Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Ben Babylon Band (I): Alex Andrews, drummer

To play with a genious like Ben, you need to be so good, almost to reach his level. And Alex does. His passion on music started long time ago: "Since I was young, I've always loved to play drums. I started playing when I was 2, and I got my first drumset when I was 3. Throughout the year, I have enjoyed it more and more, and this is definitely what I want to do with my life". He has it clear. I like that guy, he's a very good drummer. "I love playing drums and I will always work at being a famous drummer when I grow up". Sure! Let's know a little bit more Alex and his job in the Ben Babylon's Band.

Which are your influences, Alex?

When i was young i was influenced by jazz fusion, Jazz, Rock and Roll, and Funk. At 10 years old, i started to enjoy more hard rock music. Finally to this day (which started at 12), i really enjoy progressive rock, progressive metal, Progressive jazz metal, jazz, pop, and ADORE short ambient pieces of music that just make you want to go into another world. I love very quiet music, and very loud music. Depends on my emotions at the time. 

How's Ben as an artist and his best abilities?

Ben has so many ideas, and so many interesting things that he has shown us. His best abilities are his piano, because he just absolutely kills at it. He has played possibly the best piano solos I've ever heard in a long time. His vocals add to the experience that he creates in his music. He is an amazing musician. Ben is extremely talented and I'd definitely call him an artist

Completely agree! I coudn't say it better! And which song of the set you're playing do you like most to play?

I think Dorky Loves Doughnuts and Different Meanings are two amazing songs that will go far. 

Great! Finally, some words to Ben for Xmas:

Hey Ben! Have a great christmas, hope you get lots of presents, hope to see you gain sometime, MERRY XMAS!

Thanks so much, Alex, and Happy Xmas for you both, guys!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Xmas Time With Ben Babylon

Hello Babylonists, hello dreamers. This is Christmas time and it's the start of a series of articles related to Ben. 2012 has been a very wonderful year for Ben, he played very important venues and he ran his band. Christmas seems a very special ocasion to surprises. And Ben agreed to answer a little questionaire just a way to learn more from him. Obviously with only a few questions it's not possible to learn everything about him, but yes a little bit. And I give him a try and he accepted. Questions are running from A to Z, talking about very different matters. 

Join us on his Xmas time because This Is Ben Babylon, from A to Z.

One animal?
Any kind of zebroid — a hybrid of a zebra and any other equine. They are so cool! Look them up!

One book?
For fiction I would have to say “The Mysterious Benedict Society” and for non-fiction I would have to say the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson.

One cartoon?
Cyanide And Happiness.

One dream for sale?
A man with a bird’s head in the desert searching for a teenage god.

One entertainment?

One food?
A burrito from chipotle.

One girl?
Norah Jones.

One historical character?
Either President Theodore Roosevelt or President Andrew Jackson.

One idol?
Definitely Steve Jobs.

One joke?
The word “joke.”

One knowledge of life?
Knowledge of life? I just turned 15.

One language to learn?
Spanish is what I am learning currently.

One movie?
The Prestige.

One nightmare?
I don’t believe in nightmares.

One only slogan?
"Why join the navy if you can become a pirate?" -Steve Jobs

One place to visit?

One quote on Guy Babylon?
Are there words to describe such a person? He was an amazing person, and I’ll leave it at that.

One restaurant?
Yamato in Agoura Hills.

One song?
Bohemian Rhapsody

One team?
Lakers! Even though they are pissing me off . . .

One university?
I don’t know, can’t pick.

One venue to play in future?
The Wiltern.

One word?

One Xmas wish?
I have no wish.

One youtube video?
Either “Drinking Outta Cups” or “Can I Have Your Number.”

One zodiacal sign?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ben at the Red Carpet

On Thursday 15 November, Ben Babylon attended one of the biggest events in the Hollywood scene: the Hollywood Media Awards ceremony. The event, at Hollywood's historic Fonda Theater, is showcasing some of the brightest and best in musical creation for media and it's a great opportunity to share experiences with people and to meet rellevant people of the scene, like spanish Jesús Calderon, who won the best song/score - special feature award, or Shele Sondheim, cousin of famous musical theatre composer, Stephen Sondheim, to name a few.

Days before, Ben returned at the renowned Canyon Club, in Agoura Hills, CA, opening for The Little River Band, considered to be one of Australia's most significant bands. Between 1976 and 1983, chart success in America included: "It's a Long Way There", "Help Is on Its Way", "Reminiscing", "Cool Change", "Lonesome Loser", "Take It Easy On Me", "Man On Your Mind", "We Two", and "The Other Guy". "One my favorite songs of theirs is 'Reminiscing.', explained Ben Babylon, "their song structures are simple but powerful, with amazing melodies". The band, who debuted a new bass player, has become increasingly popular on the Southern California festival and concert scene since 2011. Among those in attendance at the concert were television producer/director Charlie Bowyer and long-time record producer and audio engineer Ken Scott, whose book “Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust” recounts his work with some of the most famous rock artists in history, including Elton.

