Interview With Billy Talent 4th June 2009
Billy TalentThom headed up to London to chat to Billy Talent on a one off press day to find out more about the history of the band aswell as information about thier new album 'III' and thier forthcoming festival slots.

So, let's start at the start: Pezz. Sixteen years ago, does it feel like sixteen years?
(Ben) It feels like fucking a thousand years.
(Jon) It's weird, and actually Ben, Aaron and I go back two years prior to that. In another band, before Pezz, so, I've been playing alongside Aaron for eighteen years.

You (Ben,) started on the drums
(Ben) Yeah and then I got demoted by fuck-face. Man I wish I could still drum, for real.<
Can Aaron sing at all?
(Ben) Yeah.
(Jon) Like an angel.
(Ben) Like an angel being tortured. Like an angel being dropped in boiling oil.
Maybe you could swap over, just for one song.
(Ben) Yeah we could...

What is Pezz?
(Ben) The candy? I don't know if you have them here.
(Jon) It's like a tube and you pull the head back on top and candy comes out.
Ah I wasn't sure what it was; unclear about how you could get into legal trouble with a made up word...
(Ben) Yeah people collect them. Weirdos.
(Jon) Pez only had one z though, we added the other one.
Then you became Billy Talent, released the self-titled album, considerably different sound. What was the main reason for that?
(Ben) Well we were kids. We had so many different influences and so many different perspectives all going on at the same time it was like an uber-creative volcano of songs and sounds and trying things out. I think as we got older and kinda did the name change, this cohesion happened with the songs and what we were trying to do. It all made sense. It all felt like we weren't on the same page for so long, and that all of a sudden we got on the same page.
(Jon) I think it was a bit of a conscious effort too, you know I remember when Ian wrote Try Honesty and Cut The Curtians and This Is How It Goes, and they were all kind of like, a similar style. All of us really loved those songs. And then when we were talking about changing to Billy Talent I remember us talking about that we should stick to this, because it sounds great and we're all loving it 100%. Before there were some things that one or two didn't like, and that doesn't happen anymore.
(Ben) 36 bar break downs.
(Jon) Yeah that's great for a singer on stage.
(Ben) “Yeah I'll just go get a coffee.”

Billy Talent II, the sound progressed again. Was this a natural progression?
(Ben) I don't think so. When Ian writes a song, he's the main songwriter... You can't force anger. I hate bands where all their records sound the same, there's nothing challenging about it. We are very ecclectic individuals and all like so many different types of music. For us to write the same record again, wouldn't have been fun and the fans wouldn't have given a damn. And yeah you might lose some along the way but you gain some too. BTII had some songs which could have been on the first album and then some others that were very different and challenging, and for us, that gave us the chance to experiment further with the new album. So what if we wrote a similar album, everyone would say it sounds just like two. And otherwise they say “oh it sounds so different.” You can't win. You've just gotta write an album as best you can and hope the people enjoy it.

Billy Talent II did well in Canada and Germany but not so well in the United States. How is America for you now?
(Ben) Well we got a new label and we're going to be touring a lot more there so..
(Jon) You know, it's funny... The country is so big, like three-hundred-million people. And we just played a bunch of shows down that way and were really surprised with how enthusiatic the fans were and how many of them there were.
(Ben) It's not like we go to clubs and play to bartenders. It's just not mainstream, very much underground. Which is>
How do the English fans fare?
(Ben) I hate them. No. They're honestly some of the best in the world actually. And the great thing about the UK is, you know we've been here a lot through the first and second records, it still progressively gets better. We got here today and we all sat down and said that it was really nice to be back.
(Jon) It's got a really great music scene too, so many music magazines and it plays an important role in the culture.

When was the last time you were here, was it Give It A Name 2008?
How was it? Did you enjoy it?

(Ben) The feel was different but the kids were great and we did a good show, from what I can remember.
(Jon) It happens at a strange time of year for a festival, it has to be indoors and...

And the time before that was the BTII tour, I caught you in Cardiff and Southampton, with Reuben
(Ben) Good old Reuben. Why don't the stupid idiots get back together!
(Jon) Great band.
(Ben) And probably the most awesome guys we've met in a long time.

Yeah you seemed to have a lot of fun together. I remember Jamie running on with Ian's fake hair.
(Ben) Oh Jamie, what an amazing character. All three of them actually.

That's the past covered; onto the present and the new album. You mentioned you'd earnt a platform to experiment more – does the album have an overarching sound or is there a real mix?
(Ben) I think there's a good mix. I think the record in general is a lot more rock. A lot more groove-orientated I'd say. Experimenting with different rhythms and stuff, you know, it's just a really good record and I'm really proud of it. Proud of all the guys, they all stepped up, the playing on the record is amazing.
(Jon) It's got a lot more texture than the last two records. It sounds, oddly enough, with all the texture we put on it, much more live, but we have more overdubs than we'd normally have done. But I think it's made the record sound really full and big.

Is Turn Your Back on the album?
(Ben) Yep.
But that single was released back in September
(Ben) That was just a demo.

