After being forced to cancel tour dates in Australia recently, Canada’s Billy Talent is now set to return and won’t let anything stop them. The tour will coincide with the release of their fourth studio album. The album, dubbed by keyboard warriors ‘Billy Talent X’, has hit many snags along the way, forcing the release date to be pushed back more than once. Those two factors combined have left Aussie fans salivating at the mouth for the punk rock band to get here and get here quick. I had a chat to Bassist Jonathan Gallant, currently enjoying a day off in Amsterdam, to get the latest on all things Billy Talent.
Returning to Australia this August for a brief, but intimate tour, we got chatting about how the band feels about finally coming back: “We’re all so excited, we’ve been trying to figure out a way to come down for a while now. We were gonna do the last Soundwave, but our album just kept taking longer and longer, all that kind of stuff. We just kept shooting down ideas, then it finally came to the point where we thought: ‘man, we really need to start booking some tours’. Australia was high on our list, cos not only do we want to be an international band, we want to get back to Australia.”
As Jon had mentioned, their latest album had been held up for a while, resulting in the band having to pull out of many touring commitments. I began to steer the conversation in that direction to find out what caused the hold up. “Well, we had to write the songs first; that takes a long time and Ian [D'Sa, guitar] is producing our record now. This is his first major big production, so he was super careful about everything and that added some time. Then, after we recorded the drum tracks, our drummer had to have some heart surgery; the recovery time on that was pretty extensive…Then we had the Christmas break, of course [laughs]. We didn’t want time to be our enemy, we wanted to be careful and try and not have the stress of a looming deadline; we feel we finally earned the right to do our own thing. The album was ready for June, then we got the sinking feeling that it won’t actually be ready, then all the label people wanted to hold off even longer… Everyone who’s been working with us has been super cool with the fact that we don’t want to rush this.”
For an album that has been in the pipes for so long, it’s hard to believe that not even an album title has been leaked, or announced. I thought I’d push the envelope and see how much Jon was willing to give up: “The album actually means a lot to us, whenever we’ve released an album before and worked with producers, there’s always been this producer buffer…but this time, because it’s been all of us doing it 100%, it seems like a more important album than any of the other ones. It’s all of our balls on the line. Musically, it’s turned out awesome: it’s diverse, we’ve tried new things, and it’s been a great experience.”
Their previous album, Billy Talent III, was produced by Brendan O’Brian, and in the band’s eyes, failed to connect with fans: “It turned out great, but for some reason on a fan level, it was never accepted as our first two; I can understand that – it’s a bit different. This one, I’d say, is more like our second record, even some of the songs sound like Era of Billy Talent, but the new one still really stands on its own.”
And what about the album name, with their previous records titled I, II and III, shouldn’t IV be the next logical step? “Well, we think we’ve decided on the band name, but a wise man once told me: ‘think about what you’re going to do three times before you do it’…[Laughs]. You know, once it’s out there it’s out there, that’s why we numbered our last albums, because it’s such a daunting task…so there was a bit of laziness or fear I suppose. It would just suck to name your album something and regret it.”
The first sneak peek off the release came in the form of Viking Death March. The first single shows the band returning to a more raw energy, live-sounding feel. I asked if that was the direction chosen for the rest of the album: “Some of the songs are like that, some are produced pretty heavily, like with extra instrumentation, nothing too out-there. One song, a little short one, is actually the intro to Viking Death March on the album and is really a totally different direction to anything we’ve done before, which was awesome. We got the bass player from the Toronto Symphany Orchestra to come and track on it… Though when we’re writing and recording, we always think: ‘will we be able to do this live?’.”
The short time slot seemed to fly by for both of us. Jon was set to pack before the band heads off to the UK for the Download Festival. Though with Australia on their mind, you can be sure the lads are counting down the days for their triumphant return.
Billy Talent Australian Tour Dates
Thursday 9th August – Brisbane, the Hi-Fi – 18+
Friday 10th August – Sydney, Unsw Roundhouse – Lic Aa
Sunday 12th August – Melbourne, Billboard – 18+
Tickets: http://www.oztix.com.au / http://www.ticketek.com.au / http://www.moshtix.com.au