Billy Talent: An Interview with Vocalist Benjamin Kowalewicz

By Andrew Epstein

Shot and edited by Christoper Tung

It was a beautiful sunny summer day in 2002 when I walked onto the lawns at Toronto’s Molson Amphitheatre for Moby’s Area 2 Festival to see a young punk rock group finishing up a song (which seemed odd as the doors had just opened). It sounded good so we applauded, to which the singer replied “Thanks! That was our soundcheck!” Word had spread that show opener Busta Rhymes hadn’t made the gig, so this was his replacement.

A few minutes later they walked back onstage and the singer announced that they were called Billy Talent, a name that I’d heard bounced around the city before. They delivered a high-energy set, receiving a large ovation from the lawn section. As they began to appear on radio and television I would smile and think about the great set they had that day, and that any success they achieved was well-deserved.

Flash forward eight summers later and I’m standing on the Plains of Abraham as tens of thousands stand shoulder-to-shoulder at the Festival d’été de Québec to watch the same band that had timidly thanked us for applauding their soundcheck. I always was aware of Billy Talent’s subsequent success, but that night I realized that they had grown into a pop-punk phenomenon.

With this in mind I sat down with vocalist Benjamin Kowaelwicz before their set at Riot Fest Toronto to talk about their amazing growth and success, as well as some of the more political aspects of their music.

Billy Talent will be releasing their first greatest hits collection simply entitled “Hits” on November 4th. The album features two brand new songs entitled “Kingdom of Zod” and “Chasing The Sun”


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38170 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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