Rock band

Canadian rock band Billy Talent continues their cross-Canada tour with Rise Against in Ottawa

The Ontario-born band are gearing up for shows despite what’s going on around the world, according to drummer Aaron Solowoniuk.

For the first time since before the pandemic, Canadian rock band Billy Talent is on the road for a cross-country tour.

The band performs on April 4 at 7 p.m. TD Place in Ottawa, the band’s third stop.

Joining them on the first half of the Canadian tour are longtime friends and fellow rock band Rise Against.

“We did many, many shows with them,” said Billy Talent original drummer Aaron Solowoniuk. “It ended up working out that we could do the first half of this Canadian tour (with them) and they’re just great humans…they’re like brothers.”

Although Solowoniuk said the group is excited to be touring again, there are still nerves about touring during a global pandemic.

“Of course we’re excited, but we’re also – we have apprehensions about it,” Solowoniuk said. “We’re all testing ourselves yesterday, and we’re a little nervous because if one of us has COVID, it’s all off.”

Solowoniuk revealed in a fan letter in March 2006 that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Due to his condition, Solowoniuk handed over drumming duties for this tour to Loel Campbell, drummer for Canadian indie band Wintersleep.

“I’m at a point in my life now where I can’t play drums anymore,” Solowoniuk said. “I could play a song depending on how I feel, but unfortunately I can’t really commit because it’s all just day-to-day for me right now.”

Being offstage for the most part, Solowoniuk spearheaded most of the band’s charitable endeavors. He helped oversee the partnerships Billy Talent has established with food banks in every Canadian city they play on the tour. For the show in the capital, the group partnered with the Ottawa Food Bank and encouraged those attending the show to bring non-perishable food.

“We always try to have a charity angle for every tour or show we play,” Solowoniuk said. “We’ll also be donating a portion of our ticket sales, so kind of a feel-good moment where everyone can just come to a rock show and just help out a really important organization.”

With the ongoing war in Ukraine and other wars raging around the world, Solowoniuk said it can be difficult to focus on their shows sometimes when such horrible things are happening.

“It’s really sad,” said Solowoniuk, whose father was born in Ukraine. “It’s very confusing for me to read the news and know that I’m getting on a plane and going to another city, my band is going to play a concert and everyone is going to be happy.”

Billy Talent continues its Canadian tour after its show in Ottawa with stops in Toronto, London, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.