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Interview with Sidney Allen Johnson of Babylon Mystery Orchestra

Babylon Mystery Orchestra is the Gothic hard rock/metal project of Greenville, Alabama based vocalist, guitarist and composer Sidney Allen Johnson.  BMO got its start in 2003 with the debut effort Divine Right Of Kings before following up a year later with the sophomore release On Earth As It Is In Heaven.  The Great Apostasy: A Conspiracy Of Satanic Christianity, the 2006 third full length recording from BMO, preceded the most recent offering from the artist, the winter of 2008 release Axis Of Evil.  Angelic Warlord recently had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Sidney, who goes into detail in regards to not only the background of BMO and the particulars surrounding Axis Of Evil but also his views of the music scene and Christian rock in general.

Sidney Allen Johnson - Babylon Mystery Orchestra

I would like to know more about the background of Babylon Mystery Orchestra. When did you develop the vision for BMO? What inspired you to start the project?
I suppose the "vision" of it started as early as 1992 when I really started getting back into the deep reading and studying of Biblical prophecy. I had always read about such things when I was younger but I was somewhat distracted by the "Decline of Western Civilization" as it was expressed in the Heavy Metal 80's. Really the death of Hair Metal had quite a bit to do with it. I didn't have any objections to having a good time and this period in music was just great to go out and be a part of the music scene, whether you were playing it or just going to shows. I lived in Augusta Georgia for a good part of this time and there was always somewhere to go and always a good band. The destruction of that "puritanically fun" music scene had me to doing a lot of reflecting on the fleeting nature of life on this earth. That sounds like kind of pretentiously deep statement but I started leaning toward spending more time reading rather than consuming myself in music. Although, strangely enough, it would lead me back there.

After a return to my home of Greenville Alabama, which afforded me still more time and opportunity to read more and see music less, I slowly started to regain an interest in new music again. Bands like Tiamat, Therion and My Dying Bride seemed very fresh and authentic in their approach. Plus I found myself impressed with the knowledge that I almost certainly will never see them live. I was actually getting into the records again just like I did when I first started listening to music. The world of the internet made it easy to find some interesting music again although you still have to wade through a lot to get to it. I had always been fascinated by the idea of having a musical project that I could control entirely as I saw fit. Of course this makes one a very undesirable band mate so in previous musical adventures I had always been rather pliant to the wishes of others. This had always led to rather unsatisfactory experiences in bands. With the improvements in computer technology I could now see that it was possible both technically and financially to pursue a musical direction where I would not only be able to control the whole thing but I would likewise have to perform it all. It is a rather daunting enterprise to undertake, especially at the beginning of the process, but by 2002 I had assembled everything I felt I needed to take a shot at it. So I did. I had an idea what this kind of music should sound like and I have been working to get that sound and that sound only. I made a choice early on not to concern myself with "fitting in" to any particular categories or genres but to make sure that this music sounded like, and said, what I believe it should.

How did you come up with the name BMO? Does it have any special meaning?
My initial ideas for the sound of Babylon Mystery Orchestra involved using orchestral sounds along with a very driving and layered heavy guitar sound. So I toyed with the name "Orkestra" for amusement while I was recording the Divine Right Of Kings CD. Since the themes of the first CD revolved around the prophecies of "Mystery Babylon" in the Biblical book of Revelation I just naturally steered toward experimenting with putting that in the name. "Mystery Babylon Orchestra" really doesn't have that good a sound to it but rearranging it to "Babylon Mystery Orchestra" did. As soon as I said that out loud I knew it was a great name. Plus, since I was recording the entire thing myself using the word "orchestra" in the name added a sense of preposterousness to counter the otherwise serious nature of my approach to this.

How would you describe the music of BMO?
That is always something that is very tricky. I have seen a lot of people describe it in ways that I never would but whatever someone hears makes their descriptions relevant to them. Being someone with a large music collection and a love for reading reviews and just about any kind of literature about heavy music I describe it myself as I think it is best categorized. Essentially Gothic hard rock/heavy metal. I think that gives someone an overall idea what to expect although I think there is more to it than that. Frankly however, I am not really "Gothic" enough for the Goth's, nor "Heavy Metal" enough for those who think metal began with Metallica. Yet I am too "Heavy Metal" for the indie rock crowd too progressive for the hard rockers and not "musicianship" oriented enough for the progressives. Babylon Mystery Orchestra fits nicely between all the cracks in the genres it is often classified with. I guess that sort of makes it...musically speaking...homeless. Our society should do more for the homeless, don't you think?

