News Archives

Jul 30, 2009

Billy Talent – III

Toronto band Billy Talent has struck gold with their first two records and if early sales of this newest record are any indication, their third record is on the same track of success within Canada at the very least. Mega-producer Brendan O’Brien is manning the control board for this newest album and the benefits of the band working with him are immediately heard.

One of the first things I noted is that O’Brien seems to have brought out the best in Ben Kowalewicz’s vocals; the high-pitched vocals that dominated their previous efforts and hits are instead melodic and focused. As a whole, BT is tight as ever as they pound through heavy-hitting songs like “Tears Into Wine”, “Devil On My Shoulder”, “Diamond On A Landmine” and first single “Rusted From The Rain”.

If this isn’t the record that finally introduces Billy Talent to big-time success in the US, I will truly be surprised.

Here
July 30, 2009

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Jul 29, 2009

Billy Talent Are Adults Now

Billy Talent’s Ian D’Sa and Jon Gallant are sitting in Starbucks sipping on bottles of water on a quiet evening when we meet.

It’s hard to believe these are two of the guys responsible for such explosive hits as “Try Honesty” amongst “Red Flag,” “River Below” and their latest, “Rusted From The Rain.” The intense energy of these songs doesn’t show here.

Instead, D’Sa and Gallant are completely laid back and chill, eager to talk about their new album, Billy Talent III, which dropped July 14. Everything about the meeting is collected and still, a calm before the craziness of the album’s release and the extensive touring set to follow it.

For the album, Warner flew in Grammy Award-winning producer Brendan O’Brien, who has worked with the likes of Stone Temple Pilots, Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Rage Against The Machine, Pearl Jam, Velvet Revolver and Incubus, to name just a few. Billy Talent were asked to submit a list of dream producers and O’Brien at the top — and they got him.

“I don’t even think we really believed it until we had him in our rehearsal studio in Toronto doing pre-production,” says Gallant. “We’ve been hardened enough to not believe anything until it actually happens. We were excited about it and crossing our fingers and then when it was all going down it was really a dream come true, finally.”

The experience was different this time, especially for guitarist D’Sa, who co-produced Billy Talent II alongside Billy Talent producer Gavin Brown (Three Days Grace, Thornley, Cancer Bats).

“It was interesting at first,” says D’Sa says. “We didn’t see eye-to-eye.

“In the pre-production, everything was great, but once we got to the studio, he’s really all about momentum and working super-fast, so that first week if I disagreed with something he would disagree with me and it got a little hairy at some point. I think we both ended up understanding each other in the second week and it turned out great in the end.

“It’s funny how it changed from the beginning, because when you walk in, especially with someone you’ve never met before, you have to work really fast. You’re walking in protecting your baby — ‘baby’ meaning all the songs we’re written over the past eight months.

“After a while you have to realize this is a guy that has made so many great records and so many records that all his calls are totally correct and in line. He’s all about trusting your instinct and he’s great. We kind of got to that realization and followed that path after a while.”

Billy Talent credit O’Brien for the new sense of texturing on the album. He added percussion, played the mellotron on “White Sparrows,” piano on “Diamond On A Landmine” and added various additional details and elements the band wouldn’t have thought to do on top of their standard guitar, bass and drum set-up.

Yet this is not what stands out most about the album. Instead, the melodies scream the loudest while, perhaps ironically, vocalist Ben Kowalewicz screams the least he ever has.

Gone are the angst-ridden tracks of harboured teenage aggression and loneliness in favour of more thought-provoking songs. There are even elements of hope amidst the softer vocals and lyrics of this new batch riff-rock anthems.

“I think as we’re getting older we’re maturing,” D’Sa says. “The first album did have a lot of screaming on it because we were more angry and aggressive at that point in our lives. It really fits where we are right now in life on this record.”

“It has more a fulfilling attitude towards it,” Gallant adds. “We feel as a band that we’ve accomplished a lot and have a right to do all the things we want to do without second guessing them. I think there’s a lot more of our instinct on the record.”

