Billy Talent mellows out

-- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 3:35 AM ET

The first time Billy Talent bass player Jon Gallant listened to the band’s long-awaited second disc, 2006’s Billy Talent II, he noticed something his bandmates Ben Kowalewicz, Ian D’Sa and Aaron Solowoniuk hadn’t noticed.

“We scaled the anger and language back a bit,” Gallant recalls over the phone from Toronto. “Not because we had to, but because we’ve mellowed a lot since we made our first record, Billy Talent in 2003. We’ve matured as men and as a band, enough to know that you can’t force anger.”

At that moment, a soft-spoken Gallant adds critics and fans have been praising the power punkers for less bitching attitude and more songs about issues bugging them. They’ll get to express their gratitude on Saturday night when the band plays the Civic Centre.

“We wanted to do something completely different from the first record because we had changed dramatically and had learned a lot from personal relationships. Everyone in the band is partnering up and dealing with those issues.

“The general theme of this record is trust, the lack thereof or breaking up. That seemed to fuel the record.”

The best example is the album’s blistering opening number Devil in a Midnight Mass, which tackles the tragedy of sexual abuse in the church.

“It’s from a story I read about a priest in Boston who had been arrested for child abuse and the church kept moving him from parish to parish,” says Kowalewicz. “The Supreme Court tried and convicted him of molesting 150 kids over a 30-year span and while he was serving his sentence another inmate broke into his cell and murdered him.

“It’s not against the church or anything, it’s more about that individual betrayal between adult and child. I don’t have the answers but hopefully if I sing about a certain issue it will get people talking about it.”

Gallant agrees.

“Everybody seems to be lying to one another, from our politicians to our friends and neighbours, writing about it into lyrics is a good way to clear your mind,” Gallant says.

“We never really agreed with the punk rock label in the first place. We’ve approached our music in a way that we could be open to everything. You have to keep yourself open for change and let life evolve.”

The album was recorded at Bryan Adams’ Warehouse Studios in Vancouver and went to No. 1 in Canada and Germany the first week it was released in July.

After 14 years together, Gallant thinks the band is just starting to hit its stride and realize its musical potential.

“We’re in it for the long haul. I want a boxset,” he says laughing, before adding, “We don’t want to go back to our old jobs and jamming after work. Now we have the chance to live our dreams.”

Tickets for Saturday’s show are $24.50-$39.50 through Ticketmaster at 613-755-1111 or online at www.ticketmaster.ca.


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