In 2016 you told Kerrang! that you were going through a form of “survivor’s guilt” about going on without Aaron. When you found out he couldn’t continue, did you come close to calling it a day?
“I mean, everything goes through your mind when you face something like that. It’s your best friend, it’s your bandmate. Again, we’ve been doing this since we were kids, and to see your best friend not be able to perform due to this disease is the most heartbreaking fucking thing in the world. We didn’t know how that was going to pan out; we didn’t know how to proceed. In those situations in life, you just have to talk and be open and honest, and laugh, cry and try to figure the best solution. With Aaron’s blessing and his undying love for the band and what we do, he wanted us to continue. But it was extremely difficult. When you have four people go to three, it was like, we’re missing 25 per cent of the ingredient to the stew. Playing live with Aaron, I didn’t even have to look at him and I’d know what he was going to do. There’s a chemistry that happens, you speak almost telepathically. For that to be gone was heartbreaking.”
Way back in your first K! cover feature, you didn’t just describe Aaron as your drummer, but your “spiritual guide”…
“He’s the most beautifully gentle, wonderful, inspiring person in the world. There’s no-one on this planet that could say a bad word about him because it would be impossible. No matter all the hardships, which I won’t get into, and all the things he’s endured that are quadruple the amount that the average person goes through, he’s still positive and smiling. When Aaron made the decision that he was stepping aside from drums because he couldn’t physically do it anymore, we had to deal with what that felt like and the impact and ramifications of that. So now Jordan’s an official member of the band and Aaron will continue to come out with us and he’s always part of every decision, every email. We went from four to five. That loss of going down to three? We actually gained someone. That’s the way we look at it. We all hang out and it’s great. That awkward weight of how that all happened in the last three or four years had finally subsided and everyone feels more comfortable. At the beginning you were asking me about where we’re at and how we feel these days? I’d say we’re feeling gratitude, appreciative and fortunate. I can walk into the studio and see Aaron there smiling and there’s some amazing new songs we’re creating. It’s a really cool moment for the band right now.”
We’re almost out of time, so let’s end with something quick and easy. What’s the meaning of life, Ben?
“Love. (Long silence) Sorry for the awkward pause, I’m a very dramatic guy. That’s it, man. That’s it.”
Billy Talent's new album Crisis Of Faith is due out on January 21, 2022 via Spinefarm Records.