Twenty-five years is a long time for rock bands to stay together, but Mississauga’s Billy Talent is still going strong at they celebrate the milestone anniversary.

The band is about to head out to do some touring in Europe, where it has always had a strong connection, and has just announced the launching of the Billy Talent Charity Trust, which will be administered by the band’s drummer, Aaron Solowoniuk. There are also plans to go into the studio in the fall to record a new album.

“It doesn’t feel like 25 years,” said guitarist Ian D’Sa. “It’s been a long road with a lot of ups and downs. We’ve all been the same group of friends for such a long time, so it really doesn’t feel like 25 years has gone by.”

Besides D’Sa and Solowoniuk, the band includes vocalist Ben Kowalewicz and bassist Jon Gallant.

Billy Talent will be touring Europe and the United Kingdom for much of June and August. The first show is in Paris on June 15. Since its inception, the band has been strongly supported by its record label in Europe.

“We started going over to Germany first and we just kept going back,” D’Sa said. “The amount of touring we did there was probably the same as we did in Canada. Things just happened organically over there and over the years Germany has become (a good place) for Billy Talent.”

D’Sa said the reason behind the Charity Trust stems from the band’s longstanding commitment to charities as a whole.

“We were thinking how do we put something together that we could contribute to and have Aaron run it,” D’Sa said.

The first project was launched early in May with a company called Funding Innovation. The band hand-signed 300 plaques that are available on The sales are open to anyone in Canada, the United States, Germany and Austria. Proceeds from the sales will help fund the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Canada. Solowoniuk suffers from MS.

“We’ve always done work with (the MS Society of Canada) in the past, but we felt the first charity we’d like to contribute to (was that one) because of everything we’ve seen Aaron struggle with over the last 20 years,” D’Sa said.

Alexisonfire drummer Jordan Hastings, who has played with the band in concert and contributed to one of its previous albums filling in Solowoniuk when he took ill, will be joining the group for the tour.

“Aaron’s health has been great, but being able to play a full set takes a lot of energy and he’s just not at that state and I don’t know if he will be in the future,” D’Sa said. “But he’ll be coming out on the road with us and play a couple songs every now and then. It’s one of those things where no one can predict the future, so I can’t speak to his behalf on how things might progress.”

D’Sa said some of the material from the album will be songs he’s previously written and new ones.

“I always have a stash of material that I can sit and go through,” he said. “Sometimes records take awhile. You can’t really force something to get written. You have to find the inspiration for it.”

Photo: Mississauga band Billy Talent has big plans for their 25th anniversary. Photo courtesy of Warner Music.

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