It was a Friday afternoon in September and we had the opportunity to meet with a few members of Disciples Of Babylon, a Los Angeles, CA based rock band and alumni of Musicians Institute, College of Contemporary Music. With Eric Knight (Lead Vocals & Rhythm Guitar), Ramon Blanco (Lead Guitar), Gui Bodi (Bass & Backing Vocals) and Ray Rojo (Drums), Disciples of Babylon is oozing with talent and passion for their music. “We wanted this to be a movement more than anything,” Knight tells us. So as we sit with Eric, Ramon and Gui, we were able to learn more.
Originally from Miami, Florida, Knight was exposed to music at an early age. Being from Miami, it was most often Spanish music, and he even did some time in musical theatre but over time he realized rock was where his heart lied when it came to the music he wanted to pursue. He was formally trained in music theory but not in vocals and upon arriving to Los Angeles, he enrolled in the music business program at Musicians Institute. Knight knew he already had the tools as he had been involved in the industry and has his own management company called Persistent Management, but also felt it was important to go to school and learn everything he could and to get the certificate. At the age of 6 years old, Knight started doing plays, and when he saw the band KISS play they reminded him of the superheroes in all of the comic books he loved, and that was his turning point. He realized that was what he wanted to do and from there, he had no choice but to go forward in his music venture. As far as the business side of the music industry, Knight says “I just kind of was thrown into it. All of the bands I was in, no one really had any knowledge of the business side so I just started learning whatever I could.” As a musical theatre performer and singer, Knight says he grew up listening to Stevie Wonder and R&B and other styles but rock just grabbed his attention the most and he gravitated towards it. “We all come from different walks of life and listen to different music” Knight tells us. While he does have a wide array of styles that he enjoys, rock is where he plans to stay and for rock fans, that is a good thing because his talent is one to be reckoned with. Being from the Miami area, Latin and pop music definitely dominate over all other genres, but for Knight, there was no music like rock n’ roll, “I was in a band who was managed by the same manager as Marilyn Manson and this was back when Manson was just starting out. The the band I was in fell apart and I was going to pursue a solo career but quickly realized Miami wasn’t the place for me and I knew Los Angeles would be.” That is when he enrolled at Musicians Institute on a recommendation from Kenny Kerner who wrote about his old band in Music Connection Magazine and gave them amazing reviews. The music business program was just starting out but the best part about going to Musicians Institute is the networking. You not only gain additional knowledge but you also gain affirmation on the things you are already doing. “I think the connections and the legitimacy of going through the program really worked to my advantage and moving to Los Angeles, I had to start all over again.”
Gui Bodi is from Brazil and a graduate of Musicians Institute’s guitar program. “I came here five years ago and started school. Made a lot of connections and applied for my working visa and that’s how it happened.” It was very stressful to get his artist’s visa but luckily during his second quarter of school, he was offered a three-week gig playing at Vans Warped Tour with a punk rock band and that gave him the press and paperwork he needed to apply and gain approval to stay. Bodi had started off wanting to get his AA degree but after taking his placement test, it was decided that he was too advanced and skipped the first two levels and did the same classes he needed. Aside from playing in Disciples of Babylon, Bodi works at Musicians Institute now as a Teacher’s Aide and tells us about how it is such an honor to be back there now as a staff member. “I think I am developing even more skills teaching because it is one thing to do it on your own but another to have to explain the process to someone so they can learn. It is quite a learning experience for me as well” Bodi says. Having to learn how to read and learn the English language, Bodi says “teaching has helped me to improve in my reading, it’s great.” Bodi learned how to play piano at the age of six when he took lessons with his sister but quickly decided he didn’t want to continue. “I just had no drive when it came to practicing piano, it wasn’t me” Bodi affirms. At the age of 12, and growing up in Brazil he had a similar music scene surrounding him as Knight mentioned earlier. With the Latin influenced music being the most popular, he was drawn to bands like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath but even though at that time he didn’t speak English very well, Bodi says he just loved the sound and the vibe. At the age of 14, he started to learn bass and then learned how to sing since it was near impossible to find a singer. The good thing for Bodi is that it is rare to find a bass player who can sing as well as a front man. Knight chimed in and had this to say “Gui is a great singer and I met him through Ramon, our lead guitarist but I was really impressed with this guy and meeting at MI. We started recording and singing and it’s great.”
A native of Spain, Ramon Blanco moved to Los Angeles in 2010 and graduated a few years ago. Working as a professional musician for most of his life, his dream was to move to California and to play guitar. “I felt if I didn’t do it then and there, I wouldn’t have done it. I graduated from Musicians Institute and got my artist visa. I had a video on YouTube and then met the guys at school and they were impressed. I was influenced by The Rolling Stones and The Beatles and my dad played guitar so music was always there.” When Blanco was 8, his parents put him in classical music school but he was not interested at all and he quit. However, when he turned 14 it became more about bands like AC/DC and Metallica and it really fueled his desire and passion to play guitar.
