Billy Talent Frontman: 'Rock Music Is At A Low'

Billy Talent frontman Ben Kowalewicz has offered his thoughts on the declining state of guitar based music in a recent interview.

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Billy Talent frontman Ben Kowalewicz has offered his thoughts on the declining state of guitar based music in a recent interview. As the Edmonton Journal reports, the singer sees comparisons between the state of music in the late 1980s and the present day situation:

"Rock music is at a low right now, you know what I mean?"

"I kind of feel like we're in the late '80s, early '90s, where it was the same thing... And all of a sudden, you have bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Soundgarden and Rage Against The Machine and Tool and Offspring and Green Day and the Beastie Boys, all this stuff, and it was this tidal wave that just destroyed everything that was going on.

"I feel like there's something that's going to happen musically that's going to rival that. There's going to be this huge resurgence and people going to see rock 'n' roll shows and feeling that connection."

Billy Talent's fifth full length record "Dead Silence" is set for release tomorrow. Speaking about the recording process Kowalewicz noted that guitarist/songwriter Ian D'Sa pushed his voice into higher registers than he had before managed:

"Ian's the main songwriter of the band and he came up with all these ideas, and it just happened that the melodies... Were definitely in a higher register," he said.

"We worked pretty closely together, so if there's something that's absolutely unattainable - like Sebastian Bach style - then I tell him I can't do it."

The singer also noted that tracks such as "Stand Up And Run" from the new record are a diversion from what fans might expect. He described the track as left-of-centre for the band, comparing it to 50s pop.

