Interview: Billy Talent [April 2015]

By Lais

The legendary Billy Talent have recently released their greatest hits album, ‘Hits’, but this is by no means the end for them. We spoke to bassist Jon Gallant about the new album they’re working on now, what has kept them together for 21 years, and how they will always pick quality over quantity.

How does it make you feel to have your own greatest hits album?

It’s strange. We never really thought about this kind of stuff. We’ve always lived in the moment and so to put it all together and look back in retrospect to the last ten years and have this now is cool.

You’ve been around for a long time, but you’ve only had four albums. Was that a case of quality over quantity?

That’s always been a point of interest. Whenever we’ve been working on an album, we’ve never been a band to write 30 songs and try to figure out which are the best. We write 12 songs and make them absolutely as great as we possibly can and then go from there, and that’s how we’ve approached everything. We wanted to make sure that every single one of our records is something that we can be proud of and we hope that people would feel the same way.

There are two new songs on the record. How would you describe them?

Well, I think ‘Kingdom of Zod’ is a perfect representation of Billy Talent. It really is a great summary of our style, very true to everything we’ve released, but ‘Chasing The Sun’ is the polar opposite of that, which is a really nice feeling because it’s different to what we’ve ever done before. The lyrical content is very important to us. It’s about somebody very close to us. I think the two songs are very different and super exciting. It can give people an idea of what our band can be and show that we do appreciate our traditional style.

After this, do you have plans to release new material?

We’re working on new material right now in the studio. Pretty much since we got off the road we’ve been writing, so by the time we’ve finished our next record we’ll have reached a full two years of us writing and recording, so that’s really exciting for us.

Sometimes when a band releases a greatest hits album, people wonder whether they’re coming to an end.

Yeah, we never really thought about that, but we’ve been together 21 years now and we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves. We still feel like we have a ton to accomplish.

21 years is a long time. How do you keep it fresh?

Well, we have common goals and we love what we do. We’ve learned a lot about each other and still love each other like brothers. We work and live in the same city and see each other as much as our families. I dunno, we like making music and we wanna be a band like the Foo Fighters, y’know, a huge band in the world that people pay attention to. That’s the stuff that drives us. We feel like we have a lot to say with our music still and it’s exciting. We have our own studio and that gives us motivation to work.

Up until this point, what do you think has been your favourite moment of your time in the band?

I don’t know if there’s one particular moment. The whole first record, when we first started to tour internationally and see the world, all those experiences are so incredible to me. I grew so much as a person and saw so much of the world and accomplished more than I ever thought could happen, so those moments are really special. Then working on the second album, there was this thought in the back of my mind that that could never happen again. I wondered if we’d ever get to go back to Europe, or if we’d ever get to play Germany, and then the second album came out and it was very well received, and that was almost a relief, and that’s something I remember. Stepping off a plane and thinking ‘We’re back here’, and knowing that things would be okay. Those kinds of moments happen all the time. Plus I don’t have to have a job or work anymore.

So many people are in boring jobs they hate and you get to do what you love.

It’s a job, but I could never call it a job because I really feel lucky. I have a lot of fun. We fuck around and play music. It’s a joke really.

Looking into the future, what are your plans for the rest of the year?

Well we’re gonna continue bashing away and try and make the best record of our lives. And then we’ll probably have to do some shows to feed the monkey, but we’re gonna try and keep off the radar. Then we’ll come in strong in 2016 with a new record and touring plans, so it’s gonna be a good year of creativity.

So we’re only looking at tours for next year, then?

Yeah, I don’t see any way the album could come out this year because of where we’re at in writing and what we want to accomplish. We wanna make sure we make the best plans we’ve ever made for an album because when you’re working on a record, you’re booking shows and you’re in the studio and you’re working hard and making merch then things get scattered and it’s hard to make decisions on the fly and other things suffered because of it. We always just wanted to focus on the music. So this time around we’ve got our career, we know we’re okay, and we have the leisure of knowing that we can do all this work and then when we’re done we can move on to the next chapter. For us that’s really exciting too.

Do you have any idea what direction you’re going in with the new album?

So far it’s been super heavy. We put a survey on our website to find out what people’s favourite albums were, what things they’re into, and what we ended up finding out was really cool, about favourite songs and stuff, and one of the cool things was that a big chunk of our audience are musicians and that was kind of inspiring for Ian and I. Ian is our songwriter and he knows there’s so many guitarists watching him now. The stuff that Ian’s been writing and we’ve been working on has been unbelievable. A lot of it’s been pretty aggressive, so I’m expecting the album to be heavy. I’m stoked about it, it’s been fun in rehearsals.

It’s like a whole new chapter for you.

Yeah, we have a new manager in place and we’ve been happy with how he’s been looking at our career and the ideas he’s thought of. Us as people, we’re in a really good spot. We’re motivated and comfortable and our creative environment is nice and it’s good to sit and be creative and not worry about other things, so we’re excited about it.

I’m hoping for a UK tour next year…

We’ll definitely be in the UK!


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