A Week In Reviews... It's hard to believe that's it's been well over a year since M83 released their single 'Midnight City' and signalled their long-awaited move up to alternative music's big leagues. Going gold in America on sales, and featuring heavily on hit UK TV shot Made In Chelsea, the song precluded album Hurry Up We're Dreaming reaching the US album charts top 20. Our reviewer found that, with 2012 now drawing to a close, the French group's party was very much still in full swing. "'Midnight City', as expected, gets the biggest cheer of the night before an epic version of 'Couleurs' brings the set to a close, and if your mind wasn't already blown, this unbelievable wall of noise was the final knockout blow" he wrote in gushing praise.
Away from the live arena and back to the studio, former Mercury nominees The Unthanks doled out another uncompromising slab of their ethereal folk. Songs From The Shipyards is the group's third release within a year, and was initially a soundtrack to a film documenting their local North East England's shipbuilding industry history. Andrew Lockwood took this one on, and found a band in the form of their life seven albums into their career: "The album, as you might expect, is full of character and love" he wrote. "The songs are performed with great care and attention and each note stirs the emotions as it recounts a slice of Shipbuilding history. Regardless of whether you have seen the accompanying film this set of songs works wonderfully well and once again shows what a prodigious and prolific talent The Unthanks are."
A Week In Interviews... We managed to grab a chat with stalwart Canadian pop-punkers Billy Talent, a group still fizzing with energy with their 20th anniversary of existence just round the corner in 2013. David Straw chatted to the band formerly known as Pezz (they changed their name after legal issues in 1999) and chatted of tours, new albums and the US general election, finding the group in bullish mood on the eve of a show in Nottingham.
Toronto's finest punk rockers Billy Talent arrived in Nottingham as part of Rock Sound's Riot tour. Joining them on this autumn's jaunt around the UK were highly rated Don Broco and AWOLNation, travelling over from Los Angeles. Despite being an unknown quantity personally, Rock City's main room had a healthy crowd for the Californians. What followed was a collection of songs each with their own identity and sound, where one echoed the Kings of Leon, the next a hardcore track with a mainstream scene. Their set closer channelled disco keyboards into another surprisingly accessible track with an individual take that the crowd accepted and rejoiced in without a second thought.
Even after this performance, when the stage lights dropped to herald Billy Talent's appearance, the roar that followed far eclipsed those for AWOLNation. The band took to the stage and broke into Lonely Road To Absolution, the album introduction from September's Dead Silence, and when the instantly recognisable riff to Viking Death March rang out from guitarist Ian D'sa, there was no looking back. Without a pause for breath, they charged through Devil In A Midnight Mass before Ben Kowalewicz greeted the Nottingham crowd with his customary introduction into the fantastic This Suffering. Touring in support of this September's Dead Silence, these new tracks nearly stole the show; Man Alive is sure to be a future live anthem and an extended drum introduction gave Runnin' Across The Tracks a whole new identity. These impressive renditions stood alongside a career spanning set, balancing material from all four of their releases.
One of Billy Talent's defining features is their dynamic song writing and their set reflected the variety. Line and Sinker provided an early shout along highlight before St Veronika turned the evening into the Ian D'sa show, his fingers flying around the fretboard in front of the hundreds of agape jaws in attendance. Their more tender side was received excellently; Try Honesty, the first single released from their debut more than ten years ago, left voices hoarse throughout before Devil On My Shoulder brought their set proper to a close. An encore of Fallen Leaves, Surprise Surprise and the customary waving of Red Flag brought the evening to a close, the entire floor pulsing, its collective voice ringing clear.
Continue reading: Billy Talent - Nottingham Rock City Live Review 2012
Arriving in Nottingham ahead of a hotly anticipated gig at Rock City, Billy Talent front man Ben Kowalewicz took the time to discuss Dead Silence, mud and Barack Obama with David Straw.
Dead Silence, Billy Talent's fourth full-length album was released this September and singer Ben Kowalewicz is confident that it is a step up from their previous efforts. "I'd say it's our strongest record yet; there are some great tracks on there to play live. In fact, some great tracks full stop", he says excitedly of Dead Silence, before continuing: "It's a statement of where Billy Talent are in 2012, definitely."
Well received by critics and fans alike, the band has enjoyed a number of high profile festival appearances across Europe, including at Castle Donington's Download Festival. "We called it 'Brownload'; I've never seen mud like it", Ben says, clearly still recovering from the quagmire that engulfed the site; areas fenced off and bands forced to cancel their sets for health and safety reasons. However, this Toronto band helped their neighbours in the circumstances: "That festival was our most memorable of the summer. Letting the Cancer Bats come on and play a song in the middle of our set, that was really cool."
Continue reading: Billy Talent - Interview
We caught up with Billy Talent’s Ben Kowalewicz…. in the dressing room before they took to the stage at Leeds’ Cockpit. After a scar feeling episode, thorough inspection of their rider filled fridge and general laugh, we can confirm that the Toronto quartet are some of the politest punks in rock.
So you’re coming to the end of your UK tour, you’ve only got Leeds and Birmingham to go, how’s it been going so far?
Very very good, very good. You know it’s weird we’ve been kind of taken aback. We played London last night and walking on the stage and seeing so many people there is still pretty amazing to us, we appreciate it a lot.
So was that the highlight so far?
Yeah I guess so, it’s been really good. The others were really good too, but last night was kind of special.
Is this your first headline tour in the UK?
We were here in October/November of last year, we played here actually and we did the festival stuff.
Are you doing the festivals this year?
Yeah, we found out yesterday, we’ve got Reading, Leeds and Glastonbury. I like the festivals, you do your performance then you get to walk around and meet really cool people, that’s the best part about it. That’s what summer is about.
Continue reading: Billy Talent - Interview
3rd August, 1993