Billy Talent - Interview
Interview with Billy Talent
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."
With countless tours across the globe, Billy Talent have played in countries that some can only dream of visiting. However, one country has lived long in Ben's memory. "Playing in South Africa was something I never thought I would do, really special, we're going to try and play there again", he said, before adding: "The best place to play a show in the entire world? That would be Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The chance to go to sleep at home next to my wife? The best."
Clearly, the Canadian city is close to the hearts of the band. A city that is as diverse in its culture as the country it lays in, Ben is quick to praise the region's identity and music scene saying, "Toronto is amazing. One night you can go and see a punk rock show, then the next a blues, a bluegrass or even a hip-hop artist. All of the venues are so close together, I think we almost take all of it for granted sometimes."
All this said, one thing is obvious: we are not in Toronto. Instead we are in Nottingham ahead of the band's appearance as headliners of this autumn's Rock Sound Riot tour. Speaking ahead of the third date of the tour, Ben was clearly hugely impressed with the reception they've received so far. "It's been absolutely great. We've been playing a lot of the record on tour at the moment, Runnin' Across The Tracks is great to play live, we've played that a few times and it's gone down really well", he said happily.
Despite knowing little of the two bands joining them in the UK, he is quick to reassure us that this package tour is an exception and, where possible, the band really care about who joins them on the road: "I think that it's really important to take the right bands out with you. This time is a bit different because it's the Rock Sound Riot tour, but it's something we really care about. We just took our friends in Anti-Flag out across the States with us, that was amazing."
One news story has dominated the headlines in the run up to the evening in Nottingham. Barack Obama, of course, successfully won this November's election and will remain the President of the United States for another term. "I am so glad that Barack Obama will lead the USA for the next four years", he said, clearly relieved. "He's no angel, but then none of us are. It needs more than one term for anyone's policies to really start to have any effect, so I think we'll start to see changes soon." The relief shown by the band's front man was shared with all the members and, it seemed, to their road crew. "We have an American crew member, and the look of happiness and relief on his face was amazing to see."
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