I don't know of anyone else who gives the lyrics and subject matter such a place of importance to their sound. I always want the music to be in support of the words and that is completely opposite to the way most people see music. Let’s face it, too many people don't even care about the words...and it shows. I don't operate like that. I believe in an accessible form of music that isn't "complicated" to the ear. I want all my rhythm instruments operating in tandem together projecting a powerful sound and on top of that I want something powerful being said. The vocal approach itself is even something I labor over. I really don't think "singing" as such, projects the messages properly. Singing sounds frivolous to me. It doesn't project control. Neither does screaming and shouting or those god-awful "growls" that have taken over so much of metal these days. That sounds out of control. The songs in Babylon Mystery Orchestra are written from various perspectives as I wind my way through them, but they all have one thing in common: the character speaking completely believes he is in control of both himself and his circumstances. Dead certainty is idea I am trying to project. That requires an unusual approach but one that should not be that hard to follow and get into. Clearly delivered and forcefully projected. But never screamed. That is entirely the wrong atmosphere for this. I feel this is the element that has evolved the most through the 4 BMO CD's. The last two being exactly what I have been wanting. The first two being pretty close but, as with all things, you learn things as you go to help you dial in your sound. The result is something that overall sounds just a little different from everything else but isn't so strange as to sound like it came out of nowhere.

Babylon Mystery Orchestra - Axis Of Evil

You recently released the fourth full length BMO album, "Axis Of Evil". What are your feelings about "Axis Of Evil"? Are you happy with the way the album turned out?
You will hear every artist claim that their latest record is their best one and they are always elated about how good it is. Well, on one hand I think that is true. I am very happy with this record and I am very happy with its predecessor "The Great Apostasy: A Conspiracy Of Satanic Christianity". I think that both, together, are essentially a one-two punch. But there is also a feeling I have that this record will be hard for me to follow up. This really brings together all of the elements of Babylon Mystery Orchestra and in a most aggressive presentation. I feel like I have just made the record that will forever be regarded as "THE" Babylon Mystery Orchestra record. Its presentation and execution are everything I have wanted this project to sound like. Its message is bold and direct. And I feel as though I delivered it with conviction. All the attributes one is looking for when making such a record. It follows up The Great Apostasy perfectly. So much do I believe this that I have decided that the next one should be the first non-conceptual CD. At least that is the plan. Things have a way of changing.

The three previous BMO albums were based around a concept. Is Axis Of Evil also a concept album? If so, what is the concept? Also, would you expand upon the statement “part of the violence expressed in Islam is reflective of its founders own intentions”?
As I stated, all Babylon Mystery Orchestra albums thus far have been based around a concept. Axis Of Evil is itself based around one while in many ways also continuing somewhat from its predecessor. It revolves around what I view as a three pronged Satanic attack to create the situations and circumstances necessary to fulfill end-times prophecy. Satan, not being an omnipotent creature, has to work with, and through, earthly elements and organizations. As such we should, and can, see the evidence of his long term involvement in arranging the world's affairs as he needs them to be. The Great Apostasy dealt with how he worked within the Christian church itself to make it vulnerable and useful to him for the persecution of both Christians and Israel. Axis Of Evil looks at the even bigger picture of how he has influenced the world outside of the church. It deals with a powerful false religion whose entire history is built not only on the persecuting of Christians but also holds, as a primary objective, not just world domination but the complete annihilation of Israel. When I say Israel, I am referring to all the descendants of Jacob, not just the strip of land in the Middle East. Also I look at the mystically based secret societies that are largely dominated by wealthy, well educated people who are dedicated to creating a "perfect world" through the pursuit of "forbidden enlightenment." It is a fancy way of saying devil worship. This would include such organizations as Freemasonry. But there are too many to list and they are primarily the "foot soldiers" of the movement. Not the leaders. I also include the political movement towards Socialism as that has been the primary weapon used to purge God out of our lives and assign his purpose and functions to the government, which Socialists believe hold the answers to everything. It is a very "collectivist" approach to make us all believe that "we are all in this together" and that we "must be our brother's keeper." (Current Presidential candidates have said these things!) Of course all of this comes at the expense of personal liberty. Something to think about.
 
When I say that the violence expressed in Islam is reflective of its founders intentions I am referring to the history of the origins of Islam. There is no dispute that Muhammad was not a peaceful man. He was an uneducated man who claimed to have been visited in a cave by the angel Gabriel. He tried to convince his own people, the Meccans, that he was a prophet. They eventually grew tired of him and threw him out of Mecca. He and about 25 followers (yes, it was that small of a movement) went to Medina where he tried his luck there. He tried his best to convince the local Jewish population that his revelations were from God. They would have no part of him. He even adopted their holidays into Islam as well as initially bowing toward Jerusalem for their daily prayers. All in an attempt to win their favor. To keep his few followers happy he had to adopt another practice: Piracy. He raided Meccan caravans murdering and looting to finance his operation. When he finally gave up on convincing the Jews of Medina to follow him...he killed them. And of course stole their property and sold their women and children off as slaves and forevermore Muslims now bow toward Mecca for their prayers. Now when I say that the violence is reflective of its founders intentions be clear: Islam is a predator! It must and always has used violence to survive. It is the shark of all religions. Muhammad was rejected by not only his own people but the Jews of Medina as well. He extracted revenge from both. That is why Muslims react so badly to political cartoons depicting Muhammad. He set the example. He is not to be offended. And 1400 years later his people still will rise up at any perceived offense. The violence has always been a part of the religion. It cannot survive without it. Islam is often linked with Judaism and Christianity as an "Abrahamic" religion. It is true that the original(Arab) Muslims are primarily descended from Abrahams first born son Ishmael (born from his wife's handmaiden Hagar) but the religion itself is of no relation to Judeo-Christianity. Islam is no religion of peace. That is a fairy tale. Anyone who claims otherwise is either ignorant or a liar. Are all Muslims violent? No. But their religion endorses it and expects it...and they support their religion.