 Special thanks to Fred Anderson

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ben Babylon Band On The Road: The Way To Succeed

With the first album on production, Ben Babylon takes his well-worked band and hits the road. If it first were The House of Blues (on April, 7), The Canyon Club (opening for Jazzmatics, April, 22), The Renaissance Hotel, Hollywood (twice May, 3 and July, 5), The Santa Barbara Fair and Expo (April, 26), The Conejo Valley Days Carnival (May, 5), Skaters Point, Santa Barbara (July, 6), Battle of Bands (July, 21), the Venice Beach Summerfest (July, 28) and Fiesta Festival, Santa Barbara (August, 2), the returning to Canyon Club, back in August, 3, opening for Air Supply was by far their most prestigious opportunity to date. The popular Australian classic rock band, formed in 1975 by guitarist and singer-songwriter Graham Russell and lead vocalist Russell Hitchcock, with worldwide hits like "Sweet Dreams", "Here I Am" or "All Out Of Love", left Ben on the air to "decide what I'm more excited about, opening for them or seeing them play live". As the concert was superb and the songs sounded consistent and fresh, I was wondering how do they pick up the songs to the regular set list and how many of them could become part of the new album. So I just asked Ben...

Congrats Ben for your succesful show! It's so nice to see how you're growing more and more everyday.

It was amazing! It was very surreal watching the huge crowd react to my music. And November 10th, I get to do it all again with the Little River Band!

Wow! Thank you. Which songs do you usually play live, from your set?

I could give you a basic set list. The first song I play is "You Won't Lose". It is a good starter because it starts with the drums alone, and then adds the bass, and then the guitar, and then the piano. It is a good way to let the audience take it all in. It's also a great starter because it introduces the band one by one.

The Ben Babylon Band on the rock! It's not the first time I say I like that band, they fit very well with Ben and complement him. Despite their youth, they're all great musicians: Alex Naylor, a solid bass player; the brilliant Alex Andrews on drums and finally the genious Brian Schwartz on the guitar.

The next song is a very bluesy song called "This Song Won't Be Finished". "You Won't Lose" and "This Song Won't Be Finished" are both upbeat songs, so it gets the audience in a good mood. And the next song is a fairly well known cover song, called "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked" by Cage The Elephant. It is a good break from songs they don't know, because now they get to hear a song that they do know of.

Cage The Elephant, the Kentuky's rock band formed in 2006, know for their high-energy performances.

After that, is "Contradiction". It is the song on iTunes currently, and it really features our guitarist, Brian Schwartz. It also has a great drum solo, by Jagger Krusen. The next song we play is a fairly new song that I wrote on the guitar, called "We Have No Souls". It is a clean guitar based song, with some light piano and great harmonies. And the next song is a song called "Cage", which is always a really fun song to play because people always sing along, since it is a catchy, simple melody. It also has a classical/jazzy-type intro, which is always fun to play. We call the intro "Before Cage".

Hahaha And then, my favourite of all, a winner song, a must to be a classical song.

The next song is "Dreams For Sale". It is sort of the first real slow song... so it gives the audience a break from all the energy. It is a very beatiful song, mostly based upon piano and bass, with light percussion. The guitar then comes at the end, bringing back the energy. And after that song, I play an old-fashioned tupe song called "Laughing Louder". No band on this song, so it is sort of quiet, but it really makes the audience listen. 

"Laughing Lauder" is a cute little old-fashioned song really.

The next song we play is a funny song, called "Dorky Loved Doughnuts", which is about a dog that loves doughnuts, but eventually he eats too many and dies. But at the end of the song, the band and I go on this awesome jam! It is probably the most fun song to play for the whole band. The next song is called "Different Meanings", a great add on to Dorky, since it is such a funky song (like Dorky). And the final song we play is a very well know hit song called "We Are Young" by Fun. Everybody knows it, and everybody sings a long, and there's a lot of energy, so it is a great song to end with.

Sure! You said you are a fan of Ben Folds, so, do you play any song of him, live?

I used to play "Fred Jones", but nobody knows any Ben Folds songs, so usually not.

