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Billy Talent drummer discusses recovery from open-heart surgery

Billy talent

Billy talent

At this year's Download festival we sat down with Billy Talent drummer Aaron Solowoniuk and chatted about his recovery from open-heart surgery and the return of the Canadian band.

Pick up the Summer issue of Rhythm and you'll find our Welcome Back interview with Aaron, but here's a few extra snippets for you.

When did you realise that you needed surgery?

"I recorded drums [for Billy Talent's new album] in November and December in Vancouver. The day I got home from recording drums I had a second opinion about my heart because I still didn't really know if I needed the surgery or not. I explained to them what I do and they told me I needed to get it done as fast as I could. They fitted me in on 2 February, the surgery took an hour and a half, I was in hospital for seven days and at home for five weeks. It's crazy."

It's a few months on now, how are you shaping up?

"I'm pumped. I'm running on treadmills, I'm not napping anymore. When I get to the halfway point of the set, before I'd be worn out, but now I'm energised and can just keep going. If you get the chance, I can't see how anyone would blow the opportunity to become healthier. I've changed my whole routine. I'm conscious about eating healthy food. I just want to play drums and be a good drummer, and I think I'm going to be able to do that. I'm always pumped to play drums."

There's been a few lifestyle changes, then?

"I quit drinking and I quit drinking coffee. My routine of what you put in your body really does affect how you feel. Everyone tells you that but until you have open-heart surgery and go through all of that, it's weird you realise that something as simple as flossing your teeth every day makes a difference. It's crazy. I'm a little bit of a health nut now."

Did you have to ease yourself back into drumming? Were you scared of pushing yourself?

"I remember the first day that I did push it. I'd been given a clean bill of health and I played all of the Billy Talent I record and I played it as hard as I could. I got to the sixth or seventh song and I text the guys telling them that I played the record and felt awesome."

Your new album, Dead Silence, is released in September. Are there any tracks on their that you're proudest of?

"Viking Death March is a drum heavy song. There's lots of tom fills. My drumming is usually just beat-orientated. AC/DC is one of my biggest influences. This whole album I'm moving around the kit a lot more. I can't wait to do the next album because I'll have a healthy heart and I'll be able to do a lot more. You're always learning and now that I can play harder for longer I'm going to really pick it up for album five, but that's not for a while yet! I've been given a great opportunity and it's sad when people squander opportunities. Just for me to be able to play drums is great and the fact that I think I can play them even better is really cool."

Did you change your set-up at all on this record?

"The only thing I switched was I used to play a 24"18" and I went to a 22"x20" kick. I've found you get the same sound, or maybe even a little more bass out of it. I use Dunnett snares and all Sabian cymbals and a DW9000 pedal. I like just a small set up, a 12", 16" and a snare."