BY: Tracy Forsyth-Lundy
To look at the guys of Canada’s Billy Talent, it’s hard to imagine that this young group of oh so talented musicians have been together performing for 15 years. 15 YEARS!!!
If by chance you have yet to hear of this fantastic band, and I’m sure it’s a very slim chance, let me introduce them all to you! Ben Kowalewicz is front man extraordinaire, Ian D’Sa is the guitarist, Jon Gallant is on bass guitar and Aaron Solowoniuk is their drum slayer. Together these guys play loud, give more than 100% on stage and have yet to let me down with their live performance.
Billy Talent played live here in Calgary not that long ago and I was invited down to the Saddledome during sound check and loved every minute of it! Ben stood on the stage and started to sing ‘Rusted From The Rain’ and gave me goosebumps, from that point I knew the show was going to be off the hook.
About a week before they arrived in Calgary, Jon took the time to talk with me about their new album, the upcoming tour, and of course their involvement with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games and the Canadian talent performing.
TFL: Hi Jon! Congrats on the new album, I’ve heard it and it’s fabulous.
JG: Well Thank you!
TFL: So you have a new tour going on.
TFL: It’s always good to come home! Canada loves you guys!
JG: We are SO excited about this tour. It seemed like it was so far away and it was such a long time coming, the line up is fantastic so we’re really stoked about this one.
TFL: Nice support groups going on: Alexis On Fire & Against Me – both totally talented bands.
TFL: So the album’s first hit ‘Rusted From The Rain’ is totally played here on the radio In Calgary; CJAY 92 plays it ALL the time (I’m not complaining Jon), then ‘Devil On My Shoulder’ was released and now we have “Saint Veronica’ – your tracks are still after all of these years SO radio friendly! Billy Talent is all grown up! What you have brought to the table is simply fantastic Jon.
JG: We never wanted to repeat ourselves and we wanted to challenge ourselves to do something different. This is where we’re at now with this record & I’m sure working on our next record will even be a little bit different from there.
TFL: As far as the writing process goes is it a collaborative effort? Does Ben kind of start out and do his thing and say ‘Hey I’ve written some lyrics what do you guys think’ or do you guys all sit down together and go ‘OK let’s jam and see what comes out of this’?
JG: Usually it starts off with a few guitar ideas. Ian will have a big pile of them and he will kind of sort them out and piece them together and when he gets a couple of them pieced together he start showing them to Aaron and I and we’ll start to work out a song from there. When we have this kind of skeleton song maybe 3 or 4 parts really kind of flowing good then we’ll sit down and start working on the melody and the lyrics.
TFL: What’s the story behind ‘Devil On My Shoulder’, I have to know, I’m curious to see where the idea for the song came from.
JG: Most of the theme of that is; every body’s got those friends that just can’t seem to get it right and you just kind of want to shake ’em because they make stupid mistakes over and over.
TFL: I hear ya – I think we’ve ALL dealt with a person like that in our lifetime!
Jon and I went on to discuss all sorts of topics right down to their performance for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. I mentioned to him that he had “Millions” of people watching them all over the world and may now have some brand new Billy Talent fans just from that show alone!
‘Billy Talent III’ was produced by legendary producer Brendan O’Brien (Bruce Springsteen & AC/DC to name a few) and was certainly the band’s first choice for their newest album. “He was our first choice but we didn’t think that he’d ever want to work with a band like us” stated D’Sa. O’Brien’s work with Rage Against the machine drew Billy talent’s admiration for his work in the studio. On the first day or preproduction in Toronto the band was a bit intimidated. “We set a chair aside for him and wrote ‘Mr. O’Brien’ on it. He didn’t think it was funny” admits D’Sa.
In my opinion, Billy Talent was never given a fair shake from the word GO when they first came out. Constant media blabber about how “different” the band is live VS on the album, never ending slagging of Ben’s hyper active stage presence, even some taking it as far as stating the band would not be around for long. I LOVE how this Canadian powerhouse has stuck to their guns, never abandoning their unique style, sound and song writing skills. A band who remains true to themselves is a band that in fact deserves the sucess they achieved.
Throughout their entire performance at the Pengrowth Saddledome Ben and the band always thanked the fans for staying true to them, thanked the fans for their undying support, to quote Ben “Thanks for giving a shit about our band” and thanked the fans for being who WE are as well. Having a Calgary Flames jersey hanging off the drum riser doesn’t hurt either to win the love of my fellow Calgarians! The entire arena was involved in each and every song this band sang for us, the mosh pit was bouncing, the floor seemed to come alive and each and every Billy Talent fan was there to have one hell of a time!
Many thanks to the band, Warner Music and the great staff at the Saddledome who always take good care of the media. Once again Canada’s own Billy Talent brought the house down and left us all wanting more.
Backstage Live magazine proudly welcomes Billy Talent into our Rock & Roll family! Be sure to check out this awesome band, but their latest album and go and see them live…you will NOT be disappointed!