Well, Ben, thanks again for your kindness. And you, "Dreamers", if you wanted to see how Ben Babylon's band play live, just pay attention when next concerts will be announced. By now, enjoy this video from their last performance, the most famous dog in the world:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Meeting Ben Babylon: Jack Rabbit in LA

It had been a week since I’d met Ben Babylon. First reminds of that experience, are in Fred Anderson’s car, going back to the hotel. A tear round on my face and fell in my knees. It was sad someway to leave. What I had lived that day was an experience hard to explain in a few words, mostly because it was very emotional. I have to go to Miquel’s notebook in order to relate his feelings about that big date. He usually writes down his experience while travelling, pages and more pages explaining his memories about what he’s living. So, let’s start from there.

Along with Fred Anderson and my wife, Elisabet, we take the road to somewhere behind the hills. The Beatles are on the radio airwaves. Just arrived, one door opens and a smiling Kathy Babylon welcome us. It is very nice to meet her. We exchange mails several times and it seems I knew her someway, although in fact I really don’t. It’s strange how internet approach people who are a thousand miles away from each other. Some kind of magic made the dream come true and we are there. Awesome!

Ben’s rehearsing with his band. The first reaction is to hold him. It’s really beautiful to be there. He kindly agrees to take a picture together. Two pictures, maybe three or four, it doesn’t matter. I sit on a chair and just listen. Ben Babylon’s band was first to be a trio band, as Elton did on his Tumbleweed Connection days, comprising a bass player, a drummer and a keyboardist. You must remember those names: Alex Naylor, bassist, Alex Andrews, drummer, and Ben Babylon, on keyboards. But if that wasn’t enough, they added a guitarrist, and if Elton’s had Davey Johnstone on Honky Chateau, Ben has Brian Schwartz. Despite their youth, between 15 and 20 years old, they have so much potential and putting all together, they’re a consistent band. It seems they have been playing together for a long time but that’s not so. The list of songs they’re rehearsing are from the album, on process but with a long list of fantastic songs to choose. It’s great to see how much energy they have, and specially, how much they enjoy playing together. It’s happily surprising to see how Ben looks like his father, the unforgettable Guy Babylon, while playing: same gestures, same professionality, same passion. And more than this, what pleasantly surprised me most is how Ben’s growing on stage. The songs from the album are incredibly good, and I have my favourites of course. The first single, “Contradiction” is a winner for sure. But it was unbelievable to see when I suggested to do one song, “No Goodbyes On The Road” to him. Fred Anderson asked if it was possible to play that song for me, althought it had never been rehearsed with the band. He inmediatily said “yes” and taught the band the chords and the keys of the song. And within three or four minutes they play it. “He’s a leader” I think.

Band rehearsing is finished and band mates leave. More pictures all together. I only have to congratulate that good team, they are absolutely fantastic and nicely complement to Ben. Lunch.

Well, I now know the meaning of hiking. I didn’t know what does it meant until I was climbing up rocks and mountains in order to find a great view of landscape. And I enjoy it so much although I end up tired. A pina colada in the Malibu Beach recovers anything.

After dinner, one could be a priviledged person when you have Ben Babylon solo at the piano, for the most thrilling jam session one could expect. He explained me how much Elton and Ben Folds influenced him as a musician. And that’s really is. He starts with his own songs, before paying an amazing rendition of “Rocket Man” and “Take Me To The Pilot” on the piano. If Elton’s had his quote, Ben Folds too, when he goes to “Fred Jones”, the touching story about a man’s retiring of his job. He kindly agree to perform a superb medley between “Dreams For Sale” and “No Goodbyes On The Road”. Both songs, specially the title track, have potential enough to make a big thing. I remember it was the time when this words came to mind: “He’s special, he will do it, he has it all for success”. It was a sensation, but seeing this kid to play piano and the way he does it, you have all the feelings that it could be a possible reality. I had the same feelings as when I saw Elton on piano solo for first time: with the Band I love it, but solo, sitting on an old piano, is when the artist explodes and explores the best of his being. It’s exciting to see how much Ben loves music. Music is a part of his world. He lives for music, and music embraces him to gives his best. It’s a divine partnership, a force of the nature. And Ben has the talent enough to give music his best creations, while music could keep a place for him among his top star musicians.

The final of the jam session. I would say that it is time for goodbyes but as one of the lyrics says: there’s no goodbyes on the road”. Fred Anderson kindly returns to the hotel, not before stopping at Troubadour Club, when Elton performed for first time long years ago.

As I said in the beginning, I was sad for leaving that people behind, but I was plenty happy to see that a new star is ready to conquer the world. Sad and happy? Is that a “Contradiction”? “Big Waves Crashing Down, Shaking the Ground”. You will see, I said one day, the Number One has just arrived: Ben Babylon to reach the stardom. Give time to the artist, not in a hurry, and fasten your seat belts: the journey has begun.