Dogged by poor sound when we saw them with Airbourne last month, the phenomenal Taking Dawn are benefiting big time from the big production which is part and parcel of the Kiss Sonic Boom Over Europe tour.
A made-for-arenas US crew, Chris Babbit and his mates laid waste to Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on Sunday and came across as the consummate showmen in front of a sceptical UK crowd.
We caught up with the frontman and this may be the best interview you’ll read all month. Enjoy.
rushonrock: Is the time right for a band like Taking Dawn to take on the world?
Chris Babbit: The time will always be right for timeless music. Cheeky retort, right? I’m a little shit, more often than not, so if that’s a problem you should probably stop reading 😉
rushonrock: What makes you stand out from the crowd?
CB: Well, when I’m down in the crowd it’s usually the GUITAR that separates me from the rest of the folks in the audience… You’d think it was the sweaty flailing that was a dead give away, but it’s shockingly commonplace amongst the savages who brave the modern day Colosseum known as the rock concert “pit”. Is it time for a real answer? Shit. Here goes. We’re playing music comprised of all the elements that make the classics, well, CLASSIC! Big guitars, big vocals, and bitchin’ solos! But we don’t take all day getting to the point. Taking Dawn packs a whole lotta epic in half the time it takes others to get to the goods.
rushonrock: Care to expand upon that?
CB: We cram soaring melodies and ripping harmonies (a la Iron Maiden and Def Leppard) on the vocals and guitars into break-neck, balls-out rock songs (akin to Guns n Roses and Skid Row), giving you the experience of an eight-minute masterpiece in half the time. It’s like we give you the extra four minutes for free. That way you don’t have to squander precious seconds of your life waiting to find out if the tune you’ve already invested five minutes of your life into is gonna deliver with the big pay off! Maybe it’s a little A.D.D. (or is it A.D.H.D.?) but it’s how my songs write themselves, so I let them do what they like.
rushonrock: And what do they do, as a rule?
CB: It’s sort of like good sex, if you get the same orgasm in 15 minutes that you get in an HOUR of excessive pumping and extended joint fatigue, then what’s the difference! Yeah, I know, it’s all the experience, but I’m giving you the SAME experience that you can enjoy twice as often in the same amount of time. Though I suppose it’s a LITTLE hypocritical, since some of my favorite songs include Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, Stranglehold, and Child In Time! All in good time.
rushonrock: Do you feel part of a new rock and roll scene inspired by the 80s or are you looking to create that scene?
CB: Neither! It all comes back to the concept of CLASSIC. All the aforementioned elements that, to me, comprise great music are evident in the greats of any era – be it 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s…I’d keep going but the abbreviations become harder to say in your head and you get the idea. From Cream to Queen to Metallica to Alice in Chains, those elements are consistently prevalent, albeit from different perspectives. Each generation builds upon the foundations of the last, but really there isn’t a tremendous deviation by the successors from their progenitors.
rushonrock: So what you’re saying is…
CB: Avenged Sevenfold is a modern outfit that employs these very same elements, and I’d be far from shocked to find that we share a great many favourite bands in common. I write the music I love, regardless of what is or is not cool. When I wrote a lot of the music on our first record, if you didn’t scream you were a joke. I laughed my way right through that whole scene. Yet again, I must clarify, I’m a huge (probably bigger than you!) fan of Arch Enemy, Death, In Flames, Emperor, Necrophagist, Morbid Angel, Shadows Fall…hell, the list goes on and on. My point being that I followed the Scandinavian scene at its peak, watched the American wave rise and fall, and was well versed in my death metal long before it was cool. I think the art of the growl is awesome – it’s just not for me!
rushonrock: If you could go back to 1987 which band would you pay good money to see…
CB: GnR! Wait, I mean METALLICA! No, duh, Maiden in their prime (if you can even call pre-Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son prime…Maiden’s probably in their prime now!) Too many obvious answers. Def Leppard comes to mind. Crue nearly at their peak seems like a good one. But I’m gonna go with Blackfoot! All their best shit had come out, so the set list would have ruled and as far I know they’ve made it abundantly clear that they have no intention of reforming or touring, despite the pleas of the fans. Which sucks, but you gotta respect their wishes, this job ain’t easy and very far from the glamour it’s hyped up to be. You have to love it to survive.
rushonrock:…and which album would you queue overnight to buy on gatefold vinyl?
CB: Damn, I had this great answer about waiting in line with the huddled masses to pick up Metallica’s Black Album just to see the look on their faces when they put it on and slowly digested the bitter rinds of betrayal! I actually dig the shit outta the Black Album, but it would be funny, in hindsight. Hmmmmmmm…’87, huh? GnR Appetite For Destruction, Whitesnake’s 1987, Triumph Surveillance, or Michael Jackson Bad, with Foreigner Inside Information, Anthrax Among the Living, and Testament The Legacy.
rushonrock: Who should try Taking Dawn’s Roadrunner debut for size and why?
CB: Anyone who loves rock music, metal music…shit, even pop music. Just plain good music, period! If you hate your music catchy, powerful, and infectious then stay the hell away from our record ‘Time to Burn’…and especially if you hate shreddin’ guitars.
rushonrock: How big an opportunity was the Airbourne tour before you went out with Kiss?
CB: It was an enormous opportunity to play to fans who already know what rock’n’roll sounds like. So many people have forgotten and so we generally come off as something different to them. But Airbourne fans welcomed us into their open horns by the hundreds…and thousands!
rushonrock: Is the UK’s live scene everything it’s cracked up to be?
CB: Absolutely! Maniacal audiences who truly appreciate the blood, sweat, and all manner of bodily excretions that go into a great live show. I love the dick outta them 🙂
rushonrock: What’s the worst experience you’ve had on the road to date?
CB: I had some sort of gastrointestinal issues that made a good portion of the Saliva tour back in August, right before we went out with Dragonforce, pretty fuckin’ miserable. I got off easy compared to some of the ailments my bandmates have had to suffer though.