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Alternative and Indie

Billy Talent


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Punk quartet who quickly grew into one of Canada's premier rock exports

Whether it’s pent up anger from the long, dark winters or something they’re putting in the water, Canada knows a thing or two about punk bands. From now-elder statesmen like Propaghandi and F***ed Up to exciting upstarts such as PUP and White Lung, there’s no doubting the quality on offer. Billy Talent may have spent the early part of the 00s as the exciting upstarts themselves, but there’s no doubting their status now is that of one of Canada’s biggest rock bands.

The band started life as Pezz, formed by Ben Kowalewicz (vocals), guitarist Ian D'Sa, Jon Gallant (bass), and Aaron Solowoniuk (drums) when they were still in high school. The Ontario quartet self-released their debut Watoosh! before changing their name to Billy Talent, releasing the Try Honesty EP and attracting no small amount of buzz around Toronto.

Off the back of their self-titled 2003 debut, Billy Talent jumped straight into the major leagues, landing three Juno nominations. Their follow-up, II, only cemented their popularity at home, while also winning over new fans in the US and Europe. By the time Billy III came out in 2009, they’d completed their evolution from scrappy punk band to hard rocking chart-toppers. A “Canadian Green Day” tag might be simplistic but wouldn’t be entirely misleading.

The comparison only grew more apt with the social and political themes that crept into the band’s widely acclaimed fourth album Dead Silence. Unfortunately, the band’s sky-rocketing popularity was tempered by Solowoniuk’s multiple sclerosis diagnosis, forcing him to sit out Afraid Of Heights and the ensuing live shows. Alexisonfire’s Jordan Hastings stepped into the void left by the band’s founding member, although Solowoniuk managed to return for two songs when Billy Talent opened for Guns N’ Roses in Toronto.

Over the course of 2019 and 2020, Billy Talent released singles in anticipation of their upcoming sixth studio album. They also confirmed a UK gig in Liverpool for 30 May 2022.