Derek Davis of Babylon A.D. gives Hair Metal Music an exclusive interview.
Babyon A.D. didn’t reach the stardom of bands like Guns n Roses and Motley Crue, but they certainly took the hair metal world by storm with their debut self-titled album and over time singer Derek Davis has proven to be as talented as almost any singer from the era. Babylon had two albums go Gold and they released five songs that topped many metal radio charts.
The band is most known for their popular 1989 debut album which featured the rock hits Bang Goes The Bell, the amazing ballad Desperate and the radio friendly The Kid Goes Wild, which was featured in the movie Robo-Cop 2. The band released Nothing Sacred in 1992, the album produced two more hits – Bad Blood and So Savage the Heart.
Proving that the popular music world is just pure wacked and makes no sense, future releases from Davis and Babylon A.D. never reached the success of their first two albums even though musically they released stronger albums later in their career!!! In our opinion 2002’s American Blitzkrieg is Babylon A.D.’s best overall album. It’s solid from top to bottom and songs like I Wanna Live and The Sky is Falling should have been top 10 rock hits. www.babylonad.com.
Davis really proves his extreme versatility and amazing vocal abilities with his solo career. Fans might be more familiar with guys like Brett Michaels and Kip Winger, but Derek’s solo work is heads and tails above what those two guys have released over the last decade. In 2oo6 Derek’s band American Blues Box released a self-titled debut album that features one of the best songs of the year: When You Were Young. The fact that Justin Bieber burps and it goes to number one while songs like When You Were Young barely get played on the radio just shows how screwed up the radio format is. Davis sheds his hair metal vocals and completely immerses himself as a top notch blues singer with American Blues Box. We were blown away by how good this album is. If you love the blues-rock mixture, definitely check this band out.
Davis released a pure solo album in 2012 called Re-Volt. Just like the American Blues Box – it’s awesome and features some fantastic music. Troubadour and The Promise are the highlights and both should have been top 10 songs on the adult contemporary rock charts.
That’s not all for the versatile Davis. He also is releasing albums with a band he formed called Moonshine. Their first album was produced at Eddie Van Halen’s home studio, and features work from former Van Halen bass player Michael Anthony. Hair metal? Nope. Blues? Nope. Moonshine is an old fashion southern rock band. If you ever wondered what a Lynyrd Skynryd meets Tesla band would sound like then you need to check out Moonshine.
Babylon A.D. will be playing select dates over the next few months, but the really big gig for Davis and the boys will be next year’s Monsters of Rock Cruise. Babylon A.D. will be performing for the sold out cruise along with other powerhouse bands like Tesla, Kix, Europe, Queensryche and Lita Ford. For more information on how to support Davis, Babylon A.D., Moonshine or American Blues
Derek Davis Exclusive Interview:
Tell us about the song Desperate. Did you know while writing it that it was going to be a hit?
I wrote most of the song and showed it to my song writing partner at the time “Jack Ponti” and we put a better chorus to it. We instantly knew it had the possibility of becoming a classic rock ballad.
Being from SF, did you guys travel over and play the Hollywood strip circuit – or was there a lively rock scene in the Bay area?
The Bay Area was really rocking at the time, Babylon A.D., The Sea Hags, The Flame, Death Angel, Testament, and a few others were really popular and making a lot of noise. And yes, we would play in L.A quit a bit. L.A was very exciting and wild at that time.
What tour was the most satisfying and fun for you as a performer?
Oh man they were all fun. But the first tour is always the best because of the unknown debauchery that lay ahead.
Who were some of the best bands you’ve toured with (in terms of how they
treated you guys)? Conversely, any really bad road stories or experiences with
We mainly headlined and bands open up on tour for us. We had to kick the shit out some people in one band on the last day of tour once. But I don’t want to name names.
Was there a band from that hair metal era that you are surprised they never took off?
It’s a crap shoot you never no who is gonna make it big. We shared a studio for a short time with Guns and Roses and had no clue how big they would become.
Does it bother you at all that less talented bands ended up being “bigger” than
you guys were? B.A.D blows Winger away – from top to bottom. But because
they had one real catchy song and fit a certain look, they were a more popular
I guess it did at the time. A lot of bands around at the time are still playing and lets just say they are still not my cup of tea.
