“We formed in 1993 and didn’t have any success,” recalls drummer Aaron Solowoniuk of Billy Talent.
From 1993-1999, when the Canadian punk band called themselves Pezz, the four-piece struggled to get any sort of notoriety. They released three albums under the name Pezz: Demoluca (1994), Dudebox (1995), and Watoosh! (1999).
“We fought and fought and fought for so long,” adds Solowoniuk.
The struggle was rewarded when, in 2003, the band recorded their debut album Billy Talent, which became certified platinum twice, was ranked 453 in Rock Hard magazine’s The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time and peaked at 194 on the Billboard 200 and 6 on Canadian Albums. The next albums to follow were Billy Talent II, Billy Talent III, and Dead Silence.
Needless to say, while they may have been an underground indie band for years, no one would call them underground anymore. In fact, in Canada, Billy Talent has been the most nominated band of all time for the MuchMusic Video awards, winning nine of those awards.
“The thing I like best about our band is we can hold our own with any other band. We recently played a benefit show with bands like The National and Fiest. We stripped it down and had a blast playing that show. Then we can go to Europe and play a festival with Motorhead and Slayer,” Solowoniuk says.
While Billy Talent II and Billy Talent III were more direct transitions from their debut; Dead Silence was a different turn, one that can be heard distinctly within the hit song from the album, “Viking Death March.”
“[Dead Silence] was the end of us naming the albums after #’s. We wanted to change it up so we had Ian [D’sa, guitarist] produce the entire record. It was an amazing challenge for all of us. Ian had learned a lot from all of our past recordings and we took that into the studio and created Dead Silence,” Solowoniuk says.
For their efforts, Dead Silence was beloved by critics.
Remarking on the impact for future albums; “We always challenge ourselves when writing new music. Every album will always be different from the last. We are not the type of band to make the same sounding record but you will always know its a Billy Talent song.”
Probably one of the most distinct characteristics of a “Billy Talent song” it the inability to define it under one genre, with Solowoniuk calling the band a, “Electro/funk/jazz/emo” outfit. He adds,
“We have always been the odd band that doesn’t really fit in and that’s fine by me.”
And now, in 2014, after four total albums and more than a decade of mainstream popularity, Billy Talent has released a Hits album.
“We felt it was the right time. We had a lot of success with our last four records and all of the singles made up a great album. We had two new songs we really wanted people to hear and this seemed like a great way to get them all out together.”
One of the new songs, “Kingdom of Zod” is a new-wave punk anthem chock-full of fierce battle cries and awesome riffs, the band shows that even after their lengthy career, they haven’t let up one bit.
And while some of these songs are nearly a decade old, they don’t show any rust. In fact, some of the songs have so much angst and energy that the listener feels as if the band is performing the song for the first time, right in front of their eyes.
And now, after this album release and an upcoming tour to support it, the band seems more excited and ready then ever to start the next part of their musical journey.
“The near future is us getting together every day and writing a new record. It’s great to be at this stage again. We toured so much over the past two years. We are all excited to get back to work and create new music,” Solowoniuk adds.
Remarking on his favorite moment as a band member, Solowoniuk says, “Our 20th anniversary as a band was amazing. We’re looking forward to 20 more.”
Buy Hits here.