99 comments sorted by best / new / date

    EpiExplorer
    I sort of noticed this way back in 2011 once Florance and the machine or whatever was in the 'top sellers of 2010' list for 'Rock artists'. I dont know what the masses consider to be rock in this decade but its a farcry from all the things that've gone through the past 50 years.
    Abacus11
    He makes a good point. I remember being a kid in the late 80's and I couldn't stand the rock music that was in the mainstream. It was the tail end of the pop/glam metal and it was awful. The wave of bands like he talked about (Nirvana, Tool, RATM, NIN, Soundgarden, etc.) was amazing and the mainstream was actually good for a while. The music industry has changed so much since then but another big change would be great. It's happened a ton since then but hasn't broke the mainstream since the early 90's... I wonder if that could ever happen again.
    punk_mike_88
    I love Billy Talent, but I really hate when people say that the state of music is declining, or that there "aren't enough guitar-based bands." There are TONS of guitar-based bands. You just have to try a little harder to find them. The mainstream is concerned with making easy accessible music, and it seems this is currently easiest to do using a computer/keyboard. There are real bands playing real instruments making real music in this age of cookie-cutter garbage. You just have to look for them.
    Eurotrasher
    Why is everyone getting mad at this guy for saying this? Oh shut up, you're not as heavy as Mastodon or Testament which are clearly what should be playing on the radio, as it's the only thing that I like, so maybe you shouldn't have an opinion on this! He isn't claiming that he's the savior, it's an interview, he's just expressing his opinion. He's been playing music for 20 years, I'm pretty sure he knows there's good rock bands out there, just like he knows The Cure were doing their thing back then. His comparison to the late 80s is still very much valid. A lot of the popular music was getting bland and similar, and when grunge and punk came along, it was just what people needed, some straight forward rock. Anyways... It seems a few artists have made this statement, that the time has come for someone to bring the next generation of rock, something that will make people go "phew, I guess we can stop listening to Keisha and Katie Perry all the time". My fear is that this is just never gonna happen. I mean it doesn't really matter to me, I can find good music online. But I suspect the "general public" just wants things super accessible, instantly catchy, and well produced. It seems to be the nature of the new generation, instant gratification (that rhyme wasn't on purpose, but clearly I'll have to use it in a song). Still, I hope I'm just old and underestimating the kids today, and Ben is right about an imminent rock revolution.
    GhostPlayground
    No one wants to revolutionize music anymore. Guitarists think revolutionizing music is playing more complex versions of tried-and-true songs. Producers think that revolutionizing music is using more complex recording techniques in songs. In the 70's, Kraftwerk revolutionized music by playing instruments nobody had ever heard of before, In the 60's The Beatles were creating songs with melodies and Lyrics no one had ever heard before, in the 90's Nirvana produced a song nobody (in the mainstream) had heard before. That's how you revolutionize music. Playing something nobody's heard before, regardless of whether or not you'll get famous, and that's why music is so dull and boring nowadays.
    DR_MAY
    Can't wait for Billy Talent at soundwave 2013 in Australia, it's been too long...
    scrymusic
    Umm there was some cool shiit in the late 80s like Cure.. The Church.. Catherine Wheel.. Siouxsie and the Banshees... Etc etc.
    TP500
    Whoever downvoted you is an idiot. Some of favourite bands there. Lots of good shit came out of EVERY decade, it just wasn't the popular stuff. This whole "(insert genre) is dead/at a low/dying" is bullshit. Music is just becoming so easily accessible that there's so much of it that will never make it to the masses.
    bulusvanua
    I believe he was referring to all the glam metal acts that appeared in the late 80's to very early 90's who saturated the market, not the time period as a whole.
    M3AK
    If he's referring to glam then why did he mostly list grunge bands. Unfortunately we seem to be re-entering a phase where its cool to hate grunge.
    Dooley666
    no he was refering to the glam scene, he stated the grunge acts were the resurgance of Rock
    Cowless
    Right. They set the stage for the next, big rock explosion in the early 90s.
    iommi600
    Ah, boo-****ing-hoo, rock is not as mainstream as it used to be! I'm shocked. There are plenty of bands out there doing all kinds of rock and roll music you can imagine. The fact that it did not made a big mainstream break yet does NOT mean that rock and roll is dying. How many times musicians that are out of touch with the musical world are going to vomit the same talking?
    BigMikeBDD
    I have never heard of Billy Talent...so I decided to listen to it. I quickly realized why I've never heard of it. I can't say it's bad, but it's "meh" at best. Rock music is in trouble if you pay attention to mainstream media. There's PLENTY of fantastic rock/metal albums and artists out and the industry is just fine.
    gkex
    Billy Talent II is the only album worth the money imo. I do agree with you, but I wish the mainstream taste was a little more refined than it is. I mean, even the quality of pop stars has diminished. I'm just wishing for another Led Zeppelin to set the world on fire while still remaining deep and intricate.
    KentHawkings
    While Billy Talent certainly aren't the revolution in rock that Ben is talking about there is certainly a modicum of truth in what he has said. There was a lot of good mainstream rock from the early 90's (RATM, Tool, Nirvana etc.) to the early 2000's (I'm thinking mainly Linkin Park, P.O.D. etc) and while there is still certainly a lot of good rock/metal out there at the moment it is suffering commercially.
    Metalnut247
    stay away from the mainstream crap and guitar music, metal, rock whatever you're into....its better than its ever been, some truly incredible bands out there these days! Just get off your ass and look for them and prepared to be amazed!
    NeThZOR
    You speak a profound truth. I haven't enjoyed rock/metal/hardcore or whatever subgenres they contain more than ever in my life as at the present. There is just such a wealth of music out there, waiting for us to discover it. The mainstream scene is entirely redundant - one should look into the more underground scene to really get the music what you want, it is there where the true gems of musical virtuosity are found.
    MicMotorhead
    Yeah everytime someone says metal sucks now, I roll my eyes. Can't seem to find many good (new) rock acts though. But that's probably just because I don't look in the right places.
    archangels
    Whaat? Billy Talent in a front page article? Fantastic. And I really can't agree with Ben, despite the fact that he's the lead singer of my favorite band; BT exists in THIS decade. Though they DO deserve MUCH more attention than they get.
    KISSmyass666
    More thrash metal = More very fast distorted guitar work. Simple. And awesome.
    Sylvanus
    I think there's enough mediocre and bland thrash metal out there already, we don't need anymore. Billy Talent do have some interesting guitar work in comparison with their contemporaries and he does make a good point even if it's kinda stating the obvious.
    RichieJovie
    I heard your band, I agree.
    ashers67
