Talent show

Elling Lien talks to Benjamin Kowalewicz, lead singer of Billy Talent

Are you on a break now?
Yeah, I’m at home, which is absolutely amazing and wonderful.

How long has it been?
This was about fifteen months of touring. We’re a little tired, so we decided to pull the plug so we could be at home with our friends and family, to kind of relax for a while. To be human. Enjoy summer for a change. It’s our first summer at home in five years…

Can I ask what you’ve been up to on your break?
I’ve been up at the cottage, doing some work up there. It’s not my cottage, but we’re doing some work up there, and hanging out and pretty much just pulling the plug, turning my phone off for a week or so and really enjoying my girlfriend and my peace of mind.

It’s amazing how important free time feels when you’ve been going so hard the rest of the time…
Yeah, it’s true. You know, you need balance. And when you start losing the balance, that’s when things start going askew. We’ve been having a blast, and this year has been absolutely insane, but we’ve all just gotten to this point where we said to ourselves, “You know what? We need to slow down for a second here. Just give us a month.”

…So it’s been nice. It’s been a nice couple of weeks.

But now I’m actually kind of itching. I’m pacing around the house, going “Okay! I need to go play now.”

Congratulations on winning a huge string of awards at the beginning of this year: Rock Group of the Year, Rock Album of the Year, Much Music Video of the Year, People’s Choice—Favourite Canadian Group, that’s all pretty impressive.
Yeah, not bad eh? For a bunch of fucking idiots.

[laugh] Thank god you have music.
Well yeah, I’d be dead otherwise. It’s helped me along.

But yeah, winning stuff like the Peoples’ Choice Award is pretty amazing, and the Rock Album award is pretty cool too. Just ‘cause we worked so bloody hard on it, it’s nice that people enjoy it, you know?…

The video that won Best Rock Video back in June—“Fallen Leaves”—how did that come together?
It was one of these things where there was this guy, Dean Carr, this LA kind of guy, who presented this treatment of this crazy, whimsical story, and we were kind of looking to switch it up a little bit. To do something that we haven’t already done before, and we all got together, bounced some ideas off this guy… Then we went to LA and shot this crazy, weird thing in a day. We were on a big sound stage, and there are all these kinds of sets, and… It was fun to be a part of, for sure.

It seemed like a surprising dimension for you guys to venture into… monsters and goblins…
I was a little bit worried about the video when we first saw it. ‘Oh Shit. What were we thinking? Oh shit. It sounded good over beers, you know?’ What ended up happening was the fans on our message board started looking at it and were like “What the hell is this??” and we thought we dropped the ball.

Then I guess people started watching it and growing more accustomed to it, understanding it. And it grew into this whole thing. We’re just happy people liked it. We liked it…

In September you’re heading to St. John’s as your first stop on a cross-Canada tour, right?
That is correct. And we’re really excited about it. We were pissed off because we went on tour across Canada to Quebec with Rise Against, Anti-Flag and Moneen and that was such an amazing line-up. We really wanted to bring it all the way across the country, but unfortunately some of the bands weren’t able to do it because of timeline conflicts. Then we wanted to swing back, but it just got all fucked up.

You should consider doing what The White Stripes did; go to Iqaluit and stuff.
Go to bingo halls? That’d be pretty awesome. I think that’s just being so big and so popular and saying “fuck it”, they can do whatever they want. They played at a YMCA daycamp. They just don’t give a fuck. They went wherever they wanted to go.

You never know. Billy Talent—you guys could probably make decisions like that too.
Well, I don’t know. It would probably scare the shit out of kids. I don’t want to give them heart attacks if they’re only three, screaming at them. “Ahhhhh!” [laugh] No, but it’s not for us. But good on them.

Billy Talent will be performing at Mile One Centre on September 5. With guests illScarlett and The Saint Alvia Cartel. For ticket info call 576-7657.

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