Confession: I have never listened to an entire Billy Talent album. In fact, I’ve probably only listened to a handful of their songs in my life; I can only remember the title to one – Falling Leaves (which I believe is off Billy Talent II). I did see them in concert, but only because I was a seat-filler at the Juno Awards that year. However, after doing some research for my chat with guitarist Ian D’Sa and drummer Aaron Solowoniuk, I came across some very interesting facts.
The boys from Mississagua originally existed as group called Pezz and released their first album – Watoosh! – under that moniker. Then they were threatened with a lawsuit by an American band of the same name. So they changed theirs. But according to Solowoniuk, it was time and the name sucked anyway. The band’s new moniker came from a great Canadian underground movie called Hard Core Logo, directed by the wonderful Bruce McDonald. The movie follows a fictional punk-rock band and it’s demise and stars former musician and actor Hugh Dillon and token bad boy Callum Keith Rennie. Billy Talent was the name of the guitarist. It should also be noted that Joey “Shithead” Keithley, Joey Ramone and Terry David Mulligan have cameo appearances. No wonder it was voted one of the greatest movies to come out of Canada.
The band has been together for 20 years and has avoided the usual troubles of line-up changes and disbandment that often comes with being in a rock group; all four original members are still on board. Ian attributes this to the fact that they were all friends in high school and they all grew up and matured together. You can tell that they treat each other like brothers and truly care about one another, on a level different than most other groups. You need look no further than Aaron’s story for proof.
In 1999 Aaron was diagnosed with the often debilitating disease, multiple sclerosis. Although it is supposed to get worse as one ages, Aaron has stated that his medication, his commitment to stay healthy, and simply playing music has helped him fight through it. According to Ian, Aaron has handled it so well that it has become a non-issue for the rest of the band. A track from Billy Talent I – This is How It Goes – was revealed to be about Solowoniuk and his battle with MS. Certainly, it has brought this group of friends closer together.
The band’s fifth album (4th under the Billy Talent) is called “Dead Silence” and was released on September 4th, 2012. When asked about the title, Ian joked that fans kept asking them why their albums weren’t more original. Also, he believes that Led Zeppelin IV is one of the greatest albums of all time and is the only album worthy of such a title. It had been three years since the release of Billy Talent III and was time for a change, as well a conscious, natural evolution.
When asked what they would tell their 17/18 year old selves, they joked they would say to not try and have 17 parts in one song. Aah simplicity.