A lot has happened since Billy Talent II dropped in 2006. For Gallant, the biggest thing is the birth of his now 21-month-old son.

“It makes it a little more difficult to tour because you want to be there,” he says. “Aaron [Solowoniuk, drums] has been doing it since the band started touring heavily and now that I’m in his shoes I understand a lot of the sacrifice that he made.

“I think it also makes you get to appreciate life. I hope my son gets to do the things that I got to do. It changes your mindset in ways, but I don’t think it affects me creatively.”

For D’Sa, it’s a different story. He ended a long-term relationship and became involved with the non-profit organization Canadian Artists For African Aid, better known as Song For Africa.

The organization was started in 2006 by Winnipeg-based music producer Darcy Ataman, who got a group of Canadian artists together to record a song and video called “Song For Africa” in order to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa.

D’Sa was asked to record the guitar tracks for the follow-up Song For Africa documentary last year. During the recording, the team was shooting aspects of the documentary, which ended up including some footage of D’Sa.

Ataman asked D’Sa if he would like to go to Africa. D’Sa jumped on the opportunity and joined fellow musicians Damhnait Doyle, Luke McMaster and Simon Wilcox for 10 days in Kenya where they visited families in mud huts, AIDS clinics and the biggest slum in Africa.

“It was really eye-opening and an amazing experience,” D’Sa says. “It made me realize how lucky we are to live here and all the things that are available to us that aren’t available to others and how we can help change their problems.

“We’re all neighbours, we’re just far away from each other. When you go over there you realize we’re a lot closer than we think.”

D’Sa got to see the work organizations like CARE Canada and Free The Children are doing in Kenya. They teach families to boil polluted water before drinking it, something they didn’t normally do.

One of the aspects of the trip that stuck out the most was how happy the children were and how curious they were about what it was like for D’Sa to grow up in a city just outside of Toronto.

“It was really great to hear their stories and see where they grew up. There are a lot of parallels. They have normal families,” he says. “Their living conditions aren’t as good as here, but they have normal families and do normal things. It made me feel like we’re a lot closer than we think.”

If this doesn’t sound like the talk of a bunch of young punks, it’s because it isn’t. Billy Talent are developing into a far different sort of band.

D’Sa takes a moment to reflect on how all of these life experiences have affected the band musically — not just in terms of song inspiration, but also in their ability to master their art.

“I feel like we’re slowly honing the songwriting craft and becoming better as songwriters so this is the one I feel really proud of,” he says.

It’s too early to tell if the third installment will match the success of Billy Talent, which was certified three times platinum in Canada, or Billy Talent II, which reached #1 in both Canada and Germany and was certified two times platinum, but Billy Talent seem pretty content with where things are now.

They’ve already released a video for “Rusted From The Rain” and have filmed one for second single “Devil On My Shoulder.” They’re currently on tour supporting Rise Against and Rancid and are planning to tour Canada in January and February. Dates will be announced soon.

“We’re working on making it a smashing lineup right now,” Gallant says. “We want to make sure everything is right for the Canadian tour and to do something special. At that time the band will be a well-oiled touring machine and we’ll have our shit together.”

Sheena Lyonnais
Chart Attack
July 29, 2009

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Jul 24, 2009

Billy Talent III Coming

Billy Talent’s new album Billy Talent III has found a new home in the States and Japan on Roadrunner Records. The album, which will be released on September 22, was recorded by noted producer Brendan O’Brien (AC/DC, Stone Temple Pilots) in Los Angeles and Atlanta.

The first single “Rusted From The Rain” will be serviced to Active and Modern Rock formats in late August. A video for the track was recently shot in Los Angeles with director Wayne Isham (Metallica, Bon Jovi, Avenged Sevenfold).

Billy Talent III, will was released in the band’s native Canada on July 14 and debuted at #1. Billy Talent III has the highest one week sales of any Canadian release in 2009.