This is all being made very relevant with the ongoing situation over a movie called FITNA. This is a movie produced by a Dutch politician Geert Wilders. This movie is a truthful portrayal of the Qur'an that reveals the linkage between its writings and the actions of violence committed in the name of Islam. An AMERICAN internet service provider, Network Solutions, disabled his site before ANYONE had seen even one second of it. This is what is happening to your freedoms right now! Threats and intimidation caused an AMERICAN company to surrender to the demands of Muslims. He eventually got the site LiveLeak.com to air it. But after one day they too pulled it citing “Threats to our staff of a very serious nature.” This film does not contain one inaccurate statement. Where have you seen this story in the major news media? You haven't, and you won't. You are losing your freedom of expression. Muslims are insisting on INTERNATIONAL BLASPHEMY LAWS even as I write this. Anyone who thinks religious wars are over is fooling themselves. This has never went away and it isn't going to go away. The irony is that tolerance of this most intolerant of religions is being supported by a vast array of politically liberal institutions. Since the only people who are sounding the alarm about these threats tend to be of a more “conservative” political persuasion, liberals instantly side with and fight FOR the furtherance of Islamic tolerance. This in spite of the fact that everything liberalism claims to stand for is 100% forbidden in Islam. The media is fawning all over protests in Tibet, which have no bearing on events in our country, while ignoring these very dangerous attacks on our freedoms. The term "useful idiots” was never more appropriate. That was a term coined by Joseph Stalin to describe political liberals in America, who themselves were aiding his efforts by supporting policies that advanced communism worldwide. The same people are still with us...and they are still idiots. Only now Islam is finding them useful.
 
I have a much more detailed, but still brief, essay about the origins of Islam on the essays page at the main BMO website under the title: "There Is No God But Allah...The Truth about Islam pt. 2."

Sidney Allen Johnson of Babylon Mystery Orchestra

How did you come up with the title Axis Of Evil?
President Bush, in a post 9/11 speech, referred to three countries as representing an "Axis Of Evil." They were of course Iraq, Iran and North Korea. I identified three philosophies that are, in fact, in opposition to God that constitute the Babylon Mystery Orchestra "Axis Of Evil." After all, Satan can make use of nations but he is not bound by their restrictions. Those three philosophies, of course, are Islam, Socialism and "Illuminist Enlightenment." In a sense, whether they will acknowledge it or not, they are all servants of the devil. But I suppose only those in the highest echelons of the Illuminist movements are truly aware of it. The rest are merely "deceived."

What songs from Axis Of Evil do you like the most and why?
"Crusader" is probably my favorite song if for no reason other than it is the one where I feel I am speaking for myself and my own belief system. I like "Illuminati" even though in that one I am speaking from their philosophical point of view. It is an acoustic/metal song and I like to write songs that have both elements. I also have a fascination with "Martyr (The Patience Of The Saint) as I am trying to speak from Jesus perspective in dealing with the issues of hatred, murder and the use of martyrdom as a weapon.
 
I have to say that the initial feedback has been overwhelming surrounding the song "Diabolus Apocalypse." Everyone who has said anything to me about the CD seems to gravitate to this song as a highlight. It is a very wicked song and is written as though Satan himself is speaking it. It is somewhat unusual and probably the most "Gothic" sounding track on the record. I think everyone is just reacting to a Christian writing such a truly evil song.

The albums second track, “We Ride, You Die” is about the four horsemen of the apocalypse. You portray them as riding for a very long time. In your opinion, how long have they been riding and how have they impacted world history?
I have no reason to believe that they haven't been at work from almost the moment Jesus ascended into heaven. Remember Satan is not omnipotent so he can't just make things happen instantly as God can. He has limitations. All of the deceptions, diseases and famines associated with the horsemen have been ongoing throughout history. In fact it is my belief that they have been riding all this time that convinces me of the authenticity of Muhammad's vision. I do believe he was approached by an angel that called himself Gabriel. But Muhammad was not a learned man in spiritual matters. He failed to heed Paul's warning to "test the spirits." Not every angel is holy. The fact that Islam has been so successful both militarily in its early stages and with its highly proficient birth rates is to me evidence of extra-earthly influence. Now there are one billion people who are dedicated to persecuting the people of God...thinking they are doing him a favor. How many prophecies can that fulfill? I think God intended for us to view these things as ongoing. Not something relevant only to distant generations. No one knew or knows the actual timing of many prophecies but consistently since Jesus ascended there has been an expectation, and a hope by all that theirs would be the generation that would see his return. The words "Surely I come quickly" are attributed to Jesus in Revelation. Therefore Satan surely had to get to work quickly...and he did!
 
