The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

SHANE & MARK ROCKPIT INTERVIEW BABYJANE


Mark & Shane Rockpit recently sat down with drummer Nik Kats and bassist Paul Judge in the studio where they were putting finishing touches on the recording of their debut album, before taking it to Nashville for mixing, New York for mastering, and heading back home in time to support legendary Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Dianno in late June.

 

 

Paul starts by telling us how the band got together through band-hopping and thievery.

 

“Well, you know how incestuous Perth bands can get? We’ve all been in each others bands for the last fifteen years. We didn’t have the right singer, so we’d leave one band and try and steal another singer, and it just went on and on like that, until we finally got, from each band we’ve been in, the perfect guy from each of those bands for what we want to do. It’s taken that long, it’s a pity it didn’t happen 10 years ago!”

 

What are your influences, in terms of the sound you’re going for?

 

Paul Judge

 

Paul again takes the lead, “Just raw [bands], all the best aspects of all the 70’s, 80’s bands, like Led Zep, AC/DC, Gunners, Motley Crue, Kiss, the good element of it, not the cheesy over blown hair, the way it ended up at the end. Good hooks, riffs and melodies, mixed with a 90’s aesthetic, so it seems more now than then.”

 

Paul goes on to tell us where the name BABYJANE came from.

 

“We went through a thousand names, wrote everything down, two of us would love it, two would completely hate it. Babyjane, I was thinking of the movie ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’ with Joan Crawford and Bette Davies. I don’t know, something about Babyjane just sounded good, cool. A couple of my mates said if they don’t go for that they’re f*cking idiots!! I told everyone the name, half of them hated it, the singer loved it…”

 

John Gerasolo

 

Nik rationalises, “Yeah, Paul and Andy were keener on it, I wanted something a bit tougher and stronger, but for the whole commercial side of things, it’s probably perfect. I tend towards the heavier, darker side, which doesn’t work if you want a brand name.”

 

Mark asks about the Perth scene that Babyjane “grew up” in: “You must know a lot of the guys around the scene, are you on good terms with them?”

 

Paul answers tentatively, “Some yes, some no. We’ve got into trouble from I guess being too straight up, not being extra polite to people just because you might want to get a gig. A few people have said, yeah, we’ll give you a gig on this date, or we’ll play with you here or there, and it never happens, so you keep contacting them, and the next week they kind of don’t know who you are! So, we got tired of that, and told people if you don’t mean what you say then don’t contact us again! We refused to kiss ass!”

 

Nik agrees, “There’s a little circle, amongst the Perth music scene, a little clique, to get in you’ve got to suck some arse. We’re doing our own thing and doing ok. I don’t like following rules and guidelines, if it feels good and it seems like a good idea, then give it a go!”

 

With their album in the bag by the time you read this, the guys are travelling to The US to have it mixed by legendary German producer Michael Wagener. With a list of credits longer than your arm, Wagener is one of the biggest name in hard rock and metal production, but he doesn’t come cheap.

 

Since the band are independent and without record company support, they could only afford airfares for 2 of the guys, otherwise they’d have tried to line up some gigs while over there.

 

As it was, Babyjane have been playing country gigs every weekend, to raise the capital to fund the album recording and mixing, and are hoping for a big result from all the expense and effort.

 

It all started with a lucky break, says Nik, when they scored the support slot for Sebastian Bach’s 2008 concert.

 

Babyjane with Sebastian Bach

 

Paul takes up the story: “It started with the Sebastian gig in 2008, and after that show, we were all in the backstage room, drinking and talking shit. Sebastian told us he liked us, and asked us what we were doing, if we’d recorded [anything]. We said we were trying to find someone to record and mix etc, and he says I’ve got the perfect contact for you, which was Wagener, so he pretty much hooked that up. [Initially the plan was] we were going to go over there and record the whole album, but it was a ridiculous amount of cash!”

 

Nik “We’d have to play country towns for the next five years, and that’s to get one track done!!”

 

Back to Paul: “So, he said [we should] find a good studio here in Perth that can record all the basic tracks, and then we’ll just mix it over there.”

 

While negotiating with Michael Wagener the boys also talked a couple of other guys, finding that Bob Rock was just too flat out busy too take on anything new, and to Steve Thompson and Mike Barberi - the guys who missed “Appetite For Destruction”.

 

Paul continues, ”We had a price at that time from Wagener but we just wanted to know what our choices were because, well, it’s “Appetite For Destruction”! Steve also mixed “And Justice For All” (by Metallica) and we spoke for about half an hour”

 

Paul goes on to tell us some interesting behind the scenes stories about the mixing of “And Justice For All”, and why a remixed version is unlikely, but we’ll leave that one to someone with much better litigators to tell publicly.

 

Nik tells us that Thompson nearly did get the job, but for the asking price.