This marks the band’s second #1 debut in Canada. The album also debuted at #6 on the Billboard International Top 100 chart, as well as #2 in Germany and #3 in Switzerland. “Rusted From The Rain” is having a great run at Canadian radio, spending its seventh week at #1 on the Modern Rock chart and fourth week at #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart. The band has previously had three Top 5, five Top 10 and two Top 15 singles on Canadian rock radio. The band is currently on tour with Rise Against and Rancid in the U.S. A headline tour is planned for the U.S. for September.

On July 28, Roadrunner will be releasing a 3-song EP, Rusted From The Rain EP, available via all digital retailers.

The track listing is as follows:
1. Rusted From The Rain
2. Devil On My Shoulder
3. Cold Turkey
4. Red Flag

Ever since the release of their self-titled album in the Summer of 2002, Billy Talent have become one of Canada’s biggest rock bands, where constant touring and incendiary live shows have taken the Toronto-based band to the upper echelon of the rock world. The band’s second album, Billy Talent II debuted at number one in Canada and Germany which then led to the band headlining sold-out tours across Canada, Europe and the United States. Billy Talent have won a number of awards on both sides of the Atlantic including twice being named Group of the Year at the JUNO Awards, numerous MuchMusic Video Awards and two prestigious Echo Music Awards in Germany as Best Rock / Alternative Band International and Best Newcomer / International.

AntiMusic.com
July 24, 2009

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Jul 20, 2009

CD Review: Billy Talent III

The boys of Billy Talent are back with their final installment of the Billy Talent trilogy –Billy Talent III. It’s been three years since we’ve heard from these Mississauga musicians and it’s safe to say not too much has changed in terms of sound.

In all honesty, the album was nothing less or nothing more than I expected. Listening to the CD was kind of like coming home to your favourite comfort food—the same but always amazing! Billy Talent III is the perfect album to close the Billy Talent trilogy with a lot of familiar sounds and rhythms with more mature vocals and lyrics.

Compared to Talent’s first two albums, this one is a little bit mellower, less screamo meets teen-angst than their first album, but not too different from their second. A standout is “Tears into Wine.” It’s got a catchy beat that makes you feel full of energy and emotion when listening to it. The first track, “Devil on My Shoulder” is also very catchy, with an intro that sounds a lot like “This is How It Goes” from their first album. In this track, lead singer Ben Kowalewicz strays away from his normally high-pitched tone into more of a deep, hard hitting one. It’s a nice change, but unfortunately this is the only song where we hear this voice.

The rest of the album contains a mix of quick, sharp tunes with feisty lyrics dealing with anger, loneliness and fear. I feel like the song “Diamond on a Landmine” is the 2009 version of 2004’s “The Ex.” Both songs deal with heartbreak and breaking up, but it’s amazing to hear the difference in tone and lyrical content. It’s evident the boys have definitely matured over the years.

Overall, it’s a pretty good album. Great tunes to listen to, to get you pumped and energized, perfect for blaring out your car stereo.

Billy Talent will be hitting the road this summer, touring overseas at various festivals. There’s no doubt in my mind that this album would sound 10 times better live on stage. The energy these guys put out while performing is contagious and makes you appreciate their music so much more.

TTTT (out of 5)

Natasha Pavlovic
MOG
July 20, 2009

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Jul 17, 2009

Billy Talent powers up for act “III”

If you’re not one of the thousands intimately familiar with Billy Talent’s music, there’s a good chance you’ve dismissed the foursome for being too pop punk. It’s a tag that band has been saddled with for years, and one they’ve always felt was unjustified.

“People always lumped us in with the next pop punk band that was just around the corner that no one cared about,” says bassist Jonathan Gallant at the Four Seasons in Toronto. “We never felt those comparisons were fair.”

“It was absolutely frustrating to get pigeon-holed like that,” adds singer Ben Kowalewicz. “It was very hard at the beginning, but now we don’t care.”