Obviously you're friends with Anti-Flag.
(Ben) They're okay...
How do you know each other?
(Jon) We met them on Warped Tour. Very social guys. Chris #2 used to watch us play all the time and used to hang out with them more. And then we took them on tour with us in Canada. And Turn Your Back just lends itself to their vocals.

Reading and Leeds, excited about that?
(Ben) Not really.
I suppose, it is only the Lock Up Stage.
(Ben) Yeah. Haha. Reading is awesome. And we've got Anti-Flag and Alexisonfire on the same day so it's a real bro-fest. And the next day has Rise Against closing. So yeah we're all comrades.
Will there be a little collaberation with Anti-Flag?
(Ben) Oh yeah I'm sure they'll come out. I might go and sing with them. Maybe go on with Alexis. Have Dallas sing with us. That would be some cross-pollenating.

Download Festival too.
(Ben) Yeah, Faith No More...
Half way up the main stage.
(Ben) I don't know where we are. But it's always great fun, and now we're on the big stage. So we're grateful for the opportunity.
(Jon) And it's just around the corner!

You've got a couple of warm-up shows though.
(Jon) Yeah and we've got some European shows too.

You've played a fair amount of festivals, and in the UK, do you have a favourite?
(Ben) I like both of them for different reasons. Download seems to be more down and dirty. Whereas Reading and Leeds, I have more of an inclination to like more of the bands, than at Download. Like, I'm not a big metal guy. Nothing against it, it's just my preference, it's stil nice to play. I'm not really into it but I'm also not very familiar with many of the bands, whereas Reading and Leeds I know a majority of the bands. So I'd say Reading. But Download is fun. I have great memories of Download. They're both good in their respective ways.

You've got some other festivals to play. Rock AM Ring?
(Ben) That's the big one!
You've already done Coachella.
(Ben) Yeah that was good.
And one in Australia?
(Jon) Wasn't really a festival, more like five shows.Ben: Yeah that was hard.
Why so?
(Ben) Because we had to fly between every show, and I hate flying. So I don't want to have to get on a plane for two and a half hours. Terrifying.

How long are you over here for?
(Ben) We're here for a month. Well in Europe. We're here until Saturday [two days] and then off to Germany and then Paris and then Finland and then back to Paris to start doing some shows. Then Rock AM Ring. Then back here, Radio 1 session, Underworld, Newcastle, Download, Switzerland, home.

When will you be back in the UK touring the new album? Will it be an extensive as the BTII tour?
(Ben) Fall. Yeah, the whole thing. We want to hit Scotland and Ireland too. I have family in Scotland now who are amazing, I can't wait to see them.
Any idea who you'll be bringing with you?
(Ben) Right now we're thinking Green Day and The Who, but we haven't heard back from anyone yet. No, we have no idea. But hopefully someone good.

Do you have a lot of say in who tours with you?
(Ben) Yeah, but it's hard finding bands that you like, who you want to tour with, and who are available.
(Jon) But before, like our agent suggested Reuben and we didn't know who they were. And they turned out to be the more awesome guys.

We mentioned Aaron earlier, and he has MS; how is he coping? You're on your fourth album now so...
(Ben) Well. He's an amazing, amazing guy. Very strong. I think, seeing him when he found out he had it, all that time ago, he didn't deal with it very well. And now, he's a real inspiration. Pretty amazing to see his progression. But he's still feeling, and he's still playing great. We appreciate him very much, as a band. He drives me nuts and I want to punch him in the fucking face all the time, but we love him.

You've got a new album accompanying the new album with videos and blog posts and such.
(Ben) Yeah, we're very hip aren't we? Don't with the kids. Very savvy. Yeah I'll twitter that shit.
Was it your idea?
(Ben) Well to be honest, we're band guys, we're dumb. We don't really understand that whole world very well. Actually I shouldn't speak for the whole band. I myself, aren't very savvy witht hat stuff. But we had some ideas and we certainly put them out there. We're very pro-different-mediums, and all these things are out there and available for us to use, so why wouldn't we use them? We have people who we work with who have some great ideas and we're all for it. It's great to be able to connect with people all over the world instantaneously. We didn't have that stuff as kids, I would have loved to go online and watch Kurt Kobain play guitar.
(Jon) It's all about the image you put out, Ben's big on that.
(Ben) Yeah you can't show too much, you've gotta be a little reserved or people just throw themselves at you.

Well, my time is up. Thank you very much guys.

Interview By Thom
 Band Members

Darren Ditton (Vocals)
Francis Waller (Vocals)
Glenn Wizik (Guitars, Vocals)
Chris Spencer (Guitars, Vocals)
Jon Poulten (Bass)
James May (Drums)
 Latest Releases
Billy Talent - III
Release Date - 13th July 2009
1. Devil On My Shoulder
2. Rusted From The Rain
3. Saint Veronika
4. Tears Into Wine
5. White Sparrows
6. Pocketful Of Dreams
7. The Dead Can't Testify
8. Diamond On A Landmine
9. Turn Your Back
10. Sudden Movements
11. Definition Of Destiny
 Band Related Links
Billy Talent Myspace