MUSIC INTERVIEW: Billy Talent
Headlining The Pit stage at Reading & Leeds Festival, punk rockers Billy Talent are concluding their Afraid Of Heights album cycle in one of the best ways possible. We took some time to chat to Jon Gallant and Jordan Hastings ahead of their set to talk festival anthems, years of touring and which Canadian bands they think you should be taking note of.
So we’re talking to you at Reading, but what does the festival mean to Billy Talent?
Jordan: I’ve been lucky enough to play this festival a few times. I’ve never actually played with Billy Talent but I’ve played with Alexisonfire.
You last played here on main stage, right?
Jordan: Yeah we played main stage in 2015 which was amazing and Alexis has played it a few times. One time we did main stage in the afternoon and did a headline in the Lock Up tent later that night. It’s cool stuff like that, it always seems to be neat and they have little surprises so yeah, I love this festival.
So Billy Talent has a hefty back catalogue, when it comes to setlists – specifically for festivals – how do you weight it?
Jordan: It’s everything, there’s songs from each record. There’s such a big catalogue…
Must be hard to pull things together!
Jordan: Yeah exactly. When you’ve been playing together for 25 years there’s a lot of material! But yeah, it’s a good mix of everything. Not too much old, not too much new but a perfect split of everything.
So you guys released Afraid Of Heights last year, although the album name has a literal meaning is there a “height” that the band is afraid of that encompasses the overall theme of the album?
Jordan: I don’t think so. It was more so a play on words kind of thing. Afraid Of Heights meaning, it could be anything, the current state of the political shit going on in the world, or it could be your own personal demons. But no, we’re not actually afraid of heights.
[Jon walks into dressing room]
Jordan: Jump in buddy.
Sure thing! So do you currently have plans for a follow up?
Jon: No plans right now, but there will be another Billy Talent album for sure.
That’s good to hear. You guys have been in bands for a long time, do you find that as you get older you find it more difficult to be away from home?
Jordan: I think it might get a bit harder, it depends. Jonny has got a big family, three children, so that can make it really tough. I miss my dog, and you miss your friends but it’s something that we’ve always done.
Jon: Even our friends and family have been conditioned to it. I mean yeah, it gets harder. It’s actually harder on the body!
Jon, do your kids see you as a big rockstar?
Jon: [Laughs] No! They don’t give a shit about anything like that, if I’m being an asshole at home they’ll tell me I’m being an asshole. They don’t give me any special kind of treatment, and they should never.
Do they come and see you play live?
Jon: Yeah, I try to get them out when we can. They’re young so it’s challenging to get days off school and that kinda shit too, but they do come to some shows.
Are there any up and coming Canadian bands that you think we should be checking out?
Jordan: Yeah, The Dirty Nil is a great band, another band from our area is called PUP.
Two great choices. As we’re talking to you at a festival, what would your ultimate festival anthem be?
Jon: Killing In The Name Of by Rage Against The Machine. Have you ever seen Rage live?
Jon: It’s insane, everybody bounces at the same time whenever the grooves kick in and it’s wild. At a festival the sound hits you at different times too so there’s a sense of this wave. New Noise by Refused would be pretty badass.
Jordan: That would be badass!
Finally, what talent does Billy have?
Jon: [Laughs] Erm, I can flip my eyelids.
Jordan: I’m really good at flicking beer caps.
Jon: Oh yeah, he’s really good.
We wish you could show us!
Jordan: There’s no beer caps here.
Jon: Our talents are pretty limited to music, I suppose [laughs].
Yeah but those are great talents to have. Do you have anything to add before we leave you this afternoon?
Jon: Just thank you to our UK fans, we’re just finishing up touring this record cycle and we’ve had some really wonderful shows in the UK, so thanks for the support it’s been awesome. We’ll be back and we’re looking forward to it!
Thanks both! Enjoy the rest of your festival.
Interview by: Hannah Gillicker