Published Feb 01, 2000Since their lucid inception in 1994, the Black Halos have been battling to keep the essence of balls-to-the-wall rock'n'roll alive and kicking. Living through a name change, a variety of line-ups, setbacks and gallons of sweat and blood, the ugly truth about the Black Halos is that their lifestyle and music isn't glamorous. It's about survival.
"It's like going to war," says singer Billy Hopeless. "You have to survive with the band, and with your mental state. It's about the survival of everything. Like heritage buildings and heritage people, there's heritage music. We're just trying to keep what we believe in alive and that's pretty hard in this day and age. I look at our band after we play and I think, That was pretty crazy, we're beaten and bloody, and we've gone to war.'
"The danger has always been there," he continues, "but now it's just rearing its ugly head again. It's more of a punk thing than a rock'n'roll thing because there are no boundaries."
A band like the Black Halos, possessed by the raw power of rock'n'roll in their hearts and heads, has become a rarity. "Whether rock'n'roll becomes a huge thing or not doesn't matter, there are still people playing it, and that's what counts. The people who are true to rock'n'roll have always been there and always will be. Rock'n'roll is an ugly creature you can beat and whip and it'll still survive."
Even though the Black Halos have waged wars and converted many in England, Japan, Brazil, and the U.S., their Canadian homeland hasn't been so receptive. Regarding this issue Billy believes, "It's the whole thing where you have to make it somewhere else before you can make it at home."
Whether or not Canadians finally catch onto the punk phenomena known as the Black Halos remains to be seen, but with the release of The Violent Years, their sophomore effort for Sub Pop, true rock'n'roll fans won't be able to disregard. "Our songwriting has gotten better, we've gotten more use to each other, and all of our influences are showing more now. On the first album pretty much all of my lyrics were about love, and this album they're more about survival and inner anger."