Babylon Saints: Island Rock Reggae
By R.J. Villa
The steel drum melodies of Joseph â€œPanheadâ€ Peck, the bass lines from Tyler Drake, and the guitar riffs and vocal styling of Matt Gerovac create the island reggae/rock sound that is Babylon Saints. Playing their music out of Los Angeles, CA, their style is more than just reggae/rock. It is the result of the musiciansâ€™ varying upbringings and musical backgrounds. The origin of the band name Babylon Saints comes from the bandâ€™s observations and experiences of being submerged in the Southern California lifestyle.
â€œWe were talking about the whole concept of Los Angeles as sort of a modern-day Babylon,â€ says Gerovac.Â â€œWith so much drama in Southern California, it can be easy to be a relative Saint.â€
Their debut album, the self-titled Babylon Saints, was released by Citation Records in 2010. Tracks like â€œPositive Vibration,â€ â€œDay to Dayâ€ and â€œGoldmineâ€ exhibit the wide range these musicians have behind their instruments, and their live performances show their ability to read off each othersâ€™ sounds and rhythms. In support of their debut record, Babylon Saints have been building up their tour dates; heading up and down the West Coast and eastward state to state with even a few international tour stops. Babylon Saints are on a mission to get their sound heard.
Panhead paints the picture of their music to be, â€œAuthentic. Soulful. Funk. Honest. Caribbean. American. African. Brazilian. Spicy. Danceable.â€
Their music comes from their roots, their exposure to music and reggae, but ultimately where they each came from. The schools, streets, and music venues they were all exposed to growing up in various cities (Anaheim, CA, Pittsburgh, PA, the Virgin Islands, Cleveland, OH, Boca Raton, FL, Wichita, KS, and Trinidad, WI) are a big part of where they pull their inspiration from. Music found each of them at various times in their lives. Panhead had been playing pots and pans from the get go. Drake was exposed to and grew up in a very musical environment. Gerovac found his musical calling after the vacuum that was created when he quit playing baseball. Though they grew up in different corners of the country, it was their love for music that pulled these musicians together.
â€œI think that God put us together as a band because we met in such a random way,â€ Drake recalled, regarding the bandâ€™s origin. â€œBabylon Saints came from brainstorming and Jah.â€
â€œYeah, it was really cool how we all got together,â€ remembers Gerovac. â€œI met Panhead through a mutual musical friend named Xela, who was from Cleveland. Tyler answered a â€˜bassist wantedâ€™ ad. We auditioned a few guys, but Tyler was our guy. Heâ€™s got such a great pocket and feel.â€
Babylon Saints released their self-titled album in April 2010 through Citation Records. It was recorded by Ben Eggehorn, mixed by Rocco Guarino at PanRoc Studios, and mastered by Gene Grimaldi at Oasis Mastering.
â€œCitation Records provided us with a lot of things that indie bands donâ€™t normally get,â€ says Gerovac. â€œThey sent our music out to hundreds of radio stations, got us some good press, and helped us a lot with our public relations. Eggehorn is a good guy and has a real knack for recording drums. Ben has been a drummer his entire life and had a unique way of recording drumsÂ that really got all the little nuances and sounds that we wanted. Rocco has a really great ear and brought some ideas to the table I never would have gotten on my own.Â He is a joy to work with.â€
Since their self-titled release, Babylon Saints have already toured across the United States a few times. They have shared the stage with the likes of Pato Banton, Beyond I Sight, Carlos Jones and the Plus Band, The Divine Crime, Dirty Heads with Rome, Ease Up, Eek-a-Mouse, The Floaters, Fortunate Youth, Inhale, Mifune, Mystic Roots, Nada Rasta, The Originalites, Seedless, Too Rude, and Xela. Their fan base has been quickly budding in California, Oregon, Nevada, Ohio, and Kansas.
â€œThe Central Coast has been really great for us. San Luis Obispo, Avila Beach, Pismo, Grover, and down into Orcutt and Ventura; there are so many cool places to play where people just come out and want to hear good music,â€ adds Gerovac. â€œWhen you are out on the road, you never know what to expect, especially when youâ€™re rolling up to some strange venue. We have been up and down the West Coast a bunch and have been across the country a couple of times. It has been a real learning experience playing for a bunch of people we donâ€™t know. We are bringing positive vibrations, so peopleÂ have beenÂ very open-hearted and give a lot of love, even if they donâ€™t know who we are.â€
Babylon Saints are plugged in and on the road. They have aspirations of maybe one day sharing the stage with major acts such as Ziggy Marley or even U2; but for now, they are happy bringing their positive vibrations and rockinâ€™ reggae to all whom are willing to listen.
â€œIâ€™ll play with anybody,â€ declares Gerovac. â€œI mean, it has to make sense. I donâ€™t think we will be hitting the road with Iron Maiden any time soon, but that would be pretty Rock nâ€™ Roll!â€