Time has a way of hiding conspiracies. People have a hard time believing in conspiracies as big as the ones the Bible has foretold. They require several generations to unfold and as we know, people are too impatient and self absorbed to naturally pursue such long term objectives. But Satan has time and he has been using it to hold these elements together. There will be false prophets in the last days to be sure, as well as a noticeable escalation of violence, but they will be building on, and claiming to be the fruition of, the work of much older prophets and much older prophecies.

What is the song “Illuminati” about?
This is a song that deals with secret societies that operate amongst us everyday. Some of them are not even so secret. The most well known entity of the Illuminati is probably the Freemasons. These are societies dedicated to the pursuit of what can best be called "forbidden enlightenment." Or, Satan Worship. A lot of people have a hard time understanding just how prevalent the practice of the ancient mystery religions has become. There is some very interesting literature on the subject. Some of it is way out there but then again a lot of it is not so strange. The idea that people in high places might have allegiances to some very dark entities is fascinating. From a Christian's perspective this should not even be a strange idea. You should expect it. The song only grazes the surface of the subject. An entire record could be devoted to it. Both George Bush and John Kerry are members of a secret society called "Skull & Bones. So from their perspective, they couldn't lose! Long term plans require long term conspiracies, and there are always going to be those willing to make "pacts" with the devil. The occult has always been closely associated with government. From Ramases through Hitler and even Nancy Reagan's reliance on astrology. It always seems to be close to power. Coincidence?

What are your thoughts on the mark of the beast? The reason I am asking is that the lyrics to “Come Drink The Wrath” seem to apply that the mark will be forcibly placed on Christians.
That is something I consider to be a primary message on the new record. I realize that this will cause a lot of controversy among Christians but I believe it is necessary. This is an element that definitely builds off of The Great Apostasy CD. On that record I made my position on the pre-tribulation rapture clear. I do NOT believe in a pre-tribulation removal of Christians from the earth. Having said that, one has to consider what the ramifications of being here through the tribulation would be. Certainly most non-Christians will have no problem accepting the mark of the beast. It will be a good thing. No one can steal your money. It’s all digital. They can’t steal your card. Your pin number may even be a retinal scan! It will eliminate the black market as ALL transactions can be monitored. All your medical records can be accessed through the mark. It will be a great machine for maintaining social order. The kind of order that our buddy the Antichrist will be offering a world desperate for a restoration of peace and security. But Christians will recognize this. We will reject it. That rejection will have consequences. The Bible says that those who reject the mark will be killed. But there are many ways to kill. For example...All children of grade school age will most certainly be required to have the mark. What happens if the authorities capture you and your children? Do you really think they will kill the children because of your refusal to take the mark? Never. Satan's plan is eternal damnation.  Why kill today what you can kill forever?

Revelation 14:9-10: And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb

What will the authorities do to a child? Take it into state custody of course. It happens all the time when parents are deemed "unfit" to care for their kids. And you can rest assured that one of the first things done to this child will be to apply the mark to it. Now how far are you willing to go to prevent that? The verse in Revelation does not seem to make an exception. It is your responsibility as a parent to look out for your child. There are those who will say that forcing the mark on the unwilling or the helpless will not count against them. Are you willing to gamble the eternal soul of your child?  Or are you going to be able to display the faith that Abraham did when God demanded he offer his beloved Isaac as a sacrifice? Once God saw Abraham was willing to obey him, he spared Isaac. Satan mocks God. What will you do?

Babylon Mystery Orchestra - The Great Apostasy: A Conspiracy Of Satanic Christianity

Now that begs question number 2 about this. Killing the adults who refuse the mark. I am certain that most will be killed. Consider yourself lucky to be martyred in such a manner. But Satan's objective is not to send a Christian to his reward in heaven. No! He wants to get you to willingly give up your salvation. The Bible is clear that, at this time, no one can interact within the society without having this mark. That begs the question: What happens if the mark is forcibly applied to you? If a tiger can be tranquilized and tagged, you better believe that a human being can as well. Now, I am uncomfortable suggesting that receiving the mark unwillingly could cause you to lose your salvation. But what will you do? The verse in Revelation does not speak of exceptions. Can you remove the mark? If it were on your hand, perhaps you could. But what if it's on your head?

Matthew 18:8-9: "Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire".

I believe there will be a lot of Christians displaying their faith by these amputations and beheadings of each other. Martyrdom of a very strange kind. Why? Temptation. Maybe Satan cannot steal your soul by forcing the mark on you, but what if you use it? Say you need medical attention. Now that you have the mark, you can get it! Hungry? Now that you have the mark, you can get access to food. Perhaps you will sell your salvation for a hamburger. Certainly if you utilize the mark, you have betrayed God. That is the confusion and temptation that Satan will put before you. You will be tempted to give away so very much for so very little. If I can see these possibilities, then certainly they have long since been considered by Satan. You can't wish this stuff away.

Matthew 24:21: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

I realize that this opens some very deep concerns, particularly the age old debate over "once saved always saved."  I raise these issues to portray the tribulation as Jesus said it would be. You really don't think we are going to skate through it easily do you? This is Babylon Mystery Orchestra. I like the deep thinking stuff. If you want Christian lite, it can be easily found elsewhere!

