After a long hard slog, BILLY TALENT established themselves as a household name across Canada with their modern-rock/screamo hybrid. This time, they’re setting their sights on America-with Bryan Adams’ blessing.

Story: Mike Usinger




There’s one question the members of Billy Talent can’t get through an interview without having to answer: "Did you meet Bryan Adams?" You don’t have to excel at Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon to understand why this keeps coming up. In 2002, the band–singer Benjamin Kowalewicz, bassist Jon Gallant, drummer Aaron Solowoniuk and fantastically coiffed guitarist Ian D’Sa–found themselves armed with a Warner Bros. recording contract. Hell bent on making sure their major-label debut wouldn’t sound like it was recorded in Calvin Johnson’s rec room, they left their home base of Toronto for Vancouver, booking themselves into a state-of-the-art studio called the Warehouse. The owner of the spot, where everyone from Slayer to Atreyu to Avril Lavigne to Simple Plan has recorded, is former Vancouver boy Bryan Adams.



And, no, Billy Talent didn’t meet him.



Billy Talent’s eponymous 2003 debut spawned the screamo-tinted North American hit "Try Honesty,” which enabled the band to travel the world and make down payments on houses. Not surprisingly, they liked the room enough to return for the recording of their new album, Billy Talent II. And this time, they left Vancouver with a story to tell.
"No one realizes that Bryan Adams lives in a castle in England," says D’Sa, whose lid brings to mind Little Richard crossed with a man who’s just seen the world’s most hair-raising ghost [see sidebar]. "But funnily, the last week we were there, dude actually shows. I think he was doing a Canadian tour or something. He was with his mom, and it was his birthday, so he came by with some cake–vegan chocolate cake–and gave us a couple of pieces. He’d heard of us, and he wanted to hear a couple of tunes. He was really cool."



If Billy Talent have nothing nasty to say about the man responsible for such atrocities as "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You," that’s not surprising. In fact, it’s entirely likely that Adams is, in some ways, an inspiration. If Bryan Adams proved anything to the average Canadian, it’s that worldwide domination is possible if you want it bad enough. Moving 300,000 copies in Canada (good enough for triple platinum) and spawning four hit singles at home, Billy Talent’s debut made the band national heroes. With Billy Talent II, Kowalewicz, Gallant, Solowoniuk and D’Sa want something more. Look out, America.



"We’re not smeared all over MTV or on the radio down in the States," Kowalewicz acknowledges. "Our following down there is all just word of mouth. We’re not satisfied with that. We’ve got a lot more fight in us. And now we’re ready to leave it on the stage and prove ourselves.”



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