While the band has gotten over the name calling, many fans still avoid Billy Talent because they don’t see a difference between the Toronto-based group and acts like Sum 41 and Simple Plan. But, they’ve never really sounded like these bands. Their music was always more brash and more rock than most pop punkers, and their third disc should prove it.

Billy Talent III is a major step up from the group’s previous albums. With Sabbath-like riffs and a more metal-meets-hard rock sound, this record has the power and guts that’s mostly eluded the band. Their tunes are still as catchy as ever, and the Kowalewicz/Ian D’sa vocal attack remains intact, but the band is definitely treading new ground.

“We took a step back (after hearing Ian play the songs) and thought, ‘This is pretty riffalicious,’” says Kowalewicz. “This is definitely a throw back record to a lot of mid-’90s bands we were listening to. It’s very Soundgarden-esque in a lot ways.”

Part of the reason for that ’90s sound has to do with their producer, Brendan O’Brien. He’s worked with everyone the Stone Temple Pilots to Bruce Springsteen, but it’s his long stint as Pearl Jam’s producer that’s made him famous.

Needless to say, Billy Talent was excited about working with the grunge legend, and he regaled them with plenty of stories about some of alt-rock’s greatest acts. (“We’re not privileged to share any of them,” says Kowalewicz.)

But Kowalewicz still gets excited about one particular moment with O’Brien. “At one point he said, ‘Sorry guys I have to fly to Seattle and go see Pearl Jam,’ and me being the biggest Eddie Vedder fan, I was like, ‘What?’ Eddie ended up giving him a lighter and then Brendan gave me the lighter. It’s on my mantle.”

This record likely won’t turn Kowalewicz into the new Eddie Vedder, but it’s a sure bet that the disc will bring in new fans, even the ones who disliked the band in the first place. And if you still can’t stand Billy Talent after this? Be prepared to hate them for a long time.

“For people that do like us, we hope they can cut through the BS detectors and appreciate a good song for a good song,” says Kowalewicz. “Because we’re going to keep writing records until we’re 70.”

Bryan Borzykowski
Metro
July 17, 2009

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Jul 16, 2009

Talent make dramatic leap

Billy Talent have platinum albums. They sell out the Air Canada Centre. They’re huge in Germany. They could easily rest on their laurels. Instead, they’re getting better.

Producer Brendan O’Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam) has clearly pushed every member of this band to be better songwriters and players. Every one of the 11 tracks here boasts the kind of killer hooks that their best singles have always had; don’t be surprised if they spin a half-dozen radio hits out of this record. But even more importantly, they’ve matured to the point where they can maintain their trademark intensity at half their normal tempo — lead single “Rusted from the Rain” being the best example.

Elsewhere, they leave much more open space and use dynamics to help build tension in ways that all the best rock records do — or should do. Other influences have started creeping in: “Tears Into Wine” and “Pocketful of Dreams” have vaguely Celtic guitar melodies. Not that they’ve mellowed: “Saint Veronika” boasts some furiously arpeggiated metal riffing, and “Turn Your Back” and “Tears Into Wine” are the kind of barnburners that Billy Talent built their reputation on.

Some things don’t change: Ian D’Sa’s one-note backing vocals are still inflected with a hilariously overwrought sense of frustration, like he stubbed his toe immediately before stepping up to the mike. Lead singer Ben Kowalewicz, on the other hand, has moved far beyond his signature screams — which he still lets out of the bag on a couple of tracks here — to become a much more engaging vocalist; he’s no longer a one-trick pony.

This is not just the album that will elevate Billy Talent above their mall punk fan base and present a convincing case for their longevity–this is the rock record for the summer of 2009.

Michael Barclay
Guelf Mercury
July 16, 2009

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Jul 15, 2009

Disc Review – “Billy Talent III”

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Looks like Billy Talent landed that big American producer often sought by successful Canadian bands hoping to get to the next level (i.e., cracking the U.S. market). Brendan O’Brien, best known for his continuous work with Pearl Jam and Springsteen, takes over from Gavin Brown on Billy’s third s/t offering, and there’s some noticeable dulling of the edges here.

