Billy Talent Stays True To The Core

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From their 2003 self-titled debut record through to last year’s Dead Silence , Billy Talent has become one of Canada’s biggest rock bands.

Released this past September, Billy Talent’s fourth studio record, Dead Silence , has only helped to solidify the group as bona fide rock stars.

The group’s latest record became its third consecutive release to enter the Canadian album sales charts in the No. 1 position and is its fourth record to receive gold certification for sales of 40,000 copies. To date, the Billy Talent catalogue has sold more than 800,000 records in Canada alone.

And it’s not just the band’s home and native land that has taken a liking to the group. Dead Silence debuted at the No. 1 position in Germany, No. 2 in Austria, No. 3 in Switzerland, 12th in Finland and 23rd in the United Kingdom.

In the year leading up to Monday night’s performance at Casino New Brunswick, Billy Talent has played all over the world. The group performed at some of Europe’s biggest music festivals last year before headlining its own major European tour that took it to countries including the U.K., Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Finland, as well as a pair of dates in Russia.

Just prior starting the Canadian tour in Vancouver on March 14, Billy Talent performed on the prestigious Soundwave Festival Tour in Australia along with acts including Offspring, Metallica, Canada’s Danko Jones and current tour mates, Sum 41.

When he spoke with the Times & Transcript prior to heading Down Under, Billy Talent guitarist-vocalist Ian D’sa noted it would be his band’s third time touring Australia. It is this tour-until-we-drop mentality that has helped the band solidify its standing as a top touring draw here at home.

‘We spent the early part of our career touring Canada, playing small clubs and simply grew from there,’ Ian says. ‘It is really the same story no matter where you go. We performed on one of the smaller stages of the Soundwave Festival in the past and now we’re going back and are a little higher on the bill.’

The Soundwave Festival itself is a massive undertaking of more than 30 bands who, due to Australia’s vast geography, fly from tour stop to tour stop. Ian says Australian audiences are very cognizant of that fact and as such, are very giving when it comes to showing their gratitude to the acts.

‘Getting to Australia is no small task. It is usually in the vicinity of 30 hours just to get there but the audiences are beyond appreciative. That makes it all worthwhile.’

Ian says since the band’s formation, Billy Talent’s agenda has always been an international one rather than a Canada-only success story. This is the primary reason the band has invested so much time touring international territories and has no doubt played a part in helping the group attract such a dedicated following in countries such as Germany.

‘We spent a lot of time touring Germany early in our career,’ he says. ‘Our record label there was very supportive of our first record and much like we did in Canada, we did small tours in vans for years and just watched it grow from there. And now the rest of Europe is catching on, which is great.’

While many acts will invest significant amounts of time touring the United States, Billy Talent has spent more time overseas than it has traveling across America.

‘We have performed on the Warped Tour a few times in the past but as a Canadian band, the United States is probably one of the hardest territories to crack,’ Ian says. ‘We are very fortunate to have a fan base in the States but it is not quite on the same level as what we have here at home in Canada or in Europe.’

Over the course of four studio albums, Billy Talent’s sound has evolved from the early days as punk revivalists to a considerably more melodic sound that has seen the group embrace a wider array of instrumentation.

The thought of Billy Talent embracing strings and piano in 2003 when its debut record dropped might have seemed unlikely, but Ian insists this evolution of the band’s sound has developed rather organically.

‘With Dead Silence , we wanted to do things on our own terms,’ says Ian, who also served as the record’s producer. ‘We really wanted to try things that we hadn’t done in the past such as including strings and piano on these songs. We are coming into our own as we get older and feel that we have to remain open-minded as to how to best serve the songs. At our core however, we are still very much a four-piece rock band.’

Article published in the April 13, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript