‘Afraid Of Heights’ is the name of the slick new Billy Talent record and it drops from up high on July 29th. In support of the new record, the Canadians will be back here next month for a headline tour around the country. Before that tour, though, Ian D’sa spoke with us briefly about the new record, and on recruiting Alexisonfire’s Jordan Hastings to play drums for the band while Aaron Solowoniuk recovers from an MS relapse. Yikes.
With the album’s artwork and the artwork for the respective songs, it seems like they show what each song is about, or rather what each song is trying to say with the lyrics. So is there a set theme running through this new record?
The whole process of the record started from the title song, as a metaphor for being afraid to take it to the next level. We thought that’d it be really interesting to write an album based off that. The artwork was done by Igor Hoth Bowler and he really tied the songs together with his pieces. They all tell a story and they sum up the songs. It’s cool that it’s worked out that way. Even on the second album, I worked quite close to the artists for our artwork. Even the last album, Dead Silence, we worked with an artist from Australia, Ken Taylor. I love the collaborative process when making an album and it should really represent the music. It’s often overlooked I think.
I would agree. Sometimes with a lot of metalcore and extreme bands, they’ve paid for the artwork simply because it looks good, as opposed to it actually fitting the album.
When you’re in a band you’re usually just focused on the music, and with the labels and the deadlines, the band may not have a crystal clear idea of what the album should represent. So you can get this really disjointed artwork sometimes. I’ve seen that before a lot. We all try to tie our work together, as I’m a big fan of vinyl, going over the artwork and the credits and all that.
I really dig that myself. Now, I’m curious as to who will be filling in for Aaron [Solowoniuk, drums] on this Australian tour? Will Jordan be filling in for the tour?
Yeah, Jordan will be playing with us in Australia and Japan. Aaron has been doing well but he’s taking it just one day at a time and recovering as best he can.
Ah, good to hear! I was very sad to hear about Aaron’s MS relapse, as I’m a drummer myself and it’s quite scary to think about.
Yeah! Drums, out of most instruments, is incredibly demanding and Aaron believed it’d be better for him to take some time off to recover and not tour and play so much. We want him to fully recover, and it was very gracious of Jordan to step in and give up his time for us.
Yes, very kind of him. And with Aaron taking this time off must have been weird, as you’ve basically had the same lineup for years now.
Yeah, we started the band in high school, so it’d be…23 years by now. It’s crazy when you think about it [laughs].
It is! Now, with the latest single, ‘Louder Than The DJ’, I honestly wasn’t a big fan of it. While it’s all about defending rock music in the charts on radio, it felt like a weird catch-22 to try to invigorate rock with just another standard rock song, another Billy Talent song. Do you have a counterpoint to that?
Well, when we started writing that song, it was just a joke song. We never thought it would make the record. People around our circle really liked it, but we thought that we’d write this song about the power of rock n’ roll. When we were younger, we’d just go see the local band down at the bar and it was just so inspiring. So we wanted to write a song about those experiences and we wanted to pay homage to our favourite bands from the 70’s, like The Ramones and The Clash.
Okay, well, I think I may have put a bit too much thought into that one…
[Laughs] yeah, maybe! I mean, it was never meant to be an anti-DJ song. Some people have thought it’s about us dissing DJ’s, but it’s not that case at all. There are many friends of ours who are DJ’s and we all have massive respect for electronic music. We just wanted to write a song in defense of rock.
Cool dude! Well, Ian, that’s time for us. Thanks for the chat! Very keen for the tour in August, as I haven’t seen you guys since Soundwave 2013.
Oh, right on! No worries Alex, we’ll see you guys in August!
Billy Talent are touring nationally next month. Details here.