Singer Ben Kowalewicz and Ian D’Sa, who further solidifies his status as one of the top guitarists in rock, have rubbed out any semblance of punk, gone with mid-tempo big-rock song structures and boosted those powerful chorus hooks – like on “Rusted From The Rain” – that have made them one of Canada’s biggest stadium bands.

Top track: Tears Into Wine

Jason Keller
NOW Magazine
July 15, 2009

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Jul 14, 2009

CD Pick of the week: Billy Talent

Commercial success and the support of mainstream radio might have contributed to a slight delay in Billy Talent getting the respect it has long deserved, but it’s going to be very hard for the haters to argue with the 905-bred quartet’s third album.

Brawny of riff and polished to a blinding shine by mega-producer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against the Machine), Billy Talent III is as respectable and as palatable as contemporary “modern rock” gets – endlessly anthemic, bursting with hooks, impeccably played and thrillingly heavy where it counts. Indeed, there’s much more low-end chug here than ever before, as O’Brien’s presence in the studio seems to have inspired the band to indulge in a little grunge-era revivalism.

Guitarist Ian D’Sa, bassist Jon Gallant and drummer Aaron Solowoniuk lurch and lumber with Zeppelin-esque rhythmic girth on tectonic monsters like “Devil on My Shoulder,” “The Dead Can’t Testify” and the blistering “Turn Your Back,” while the more characteristically punkish Billy Talent juggernauts (“Tears Into Wine,” “Definition of Destiny”) rip by at even more white-knuckled velocities than usual.

More impressive still, though, are the tunes that dare to mess with the foursome’s usual, angsty template.

The near-power ballad “White Sparrows,” for instance, finds impassioned shrieker Ben Kowalewicz singing with unusual attention to vocal craft.

“Diamond on a Landmine,” meanwhile, is as fond and authentic a tribute to The Police as anyone’s ever put to tape.

Don’t underestimate this band. We need more like Billy Talent to make the airwaves bearable again.

Ben Rayner
The Toronto Star
July 14, 2009

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Jul 14, 2009

Billy Talented? Canuck band puts own spin on ‘Guitar Hero’ with new album

Despite their guitar heroics and fretboard wizardry, Billy Talent has always been excluded from the fraternity of bands featured in rhythm-rock video games.

So the Streetsville, Ont., rockers have taken matters into their own calloused hands with new album, Billy Talent III, which is available Tuesday in two versions.

For an extra $10 or so, fans can pick up the deluxe version which includes a second disc of the album’s 11 songs stripped of guitars and the notes for all the tracks, so budding musicians can play along and try to match guitarist Ian D’Sa riff for riff.

“We thought (the idea) was amazing right away because no one else had done it before,” D’Sa said in a recent interview at a Toronto bar.

“We’d never had any songs in ‘Guitar Hero,’ so we decided to make our own, in a way.”

Of course, the gimmick also gives fans an incentive to actually buy a physical copy of the new disc, even though Billy Talent has never really had any trouble selling records.

The first two instalments in the band’s trilogy of self-titled albums were certified platinum a combined five times over in Canada, and Billy Talent III seems similarly primed for commercial success.

Featuring hard-hitting riffs buffed to a glossy sheen by superproducer Brendan O’Brien, III downplays the band’s pop-punk leanings in favour of a more visceral, classic-rock approach.

The band says O’Brien – who has produced records by Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, AC/DC, Stone Temple Pilots and Rage Against the Machine – contributed to the shift in sound.

“The album’s got more layering and it’s more dynamic than the last couple records,” said bassist Jon Gallant. “It’s bigger and better.”

Yet the album’s slick sound is tempered by lyrics spun from a rough period in D’Sa’s and lead singer Ben Kowalewicz’s lives.

