Billy Talent are a Canadian rock band that formed in 1993. The band consists of lead vocalist Benjamin Kowalewicz, guitarist Ian D’Sa, bassist Jon Gallant and drummer Jordan Hastings. They initially started out under the name Pezz but eventually changed their name to Billy Talent.
The band’s sound can be described as vintage pop punk with elements of alternative rock and post-hardcore. Their music typically features fast-paced guitar riffs, catchy choruses and socially conscious lyrics. Some of their most popular songs include ‘Red Flag,’ ‘Fallen Leaves’ and ‘Try Honesty.’
We briefly caught up with Ian D’Sa the guitar player for Billy Talent at Slam Dunk 2023.
RAMzine: It’s a few hours before your set, you’re back here getting ready for the show and you’ve got the Knotfest stage behind you, how’s that going? How are you prepping yourself?
Ian: We’ll usually get warmed up about an hour before the show. We played yesterday and it was amazing in Hatfield. We had a great show and we’re looking forward to playing in Yorkshire, it’s been a while.
RAMzine: We’re at Slam Dunk North so this is gonna be the second show in a row that you’ve done, I’m assuming it’s gonna be the same setlist?
Ian: Yeah probably but we might change up a song here or there but when it’s a short set so that it’s mainly songs people wanna hear.
RAMzine: A lot of people here are your die-hards but you’ve also got to contend with the younger demograhic who are just discovering you. At this point in your career, you’re what people deem influential. You’re the band that younger you would have listened to if that makes sense. How does that feel?
Ian: I guess we are the vintage band here along with The Offspring but it is a great feeling that we can play. Over the last twenty years when you have this body of work you can play several songs for people that may not be into the band, may recognise or have heard it somewhere and watch the show so it’s a great thing. You’ll always be able to make fans at a festival like this.
RAMzine: You’re at the ultimate place to get new fans and once you guys come out, it’s crazy. We just had to book it from Hawthorne Heights and it was impossible to get in.
You guys are back doing music, the new record came out about a year ago, how’s it been feeling playing those tracks?
Ian: Pretty awesome, they’ve been going over great and we’ve been playing maybe half of the record, around five or six songs off the record. We’re playing a shorter set tonight so we won’t be playing a lot of it but the tracks have been going great.
RAMzine: You always run the risk of upsetting the people who only want to hear older stuff but your sound has been evolving enough to not alienate older fans but still let you evolve as musicians. Is there anyone you’ve had a chance to see here?
Ian: We checked out Offspring last night which was awesome, a bit of Enter Shikari. I really wanna see Sincere Engineer but I think they went on a little earlier today but there’s quite a few bands I got to see earlier but we didn’t really get up till later this afternoon.
RAMzine: I suppose as a musician you have to keep track of the scene but I’d imagine it’s hard to do that while keeping up with your own stuff?
Ian: Well I love keeping up with new music, I’m always checking out bands especially at a festival like this. There’s so many bands playing, it’s easy to go check out new bands and that’s something I love doing.
RAMzine: That’s the best part of the festival, there’s new stuff everywhere and if one band isn’t working then you say “screw this” and go somewhere else but no ones saying that to you, you guys are legends and I’ve been listening to you guys for a while. My aunt showed me one of your CDs back in like 2008.
Ian: Thank you, we’re really happy to be back here in the UK. We know it’s been a while and we’re trying to come back sooner rather than later for a proper tour so thanks to listening to us and our band.
RAMzine: We’ve missed you dearly.
Ian: Thank you, what about you? Who you excited to check out?
RAMzine: We’re excited to check out The Offspring, we just saw Girlfriends and they’re the hot new band that’s blowing up on social media. Holding Absence are kicking off and they don’t sound too dissimilar to you guys. That kind of twangy fender sound.
Ian: What band was that, Holding Absence? Alright, I’ll check them out. Girlfriends and Holding Absence.