You mention that you do not believe in the pre-tribulation rapture. Why is this? And what are your thoughts concerning the rapture?
I just do not see any valid Biblical evidence for a removal of the Christian Church before the great Tribulation. I actually believe in what is referred to as the post-tribulation rapture. I think it is very obvious that what Paul is describing in Thessalonians is exactly that:

I Thessalonians 4:13-17: "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

Also I would add that one of the main arguments for a pre-tribulation rapture is built around Revelation 4:1:

"After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter."
 
This is clearly only referring to the person, John, who is writing. Only he is being drawn up and then only to see things "which must be hereafter."

Also there is Revelation 11:3-12:

“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.”

Once again we see this clearly has nothing to do with a rapture of the church but most definitely is talking about resurrecting the two witnesses...and ONLY the two witnesses. I am so tired of people trying to use the "come up hither" verses as some sort of proof of a pre-tribulation rapture of the church. That is clearly not the case. Anyone with fifth grade reading skills can see that. Are you smarter than a fifth grader? These are the worst attempts at trying to believe in a pre-tribulation rapture.
 
I believe that the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is a false doctrine injected into Christianity to deceive many people into taking the mark of the beast solely because they ignorantly will believe they can't be here at the same time as the Antichrist. Therefore they will not see him for who he really is. I do find it interesting that the denominations that do put the most emphasis on studying end-time prophecy tend to lean heavily toward the pre-tribulation idea. Coincidence? Or diabolical influence?

Sidney Allen Johnson of Babylon Mystery Orchestra

What is in the future for BMO? Will the next BMO album also be concept based?
I have decided that now is the time to make a non-conceptual Babylon Mystery Orchestra record. It is my intention that the next one will not be based on an overall theme as all the previous ones have been. I will get back to that. The sixth BMO CD is already lined up as to what I will be writing about. However this next one will be a collection of songs about subjects I have been wanting to deal with but that I couldn't work into the other records. I already have two songs recorded. One called "Viva Cristo Rey," is actually about Che Guevara. "Viva Cristo Rey" means "long live Christ the King" but it was commonly the last words shouted out by Che's victims as he had them executed. The other one is called "The Twelfth Imam" and tells the story of the Al-Mahdi who the Shiite Muslims believe has been alive for centuries hidden and waiting for his time to come "save" the world...can you say "Antichrist?!"  I am currently recording one about the Illuminati involvement in the Space Program. That is something that may require more than one song. Perhaps there could be a couple of Suites interspersed by individual songs. For me, this is new and strange territory. I also want to write a song about abortion. I have had most of the lyrics for awhile but have never finished it. I am just going to write and record songs until I have enough to call it finished. Then I will assess what I have and I hope it will be an interesting record. Then I will get back and do another big themed record.

What are your views on the current music scene in general? Also, how is the internet and mp3 downloads impacting the music industry?
The music industry is being destroyed but that is OK. Music really has fulfilled its purpose. It has done its part to divide our civilization into small subcultures. That was always the Satanic objective. What you call "personal" preferences he calls a divisive influence. People are now divided into subcultures that did not exist just a couple of decades ago. And we continue to divide. Music was instrumental in accelerating this process. A lot of people don't want to believe that music was actually a weapon mystically deployed against them by a powerful extraterrestrial fallen angel, but look at how the world has been affected by every new generation of musical styles as they further divide us into more and more subsets. That is what you need to create chaos, and the stage is set...we are just waiting for the hammer to fall.

On a lighter note, maybe, it is good to see it falling apart. I am tired of arrogant know-nothings being rewarded by showing us all how ridiculous they are willing to behave. The music itself has really become quite a load of garbage. You couldn't get away with so called "extreme" music in the past. That is an example of the de-evolution of music. People have been slowly conditioned to not only think that what they are listening to is music, but that it is a high art form. It's all conditioning. I kind of like the fact that so many people download music illegally. I wouldn't want to pay for most of the stuff coming out today either. In a sense, it truly does punish the people responsible for all this bilge by depriving them of the financial reward that was their entire reason for getting involved with music to begin with. Bravo! The fact that the whole industry is collapsing doesn't bother me at all. Ultimately it will cause all the useless stuff to die out. Only the really dedicated will be left. The ones that were not just doing it for the attention, or to attain recognition by some small subculture of musicians, will prevail. You know them by the name of..."artists." The destruction of the music industry as it is will be good for artists. Bad for "musicians." But good for artists.

Personally, it is my intention to NEVER EVER own an iPod. I despise the digital domain. I want to own and possess a physical copy of the recorded work. I like booklets, artwork and packaging (that should be obvious). I want to play music on a multi-component stereo with huge speakers that push a lot of air. Why, oh why, do you want to listen to music on a fragile little iPod? Heavy Music needs power. I feel sorry for a whole generation of young people that are growing up who will never know the joys of having the police knock on their door and tell them to turn down the stereo. You just can't get that with those fragile little iPods. That is no way to listen to heavy metal!

