March 1, 2004

Billy Talent’s Ian D’Sa Lets Go

Like their stylistic mentors, the Buzzcocks, the members of Billy Talent infuse their musical rants with a testy balance of ferocity, melodicism, and quirkiness. These aren’t cute, radio-pampered punks. Unchecked expressions of anger still matter to these boyos, it’s just that they haven’t chucked the desire to write catchy songs amidst the swirl of angst and aggression. The BT live show often veers into Townshend-approved auto-destruction, with instrument parts being thrown around the stage and, sometimes, into the audience. In fact, guitarist Ian D’Sa started the band’s recent tour with seven Strats, and was down to three at the time of our interview. “And those guitars are a mixed bag of necks, bodies, and tuning pegs taken from destroyed instruments to assemble working models,” he says. Things didn’t start out so frenetic, however.

“I used to stand solid as a rock onstage,” admits D’Sa. “I was afraid my playing would suffer if I jumped around. But I finally discovered that if you just let yourself go, you can learn how to mess around and still play well. Now I’m so all over the place that I often fall right into the drum kit. The trick is to play from the heart, attack your songs with intensity, and have a bunch of fun. If you take yourself too seriously, you’ll avoid taking risks, and you’ll probably end up making very safe music.”
—Michael Molenda

Check This Out!

No disrespect to all the minds who have toiled to amplify live music in the rock era, but let’s face it, concert sound often sucks in a big way. The morass of backline amps, mains, and monitors typically forces musicians to fret over monitor mixes and dead spots (“I couldn’t hear the bass, man!”), and it often pummels the audience with excessive volume and indistinct sound. And then there’s the cartage nightmare of lugging even a small-club system to gigs.

The engineers at Bose seek to solve these challenges with the Personalized Amplification System. Built around a cylindrical radiator speaker, a 750-watt power stand (with EQ presets for specific guitars, pickups, and microphones), and a bass module, the Bose system is easy to carry, a breeze to set up (it’s usually ready to rock in 15 minutes), and totally tweakable by the musician (via remote). In addition, the 180-degree dispersion pattern of the radiators eliminates the need for stage monitors and ensures that the musicians hear the same mix as the audience.

On paper, the only bummer is pricing. For maximum efficiency, every band member will need to pop around two grand for an individual system. Stay tuned for a complete test, or click to

—Michael Molenda

“I'm all about being a good guitar player. But you also can't forget that the audience is there to see a show.”

Ian D'Sa

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