Billy Talent Interview
We've gone on an interview frenzy this week here at UpVenue. This past Thursday, we had the opportunity to share some words with bassist Jonathan Gallant from the Juno-winning Canadian rock band, Billy Talent. We were also presented with an advance copy of their latest album, Billy Talent 3 (release date is July 14). Judging by our initial listen of the record, Billy Talent has definitely found their sound. Their latest effort is a bit heavier sounding than their previous records and fans will eat it up. A deluxe edition entitled "Guitar Villain" which features a second CD with all the songs sans the guitar tracks will also be released on the same day. Why would they do that? Well read the interview below to find out:
UpVenue (UV): Billy Talent 3 is coming out in a couple of weeks, what was it like working with producer Brendan O'Brien?
Billy Talent's Jon (BT): Well it was amazing, he was our virtuoso and a hero of ours. He's produced some of our favorite [records], it was an exciting moment and it turned out to be a great experience.
UV: What can you tell us about your new album?
BT: Well, it's 11 songs, I think it's the best piece of work we've ever made. It's great, it's big, it's heavy, it's more of a rock record than the last two. We're excited and we can't wait till it gets out.
UV: We can't either, "Rusted from the Rain" is probably our favorite from the bunch, what are some of your favorites from the album?
BT: Saint Veronika is probably my favorite song, but I love them all for their own separate reasons. Diamond on a Landmine turned out great, White Sparrows -- the lyrics almost make me cry every time I listen to it. It's a really well balanced record.
UV: In the original release of "Turn Your Back", there were supporting vocals from Anti-Flag, but we noticed that in the album version they were gone. Why we're they omitted?
BT: We recorded "Turn Your Back" as a demo originally. We played it to those guys when we were on tour at one point. They really liked it and we had collaborated with them before and had a saying in one of their songs. We thought "Well you guys want to sing on it? We could put it out there" and so that people could remember that Billy Talent is still around -- all those proceeds when to charity. It was just kind of something we put together with Anti-Flag but we always intended on recording a Billy Talent version of it for the record. We really wanted the song on there, it kind of balances out the record.
UV: You have a deluxe version of the album coming out, it's called The Guitar Villain edition.
UV: What sparked the idea of having guitarless tracks?
BT: It was presented to us by one of the guys who works at Warner Canada. We thought it was a really great idea and we always have guitar players on our website sharing tabs and talking about guitar playing. We run into other guitarists who tell us they really enjoy playing our songs. We thought it was a great way for people to jam along with it. There's a lot of good musicians out there.
UV: Have you planned on running contests for Guitar Villain based on performances from your fanbase?
BT: No, but that would be an interesting idea. I don't know where this Guitar Villain idea heads, but who knows it could open up a lot of opportunities.
UV: You ever think about bringing people on stage during live shows to play the guitar?
BT: That's a pretty good idea, I dunno, probably not it would be a risk *laughter*.
BT: They might say they know the songs and get up on stage and not know anything. I think if we were to have a guest come up and play, it would probably be along the lines of somebody doing a solo over an extended version of "Devil on my Shoulders".
UV: You've licensed a lot of songs in video games before, I remember first hearing about "Red Flag" in a Burnout game.
UV: With Guitar Villain coming out soon, are the any plans on releasing Billy Talent tracks for the videogame, Rock Band?
BT: We would love to have some of our songs in Rock Band. We haven't been a privileged band to be asked yet, but who knows? I think it's a great way for people to hear your music. It's a fun way for people to get involved with music too.
UV: Yeah we agree, do you guys actually play rock band?
BT: Nah, I can't justify that man, I should be practicing my own instruments!
UV: You've just announced your american tour dates, and you're going on tour really soon. There are no canadian dates announced, are you planning on touring here in Canada?
BT: Well we're going to do a few festivals, here and there, over the summer. We've already done a couple. Mainly, we want the canadian tour to be something very special. We're planning an extensive canadian tour in the winter of 2010. We want to have the time to make sure the band is a well oiled touring machine at that point. We want to put together some good lineups for our tour and plan it really well to do something really great. We're taking our time with our canadian tour but it will be happening for sure.
UV. Ah we we're hoping for something a little bit sooner. Who do you plan on touring with if there's a canadian tour?
BT: That's some secret information that you can't be privileged to yet. *laughs*
UV: You've played in a quite a few festivals this year, which one has been your favorite so far?
BT: Edgefest was awesome. We just played Rock in the Range in Winnipeg and they were awesome mainly because they were canadian [concerts] and we're really happy to be playing some canadian shows. Not to mention that they ended up turning out great.
We played a festival in Germany called Rock Am Ring and it was 85,000 people and was broadcast live on TV, it was a fantastic show. That was one of my favorites, probably my favorite of all time.
UV: What has the reception been like for the new songs that you've been playing?
BT: We've only played four songs off the new record live. It's been pretty good. The first couple of shows people were just listening and trying to get into it. Then they start to get out on the internet and people start to know them better. The reaction has been awesome, it's been great. We're really excited to get the record out so people know them beforehand going into the show.
UV: Outside of Billy Talent 3, are there any albums you're looking forward to?
BT: I'm looking forward to hearing Alexisonfire's new record which I think is coming out this week or it might out already, i might just go to HMV today and see if it's there. I haven't really been checking what's been coming out. Recently, i just picked up a lot of records that i've been meaning to pick up like the new Testament and the Franz Ferdinand record and Mother Mother. I'm looking forward to picking up the Alexisonfire record.
UV: So then you're looking forward to playing with Alexisonfire at Leeds and Reading festival?
BT: Yeah that's going to be awesome, we're on the lock up stage which is a really really cool stage. We've got a lot of friends that are playing on that day; it's going to be a good one for sure. We just came back from London England recently, doing some shows there and Alexisonfire was also doing some shows, we saw them and they were playing amazing. We're looking forward to it.
UV: Are you guys going to have a few days to watch the other bands since it's a three day festival?
BT: We're playing in Reading one day, then we're in another country and then we come back to play Leeds. We won't get a chance to see anything beyond the day that we're there.
UV: Are you fans of any of the other bands that are playing there?
BT: Yeah definitely, you know i've looked at the lineup briefly and i remember saying to myself "oh my god this going to be great" but that was a long time ago, I can't even remember who's playing there right now.
UV: If you got to create your own lineup for a festival, what three other bands would you add to it aside of Billy Talent.
BT: If I put my own festival together, i'd want Rage Against The Machine to headline mine. I'd probably be selfish and pick all of my favorite bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine and maybe get At the Drive In to reunite.
UV: Where would the festival be held?
BT: Of course, I'd want it in Toronto although the hometown shows there are usually a lot more tougher than anywhere else.
UV: You should move it down the 401 a little bit down to Montreal.
BT: Montreal would be good, that would be a good second option because then I'd bring my wife and kids who were born in Montreal and they'd enjoy that festival.
UV: Is there anything you want to tell your fans before we go?
BT: The album comes out July 14th, we're filming the video for "Devil On My Shoulder" this weekend. Get ready to see us in town near you.
UV: Thanks a lot Jon.
BT: Thank you, take it easy.
Thanks to Billy Talent for the interview. Billy Talent 3 will hit stores on July 14. For more information on the band, check out the links below: