Interview: Taking Dawn — "Where did all of the edgy guys who didn't give a f*** go?"
Wed, 17 Feb 2010 08:12:08
Taking Dawn frontman Chris Babbitt doesn't like the snow.
"Thank God, it's not snowing in Allentown right now," laughs Babbitt from the road. "Pittsburgh was a goddamn nightmare. There's a serious misconception throughout the planet that's probably been perpetrated by Dante. Everybody's of the understanding that Hell consists of flames, and that's fucking wrong, dude! It's snow, for sure! Hell is covered dick-deep in snow. Who knows how much of the Bible's wrong because clearly they had no fucking idea, seriously! [Laughs]"
However, Babbitt does have a thing for fire, and that's one reason why his band's album Roadrunner Records debut is entitled, Time to Burn. It's an incendiary cauldron of fist-pumping, fiery heavy metal that could be the perfect middle ground between early Metallica's thrash vitriol and Rush's melodic power-prog. Taking Dawn will be touring everywhere in support of the record, but it's doubtful the Las Vegas-born and raised Babbitt will develop an affinity for snow and cold weather anytime soon.
He continues, "In the words of Ray Bradbury, 'It was a pleasure to burn.' I will take 112-degree weather any day of the week. Man, it's hard. I'm just a little girl, what are we going to do? [Laughs]"
Taking Dawn's Chris Babbitt sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino to talk about Ray Bradbury, secrets behind songs, Time To Burn and why snow sucks in this exclusive interview.
Given the Bradbury quote, I'm taking it you're a big reader…
Yeah, I love to read! I read anything that's good. I like a lot of Chuck Palahniuk. He wrote Fight Club, but my favorite book of his is Lullaby. He's an edgy writer. He's got a little bit of Vonnegut and a little bit of Salinger, but I think he's a little more caustic and clever. To me, he's more entertaining. Salinger's a good writer, but I don't give a fuck. I still haven't made it through Catcher and the Rye. I just don't care. It's like a lot of music. It's good, but you're not doing anything for me. I've listened to Lady GaGa's record like 100 times, but I can't get through David Sanborn's fucking new record. What are we going to do? He's an amazing smooth jazz saxophone player, but I just can't get through the record [Laughs]. There's no accounting for taste.
What Ray Bradbury books are you into?
Fahrenheit 451 is my only reference point for Ray. I haven't read any of his other material, but I dig on it. Plus my favorite band when I first started getting into underground metal was Steel Prophet. Nobody knows who they were, but they were one of the best bands that ever came out! They write about Brabury on their second record the way that Iron Maiden would write about Shelley. It was really fucking cool, so it made me want to read the book.
Are there any authors that pop up on Time to Burn?
There are a couple of little nods towards Shakespeare that a few people would probably get, but even I had to omit a line or two. There just wasn't room to sing the line! There were two minutes of constant nonstop singing. When I write my lyrics, I usually have a melody and I go with that. That can be a bad way to write some times because you have all of this shit you need to fit in and you end up cutting some of it out. On "V," there's a lot of Alan Moore. It's not that I steal any of his lines, but it's inspired by Alan Moore's V for Vendetta.
Vegas seems kind of barren musically, what was it like coming up there?
[Laughs] Well, I wouldn't say that. Every town we go to probably has the same scenes. There's always the deathcore scene, the death metal scene, the hardcore scene and the metal scene. Back home, we have a couple of dudes trying to break into the power prog scene, but singers are the hardest commodity to come by. When you can't find one, how the fuck are you going to start a power metal band? [Laughs] There are actually a lot of great bands in Vegas.
With all of the weird stuff going on in Vegas, is there a lot of fodder for songs?
I guess that's true. It depends on what you write about. Our record is not really socially centric to anything in Las Vegas—except that it's big, and Vegas is big and over-the-top. It's not a subtle record. Unless you're on the Strip all the time, it's pretty home-y. It's not too crazy. We do crazy shit for fun [Laughs]. Sometimes, I want to blow it up and be like, "Oh my God, Vegas!" It's home to us, so it's just commonplace. When we come to Lancaster and shit, we're going, "Holy fuck!" It's cool that shows come to Lancaster because in Vegas we sometimes take all of that for granted. There are a million things to do every night! We go to Lancaster, and think, "Alright everything's fucking closed! It's six o'clock on Thursday. What the fuck are we going to do?" It's a good thing that we're not crazy drinkers because getting kicked out of bars at 2am every night would probably make us violent [Laughs]. We're trying to have fun, even just being places. Fuck drinking, we hang out until the wee hours. You can only hang in a frozen van for so long.
What's the story behind "Fight 'Em With Your Rock?" That track stands out.
When we were writing it, I was calling it, "Youth Gone Wildside," because the way I was doing the riff was the same concept behind the riff to "Youth Gone Wild." However, it had the energy of "Wildside." I had my guitar and the first words that came out were "I don't know where the fire goes. All I know is you gotta fight 'em with your rock." I started laughing, and Mike was like, "Are those the words?" I just replied, "Yup!" I have a lot of meaning for it. Where did all the passion go? Where did all of the edgy guys who didn't give a fuck what people in LA were wearing go? Every time I turn around, rock stars are in designer outfits by fucking Affliction-Calvin Klein. I don't know what to do with that. It's like a fucking fashion show. Nobody's really rocking, and nobody has shit to say! I love sappy love songs but how many can you hear from the same cocksucker? Now, they're not even respectable, classy songs. They're all about fucking…which is cool, but they don't even do it well. It's not even tongue-in-cheek. The rock bands don't do it in a clever fashion like AC/DC did it with "You Shook Me All Night Long." That's a sexy song, but it's not vulgar. It's still edgier than any of those tunes. I expect so much, I guess.
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…