I am somewhat confused about your responses here. How has music divided our civilization into small subcultures? And why would that be considered a Satanic objective? What would Satan gain as a result of “small subcultures” (as they relate to music)? How can a personal preference (in regards to music) be considered divisive?
 I think the benefits to Satan in dividing a culture into subsets would be obvious. God has given you life, and he has given you the ONE path back to him through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Choose ANY other alternative and you die...FOREVER. Therefore it is imperative for Satan to create as my different belief systems as possible. Everything you call alternative is death. "Alternative lifestyles" is one of the worst phrases ever coined. They are all death styles! Choosing death is all they accomplish. Music has been a great peddler of the "alternative lifestyle." It was in the sixties that the term "counter culture" came about. This term described a lifestyle wrapped around drug consumption, free sex, and....come on...you know what else....Rock Music. Now there are innumerable counter cultures to the counter culture. And always rock music is there. There is a style of music for just about every alternative belief system in existence. Music is often seen as a "personal preference," but 100 years ago these "preferences" and "lifestyles" did not exist. The few that did were buried deep underground. Usually for a good reason. Also look at what accompanies music. There is always a manner of dress that seems to evolve even as the music evolves. The Goth's and the Black Metallers don't dress like the NWBHM crowd now do they? These are not "coincidences," nor do I ascribe to the theory that music merely reflects what is already happening in society. I think music is THE element that directs people to accept "weird" and "obscene" concepts and conditions them to, over time, view them as normal. This, of course, requires each subsequent generation of new music fans to ridicule those concepts as "passe" and move on to ever more extreme behaviors as music and the culture around it devolves. All this should be obvious to anyone looking at the influence of music on our society in the last half-century. It might not be an appealing way to view the way the world has evolved but we were warned:

Ephesians 6:12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

How would you expect that to manifest itself? Certainly the evolution of popular music and its influence on our culture reeks of Satanic influence. One has to get over the arrogance of believing "it can't happen to me." Everyone in our society has been victimized by the negative influence of popular music. Certainly I have. If I could go back to the 50's I would cheer on those preachers who were smashing Rock records and calling them evil. They were right! If I could go back 150 years I would get in the middle of those arguments about whether they should allow a piano in the church. I would say no. Stop it. In my opinion more negative has resulted from it than positive. Rock music was born out of the music that was brought into the church with those pianos. This may not it well with a lot of people, particularly the Christian Rock crowd that already has had to rationalize their consciences over these issues. Jesus said "By their fruits you will know them." It’s kind of hard not to see that the negative outweighs the positive. Pianos and other musical instruments may be in and of themselves inoffensive. Rock music may initially have appeared to be harmless fun. But now we can see what those seeds grew. Who can't see the fruits of music's poison? No one has loved rock music more than me. I am a lifetime Kiss fan who collects their memorabilia. Yet if I could go back and eliminate the origins of this music before it started, I would. We would be a better society without it. Like sin itself, there are some things we either did not need to know about, or we are as of yet unprepared to properly understand. Satan scored a lot of points with music. This is actually the second time he did this. The BMO CD On Earth As It Is In Heaven tells the story of what happened the first time.

Babylon Mystery Orchestra - On Earth As It Is In Heaven

It is my understanding that you do not endorse the concept of Christian rock. Why is this? How do you view Christian rock (and metal)?
That people call Babylon Mystery Orchestra "Christian" rock does not bother me at all. But I would never make that claim myself because I generally don't like the attitude that such a statement conveys. I am not requesting nor do I even desire to be admitted into the "Christian Rock Club." I consider myself an artist making a statement. That I am a Christian is something you can derive from listening to Babylon Mystery Orchestra. I am happy about that. I do not feel the need to attempt to "sell" BMO as a "Christian" band by pointing that out. If Christians would rather listen to something else...let them. It has been my observation that most people who are into "Christian Rock" care less about the "Christian" and more about the "rock."  Such discussions as "are they a Christian band or just Christians in a band" get thrown about all the time and I don't have much patience for it. I see the same adherence to the rules of behavior for the various genres within Christian Rock as I do in "secular" rock. They all look, act and sound the way the rules of their genres say they should look, act and sound. If I can't determine that you are a Christian from your music than I can rightly assume it wasn't important enough for you to present yourself that way. Fair enough. But I don't like seeing people promote themselves as "Christian" or "positive." I say prove it. Newt Gingrich says real change requires real change. Well, being different requires being different. All too often I don't see the difference.