“When me and Ben were writing lyrics, both of us were going through some tough times – I’d just come out of a four-year relationship and he’d just lost someone close to him,” said D’Sa, later noting that a family member of Kowalewicz’s had died.

“It’s just a little more personal of a record.”

“Devil on my Shoulder,” the album’s blazing opening track, is about a friend of D’Sa’s who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

And first single “Rusted From the Rain” – which is currently No. 14 on Billboard’s Canadian Hot 100 singles chart – is a “metaphor for a guy who’s been beat down in a relationship,” D’Sa said.

“That’s the way I was feeling at the time, ’cause I’d just got out of a four-year relationship,” he said.

Gallant said the band was initially apprehensive about making the midtempo tune their lead single, but were persuaded by an employee at their U.S. label.

The United States is one of the few markets Billy Talent has yet to crack, even though the band built a sizable fanbase in Germany, and was featured on the cover of U.K. music mag “Kerrang,” which announced a “transition from mass cult appeal to mainstream stardom is about to begin.”

While D’Sa concedes that finding a way to break through south of the border is a goal for the band, he believes that they’ll continue to be successful even without stateside attention.

“We enjoy playing all around the world and internationally, and it doesn’t really matter where we play, as long we’ve got a lot of support from the label and our fans, most importantly, then we’ll be able to play.”

Despite their guitar heroics and fretboard wizardry, Billy Talent has always been excluded from the fraternity of bands featured in rhythm-rock video games.

So the Streetsville, Ont., rockers have taken matters into their own calloused hands with new album, “Billy Talent III,” which is available Tuesday in two versions.

For an extra $10 or so, fans can pick up the deluxe version which includes a second disc of the album’s 11 songs stripped of guitars and the notes for all the tracks, so budding musicians can play along and try to match guitarist Ian D’Sa riff for riff.

“We thought (the idea) was amazing right away because no one else had done it before,” D’Sa said in a recent interview at a Toronto bar.

“We’d never had any songs in ‘Guitar Hero,’ so we decided to make our own, in a way.”

Of course, the gimmick also gives fans an incentive to actually buy a physical copy of the new disc, even though Billy Talent has never really had any trouble selling records.

The first two instalments in the band’s trilogy of self-titled albums were certified platinum a combined five times over in Canada, and “Billy Talent III” seems similarly primed for commercial success.

Featuring hard-hitting riffs buffed to a glossy sheen by superproducer Brendan O’Brien, “III” downplays the band’s pop-punk leanings in favour of a more visceral, classic-rock approach.

The band says O’Brien – who has produced records by Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, AC/DC, Stone Temple Pilots and Rage Against the Machine – contributed to the shift in sound.

“The album’s got more layering and it’s more dynamic than the last couple records,” said bassist Jon Gallant. “It’s bigger and better.”

Yet the album’s slick sound is tempered by lyrics spun from a rough period in D’Sa’s and lead singer Ben Kowalewicz’s lives.

“When me and Ben were writing lyrics, both of us were going through some tough times – I’d just come out of a four-year relationship and he’d just lost someone close to him,” said D’Sa, later noting that a family member of Kowalewicz’s had died.

“It’s just a little more personal of a record.”

“Devil on my Shoulder,” the album’s blazing opening track, is about a friend of D’Sa’s who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

And first single “Rusted From the Rain” – which is currently No. 14 on Billboard’s Canadian Hot 100 singles chart – is a “metaphor for a guy who’s been beat down in a relationship,” D’Sa said.

“That’s the way I was feeling at the time, ’cause I’d just got out of a four-year relationship,” he said.

Gallant said the band was initially apprehensive about making the midtempo tune their lead single, but were persuaded by an employee at their U.S. label.

The United States is one of the few markets Billy Talent has yet to crack, even though the band built a sizable fanbase in Germany, and was featured on the cover of U.K. music mag “Kerrang,” which announced a “transition from mass cult appeal to mainstream stardom is about to begin.”

