Music / Billy Talent
From left to right: Aaron Solowiniuk, Ian D'Sa, Ben Kowalewicz and Jon Gallant
Billy Talent is a popular Canadian punk/alternative rock band based in Mississauga, Ontario. The band essentially started as a good old-fashioned garage band in Streetsville, a suburb of Mississauga. All four band members attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel Secondary School during high school, where they were all part of various high school bands. Ben and Jon formed a band called To Each His Own and brought in Aaron to play drums. Ian joined afterward and the four formed a band called Pezz in 1993, playing in the Toronto underground rock scene after graduating high school.

As Pezz, they gradually grew in popularity within Toronto and eventually pooled the money needed to record and release a full-length album called Watoosh! The album saw the band experiment with numerous genres and styles. After realizing that a band in the US was also named Pezz, they changed their name to Billy Talent, after a character in the film Hard Core Logo. The change in name coincided with their musical styles focusing on punk and alternative rock. After being noticed by a local radio station rep, the band gained more exposure in the Toronto area and were finally noticed by a mainstream studio after the same rep left to go work at Warner Music Canada in the A&R department. The band was signed on and began recording and playing music for a mainstream audience.

Through their three albums as Billy Talent, the music style has shifted noticeably. While the first album, the self-titled Billy Talent, was full of angsty punk anthems, the second album saw their music and lyrics start to refine. Ben's vocals in particular were toned down, leading to less screaming and more singing. The third album continued in the evolution, resulting in a band whose music has essentially grown up and matured as they have. Over the course of the twelve years they've now had in the mainstream, their popularity has exploded in Canada and in Europe, where they continuously play in well-known festivals and headline to sold-out crowds. In August 2010 they finished their tour and were working on their fourth album. The band has said that it will not follow the Chronological Album Titles of the first three and would also move towards a heavier sound, and that album received much more positive reception than the last one. In 2014 they had a Greatest Hits album, showing how successful they really are.

In January 2016, drummer Aaron Solowoniuk, who experienced a MS relapse, decided to (at least for the time being) step down from drumming. Jordan Hastings of Alexisonfire is currently filling for him and has also performed on their latest album Afraid of Heights.

  • Benjamin Kowalewicz: Lead vocals
  • Ian D'Sa: Guitars, backup vocals. Has a degree in classical animation from Sheridan College ("the Harvard of animation schools") and was one of the animators for Angela Anaconda.
  • Jonathan Gallant: Bass guitar, backup vocals
  • Aaron Solowoniuk: Drums (currently inactive, as of 2016)


Billy Talent provides examples of:

  • "Awesome McCool" Name: Jon Gallant.
  • Anime Hair: Ian D'sa. He isn't wearing a hat in the picture, that's his hair.
  • Break-Up Song: "Tears Into Wine" is one with a more positive mood, "This Suffering" is the opposite. Others include "Diamond on a Landmine", "Swallowed Up by the Ocean" and "Perfect World".
  • Calling the Old Man Out: "Try Honesty"
  • Careful with That Axe: Watoosh! and Billy Talent especially. Ben's vocals have toned it down quite a bit since then.
  • Darker and Edgier: Dead Silence.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: "Sympathy", a variation in that the pity in question is hollow and manipulative instead of genuine.
  • Doomsday Clock: "Turn Your Back" from the third album provides the page quote.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • "Nothing to Lose" from Billy Talent had one as a result of school bullying. The music video was basically an ad for the Kids Help Phone
    • The titular "Saint Veronika" attempted one; the song is a plea for her to hang on to life
  • Drugs Are Bad: topic of "Fallen Leaves"
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Their debut album "Watoosh!" featured Ska, Funk, and Hip-Hop influences.
    • More so on their debut EP "Dudebox" which featured Benjamin rapping a majority of the songs
  • Emo: Even though they're not really that emo-y, they have been slapped with that title a few times.
  • Grief Song: "White Sparrows"
  • Goodbye, Cruel World!: The line "My notebook will explain" from "Nothing to Lose" implies this.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The original video for "Surrender" ended with Ben being shot in the head with a huge splatter of blood. This was edited out prior to airing.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: "The Navy Song"
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: "Surrender"
  • Lighter and Softer: Billy Talent II compared to Billy Talent.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: The band has had the same four members since it was formed in 1993, when all four were still in high school.
  • My Religion Doth Protest Too Much: Their reputation as good, well-behaved Catholic boys didn't stop them from making "Devil in a Midnight Mass", a song about the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy, and "Viking Death March", which included shots taken at people who use religion as an excuse for hate and oppression.
  • New Sound Album: Billy Talent III to a degree.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: All of the band members have separate Wikipedia pages of their own, except Jon, the bassist.
  • No Mouth: The "Devil in a Midnight Mass" video.
  • Pedophile Priest: The subject of "Devil in a Midnight Mass".
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Definition of Destiny"
  • Protest Song: Numerous, in case you weren't sure whether they're a punk band or not.
    • The aforementioned "Devil in a Midnight Mass"
    • "Worker Bees" targets patriotic conformity
    • "Where Is the Line" targets pop culture, hipsters in particular
    • "Covered in Cowardice" targets those that "hide behind their words" while remaining anonymous. One could confuse it for a Protest Song against 4chan's /b/ culture.
    • "Burn the Evidence" targets the false promises of things like the American Dream
    • "Pocketful of Dreams" targets materialism. "Surprise Surprise" does as well while also tackling economic injustice.
    • "Viking Death March" seems aimed at the pretty much everyone in power, as is "Man Alive!". "Crooked Minds" does this as well, ending with a slightly more hopeful focus on how today's youth might one day destroy the current oppressive systems of government.
    • "Kingdom of Zod" seems to be aimed at similar things as "Viking Death March", but aimed more specifically at Rob Ford.
    • They have several anti-violence/anti-war songs such as "Dead Silence" and "Voices of Violence".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The first song on their first Billy Talent album is about multiple sclerosis, which drummer Aaron Solowiniuk suffers from. The band has played in numerous charity events for MS research.
  • Refrain from Assuming
  • Signature Style: Drop D tuning and Ian's backing vocals
  • The Something Song: The Navy Song
  • Stalker with a Crush: "Diamond on a Landmine"
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Nothing to Lose" and "Rusted from the Rain", somewhat. "Surrender and "Chasing the Sun", definitely.
  • True Companions: Friends since high school, together for almost twenty years with no signs of slowing down.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: "Pins and Needles"
  • Witch Hunt: "The Dead Can't Testify", a man is hanged as a witch for being different, possibly for being an atheist.