Interview – Billy Talent

For many years, Billy Talent has been a band that teens across the globe worship and relate to. The four members have been together for more than 17 years, and consider themselves brothers. Just finishing off their recent Canadian Tour, drummer Aaron Solowoniuk said him and the band couldn’t be more excited about their next string of shows, as well as Billy Talent IV.

Aaron, from when you first started playing, and throughout your career, who has been your biggest music inspiration?

My main inspirations would be the drummer Brad Wilk of Rage Against The Machine. However, as a musician, the guys in my band are my biggest music inspiration and always have been. So it’s kind of a combination of both.
Your band has been together for 17 years. Did you think you would be playing together for so long when you first started?

Yes, when we started playing it was so constant. We always religiously rehearsed three or four times a week and never thought about doing anything else. I couldn’t see anything happening except playing with them for the rest of my career.
Since you have been together for so long, there have obviously been some ups and downs in your relationship. How do you deal with the downs?

We just show respect, give each other space and understand each other. We have been together and known one another for so long, that we’re just brothers. Family members have good times and bad times, just like we do. When we have a down time we talk about it and give it space, it’s really not that hard.
The nationwide arena tour must have been amazing for you. What was it like playing arena shows to massive crowds across Canada?

It was really cool playing going to places we’ve never been before. Just being able to travel with such great groups of people was amazing. The day the tour started we had been on the road for weeks already. We got to meet a lot of people. It’s probably the best tour I’ve ever done.
How did you choose your supporting bands for this tour?

With this tour, we got to put together a “who do you want wishlist?”. So we put one together and it came true. We had Gallows set to open for us and that was going to be good, but unfortunately in the end they couldn’t play for us.
During this past tour, where was your favorite place to play?

For this last tour it was probably Toronto or Montreal. They were both great, great nights. There was something that was so cool about those shows. We had a lot of fun times on this tour. We just hung out and did a lot of other things other aside from playing music.

You must know how much your music has changed the lives and experiences for so many people. Do you have a favorite memory about a fan that you have affected?

I think it’s really cool when you get to meet kids who have tattoos of our lyrics. It’s cool how many people can relate the lyrics to someone or something close to them. So just seeing kids with Billy Talent tattoos is pretty crazy. It’s a life commitment and to see them with that branded on them is pretty cool.
You guys have played in so many different places, for such diverse groups and sizes of people. What venue would you say is best suited for your style?

I like theatres. Like old theatres that have been turned into rock clubs and performance venues. There are tons of them over the world, like The Opera House. Places where you can see their history. The Sound Academy is my favourite. The seats are all gone, the floors are all sloped, it’s just legendary. Everyone has played there. Just thinking of playing there is fascinating and we have gotten to play it like three or four times now.
What was the hardest part about starting up a band, what were some of the original challenges you faced getting your material out there?

Getting people to like us. When we first started we didn’t really fit into any scene. Grunge had just started and our band would play with the hardcore bands and the ska ones. We would play in little tiny clubs with 20 or 30 people coming to see us.

Even when I was 27-years-old, I was in the band for ten years and nothing was happening. Once we switched our band name from Pezz to Billy Talent and focused on our sound, everything just snowballed from there. We’ve just paid our dues for so long that we will never take anything, like our popularity, for granted because it took us so long to get there.
Does the band go into the studio with a plan and idea of how an album is going to turn out, or does it evolve while you guys jam?

We work on riffs and play on top of what we’ve been coming up with. We never talk about the sound we want to make, it just comes out. There is never a discussion.
Every fan is eagerly anticipating your next album, when should we expect Billy Talent IV?

Good question. I’m really excited about IV as its going to be really new for us. We are making a big move to a new place to create it and it’s going to be absolutely wonderful.
Your debut album Billy Talent was instantly popular and worshiped by many teens. Do you have any ideas as to why and how this record has instigated such sentimental attachment in this age bracket?

I don’t know. I think for Canadian music at the time there was nothing really like it. Not only was it what the songs were about, it was also just the sound and the stories. The band was completely different and Canada knew that. I guess it was kind of a new regime. Alexisonfire came out afterwards and Our Lady Peace was already pretty popular. We were all kind of opening the floodgates for radio stations to be more open minded.

But I don’t know. Honestly, nobody really knows what kids will be into. You just do what you do and hope they like it. It’s a mystery.

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