EXCLUSIVE – Billy Talent Interview
After a couple of false starts Canadian arena packers Billy Talent are back in the clubs of Britain in support of latest album Billy Talent III from tomorrow.
One of the tightest bands in the world, all four members have been together from the start and it shows. More focused and tuneful than ever this could be the time for BT to make the big league in the UK.
We caught up with bass man Jon Gallant ahead of Wednesday’s Sheffield Academy opener.
rushonrock: Do you still feel as if you have to break the UK after so much success back home and in mainland Europe?
Jon Gallant: I don’t know. I think we’re doing pretty good in the UK but it’s just weird that some places have picked up on us in a big way and some places haven’t. For instance we’ve just come off a tour in the States where we’re playing tiny clubs and then over the border in Canada we’re playing arenas. I think it comes down to the kind of support you pick up across the media and in mainland Europe we get played a lot on the radio and on TV.
rushonrock: But you’re huge in Germany, Austria and Finland and still fighting for recognition in the UK – does it bother you?
JG: Not at all. We love playing the UK and the fans who come out to see us here are some of the most committed in the world. That’s how it works. We see the same people over and over and occasionally there’ll be some new faces too. With every tour you’re trying to climb to that next level and get a little bit higher up the pecking order. That’s the whole idea of going on the road again and again. Every single tour we get a little bit bigger wherever we play.
rushonrock: Are British bands a big influence on Billy Talent?
JG: Of course. We feel very close to British music and the British people. We love the classic rock bands but we’re influenced by the punkier bands like The Clash and I’d include The Police in that. After that it’s all the usual suspects – the Stones and the Beatles. Right now I’m a really big fan of a whole range of new British music including bands like Muse and The Arctic Monkeys. And I was a big fan of Reuben so it’s such a shame those guys decided to call it a day. It kinda sucks. They have some great songs but I suppose people took them for granted and they didn’t get the support their great work deserved.
rushonrock: You mentioned that you’re an arena band back home battling it out with the likes of Nickelback for top billing. But do you still enjoy getting up on stage in the smaller venues?
JG: I love the clubs. I enjoy the things you can do with arena-size shows but it’s great to play the clubs and have people who love the band right in your face. Some of the places we’ve just played in America didn’t even have barricades so there was nothing between us and the fans other than the music. There’s a lot of energy on both sides in that situation and it makes for a special feeling.
rushonrock: What’s your view on the rock scene right now?
JG: Over in North America it’s not that exciting right now. I personally haven’t been turned on by a new North American band in quite a while. I love the Silversun Pickups but I’ve desperately been searching for some excitement. Most of the new bands over there are trying to sound like 80s rock bands and writing anthemy stuff. There’s no freakoid rock to blow your mind or maybe there is but I’m just not seeing it. Take a band like Muse over here – in America it doesn’t seem possible for bands like that to reach the next level.
rushonrock: You finally kick off your UK tour tomorrow – how’s the setlist shaping up?
JG: It’s interesting because the latest album (Billy Talent III) only came out in the US in September so the audiences there weren’t that familiar with the new songs. It’s been out a bit longer in Europe and so we’re planning to throw in at least four or five new numbers into the UK setlist. I imagine we’ll be playing Devil On My Shoulder, Rusted From The Rain, Diamond On A Landmine and Turn Your Back and then we’ll wait and see.