Billy Still Talented

By Kenzie Love

Not everyone can remember the lyrics, or even the titles, of Billy Talent’s songs, but few can forget vocalist Benjamin Kowalewicz’s piercing scream. It’s a feature of just about every song on their first album, and as a result the contributions of the band’s other members are sometimes lost in the background. Not surprisingly, Kowalewicz is also the most energetic band member in conversation, dominating the group’s interview promoting their forthcoming album, II. Seperated from the rest of the band, it would be easy for guitarist Ian D’Sa and drummer Aaron Solowoniuk’s thoughts to go by the wayside as well, but like Kowalewicz’s screaming, their responses possess an endearing sort of earnestness.

It’s clear that the two are still wowed by the modest wave of fame they’ve been riding since the band’s self-titled 2003 album catapulted them into the spotlight, ending the ten years they spent being confused with candy dispensers under the name Pezz. Billy Talent won Album of the Year at the 2005 Junos, and while most hardcore punk bands would cringe at being nominated in the same category as Shania Twain, D’Sa and Solowoniuk are genuinely honoured.

“We never really even thought that we’d get to perform at any of those awards shows or be nominated for anything,” explains D’Sa. “So we’re honoured, but that’s not why we do it.”

It’s intellectual debate, rather than monetary gain that motivates Billy Talent-or so they claim. They focus on some weighty issues in their songs, such as sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and the war in Iraq, but no one’s going to confuse them with the Dixie Chicks.

“We like to raise social awareness about issues that need to be raised” is D’Sa’s explanation.

A more significant feature of the band is that its members care as much about the process of making music as the product. Solowoniuk delights in recalling their experience recording II at Warehouse Studios in Vancouver.

“It’s one of the best studios in North America,” says Solowoniuk. “We hung out there, writing and recording and cooking for each other.”

For the bright-eyed youngsters looking to follow in the footstepsof Billy Talent, Solowoniuk takes on a fatherly tone. Remember kids, it’s always darkest before dawn.

“Try to find people who have the same dreams and goals and are going to stick it out and not give up even if it takes years, because it’ll happen one day,” he says. “And if you’re doing it become famous, then go find something else.”

There’s no doubting his sincerity in saying this, but the hard truth is that “it” doesn’t happen for every band. Some may possess all these attributes but will never come close to Billy Talent’s level of success, perhaps because there aren’t enough steel-lunged singers to go around. D’Sa and Solowoniuk are likeable musicians, but with Kowalewicz claiming to have toned down his screaming on the second album, one can only hope they can come up with something else to make Billy Talent a band to remember.

Leave a comment