My own approach is to take on serious subject matter seriously. Setting powerful music behind and in support of the messages I wish to convey. You would think that would be the way Christian Rock should be done. But, as with all rock music, the words in Christian Rock are just as disposable to most people as they are in secular rock.  And if that’s the case, what message could you have? Of course I am generalizing. I know there are exceptions. However those exceptions don't have to sell themselves as Christian music. They too, are obvious. My belief is that the more serious you make your music the less "rock" you become. I have no problem calling Babylon Mystery Orchestra "Heavy Metal" but I don't see it as rock music. I kind of like to view rock music as something that should be "rightly divided" from Christianity. Rock music is not humble music. It does not project reverence. It just doesn't seem a logical choice to introduce that type of music into the "Christian" realm without taking careful consideration of the message you claim to be delivering. Do you speak of love and redemption with death metal growls and corpse paint? There are messages that maybe can be delivered in that format but I would think a "Christian" would be very careful how he "used" the music. And therein lies the problem. I see more people used BY the music. Even though its obvious that traditional gospel music is all over the influence of rock music I have always looked on it as a bastard, unruly child of it. There are those who believe that music itself is "neutral" and is neither good nor evil. I don't believe that. I intentionally write songs from the perspective of evil and wickedness so as to take advantage of certain aspects of the music that can help deliver these messages. I am quite well aware that listening to songs like "God Given Right" or "Antichrist Superczar," separated from the rest of the surrounding songs, will give the impression that I might be anything but a Christian. That comes with this approach. I think if you properly project Christianity in your music it will not possess the elements that people look for in rock music. I love the music I make. If I wasn't making it I would buy it...but would I call it fun? It serves a purpose, perhaps even a greater one than I will ever want to personally claim, but it is not fun, frivolous, self absorbed or any number of things you normally associate with rock music. I don't know if that is a good thing or not. That is for others to decide. The message is truly the central figure in a BMO presentation. The music wasn't chosen for its "neutrality" but for its ability to convey the message. Songs projecting an evil perspective will require evil music. I would never want to mislead anyone into thinking music is neutral. The Bible speaks of violence, wickedness and sin as well. Very descriptively at times. Just because it uses such vivid depictions does not mean that God has endorsed that behavior for you. Sometimes you need a blunt message. I view Babylon Mystery Orchestra as a blunt message. In the case of Axis Of Evil, a very blunt message!

Why do you not believe that music is neutral (neither good nor evil)?
 Music is capable of conveying emotion. In fact there may be nothing better suited for that purpose. There is a spiritual element that is also undeniable in music. To be blunt though, you cannot convey the love of God with Heavy Metal. You can project Biblical judgement and violence with it, which can be a valid way of presenting a message. But certain styles are not conducive to certain feelings and messages. Try to sing "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" as a metal song. You may get it to work but you will change the nature of the song. A perfect example is "Summer Breeze" by Type O Negative vs. the original by Seals& Crofts. The original was a nice happy little song. A perfectly enjoyable piece of shallow hippy philosophy. Type O Negative puts it to Gothic Heavy Metal and the same song is now morose and depressing. The only thing changed was the music. Gothic music isn't typically happy music. It wasn't in this instance either. It happens all the time. Changing the emotional nature of the song requires changing the music. So much for neutrality. You want to convey hatred and violence, go metal. Love and peace? Try a ballad. You can try to project love through metal but you can also use water ski's on a parking lot pulled behind a truck. You just look foolish. Keep in mind when I say "love," I mean it in the real heart felt emotional sense of the word not the kind of "love" most associated with Rock Music which, of course, originates in the loins. God often uses evil people to carry out his judgement, such as allowing the Babylonians to take Israel into captivity. That doesn't make the Babylonians good people. Using violent and aggressive music to convey your messages doesn't make violent aggressive music good for you, or good at all. Good and Evil are still in play. Don't kid yourself into thinking Extreme Heavy Metal music will be played at the throne of God...it won't.

Would you please expand upon the statement “I think if you properly project Christianity in your music it will not possess the elements that people look for in rock music.” How do you properly project Christianity in music?
Rock music is fun, happy, thoughtless, sexual and irreverent music. There is absolutely no humility in it. How can you dare bring that attitude before God? Fun and happy might be acceptable to presenting a Christian message but certainly the rest has to go. Even the "fun" and "happy" can be questionable. Is your point to praise God or to be "fun" and "happy?"  Rock music is concerned with living in the moment. Just being a distraction from the real world can be enough of a purpose for Rock music. It cannot be such for Christianity, for it is when you are "distracted" that you are vulnerable. I believe if you really and sincerely express your Christian faith or Christian ideology in music it will not be Rock music anymore. Certainly it will be different. To properly project Christianity in the music you MUST make it the focus of the entire presentations. You should not look, act and sound like all the bands in some other genre. To label it "Christian" requires that THAT is the most important element. Otherwise why would you insist on calling it Christian music? Christian lyrics can NOT be insignificant to the song as a whole.  I don't believe in "positive" music being Christian. Not being as bad as the other guy does not make you a Christian. I know that a lot of people rationalize to themselves by thinking that Christian Rock is somehow different. Generally speaking, I don't accept that because I don't see the difference. No one gets excited on Christian Rock message boards about a new band's message. It is all about their playing, look and sound. You have heard the statement: "Its all about the music." No, it is not. Music is communication. It is the vehicle of some message. Even instrumental music carries an emotional message. I would prefer that the term "Christian Rock" never be used. If you are a Christian and it is important to you then it will be very obvious in your music. Ascribing that description to music implies an endorsement that everyone should be afraid to presume. And playing in a Rock band, even if you are singing about relatively Christian subjects, does not necessarily mean you have a "ministry." There sure are a lot of bands who refer to their music as a "ministry" and that just irritates the hell out of me. I know these statements will offend some in Christian Rock who have an inflated sense of their own importance but it is how I feel about it.