 

“It nearly did happen, but the amount he wanted in the end was too much for an unsigned band from Perth.”

 

Nik Kats

 

We agree when we hear the actual amount, and I ask Paul if that sort of crazy money represents value for mixing an album. After all, a good producer will give you song structure tips, push for a better solo or performance. If it’s just mixing, how much of a difference can it actually make?

 

Paul thinks some producers who may not be desperate for the work are able to set a higher price simply because they can, and advises young bands to not necessarily always assume the highest price equals the better end result.

 

“If you have two big names, one wants $X and the other $Y and they both have the same sort of reputation, the same sort of success and the same sort of equipment then…” he shrugs.

 

Mark has a different take on it, suggesting that you pay for the name, and with the name comes the exposure to jump the queue over all the other unsigned bands, to try to jump out of the local scene and not have to ease your way out over the next five years.

 

Both Paul and Nik agree. “That was the whole idea - to get a big name on there for instant recognition.” Says Nik

 

“Well that’s it, we want to try to bypass that stuff, with a name on there hopefully a lot more people will tune in.” agrees Paul.

 

Nik continues the story about the Michael Wagener connection.

 

Andy Smith

 

“He’s been really, really good to us, you know what I mean. He’s looked after us so well. Michael, when we contacted him was just so friendly and there was no ego, just down to Earth and a really nice guy.

 

“He likes to talk about all the positive things that have happened. He was just really cool from the get go, and the vibe was right. You just have that feeling [that it’ll work well].

 

“I actually said to him, just chatting away. ‘Do you get any good bands in your studio anymore, where the sound is right, just everything you know?’ He said ‘Yeah, I have a kick-arse band coming in May’. I said ‘Who?’ really surprised. And he said… ‘Babyjane’.”

 

The band laugh about it, but you can see they’re humbled and very, very excited to be working with such a legendary figure.


Both Nik & Paul become more animated when discussing the album tracks, and we are lucky enough to hear John laying down a solo for one of the songs, and have to agree it sounds really strong.

 

Some of the album songs themselves have been around a while, says Nik.

 

“Three are new and half are anything from 2 to 8 or 9 years old”, he tells us.

 

Paul is quick to point out that they’ve evolved over time, though.

 

“They’ve gone through a number of changes over the years. When you live with a song long enough you always want to change it up, add something to it, take something away from it.”, adding that newer versions of the songs on the band’s Myspace page will feature on the album.

 

“In our minds the older songs we kept are the ones that have stood the test of time. You know, the ones that get an excellent reaction every time we play them”, says Nik.

 

The guys are due back from their whirlwind visit to The States in early June, and tell us the album should be out mid-August.

 

Paul: “Well the mixing and the mastering finish mid May and we get back at the beginning of June. We don’t want to rush it, so the CD launch is planned for mid-August at the Rosemount [Hotel in Perth] so pretty much around that time, after we get the packaging and artwork done. We’ll also tour over East - [singer] Andy has been on the phone talking to Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne – we just want to play the places that will give us a shot. We’ll jump in a big truck, and smell each others smelly feet and just do it – you know what I mean!”

 

The guys talk for a while about their attempts to find a distribution deal, and their sightseeing plans whilst in America, before revealing another piece of exciting news about the album.

 

Nik “We do have one other thing to tell you: besides the mixing, we also have the mastering sorted. Do you know George Marino from Sterling Sound? He’s done Kiss, Bon Scott-era AC/DC! He’s a massive name”

 

Paul “When we looked at his bio it was amazing, he’s done everyone, he may be a bit more expensive but he’s the duck’s nuts!

 

“Mick’s engineer up there in the studio, Darren (Halifax from Satellite Studios) is that excited that he’s actually coming over for the last few days of mixing and mastering. He said he’s never left the studio to sit in on stuff like that (and he’s done bands like Eskimo Joe) but he’s that excited he’ll fly to New York and Nashville to do this with us!”

 

 

Finally, we get to talking about a common rock spiritual home – Los Angeles and the Sunset Strip. The guys plan to look for Lemmy at the Rainbow, check out the other rock haunts, and have even organised through a friend to hang out with Slash’s buddy Marc Cantor for a few hours while over there.

 

Nik sums it up nicely, “I told some mates who wanted to come with us on this trip, and I was very strict about it: this is a strictly Rock n’ Roll trip, and if that’s not what you want then don’t come! It’s all the things I read about and watched and now I want to see it all!!”

 

 

You can catch Babyjane previewing some of the new album's tracks like 'Miss Scorpio' and 'Dirty lil Secret' on June 27th at Amplifier Bar in support of legendary original Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Dianno. In the meantime sign up to band's Myspace and Facebook pages to stay in touch with their news, and stay tuned as we'll be catching the guys when they’re back in town and find out how it all went, and have a listen to the CD!


Shane Rockpit
June 2010