Talent headed to London for a day of press so
Ben Connell got on the phone to Ben Kowalewicz
from Billy Talent to see what this year has in
store for the band with their forthcoming forth
studio album and high placed festival apperances
just around the corner.
Ben, how are you?
Ben Kowalewicz (Vocals): I’m great thank
you, we’re really excited to be over here
and really excited to get going. We’ve
been off the road for about a year and a half
now, so it’s going to be nice to get out
there and play some shows.
are you enjoying our unusual English heat wave?
Ben: I think it’s the best! I’m
a bit of a weather freak, so when I was looking
online at what the weather was going to be like
over here I was like, “Oh my god! It’s
going to be like a real summer!” I think
that a little sunshine and warmth goes a long
way for people, everyone seems to have more
of a jump in their step, everyone seems a bit
more relaxed, y’know?
you’ve just mentioned, you’ve had
some time away from touring to write and record
the new record, are you eager to get back to playing
Ben: We’ve been working so hard and so
diligently on our record and I honestly could
not be happier with it. It’s something
really magical, it’s really quite special.
We’re really looking forward to coming
out and reconnecting with a lot of people. We’re
excited to be back over here, we’re doing
a couple of festivals this year which is great,
but I think we’re going to come back and
do our headline tour too. It’s nice to
reconnect and we’re looking forward to
playing the new stuff.
being a band which pretty much constantly tours,
did it feel strange to step away and take that
Ben: It’s a weird thing, like you say
we tour, tour, tour and when we came home we
were pretty burned out to be honest. Ian (D’sa,
guitar) began writing and writing and we suddenly
had all of these amazing songs. We were really
focused on this record, we just decided to take
our time and be very methodical with the process.
We really enjoyed the process of creating and
hanging out and being with out families. I got
married last year and Aaron (Solowoniuk, drums)
had some health issues that needed to be sorted
out. In many ways it’s been a cathartic
thing, I could talk to you about it for hours,
but at the end of the day we’re just very
fortunate for the opportunity and we’ve
worked really hard. As you get older you really
appreciate what you do.
did you find the processes of writing and recording
this album, after so many years as a band, does
it still come as naturally to you as it used to?
Ben: That’s a good question, I suppose
Ian is the main guy for song writing within
the band. When you’re first starting out,
there’s not really any point of reference,
but as you get older you don’t want to
repeat yourself, you don’t want to make
the same point, but just in a different way.
You’ve got to challenge yourself and that’s
what’s amazing. Musically, I think we’ve
all stepped up our game on this record and lyrically,
Ian and I have tackled some pretty cool things.
We’re really, really proud of how it’s
coming along, I have two or three more songs
to finish when we get home and then it’s
done. It’s really exciting.
you hear a Billy Talent song, you immediately
know it’s Billy Talent, do you feel like
you need to conform to this to keep fans happy?
Ben: I think we try to mix things up a bit,
but you don’t want to go too far to the
left of centre. I think with the last record
there was a bit of a disconnection with some
fans, we love the record, but I think a lot
of people thought that it was a bit strange.
I suppose with this record we’re kind
of bridging the gap, y’know? I think a
record tracks you as you progress as a human
being, records are recorded in moments of time.
It feels strange to say it, but I think we’re
would you say that the new record is going to
be more of a hark back to Billy Talent and Billy
Ben: Yeah, I would definitely say that there
are a lot of similar elements to Billy Talent
II. One thing that’s really cool is that
there’s a lot of hard stuff on the record,
but we’ve also experimented with some
other tempos, layering and instrumentation.
I think that if you’re a fan you’ll
really like it and if you’re not, then
hopefully you will be afterwards!
saw a picture
on Twitter of you in the studio with a classical
musician, have you really pushed the boundaries
on this album?
