“You want to represent your band’s identity to the maximum” – hmv.com talks to Billy Talent
Releasing a ‘Greatest Hits’ album normally means one of three things, either a band has broken up and their label is trying to claw back a few pennies, the band are trying to see out their contract or they want a clean break with the past before starting afresh. Thankfully it’s the latter we’re dealing with for Canadian offbeat punks Billy Talent.
We spoke to guitarist Ian D’Sa about why the band decided to recap at this point in their career and their plans for the future…
Why did you decide to release a ‘Greatest Hits’ album at this point in your career?
“I feel like at this point, with four albums done, we had enough singles to make a ‘Greatest Hits’ and do it properly. We wanted to recap the last 10 years of our career in one album and to move to on the next chapter of our career.”
Were you hesitant at all? It’s a lot of bands’ final act…
“We were a little hesitant about it, it was actually our previous manager’s idea, but we’re really pleased we decided to do it. We hand a few songs floating around anyway, we were going to save them for the upcoming album, but we figured it was better this way. We did notice a bit of backlash from our fans because they thought we were breaking up. We cleared that up pretty quickly.”
It’s a 14-track album with two new ones, you must have more singles than that…
“There were actually a few more singles we could have put on there. But we wanted to keep it short and snappy. We wanted to pick the songs that identify our band the best and all of which would appear in our live set.”
You’ve gone chronological too…
“Some of the songs might have flowed better if we’d mixed it up, but all the albums have such different sounds that we wanted to keep the consistency.”
Were there any other ‘Greatest Hits’ packages you took inspiration from when putting it together?
“Depeche Mode put out two ‘Greatest Hits’ records that I really like, so that was the main one I looked at. You want to represent your band’s identity to the maximum. I think they did that really well.”
Where did the new songs come from? Have you had them for a while?
“We’d figured they’d eventually be on our next record, but we had them ready to go. We recorded them over in Los Angeles with Howard Benson. It’s a nice way to give fans some new material, we know this ‘Greatest Hits’ was intended for people who aren’t fans already, so we figured this would be a good incentive for people to get the record and to show that we’re still an active band.”
Were there any songs that you really wanted on there?
“We all wanted to put ‘This Suffering’ and ‘Hook, Line and Sinker’ on there, like real live show staples. But we ended up being overruled and keeping things concise.”
Do you have a favourite?
“My favourite to play live is ‘Devil On My Shoulder’, it always goes off.”
Is it strange to look back on your early records and see how you’ve changed?
“There’s a bit of nostalgia, a lot of the first album brings back memories of being in our mid-20s, lyrically you can hear the maturity level change. I don’t know if we’re less angry now, but we’ve learned how to articulate our anger better. Back in the early days we were a lot more visceral, straight from the heart type stuff.”
How far along are you with the follow-up to Dead Silence?
“We’ve written the bulk of it. I’ve got about eight to 10 songs I’m really happy with, but I want to keep going until we get a solid record. I’m excited to get it done, it feels like it’s been a long time.”
You’ve released records consistently every three years, this will be your longest gap to date…
“At this point it’s a little late to get it out this year. It’ll be recorded this summer and we’re shooting for 2016. The ‘Greatest Hits’ took a year out of our schedule so it knocked us back a little.”
How’s writing going?
“Being home for a little while has been great. I’m writing every day, I’m getting a lot done, I feel like a well-oiled machine at the moment.”
Do you think you’ll produce the next one yourself again?
“We’ve done really well when we’ve produced these things at home. It’s great to get outsiders in, especially if you’ve trying something you’ve never done before. At this point, I think I’ll probably do it again, it worked pretty well for Dead Silence.”
You must be itching to tour again…
“Yeah, I miss the road. I miss it. We did a handful of festivals last summer, but it’s been weird to be away for so long. I’m excited to get back out there.”
Billy Talent’s ‘Greatest Hits’ album Hits is released in hmv stores across the UK on Monday (February 23rd). You can pre-order the album in store now.