From growing up to dropping out of school, from playing drums to becoming the face of Billy Talent, here is everything you need to know about Benjamin Kowalewicz
- The singer’s full name is Benjamin Ian Kowalewicz (/ˌkɒvæˈlɛvɪtʃ/). The unusual last name, Kowalewicz, is explained by Ben’s Polish descent.
- Kowalewicz was born in Pierrefonds, Montreal. Whe he was 11, his family moved to Streetsville, Ontario. Now, the singer lives in downtown Toronto. His home in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto was featured on the Canadian home decorating TV show Designer Guys.
- While studying at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Secondary School, Kowalewicz was playing drums in a band named To Each His Own. It was there that he moved from drums to vocals and rhythm guitar.
- The first gig the school band ever played was at their high school talent show in the cafeteria.
- In 1993, the four Billy-Talent-to-be members started playing in high school in Mississauga under the name Pezz.
- The same year they played in a battle of the bands in The Opera House in Toronto, «the same 4 of us, we were only 16 years old», remembers Ian D’Sa (guitar).
- Kowalewicz dropped out of high school when he was 17: «My teachers would say I was a bit of a handful», he admits. «I was just filled with so much piss and vinegar I couldn’t see clearly.»
- Following a lawsuit by an American band who was also using the name Pezz, Kowalewicz suggested to name their band Billy Talent, taken from a character from Michael Turner’s Hard Core Logo.
- In order to make enough money for Billy Talent’s first album, Kowalewicz worked at Toronto radio station 102.1 the Edge.
- Ben’s voice is distinctive and unmistakeable, but it took the singer a while to accept this uniqueness: «Once I accepted that this is the voice that I have and embraced that and went with it, it was very liberating. Then it felt good.»
- Kowalewicz delivered guest vocals for Rammstein guitarist Richard Kruspe’s side project Emigrate.
- ‘White Sparrows’ is a special song for Billy Talent frontman. Ben wrote it after he’d lost his close friend. He even tattooed it on my arm.
- A rebel on stage, the singer is actually very humble: «We’re just feeling gratitude and appreciation that, after this long, we’re still together. It’s something we don’t take lightly, we feel very privileged and fortunate to still be able to be doing it.”
- When Billy Talent drummer Aaron Solowoniuk told Ben he was leaving the band due to his battle with multiple sclerosis, Ben was devastated. «The news was gut-wrenching, like someone ripped our hearts out.”
- Kowalewicz became a father two years ago. His little daughter changed his life forever: «She’s changed my whole perspective on everything… There’s just a love and a purity…» he said. “It’s been a really moving, beautiful experience. It shook me to my core.”
- Billy Talent’s latest album, Crisis of Faith, might be their most emotional one to date. “We’re in a very interesting time in the world. In my 45 years on this planet, it’s never been more dangerous, volatile or divisive», says the vocalist.
- Kowalewicz is against calling Billy Talent a political band: «‘You’re a political band!’ – we’re not necessarily a political band, but we are socially-minded. This is past the point of left or right-leaning politics”, he told Kerrang.
- One of the coolest things that has happened to the singer is receiving a handwritten letter from Eddie Vedder and later meeting him backstage before Pearl Jam’s gig:
19. Despite bitter, society-criticizing lyrics, Kowalewicz says he’s the type of person who always sees hope.
20. When asked «what’s the meaning of life?», Ben answered: «Love… That’s it, man. That’s it.»