You guys had a great singer, great musicians, catchy songs and the support
of a major label like Arista and Clive Davis – why do you think you weren’t
able to capitalize on the success of those first two albums? Was it the grunge
Arista had Clive Davis, Randy Gerston and a few other people with talent in breaking acts but they had never had a rock band, so their promo and publicity departments really weren’t geared for us. Whitney Houston was their baby.
Also I think our first release was just a couple years to late. To many hair bands at the same time overloaded the scene.
And grunge killed us all.
So we are running an article on the 25 most underrated ballads of all time.
Desperate is our choice for the 2nd most underrated ballad in rock history!
Where does that honor rank on your career accomplishment scale!!!
Well I’ve written hundreds of songs and it’s really hard to say which one I like best, but “Desperate” is up there for sure in the accomplishment area.
I was blown away when I started researching your solo career. B.A.D. had some
rock success, but I’m flabbergasted that your solo career hasn’t made you a huge
star. The fact that Brett Michaels is still relevant and a huge name in the rock
world but your name isn’t listed ahead of guys like him is a disgrace.
Wow thanks !
Were you surprised that “American Blitzkrieg” didn’t do better? I read a couple
reviews and they criticized B.A.D for changing their sound too much. But I
absolutely loved it and think it was B.A.D’s strongest overall album.
Funny you say that! Because that is my favorite CD. I love all the different types of tunes. The darkness of “Magic Mary” to the apocalyptic ballad “ The Sky‘s Falling” to “One Way Ride” and on and on. And I know a lot of people that love this record too, so I don’t know why some of the critics did not get it.
Why so long between American Blitzkrieg and the prior album? What are you
favorite songs off the album? We personally love the title track, “Sky is Falling”
and “I Wanna Live” – all three should have been rock hits. “I Wanna Live” is better
than any rock song on the charts today.
I totally agree that song is fukin great! We just needed a break. The business side of music was really taking a toll on us. That’s one reason it took so long as well as some other reasons that are way too long to explain.
Did you get to hang out or spend much time with Sam Kinison during the “Kid
Gone Wild” video? What was he like? Any crazy stories?
He’s not in the video and they actually took out his part for the video because of his cussing. We were pretty pissed but could not do anything about it. But ya Sam came to a few of our shows after the record came out and jumped on stage with us, he was a very wild man.
We really like the song Dream Train. What’s the story behind that song?
I always write lyrics to the music and they seem to fit pretty well. Getting a record deal is like riding that train.
How has the reaction been to the release of” Lost Sessions” and the current
The reaction to the EP is tremendous. We are doing some of festivals and a few select dates here and there. The shows we have had so far have been great. It’s surprising how so many people still come out to see us.
You guys are going on the upcoming Monsters of Rock Cruise. Do you prefer
festival shows like that over club gigs with one/two other bands? Is there a band
on the bill that you are really looking forward to seeing? How did that come
about, did they just call you up and ask if you were available? How many original
members are going and how hard was it to get them to agree to perform?
I like all shows as long as its a good place to play. As for The MOR cruise I wanna see” The Winery Dogs” and “Cherie Currrie”. Yes they called us and we said “HELL YA”. The band is all original band members.
Did “Re-Volt” come out like you wanted? I was really blown away by how good it
is. It’s a really versatile record – was that your plan? Just lay down all the tracks
you liked, regardless of what type of songs they were?
Kind of, I had written about 18 songs and some of them were just way too different. I write in a lot of different styles so I wanted to show my songwriting but I had to stay close to my rock roots. But overall I am very happy with the record.
We really loved the two more mellow tracks. “Troubadour” and “The Promise”
are amazing. Is that your wife in the Troubadour video? Where was the video
filmed? Did you release either of them as singles? Both songs are on my
constant repeat cycle. You sound like a rock version of Adam Levine.
Yes that is my wife in the video for “Troubadour”. We filmed all across Mexico.
Adam Levine? I’ve never heard that before.
You did it all on “Re-Volt”? Wrote the songs and played all the instruments?
Not all. My drummer James Pacheco played on a couple tunes as well as his brother Eric and Dan De La Rosa from B.A.D. wrote a couple of tunes with me and played guitar. But basically 70 percent of the record I played all the instruments and produced,
How did you get involved with “American Blues Box”? Another album that just
blew us away with how good it is. “When You Were Young” should have been a
number one hit. Did you write that song? Killing Time is also pretty great.
How long was that band active and how come they aren’t still going?