While D’Sa concedes that finding a way to break through south of the border is a goal for the band, he believes that they’ll continue to be successful even without stateside attention.

“We enjoy playing all around the world and internationally, and it doesn’t really matter where we play, as long we’ve got a lot of support from the label and our fans, most importantly, then we’ll be able to play.”

Despite their guitar heroics and fretboard wizardry, Billy Talent has always been excluded from the fraternity of bands featured in rhythm-rock video games.

So the Streetsville, Ont., rockers have taken matters into their own calloused hands with new album, “Billy Talent III,” which is available Tuesday in two versions.

For an extra $10 or so, fans can pick up the deluxe version which includes a second disc of the album’s 11 songs stripped of guitars and the notes for all the tracks, so budding musicians can play along and try to match guitarist Ian D’Sa riff for riff.

“We thought (the idea) was amazing right away because no one else had done it before,” D’Sa said in a recent interview at a Toronto bar.

“We’d never had any songs in ‘Guitar Hero,’ so we decided to make our own, in a way.”

Of course, the gimmick also gives fans an incentive to actually buy a physical copy of the new disc, even though Billy Talent has never really had any trouble selling records.

The first two instalments in the band’s trilogy of self-titled albums were certified platinum a combined five times over in Canada, and “Billy Talent III” seems similarly primed for commercial success.

Featuring hard-hitting riffs buffed to a glossy sheen by superproducer Brendan O’Brien, “III” downplays the band’s pop-punk leanings in favour of a more visceral, classic-rock approach.

The band says O’Brien – who has produced records by Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, AC/DC, Stone Temple Pilots and Rage Against the Machine – contributed to the shift in sound.

“The album’s got more layering and it’s more dynamic than the last couple records,” said bassist Jon Gallant. “It’s bigger and better.”

Yet the album’s slick sound is tempered by lyrics spun from a rough period in D’Sa’s and lead singer Ben Kowalewicz’s lives.

“When me and Ben were writing lyrics, both of us were going through some tough times – I’d just come out of a four-year relationship and he’d just lost someone close to him,” said D’Sa, later noting that a family member of Kowalewicz’s had died.

“It’s just a little more personal of a record.”

“Devil on my Shoulder,” the album’s blazing opening track, is about a friend of D’Sa’s who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

And first single “Rusted From the Rain” – which is currently No. 14 on Billboard’s Canadian Hot 100 singles chart – is a “metaphor for a guy who’s been beat down in a relationship,” D’Sa said.

“That’s the way I was feeling at the time, ’cause I’d just got out of a four-year relationship,” he said.

Gallant said the band was initially apprehensive about making the midtempo tune their lead single, but were persuaded by an employee at their U.S. label.

The United States is one of the few markets Billy Talent has yet to crack, even though the band built a sizable fanbase in Germany, and was featured on the cover of U.K. music mag “Kerrang,” which announced a “transition from mass cult appeal to mainstream stardom is about to begin.”

While D’Sa concedes that finding a way to break through south of the border is a goal for the band, he believes that they’ll continue to be successful even without stateside attention.

“We enjoy playing all around the world and internationally, and it doesn’t really matter where we play, as long we’ve got a lot of support from the label and our fans, most importantly, then we’ll be able to play.”

Nick Patch
Canadian Press
July 14, 2009

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Jul 13, 2009

Billy Talent Take Your Questions

We’ll bet our left kidney that long before news broke that Billy Talent III would be in stores July 14, the band’s most hard-core fanboys and girls had already circled the date, pre-ordered three copies of the deluxe edition and blocked off two-weeks vacation to learn each song on guitar, bass and — just because they’re that dedicated — glockenspiel.

That sort of band loyalty deserves a reward. So, we’ve turned it over to the fans to put their 10-best questions to Billy Talent — who, incidentally, were excited to see what sort of Q’s you might lob at them.

“The questions are always interesting. You get asked things you wouldn’t normally hear,” Ian D’sa told Dose.ca earlier this month.