    As this is on a guitar based website, this dumbfounds me a little bit. Most of the guitar parts by Billy Talent sound like they would have two guitarists. Ian D'sa often has stretches of 5 frets in songs (St. Veronica, has 3 on drop D string and 7s on A and D strings, if I remember correctly and that makes any sense). They often feature quick changes between trickier jazz chords. Compare this to their contemporaries in their genre - Rise Against, Anti-Flag, and to a lesser extent, the likes of poppier punk rock from Green Day and blink-182 who often play 5th chords AND have a second guitarist (if not in the bands studio line-up, then for live shows). Check out This Suffering, St. Veronika, and Pins and Needles to hear some awesome guitar work and great music (if you like music of that genre) to get a bigger picture than what you may have already heard (Red Flag, Fallen Leaves, Try Honesty, Rusted From The Rain) P.S. Billy Talent are also an incredible live band, with very high energy at their shows. Check 'em out if they're ever at a festival you're going to.
    Ghefly
    Completely agree, Ian is an incredibly underrated guitarist in the genre he plays.
    RichieJovie
    Jazz chords? I'd be interested to know what a jazz chord is and what it thinks it is doing in a rock song, unless of course you are referring to anything with more voices than a power chord.
    AdamLeMoine
    There's a difference between rock being dead, and a rock musician being too damn lazy to discover new music.
    l0ld4v3
    Is he thinking world wide or just North America-England wise? Down here in Latin America, rock styled music is not popular, in comparison with other more traditionally Latin, but still is pretty big; there's some really good rock, reggae and metal bands from any country in Latin America, past and present. I've never heard of these Billy Eliot kids though.
    clamchowder01
    I think Electronic is at the helm of popular music. It's back like in the start of 2000 with Trance and stuff. I was in high school. I enjoy lots of music including the popular Dubstep, House and metal (Children of Bodom, Nightwish, Stratovarius, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dream Theater etc..)
    captainperoxide
    I don't think he's saying rock sucks right now, it's just not as strong as it used to be (and will be again, in future). You can't really argue with that. I know we have selective memory of the old days and everything, but music comes in eras, and I think he's right, soon there's gonna be something huge that comes out and makes rock enormous again.
    Z0S07657
    I think people have been saying this for a while now. I feel that he feels that "something is going to rival that" because psychologically he just wants it to. I believe that guitar based music isn't really at a low at all. If it was then we wouldn't have guitar based websites with guitar based forums and etc...
    VertigodowN
    umm. the black keys, mumford & sons, edward sharpe, alabama shakes... that movement is very different than anything on the radio
    EpiExplorer
    Even though they're all on the radio and are consistently given air time for it. They 'are' the radio movement, get over it.
    Eirien
    Guitar based music =/= Rock Please differentiate between the two. Mainstream Rock music is most definately at a low right now, but "guitar based" (I hate that term) music is not.
    jay3213
    Wait.. im confused... is he saying Nirvana,Pearl Jam,Soundgarden,Rage Against The Machine,Tool,Offspring,Green Day and the Beastie Boys destroyed the good music? If so I would have to disagree
    metallica_102
    No he's not saying that at all. He's saying that prior to those bands achieving success there was a limited amount of quality rock music until they exploded onto the scene. I can only hope he's right that in a few years we see some good bands becoming more popular.
    Way Cool JR.
    I think Ben is really seriously confused, plus the Beastie Boys were around in the 80's and IMO put out there best material then. Plus the Rock and Glam Rock/Metal music of the 80's pretty much dominates all the bands he mentioned. I don't even consider any of those bands he mentioned Rock Music to begin with.
    DexterF
    Crippled Black Phoenix, best rock band in years. Radio Moscow. Graveyard. Who is Billy Talent?
    iommi600
    It's really ****ing awesome to see some loving for these bands here. But apparently, rock is dead, right Billy Talent dude? The fact that MUSICIANS, PEOPLE WHO DEAL WITH THE WHOLE MUSIC WORLD ON A DAILY BASIS, are out of touch with today's music seriously disturbs me.
    DexterF
    Actually, *having* to be in touch with busic *business* is what makes you see makign music as a job that gets you paid, unless your band happens to become a big act and you are someone. Having that said maybe one should take more of what these people say when they get a voice recorder shoved in their face with a grain of salt. (Oh, and might I add: if you have the chance to see CBP live: one of the best live acts ever)
    vulcan422
    Dead Silence will be the 4th full length album. They don't count the "Watoosh!" as a Billy Talent album because they were under the name Billy Talent.
    Ibeanez
    I don't know what a "Billy Talent" is, but hey, 2 out of 8 isn't bad. Oh, wait, it is bad.
    NeThZOR
    "left-of-centre for the band, comparing it to 50s pop." So they allow this low to happen.
    NeThZOR
    "diversion from what fans might expect" This may also be the main reason why he is experiencing a decline in fans (because obviously his concern would stem from less interest in Billy Talent.) I am not implying that it is so important, but most bands lose a lot of their die-hard fans by drastically changing the sound that made them popular in the first place. It might be that they therefore gain new fans, but in the process they alienate the fans who love the genre. Thus, less interest in the genre and the band's sound flows categorically into a whole new genre.
    acc_corey3
    this guy is meaning about lack of angry, power rock. If you notice, the bands you are saying are great, alternative bands, just like it's happening today, doesn't it? so... it's all bout that we lack balls lol
    PRL18
    even when i watch the vma 2012 to see any new rock band or who won the best in rock where coldplay i wonder why..o didnt even see a rock band anywhere even greenday played it was meh
    Mike Quall
    i think if rock and metal were mainstream again it would just sound to polished and commercial and there would be less real bands out there. even less than there is right now lol
    Midnightoutlaw
    rock is only at an all time low because it's our fault. there is a huge underground scene of huge bands. but we just need to promote them. have people actually listen force feed the fans. it's possible
    courageous93
    Music (of all kinds) gets more alive when it is needed, and it's needed now perhaps more than ever. This "death of music" stuff is getting tiring to read.
    triviumfan2080
    Ummmmm metalcore, progressive rock, and technical death metal bands have really innovated modern rock lately...i dont agree, if anything we r at a transitional stage
    jakchantler
    I like billy talent but im not sure i agree with him on this one. The 90s grunge wave wiped out a lot of the cack self indulgent hair bands (much like punk did to the prog thing) Whereas now there is...nothing! i think id take some cheesey poodle guitar over the lack of guitar stuff out there at the moment. Unless there is a scene to come and smash all the manufactured telly pop stuff...that would be sweet. www.jakchantler.com uk session guitarist
    DR_MAY
    Not Perth. Everybody knows Perth is the most important city in Australia...