Yes I wrote “When You Were Young” about my grandmother before she passed. No the band is no longer active but we did play a Jamey’s birthday party the other night just for fun.
People might not expect a hair metal singer to end up being a kick-ass blues
singer. Where did that side of you come from? Were you a big blues guy growing
Actually I fukin hated the blues. Where I grew up the only guys playing blues at clubs were old white guys and the made the blues sound like shit! They had no soul. Then I played with Buzzy James and Mike Malone in “Moonshine” and it was the first time I liked what I heard, Cuzz those guys are the real deal when it comes to playing the blues with a heart. So I studied how to play slide guitar myself and listened to a lot of Son House, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, Freddie King and some others and just played blues music for about 5 years.
I read in one interview that you enjoy going to the movies. What are some of your
favorite movies of all time?
Scarface, True Grit, On The Water Front, Apocalypse Now.
Now: Platoon, The Shinning, Saving Private Ryan, Blue Velvet, Pulp Fiction, I could go on and on.
If you were stuck on a deserted island for the next 25 years, what five albums
would you bring with you?
The greatest hits albums of James Brown, Led Zeppelin, Al Green, The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Everybody else is basically just
copying parts of them. Me included.
I read another interview that said you recorded another full album’s worth of
material at Eddie Van Halen’s studio. What genre of music is it, and any chance it
will ever come out?
You are talking about “Moonshine”.
The debut Moonshine album received really positive critical reviews. I read 4-5 reviews and they were all extremely positive.
Any future albums/tours planned with those guys? The guitar player in the band is smoking – where did you find him?
No plans for touring yet. And yes that’s Buzzy James on slide guitar and Craig DeFalco on guitar, all the players in the band are really great musicians. Dave Louser, the drummer from Sammy Hagar played on some tracks as well as Jane Child piano and BVs. This band is one ass kicking southern rock blues band. I am so proud of this CD everyone should hear it, they will be blown away.
What was it like working or hanging out with Eddie? and with Michael Anthony?
I never seen Eddie he’s kinda like Dracula he stays hidden in his house but Mike Anthony was fukin great, a real good dude.
What does the near future hold for you? Touring with Babylon A.D. ? A new
Babylon A.D. album? More stuff with Blues Box? Moonshine? Another solo
Pretty much all the above. I’m writing a retro soul album right now and also working on a new live “Babylon A.D.” record which will be released early next year for our 25th year anniversary.
Do you have one style of music that you love the most? I’m not sure I’ve seen a
singer who has as much variety in their voice and style as you do, your diversity
is unparalleled to any other singer out there right now. Rock, blues, southern-
rock, metal, adult contemporary.
Wow that’s a great complement. I think that’s why I am writing and recording a soul record. I just like challenging myself all the time. I also have some very strange Industrial stuff recorded that I have never released, my kids tell me its creepy and scary sounding.
What do you do for live shows – do you play your favorite songs from each band?
If I play a show as Derek Davis I do a little of everything but right now B.A.D. is the priority so we will be playing B.A.D. tunes.
What song of yours are you most proud of (or what couple songs)? Which
song (or songs) do you enjoy playing live the most?
That’s very hard because every song I write is like my child, I really do love them all. I see each one for its uniqueness and remember all the sweat I put into each one. From writing to recorded to producing them. Playing live In Babylon A.D. I like to play “Sally
Danced” and “Kid Goes Wild”.
So many bands from the late 80s and early 90s are just a revolving door of
musicians. LA Guns have had 45 different guys in the band. What side of the
fence do you fall on – it’s all good as long as the guys are out rocking, or would
you prefer to see a band retire the name after the core members are gone?
B.A.D. is all original members and losing one guy would be hard to do. I don’t know how the hell these bands keep playing with so many different musicians. I don’t see myself ever retiring, music is to deep in my blood.
Have you heard Chinese Democracy from Axl and GnR? What did you think of it?
I actually like most of it, great guitar playing and some good songs. The only thing I am not that interested in are the ballads. But all in all I bought it and play it every once in a while.
Anything at all you want me to mention or promote?
Like our face book page https://www.facebook.com/Babylonadband
Fans can also go to my website and hear some tunes and get links to buy my
music at www.derekdavismusic.com
Babylon A.D. also have some good gigs coming up.
The Rock n Scullfest in Chicago on Nov 16th
MOR Cruise on April 18th
Were working on some more select dates but the websites will give information
as they are booked.