Sidney Allen Johnson - Babylon Mystery Orchestra

In the past you have made the following two statements: Most people in music are musicians who are only using the music as a platform for exhibiting skills they think entitle them to a musicians lifestyle. Artists make their art not for a specific audience but for the sake of art. Please expand upon this. What is the difference between a musician and an artists?
What is the difference between a plumber and an architect? The plumber is necessary. He performs an essential function in the construction of a building. But he does not determine the purpose of the building. Nor does he design it. The architect does that. The architect makes all the important decisions that determines where, when and how the building will be built. He may even decide which plumber to use. In any event, the plumber must perform as the architect desires him to perform. The architect is the artist.  The trouble with music these days is that people who believe they have acquired skills as a musician are making music without any regard for purpose or intent. Bands of musicians no more make an artist than a room full of plumbers will make an architect. Someone has to have a vision and a purpose for a band and its music. It should not exist just to give the musicians a showcase for their skills. If there were more artist driven bands and less musician driven bands you would see less replication in music. Instead we see hundreds, nay thousands, of the same bands. They all look, act and sound the same. That’s because they all look to each other for ideas. It's musical inbreeding. Bands are formed for the sole purpose of fitting into a desired genre. And why not, its good work if you can get it. Who wouldn't want to live the life of a rock star? You can sit in a room for years learning how to play an instrument then find yourself not knowing anything about the world. So what are you going to write songs about? To the musician it doesn't matter. However, this is not the behavior of artists. Artists make music because they have something they must communicate and feel they have a unique way and a unique capacity for communicating it. Musicians must have an audience and will do or play whatever they must to gain favor with one. An artist will do what he must whether there is an audience for it or not. An artist will exist regardless of the prevailing trends in music. Artists start trends, they don't follow them. Music without art is like having plumbing without a building. It might work...but why? When you pick up a music magazine and all the bands look alike, sound alike and even give the same interviews...its a musicians convention. Unfortunately, at any given heavy metal show these days the people in the audience are dominated by musicians. That is not a healthy situation. That isn't how it used to be but now bands make their music to impress other musicians rather than concentrate on presenting and developing their own sound and style. It’s all about fitting into the accepted styles. That’s what happens when "musicians" dominate the creative process. That is also why metal and the music industry is tanking. The "best" by whatever standard you choose to define it is almost never very interesting. Boredom is fatal 100% of the time. There is even a genre called "math metal!" Has everyone forgotten the plot or what? Musicians like to think of themselves as non-conformists but the evidence would suggest there is no one more willing to part with his individuality than a musician. To see so much conformity just bothers me. And the worst part is most of these "musicians" are not nearly as good as they constantly tell us they are.

You mention (that) “The trouble with music these days is that people who believe they have acquired skills as a musician are making music without any regard for purpose or intent.” What should the purpose or intent of music be?
What the purpose or intent should be I can't say. There are unlimited possibilities. But there should be a purpose or intent. I just don't think that knowing how to play an instrument necessarily means you need to bother the world with your compositions. What can you offer? What do you bring that is different or interesting? A lot of people listen to one style of music, buy an instrument and start forming bands. They are just looking to "fit in" and get attention. It shows too. I also don't believe making music should be perceived as either a "job" or a way of avoiding having to get a job. We don't put up buildings just to keep brick masons employed. We also don't let them erect a wall in the middle of nowhere. Or at least we don't encourage it. I suppose that no one would stop them. Musicians regularly make music without any direction or purpose and in spite of the fact that nobody needs it. The ancient Romans used to look upon musicians, actors and prostitutes as useful, but not necessary people. They were not, and historically never have been, dignified occupations. Yet in our world, we make stars out of musicians and actors. Perhaps this is another example of how our world has been clearly Satanically altered! I think musicians need to remember that no-one in the world needs them for anything. Music is a totally disposable form of entertainment. The people who really matter, the artists, will be more than "technicians" with an instrument. They don't make music for a living. They make it because something is within them that must be brought out. Musicians merely sing and dance for their supper and there is no reason for anyone to think there is anything more to them than that. Someone else is in control. Especially when you have an entire musical entity with no artist. Who is in control there?

You want to know the difference between an artist and a musician? Read interviews with them. How many interviews are like this one? How many musicians talk about these things? I believe when interviews are centered around a musician's gear and his playing technique you are dealing with someone whose "purpose" was to get noticed as a player. Should we reward him (or her) for that? That's not art. That is technique. How can you sustain any long term interest in that? Personalities with a purpose are so much more interesting. I am glad you haven't asked me what guitars I play. It doesn't matter.

Thanks for taking the time to do the interview.
I enjoyed doing the interview. I look forward to every opportunity to exercise my right of freedom of speech...while I still have it.

Official: www.babylonmysteryorchestra.com/home.html

MySpace: www.myspace.com/babylonmysteryorchestra

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

 

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