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Music / Billy Talent

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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)


"Fallen tropes, fallen tropes, fallen tropes on the ground!"

  • Adults Are Useless: In "Nothing to Lose," the narrator's teachers and parents downplay his problems until it's too late.
    Teachers said "it's just a phase"
    When I grow up my children
    Will probably do the same
    Kids just love to tease
    Who'd know it put me underground at seventeen
  • Alice Allusion: "Rabbit Down the Hole" references elements from Alice in Wonderland:
    And everyone that you hold dearly, you try to keep them close
    'Cause some of them get bitten by that rabbit down the hole
    And once you walk past through the grass, you're never coming home
  • Anime Hair: Ian D'sa. He isn't wearing a hat in the picture, that's his hair.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: Illustrating War Is Hell, "The Navy Song" says, "The ocean turned to red."
  • 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".
  • Careful with That Axe: Watoosh! and Billy Talent especially. Ben's vocals have toned it down quite a bit since then.
  • Cosmic Plaything: "Devil On My Shoulder":
    Follow the rainbow, my lucky omen
    There ain't no pot of gold, just copper tokens
    I found the key to life, the lock was broken
    All my accomplishments, are best left unspoken
  • Destructive Romance:
    • "Hanging by a Thread".
      For all the times we've hurt each other, with all the things we've said
      Well, it's hard to hold this olive branch with a gun against my head
    • The narrator of "Diamond on a Landmine" mentions he's "addicted to her abuse" while he stalks her.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: "Sympathy", a variation in that the pity in question is hollow and manipulative instead of genuine.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • "Nothing to Lose" from Billy Talent is about a bullied teenager killing himself because of school bullying, the adults' indifference, and general feeling of hopelessness. The music video is basically an ad for the Kids Help Phone.
    • "Saint Veronika":
      They found an empty bottle on her windowsill
      The day her mother lost her sleeping pills
      She was sick and tired of being invisible
      Hard to see in color when you're miserable
  • Drowning My Sorrows: "Tears Into Wine". The title is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Topic of "Fallen Leaves" and "Rabbit Down The Hole".
  • 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.
  • Fond Memories That Could Have Been: "Chasing The Sun":
    I curse the mistakes that we'll never make,
    The pictures of trips that we'll never take
  • Ghostly Goals: After his unjust execution, the narrator of "The Dead Can't Testify" is going to turn into a vengeful ghost:
    And because I can't take an eye for an eye
    In the afterlife I'll haunt you 'till you die
  • Grief Song:
    • In "White Sparrows," the narrator is mourning the death of his girlfriend.
    • "Chasing The Sun":
      If wounds heal in time tell me why it's so hard to move on
      I'll never move on
  • 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: "I gave my life to save her" in "The Navy Song".
  • Holding Out for a Hero: "Voices of Violence" discourages this mindset:
    Don't wait for a knight in shining armor
    Your savior's reflected in the mirror
  • Hypocrite: "Viking Death March":
    You preach about love
    And teach about faith
    But all your beliefs are still rooted in hate
  • 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.
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "Turn Your Back" sounds really upbeat, but its lyrics are about the uncertainty of the future of the world, pointing out many things wrong with the world.
    • "Devil On My Shoulder" is rather bouncy for the Cosmic Plaything anthem.
  • Lyrics/Video Mismatch: "Rusted From The Rain" is about enmity or an abusive relationship; the video is about an old man building a carousel.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: "Rabbit Down The Hole":
    Good God what have I done?
    Mother nature's lowly son
    Chase that rabbit down the hole
  • 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.
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Definition of Destiny".
    Well a long time ago
    We had passion, we had goals
    Why is life so set in stone it doesn't have to be?
    So cut to the chase, it's time to escape
    Before it's too late
    Yeah pick up the pace, catch up with fate
  • Precision F-Strike: The last line of "Kingdom Of Zod".
    A big fucking lie!
  • 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 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".
  • Pungeon Master: "Hanging by a Thread" contains a lot of wordplay: "when the stitches fall apart we're hanging by a thread", "when our words are dipped in gasoline, our love goes up in flames", "it's easy to get tangled up when your world is torn to shreds".
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: At the end of "Dead Silence," The Hero Dies, but he believes "one day hope will arrive".
  • 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.
  • Screw Destiny: "Definition Of Destiny":
    So get off my road, no I won't be told
    'Cause I got my own definition of destiny
    Yeah take back control, and don't let it go,
    The future's unknown
  • Signature Style: Drop D tuning and Ian's backing vocals.
  • The Something Song: "The Navy Song".
  • Stalker with a Crush: "Diamond on a Landmine". "I saw her friends and I was told / She blocked my number from her cell phone" and "Until I have a heart attack / I'll keep on trying to win you back".
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Nothing to Lose" and "Rusted from the Rain", somewhat. "Surrender and "Chasing the Sun", definitely.
  • Together in Death: The narrator's hope in "The Navy Song":
    Beneath the sky of hate,
    Beyond the sea of pain,
    In heaven I will wait,
    Until we meet again
  • True Companions: Friends since high school, together for almost twenty years with no signs of slowing down.
  • War Is Hell:
    • "The Navy Song":
      The ocean turned to red
      In the fall, in the fall, when the tide took them all
      Cut down like lambs at slaughter,
      Good men were left for dead
    • "Dead Silence", thoughts of "a casuality of war, a victim of mistake".
  • Witch Hunt: "The Dead Can't Testify", a man is hanged as a witch for being different, possibly for being an atheist.
  • You Are Not Alone: "Saint Veronika".
    You can't leave this world behind
    So be strong enough to hold onto us
    We're still right here by your side