Ian D’Sa, Ben Kowalewicz, Jon Gallant and Aaron Solowoniuk took your best shots. Here’s what they had to say:

1. This question’s for Aaron: We all love Ben’s onstage energy, but have you gotten Ben back for clocking you with his mic stand at a show a couple of years ago? (-Adam Kohn)

Aaron: Ha. That was an unfortunate incident that happened a long time ago. I guess I could throw some sticks at his back, but that’s just not my style.

2. Ian, your music is unique, original and incredibly difficult to decipher. In many interviews and bios it talks about your classical piano training. I was wondering if you’ve formed some of your intricate chords and transitions on the piano and then further transferred them onto the guitar? If so, do you find this easier or more difficult to do? (-Christina Macaluso)

Ian: Hey Christina, there are times where I’ve come up with vocal melodies for songs on piano first and then translated them to singing, but I’ve never really come up with chords on the piano first and then translated them to guitar. I think over the years I’ve just trained my ear to listen for interesting chords that stand out when I’m writing on a guitar, and that’s probably because they remind me of some of the unique chords that can be created on a piano.

3. What are Benjamin, Aaron, Ian and Jonathan’s middle names? (-“drakes_hollywood_superstar”)

Billy Talent: Benjamin Ian,  Aaron Alexander, Ian Michael and Jonathan Eric.

4. Where do you get the inspiration for your songs from? (-Lisa Schweer)

Ben: Hi, Lisa. Inspiration comes in many different shapes and in many different ways. Sometimes the music invokes a certain thought or emotion and Ian and I just kinda take it from there.

5. I know that one of you used to be in the automotive trade [Aaron Solowoniuk], what do you think of young ladies getting their tickets? I am six weeks away from getting mine and I love my job as an auto tech. (-Jaylene Witala)

Aaron: I worked on an assembly line building cars. I think it’s a lot different then getting a job as an auto tech. You as a young lady can probably figure out what is wrong with a car and fix it. I on the other hand can barely tie my shoes. For real. I think if you’re going to do anything in life you should try to be the best at it. I also think the automotive trade needs more girls because it’s a boys club for sure. Congrats on finding a job that makes you happy.

6. Alright, well I have two questions: First, would you say the song “Nothing to Lose” is autobiographical or written about someone specific? And what was it like working with Anti-Flag on the song “Turn Your Back?” (-Kathryn Furlow)

Billy Talent: “Nothing to Lose” was written about a boy in high school in a town not too far from the town we grew up in who was bullied at school, and when one of the students told him he should kill himself he went home that lunch time and hung himself. Very sad.

Working with Anti-Flag was amazing. They are great humans with big hearts. It was the first time we had someone else sing on one of our songs. We released it as a demo and donated the money raised to the Red Cross. It was a win-win.

7. In Toronto, besides at your rock shows, where are the two places in Toronto fans would most likely run into you? (-Valerie Dziawa)

Ben: The Horseshoe Tavern or Shoppers Drug Mart.

8. If every rock musician in history was lined up outside your door begging to be allowed into the band, who would you take in without a second thought, and why? (-Sonu Purhar)

Ben: I wouldn’t take anyone. I love the band I’m in and love all of them. (John Bonham would be cool to play one song though.)

9. Ben and Ian, given all the singing/screaming, how do you keep your voices in shape for a tour? (-Isobel O’Shea)

Ben: I think when it comes to my voice I just try not to think about it too much. I drink a lot of water and always warm up and warm down. Rest is the key as well.

Ian: I make sure to warm up for at least 10 minutes before a show, usually just singing scales with my singing voice and then practice a few screamy chorus parts of the songs to get my voice ready for that too.

10. Are there any countries you have really wanted to visit that haven’t been part of your tours and travelling through music to date? (-Aidan)

Billy Talent: [We] would love to go to South America, Africa and New Zealand.

Dose.ca
July 13, 2009

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