After more than a decade in the music business and four albums under their belts, it’s safe to say melodic punk rockers Billy Talent know what they’re doing.
According to lead guitarist Ian D’Sa, the secret of Billy Talent’s success is they’re open to outside influences, but are also determined to stick to their heavy-rock roots
Looking back at the last 20 years, Billy Talent’s music has stretched from hip-hop to ska, all the while sticking with a certain level of angst and aggression that punk rock is known for.
This has won the band a strong fan base that’s grown with D’Sa, singer Ben Kowalewicz, drummer Aaron Solowoniuk, and bassist Jon Gallant. With that, comes a certain obligation to give those fans what they want to hear.
Which is why the audience that comes out for Billy Talent’s March 16 show at the Interior Savings Centre will be treated to past hits and songs off the latest album, Dead Silence.
“I think people have, in a weird way, grown old with us,” D’Sa told The Daily News earlier this week. “Some of the fans have been coming out to shows since 2003, when our first record came out. But it’s nice to see young people getting into our music as well.”
He said the band’s demographic ranges from children to 50-year-olds, and that’s very much appreciated.
“I think people have grown with us,” said D’Sa.
The 20-song set people hear next month will include hits like River Below and Nothing To Lose from the band’s self-titled 2003 album plus a smattering of songs from the last 10 years.
But the latest tour that brings the Billy Talent back to Kamloops for the first time since 2010 is in support of their latest album, Dead Silence, which hit in October.
“We try to balance (the set) out with older material because people want to hear songs from the first and second album,” he said. “We put the new material in here and there.”
D’Sa and company produced Dead Silence themselves, and wrote to world events from the couple of years. He said the music touches on civil unrest, with the first track, Viking Death March, a reflection on the Occupy Movement.
“That song came out as a commentary on that, and really set the tone for the rest of the record,” said D’Sa. “Once you write one or two songs, that really sets the tone.”
The final track, Dead Silence, is about society’s infatuation with the Mayan apocalypse that never was. Listening to the album from start to finish provides the listener with a complete musical narrative, he said.
Dead Silence is an ambitious work that includes musicians from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, he said. Such is the luxury of putting the album together on your own.
“We took some risks and tried different things and we’re really super proud of it,” said D’Sa. “It’s 100-per-cent Billy Talent.”
It also harkened back to a simpler time when Billy Talent jammed in a Mississauga, Ont., basement. D’Sa said it’s nice to maintain total control of your songs and album, but working with other producers helped the band grown musically and professionally.
He said the third album, Billy Talent III, marked a distinct shift for the band. Up to that point, the music was more of a heavy/hard rock sound. But producer Brendan O’Brien, who’d previously worked with Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, encouraged the musicians to experiment with something a little less punk.
“Maybe some of the older fans might not have liked it, because they are used to the heavier, more hard-rock sound. But we made a lot of new fans,” said D’Sa.
Back to the show at the ISC, D’Sa promises an exciting, high-energy production that all Billy Talent fans will appreciate.
“We’re looking forward to coming back to Kamloops,” he said.
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IN CONCERT: Billy Talent with Sum 41, Hollerado and Indian Handcrafts
WHEN: Saturday, March 16
WHERE: Interior Savings Centre
TICKETS: Ticketmaster, www.ticketmaster.ca