, sans helmet. Think Earth and Entrance get together, have a baby and adopt it to Blue Cheer, which hires Neil Young as a sitter. That child, blessed be it, is Babylon.
Our conversation took place in a cramped basement kitchen and was appropriately casual, because these are casual guys. It occurred to me, almost immediately, that these guys are prepared and ready to do what it takes to make it happen for themselves, whatever it may be.
You see, aside from a few unconventional superstitions, such as never leaving the hat on the bed, Babylon stands true to a set of standards with the intention being a strong sense of unity within the group, which will foster success throughout time.
They tour in a particularly well-organized dodge caravan, for example. And they have a rule of kindness to each other, stressing the importance of respect for the stubbornly diverse tastes each member brings to the table, they agreed.
“Our goals are to keep the morale high in the group by getting to know each other through honesty and communication,” Lemieux said.
And none of this is just talk. It’s true as grass is green. These guys really are kind, warm, and welcoming. Traits not often associated with other rock and roll cohorts. Which leads to a sense that they are going places. Going places not only because they sound good and look good, but because they act good too.
Babylon plays with Acid Mothers Temple on May 9 at the Shakedown. For more about the band, follow them on Facebook or listen in at babylonsweethearts.bandcamp.com.