Whether they’re broke as a joke or stuck in a new city, Don Babylon won’t stop rockin’.
The indie trio started in Richmond, VA and call Philadelphia home today. But “Lose Sometimes” the debut single from their LP due this fall shows they haven’t lost touch of their roots.
While their 2017 debut, Babe was gritty at heart, it leaned towards sweeter melodies and delicate lyrics. “Lose Sometimes” shows off a heavier side of the group, returning to their original garage rock feel and the days Don Babylon rocked the Richmond DIY show scene.
“It didn’t matter who we were playing in front of, we just wanted to play,” drummer David Gaither tells BTRtoday. “Richmond has a strong music scene and it kept us looped in on the endless house shows.”
Now, they’re playing much bigger shows, including three sold-out dates with Car Seat Headrest Sept. 14-18 in NYC before hitting the road with fellow rockers Cold Beaches.
Yet even with the sold out venues, they’re not afraid to go back to their punk rock roots and be inspired by everything around them. “There’s always going to be something I want to write about,” guitarist and singer Aubrey Neeley says. “I’m always worried about something or another.”
“Lose Sometimes,” is fast and impassioned. It’s foreboding from the start, with distorted guitar and raspy, almost spoken word vocals. By the end, the track has added drums, guttural background chants and heavier guitar chords that climbs Don Babylon to a new level of garage rock.
Listen to the premier of “Lose Sometimes,” the debut track off the upcoming LP from Don Babylon, below and read the entire interview with the trio.
BTRtoday (BTR): You guys have been in the music world for a while and in a few different cities doing it—what was it like for you guys when you were starting off?
Aubrey Neeley (AN): It still feels like we’re starting out. We played a bunch of house shows. It was a lot of fun.
David Gaither (DG): At the beginning we wanted to play out as much as possible. It didn’t matter who we were playing in front of, we just wanted to play. Richmond has a strong music scene and it kept us looped in on the endless house shows.
Leland Bickford (LB): I joined a little later than the others, so for me it was just playing whatever shows we could get in Richmond.
BTR: Have you guys evolved as a band?
AN: I hope so. We went for something a bit more straightforward with Foul. It feels like we’re evolving and getting better but I guess we’ll see.
DG: Our songs have always been about what is happening in our lives. The songs in our debut Babe and our upcoming album Foul are both played in mostly chronological order. I like to think it’ll be evident how we are evolving after this release.
BTR: You say your debut album from last year was a lot about being broke. Got any tips on being a band on a budget?
AN: We are the worst people to ask about this. Most of the reason we’re always broke is because we spend our money like idiots. We do have a good time when we have money though.
LB: Well, we’re all pretty broke, so I don’t think we have the best advice. My guideline for touring is, “think like a squirrel.”
BTR: Tell me about this new LP coming out this fall. Why’d you call it Foul?
AN: We had an idea for the album art—we were sort of brainstorming what someone in a crowd at a baseball game could yell that would also represent the album in some way. The original idea was, “What are you doing?” or “Is he blind?” or something like that. Foul seemed to work the best.
DG: We moved to a new city to focus on music and write this album. In our case, we didn’t know anyone, we didn’t have real jobs and we were broke. This album allowed us to dream a little.
BTR: Inspiration is such a weird thing, it comes in spurts or not at all. Do you guys do anything to help get inspired or do you just go with the flow and wait for it to strike?
AN: There’s always going to be something I want to write about. I’m always worried about something or another.
LB: We try to have practices with a purpose. Often times Aubrey brings us something he’s been working on and it kind of forms from there.
BTR: Tell me a little about this upcoming tour with Car Seat Headrest and Cold Beaches—got any expectations for it or anything you guys are most excited for?
AN: We’re opening for Car Seat in four or five sold out shows—that’s going to be awesome. I like to talk a lot on stage and I think I’ve gotten really good at working a crowd of like 20 people. Going to be interesting to see if that transfers to these huge rooms.
DG: It’s wild to have our biggest show yet be in NYC on a Friday and then to do it again the next night, same time same place. The whole tour will be amazing, really. It’ll help pay for our road trip with our friends in the band Cold Beaches, where we are stopping from city to city to play our newest album.
BTR: How did you guys meet and come to form the band?
AN: Me and David were random roommates in college. We realized we should probably start a band pretty quickly, but it took awhile for us to really figure out what sort of band we were trying to be. Our current line-up of three has been steady since 2015.
DG: My band from when I was in high school coincidentally played a show with Aubrey’s band a few weeks before we were random roommates in college. In our first year, we jammed with a ton of people all year, anywhere we could find a spot. That turned into a jam session every Saturday afternoon. After a couple months, a steady band kinda emerged. Leland came along a bit later, but it all started with no real intention other than to play music with friends.
LB: I came in a tad later, but a good pal I used to play with played a show with Don Babylon and gave them my resume. The rest is history.
BTR: What else is in store for the future of Don Babylon?
LB: More albums, more tours. We’re always trying to be the energizer bunny.