Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Ben Babylon Records Album with EJ Band
As the son of late Grammy-winning keyboard player Guy Babylon, Ben Babylon grew up in the shadow of the Elton John Band, studying and learning from some of the world's greatest rock artists, while developing his own unique style. Now, the 14-year-old singer/songwriter has released "Contradiction," the first single from his upcoming album of original songs, "Dreams for Sale," recorded with the help of legendary EJ musicians Davey Johnstone, Nigel Olsson, Bob Birch and Martin Tillman.
"It's so cool having them on my record," said Babylon, an accomplished pianist and keyboardist. "I'm surprised at how great it came out. When I started working on it, it was just piano, but I love how everyone else added their parts, and it became a powerful rock song. Martin's electric cello really adds an ethereal quality that I wasn't expecting."
"Contradiction" is more complex than what might be expected from most adolescent songwriters. With Johnstone's hard-driving, electric guitar riffs, it is a classic rock-style tune about, as the titled suggests, conflict: "Heaven and Hell sit side by side," sings Babylon. "Good and bad can't make up their minds, right and wrong can't understand, that peace and war battle again."
"Everyone will have their own interpretation, but for me, it's about how so many things in life don't seem to make sense," Babylon said. "When you fight a war, you're doing it because you want peace, but what you are really doing is the complete opposite."
Babylon began studying music at age 4, and spent countless hours watching his father work, and many more hours jamming with him, in their private recording studio in Southern California. When Guy Babylon, who was Elton John's keyboardist and arranger, passed away unexpectedly in 2009, Ben channeled his grief into "Goodbye Superman," an epic, heartfelt song he composed in just three days, in his dad's memory. Early versions, which were recorded when Ben was 11 and 12, can found on the Internet. Now that his voice has matured, he plans to include a new recording of "Goodbye Superman" on his album, which will be released early in 2012.
Members of the Elton John Band have previously collaborated with other artists on independent projects, but Babylon is the youngest. For Johnstone, it is a way of paying tribute to the memory of his late friend and band mate.
"I have seen the talent of Ben Babylon emerge from a 4-year-old kid sitting on the couch in his dad's studio, watching how Guy and his musician friends would put a song together, to a teenager who seems to be taking on the world with his multi-faceted playing," Johnstone said.
"Ben is a true vision of his dad," added drummer Nigel Olsson. "He has a long way to go to fill the shoes of a true genius, but he has the faith, joy and inspiration that will take him to new heights."
"Contradiction" features Ben Babylon on piano, clavinet with Castlebar and lead vocals, Davey Johnstone on lead guitar, Bob Birch on bass, Nigel Olsson on drums and Martin Tillman on electric cello. The single was produced by Jesse Johnstone and by Greg Penny, who produced Elton John's "Made in England" album in 1995.