Billy Talent 'Dead Silence': Streetsville Rock Group Return To Roots In Latest Album

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DEAD SILENCE BILLY TALENT
Billy Talent poses on the red carpet at the 2011 JUNO Awards in Toronto on Sunday, March 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young | CP

Streetsville, Ont. rockers, Billy Talent have been gelling as a band for nearly two decades now - 19 for anybody who's counting - but that hasn't stopped the group from bringing the same intensity to the stage year after year.

HuffPost Canada Music recently caught up with the band at Edgefest in Toronto and they were still bringin' it just like when they rocked the Guverment back in '03. On that note, three years may have past since Billy Talent III, the group's latest album, but fans can find comfort that Billy Talent is looking the same and rocking just as steady.

Speaking with the relaxed and disarming lead guitarist, Ian D'Sa and bassist, Jonathan Gallant is like having a bunch of friends over in your parent's basement. That easy atmosphere let HPMC gain solid insights into how their roots are translating into the production of their upcoming album, Dead Silence.

"We never really fit into any scene we just kinda kept doing what we do" said D'Sa, "it's funny 'cause we get billed in metal festivals, pop festivals and indie festivals -- we're that band that doesn't fit in any one place. But yeah, for sure we carried the torch during the [late 1990's and early 2000's] for rock big time."

It wasn't easy for D'Sa and Gallant, along with lead singer Benjamin Kowlewciz and drummer Aaron Solowoniuk, to find the band's sound during those years considering they were very young and cast as a Toronto club band. But the group didn't have to worry about what light they were casted in - they were more focused on their performance.

"We've never looked that far ahead, we have always kind of focused on the task at hand," said Gallant. "We always tried to make everything we were doing at the moment better and better. But when becoming professional musicians finally happened after 10 years of grinding, we grabbed that carrot and didn't want to let go," he added.

Their break-through album, Billy Talent, featured a refined sound thanks to producer, Gavin Brown. The talent was there but it certainly needed more orchestration and the band makes no mistake on who to credit for that.

"Gavin saw something that really helped us focus our sound," said D'Sa. "It was like, your guitar should sound like this, drums like this, it was a total meeting of minds. And that continued on to the second record and y'know the third record was a bit of a departure but this new record in September is really a return to form for us. It totally picks up when the second record left off."

The decision to return to the group's roots is likely a sound idea since Billy Talent and Billy Talent II are still highly successful even today -- their first and second album reached triple and double platinum status respectively in Canada. The return to their earlier sound was largely accomplished due to the fact that D'Sa is producing the album this time. As the writer of the majority of their material, D'Sa is getting a lot of credit from within the band itself.

"It's more natural and more 'Billy Talent' that any of our records," explains Gallant, "we did it all ourselves because Ian produced it."

The always-humble D'Sa is also quick to point out that aside from his efforts; the proliferation of rock is dependent on technology. As the album's producer, D'Sa credits technology for what he evoked from the band's sound for Dead Silence.

"Rock had to embrace technology a bit more," said D'Sa, "and in the right way -- not in kind of a cheesy way."

So rest assured: there will be no dubstep tracks on Dead Silence.

"Genres come in waves, it's like you can only listen to so much rock," said Gallant, "I think that is why the DJ culture is coming back now. Hell, our drummer [Aaron Solowoniuk] was a raver in the early 90's but as a band, you hope that you have enough support to make it through the lulls."

As one of Canada's well-established rock bands, the group now has quite a task ahead of them considering the slight dip in sales of their last album, Billy Talent III. But given the group's decision to return to the sounds that defined their first two albums, it sounds like the band knows what their audience wants.

HuffPost Music Canada will have a better idea for you when we have an advanced copy of Dead Silence set to release on September 7, 2012.

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Billy Talent @ Edgefest 2012
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