Ben: That was such a cool experience. We have
this one kind of intro song that we were working
on, it’s beautiful. It’s just Ian
and an acoustic guitar, we’d been talking
for ages about the rich sound of it and just
in this weird turn of events we ended up getting
a guy named Jeff from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra
in the studio. His bass was a three hundred
year old bass that was worth an astronomical
amount! He came in and he was super cool, we
sat around for a couple of hours and we couldn’t
be more pleased with the outcome. We’re
not releasing a classical record or anything,
don’t worry, but that was the one song
that seemed to lend itself to something a bit
released the first single Viking Death March the
other day; what kind of feedback have you had
from fans about the song?
Ben: I can’t believe how positive it
is, it’s really, really cool. It’s
a badass, big old mean song! We just wanted
to release it to kind of get people back on
the map. The reaction thus far has been overwhelming,
we couldn’t be more happy.
album number four just around the corner, how
is everyone feeling about the release –
are you at all trepidatious, or just excited?
Ben: At this point we’re really thrilled,
we’re really hoping that people are going
to enjoy it.
you have any solid release dates/names yet, or
is it all still up in the air?
Ben: I think at this point now, it’s
going to be released during the first week of
September, I don’t have an exact date,
but that’s the week we’re shooting
read that you’re
straying from the numerical album title, why is
Ben: When we first started doing it we thought
it was funny and then we got to three, and like
any good trilogy, it should end at three! We
thought that this was a good opportunity to
start afresh and have a new perspective.
got some big festival shows coming up, including
Download here in the UK, do you enjoy the festival
Ben: I do, we’re such music fans first
and foremost and you just get to see so many
good bands. We get to see Refused play, we’ve
been huge fans of theirs for a very long time.
I know at Reading and Leeds we get to play with
At The Drive-In and that’s a dream come
true, they’re one of our favourite bands.
It’s just a really nice experience, we
get to see our friends Rise Against, The Offspring
and the Cancer Bats, it’s cool.
and Leeds seems to be a bit of a staple in your
touring calendar, why is this?
Ben: They’ve always been really, really
kind to us. Some of my favourite shows in the
UK have been at Reading and Leeds, whether it’s
on the Lock Up or having the opportunity to
play on the main stage, it’s just a wonderful
experience. It’s legendary and worldwide,
it’s a really nice opportunity and one
that we don’t take for granted, we’re
got quite a high slot at Download, do you still
get nervous playing shows of that magnitude?
Ben: Too right! Anyone who says otherwise is
lying! Download is a wicked festival too, everyone
likes to get down and dirty and people like
to have a great time. Hopefully we’ll
be able to connect with that, that’s really
what’s so magical about playing festivals.
I don’t care what anyone says, there’s
something really cosmic about it, you have all
these different bands from all over the planet
and for whatever reason they’re all there
on that day and it seems to work. We always
have a great time, being a part of those moments
is really special.
you have any plans to play any more shows in the
UK when you return for Reading and Leeds later
Ben: Not then unfortunately, but we’re
looking at a headline tour around the October/November
back to the beginning of Billy Talent, and maybe
so far back as Pezz, did you ever think that you’d
still be here today making music and touring the
Ben: No, fuck no! Not this August, but the
following one will be our twenty year anniversary
as a band. That in itself just blows me away.
We still feel like we’re these young kids,
we still give so much, that’s never left
us. We never have those days where this isn’t
what we want to do anymore, this is literally
all we know how to do. There have been lots
of highs, but there has also been lots of fucking
lows, but we’ve always managed to stay
together and it’s a really exhilarating
and wonderful thing to be a part of. I think
it’s a testament to the band that if you
persevere, keep going and follow your heart
then anything is possible.
you have anything special planned for your twentieth
Ben: There is something that we’ve talked
about that we’d like to do; whether or
not it all comes true is a different story!
We’re definitely going to do something
and I would imagine that we would bring that
something over here too.
other than the new record, what does the rest
of 2012 hold in store for Billy Talent?
Ben: To be honest with you, it’s just
going to be a lot of touring. Tomorrow is our
very first show of this record I guess, and
we’re really nervous! We’re really
looking forward to the fall, that’s when
our record will be out and we’ll be out
doing headline tours and they’re always
a lot of fun. At this point we’re just
trying to finish up the record, then we intend
to play in front of as many people as we can
and have as much fun as we can!
Interview by Ben Connell