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Interviews

The New Power of Canada: Billy Talent gets the nod of approval from punk rock godfathers the Buzzcocks and makes a few fans of their own.
By Lenny Nero and Mike fish

Unlike some of their countrymen, there is very little thats cute about the music of Billy Talent. It has enough raw urgency to please the old school and enough slick stylings to lure the youngsters. After stirring a noticeable buzz (with some help from heavy video rotation on emptv) Simple Plan tapped them to open for their co-headlining tour with MxPx. Of course, the band said yes. They're Canadian not retarded.

Billy Talent's Aaron, Ian, Ben and John took some time out to sit down with Smash Magazine's Lenny and Fish during their stop through Vegas on February 20th.

Smash Magazine: For those who don't know, can you tell us the inspiration for the name of the band?
Ben: There is a Canadian film called Hard Core Logo, which is the story of this punk band that reunites to go across Canada for one last tour. The guitar player's name in the fictional band was Billy Talent. So we took it from the film.... and the book.

SM: Everyone is kinda curious as to how you guys ended up on the MxPx/Simple Plan tour?
Ben: (to the band) Yeah guys!
Aaron: I don't really know how we got the show. Simple Plan saw us playing in Montreal and asked us to go out on tour with them.
Jon: Yeah, but someone was saying to us that MxPx had a lot to do with it.
Ben: I don't know, good question.

SM: Have you guys been drawing a lot of Billy Talent fans to these shows?
Ian: About 1 or 2. (laughs) No, we draw about 25 to 50 kids who know who we are, and about 10 of them will actually be there to see us. We don't really have the chance to play in front of a lot of kids and do a tour in these size venues. We always do smaller clubs when we're on tour in the States. When we were on tour with the Buzzcocks it was all small clubs, and when we did Lollapalooza no one really knew who we were, so this is our chance to play in front of a lot of people.

SM: Did you tour the U.S. with the Buzzcocks?
Jon: Yeah, but it was all 18 and over, and it was like 300 - 500 seaters. And it was completely different than this. An 18 and over crowd can tolerate our music a little better than 14-year-old girls.

SM: What has the response been like from the Simple Plan crowd? Is it positive?
Ben: The just kinda stare at us! Then after the show they kinda discuss what they think, and then stare at us some more!

SM: There were some stories going around that the Buzzcocks liked to give you a hard time, and the fans would throw stuff at you. Is any of that true?
Ben: It wasn't the Buzzcocks, it was the 45 year-old ex-punk rock poseur accountants with their mohawks, calling us faggots and throwing beer bottles at us. But the Buzzcocks were gentlemen and the best people that we will probably ever tour with.

SM: What are each of your favorite songs on the record and why?
Ben: Mine, it depends...different songs over different weeks, but this week I'm in a "River Below" kinda mood, because I can spaz out on stage the easiest to that song.
Aaron: Yeah mine is definitely River Below, because I can just go crazy on it too.
Jon: "Prisoners of Today" because the guitar parts are awesome. It's got my favorite guitar stuff on it.
Ian: I like "Living in the Shadows," because it's the easiest to play!

SM: What are some of the strangest things that have happened to you guys since you've been on tour?
Aaron: I just got 18 stitches taken out of my head last week, because Ben threw the mic stand into my drums and the base fell off and just about fuckin' scalped me. I still keep feeling my head because I still have a bump there...that shit is gross.
Jon: I got to play bass with the Buzzcocks - that was pretty fuckin' cool. It was the last show of their tour, and during their encore I got to play bass for Something's Gone Wrong Again."I asked if they would play that song for that last show, and they asked me if I wanted to play it. And, at first, I said "no way, there's no way I could do that." And then I started thinking about it, and I just decided to do it. And while I was playing, the singer (Pete Shelley) ran up to me and rammed a full water bottle down the back of my pants. These guys (motions to the rest of the band) sang "Ever Fallen in Love?" with them. It was pretty fun.
Ian: One show we were playing, this guy was standing in front of me with his son, and his son had a plastic eye, and in between songs we would look over and be like "what the hell is that?" And it was his eye. He just took it out of his head and was just holding it in the air. And after the show he came up and showed it to us, and he's like, "roll it around, man, go ahead and touch it." And then he put it back in his head. His eyelid was all flapping around.
Aaron: And his Dad was standing right there with a huge smile, like "yep thats my boy!"

SM: Do you guys get along well on tour? Do you guys fight a lot or are you guys pretty cool with each other?
Ben: We just have hardcore anal when ever we get mad at each other. (laughs) We've known each other for about 11 years and everyone has differences and everyone has bad days or whatever, but we all tend to respect each other as individuals and as band mates, and we know that if someone is in a bad mood we give them space. We're all here for each other. It's a love-hate relationship.
Aaron: But the hardcore anal makes it all better (laughs).
Ben: When we're in a good mood we like it slow and intimate and we light candles and incense. But when we're in a bad mood, theres no lube - it's just a straight shot!
Aaron: Who's going to read this? What are people going to think of us?

SM: Maybe this will help your fan base!
Ben: Yeah, our gay fan base! Our next show will be all these gay guys and we will have to do burlesque.

SM: I have no idea what kind of music to categorize Billy Talent under? A big question I wanted to ask you is what kind of music do you categorize yourself as? Do you consider yourselves a punk band?
Jon: No, not really. We consider ourselves a rock band.

SM: You guys seem to just fall into the punk category, do you guys mind that?
Ben: No, not at all. We've played with bands ranging from The Darkness to the Buzzcocks to Finger Eleven. And we've even played with a lot of screamo hardcore bands too.
Ian: That's just one reason that we like what we do - we don't fall into any one category. We can fit into and play with almost any band on any show.
Ben: It's kinda like the Clash. I mean, they played punk shows, they played rock shows, they played rockabilly shows, and thrash shows. I'm not saying we are anything like the Clash, but it's just the same point of reference. We could just play with whatever genre of music, and fit in just fine.

SM: Last question. If you guys could pick any band to go on tour with - alive or dead - who would it be?
Jon: Bob Marley!
Aaron: Led Zeppelin
Ian: I'd say the Clash!
Ben: Jane's Addiction. We had a chance to open for them once and it was amazing. So I would love to go on tour with them.

Thankyou For Reading!