Knight tells us about how his Mom and Dad were always supportive of his musical aspirations and encouraged him to follow his passion. Blanco agreed that his life was the same and he was lucky to have parents who are supportive but it was harder over in Brazil. “I feel like I have so much more opportunity here in Los Angeles, there is an actual business here.” With the “pay to play” mentality that Los Angeles is known for, it has been a challenge at times when getting shows to play and Knight says that while he usually refuses shows that require bands to pay there are times he has said OK. It all depends on the situation. “I understand the business side of things but I find it frustrating at times, and it is almost like a double-edged sword.”
Having released their first EP titled Welcome To Babylon and their first single Karma in September, Disciples of Babylon held a record release party with much success and rave reviews. “Our style is like a 30 Seconds to Mars and Foo Fighters sound but is turning into our own style. We take all of the music we listen to including pop music and combine it with melodies and bring all of those elements together” Knight explains. They plan to release a full length record in the future but for now, they wanted to just use the EP as an introduction to who they are and what they are about. “We have created quite a buzz and that was our goal” Knight concludes. Each member of Disciples of Babylon contributes to the songwriting process, and while they all have their own ideas, they combine those and it progresses from that point. “Originally, it was just me and Ramon writing because I met him first” Knight recalls, “once Gui came in, we just add each person’s ideas, it is a group effort between us.” “We build from each person’s ideas, we have no rules” Blanco says. One thing Knight wanted to do is to bring it back to the big rock bands of the 70’s and 80’s with the huge shows and anthem songs and when he saw Blanco’s video, he knew without a doubt this was someone he needed in the band. Disciples Of Babylon has a sense of brotherhood and a clear idea of what they want to achieve with their music. With no egos and a strong bond, this is something that is important to establish from the beginning with a band, and with success they will only rise and rise. Blanco says that when Knight first e-mailed him, he wasn’t sure who he was so he went online and researched his voice and his music and was impressed with what he saw. The fact Knight sounded amazing in live videos was what sold Blanco on joining the band and the rest is history. “Sometimes people sound one way in the studio but it is a whole different story when it comes to live shows and how they sound vocally” Blanco says. Those of us with a deep appreciation for rock music can agree that some artists, mainly pop and other genres have artists who use auto tune like Kanye West and it is just a huge disappointment.
Disciples Of Babylon is also very stylish and they have thought out their visual aspect. In looking at some of their promotional shots, there is a definite Reservoir Dogs classic look and Knight attributes the band’s different looks to Blanco who also acts as their fashion consultant. “When I told Ramon we wanted to have a few different looks, he stepped up. He just has style and we wanted a cool look and a nice look and a rocker look so we started looking at different bands like Muse and we almost had like a girl’s night out and went shopping to find all of our clothes” Knight jokingly says “Ramon just had style and he had that rock star look and fashion consciousness.”
Not only is the band’s fashion savvy look well thought out, they also had an interesting story about their album art for the EP. “We were on a deadline and I just started looking online and found this digital art site.” Knight goes into detail about “and I saw this airbrush art and I contacted the artist and a few weeks had gone by with no response but I found out he worked for Warner Brothers in their gaming department and did all of the digital art. I thought it was really cool and eventually he sent me an email back so I sent him all of the music and everything and the artist was honored and gave me the permission to use the music. It almost looked like LA in the future and made perfect sense with the title Welcome To Babylon and how it captured all of the bad things going on in the world and we want to do good with this band.” The idea behind the band’s name and their album title is to bring positivity and to use their music to inspire people. To show people we are in the new Babylon and trying to make it from a bad place to a good place.
Knight once opened for Kid Rock and Aerosmith and even KISS which was mind-blowing to him. “I have all of the respect for all of them” Knight says and “to see them live and to play the same stage as them was a dream come true.” If they could tour with anyone in the future, Muse, Foo Fighters and Royal Fighters come to mind. Black Stone Cherry is another band they would love to play a show with as well as Alter Bridge. One thing Knight said he would love is to write music for is video games and anything using multi-media and be involved in that.
Currently, the band is working on a tour and writing new music for a full length album as well as publicity and promotions because their number one goal is to become one of the biggest bands of our time and they plan to continuously get better and better and do things to improve as well as grow in their music. Total world domination is the ultimate goal for Disciples of Babylon and being a new band, it works to their advantage that Knight has already established his own management company and it really helps, especially with being a new band. Certain challenges arise but early on Disciples of Babylon have engaged heavily with their fans and developed some loyal fans and it is spreading like wildfire. Disciples of Babylon is on the right track and if they keep going the way they are, there is no limit to what they will do.