Billy Hopeless - The Black Halos Print E-mail
Written by Dom Daley   
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 21:24



There are many out there living the rock 'n' roll dream to varying degrees of success; success isn't measured in money in the bank or units shifted, but in terms of how honest and true to one's beliefs someone sticks. Some stand alone like a beacon shining from the shadows. One of those superhero-like figures comes in the shape of former Black Halos frontman and flag carrier for Canadian punk, the one, the only Mr Billy Hopeless. Über Röck caught up with him and asked what the hell is going on in the Hopeless world and asked him about one of the most underrated of bands, the Black Halos.



Hi Billy, why wasn't the world ready for the Black Halos?


Ever since its unplanned birth, the world has never been ready for art in any form nor its ugly bastard offspring. We were no exception as, when we started out as the Black Market Babies, people in Vancouver used to come to heckle and throw things at us, mocking our faith and gods. Later, many of the same naysayers were converted for a while but their faith was not true and they jumped on the next religion as time passed. I have a copy of a rejection letter that a record label sent the Beatles that I often refer to in times of doubt - can you imagine how that guy felt after saying their music had no lasting quality!


billy5Is it easier or harder to be a giggin' and recording artist in the "Noughties" with the internet making the world a much smaller place? What's your take on where music is at in 2009?


There's still great music being created everyday and the internet helps get it out everywhere, but the problem is that everyone wants something for free so why pay for it, right? Thus, it's harder to make enough to survive on. I also feel that we're losing the physical and magical connection with art as you don't personally hold music now - you just download it.


Do you have a favourite track or album you've made? Who's idea was it to re-release the albums with the extra tracks on? 'Hearts And Aces' showed another side to the band we'd not seen before, knowing that you listen to greats like The Jacobites and The Dogs D'amour - incidentally covering their ode to Bukowski, 'Mr Barfly'. Is there any chance of filling the gap between projects with an acoustic album in the same vein as 'Hearts And Aces'?


I love so many of the songs and I feel grateful for all who have given birth with me. 'Fucked From The Start' has a real deep hold with me but there's parts of each of them that make me proud. As for the reissues, that was Rich Halo's doing, but I'm glad as the bonus tracks were harder to find and there's still some stuff that still ain't been put out that I feel deserves to be heard. As for the acoustic stuff - yeah, we used to do acoustic shows every now and then and we recorded the Lords (Of The New Church) cover 'Russian Roulette' after one of those shows. I love acoustic music so, who knows? Me and Rich have talked about doing something ala Jacobites sometime and hopefully it'll happen one day.


When you're over touring Europe you tend to put it in when on the mainland but you've never extensively done the UK - any reason?


I'd love to but the offers never really popped up or seemed possible. Hound yer local 3billypromoters ta make it happen - oh, and anytime yah see Richy Jones, buy him a pint and tell him how you'd really love to see the two of us play England together. Who knows maybe my new band will be on Top Of The Pops! (You'll have a job Billy - TOTP is long, long gone my friend.)


Tell Über Röck what's next for Billy Hopeless?


I got a new band I'm writing and playing with now and we hope to record in December and start gigging soon. It's an all scars band I hand picked out of some of Canada's finest and I'm amazed at how huge and incredible it sounds. I'm supposedly going to be playing in Australia with a bunch of Australian musicians backing me in January doing Black Halos songs as there's loyal fans over there who never got to hear the songs live or witness Billy Hopeless unleashed.


What didn't bass players like about the Black Halos (there were quite a few)?


Actually, since the roots of the band were planted with me, Rich and bassist Rob Hunter (rock in peace), the family tree had more branches than you can shake a stick at. Being a Black Halo, many have witnessed that anything that could happen did happen and somehow I managed to stay on board longer than anyone else.


Do you keep in touch with the ex members?


Yeah, we've already talked about Rich but I ain't said that he's got a cool new band called The Loyalties running in London. Jay Halo has a band called the Darlings Of Chelsea, and Matt Halo has Black Mountain and Blood Meridian going.


billy4Is Vancouver a good place to create music? Have you ever considered relocating to somewhere like New York?


Vancover's great in that it's got a lot of boredom which is needed to inspire and create. In a city where things are really happening you'd be too distracted to get anything done. So, for that reason a place like Vancouver is just fine.


Do you write all the time or is just a case of book studio time then write because the pressure's on?


I'm always writing - it's a curse I tell you!  Even when I try to give it up, songs pester me and thus I am its servant.


In my opinion songs like 'Holes', 'Damaged Goods', 'Three Sheets', 'Mirrorman, 'Third World USA', 'Shooting Stars', 'Bombs Not Food', 'Jane Doe', 'Lost In The 90's' should have been songs that any self respecting music fan should own.  Is there anything you'd do differently looking back?


Cool, it's like Dr. Frankenfurter said "I didn't make him for you". The majority of my heroes weren't loved or even acknowledged by the masses so I'm just happy there's any people out there like me or that feel like I do.


Rolling Stone once gave 'The Violent Years' a 5 star rating - were you ever 1billyapproached by a major big label? If so what happened? Other bands seemed to get more press, like D-Generation, but weren't as good - did it frustrate you?


Wow! D-gen were incredible in my ears! But, naw, I think we were a bit too unpolished or not as safe of a bet for the majors, and even if they did show interest they would have tried to change us and I wouldn't have budged. I'm too in love with music to betray it! We were on Warner Canada and Japan though for 'The Violent Years', but it wasn't pushed.


It's also well documented that you give nothing short of 100% when performing live. Is there any one particular story you can tell us that could be considered a "gig from hell"?


Gigs from hell? Yeah, there were many - maybe too many. As for 100%, well, during the last days of the band I got beaten down by a few stoopid heads in our gang and succumbed to being tame on stage. It still festers in me that I didn't give it my all at those shows as I've never cared if people hate it but if I do that's another story! at Über Röck we like to put people in the psychotherapist's chair for a quick either/or session commonly known as the Über Röck 'n' Röll Test!!!!

Dynamite Jet Saloon or Last Chance Saloon?
Anywhere but the No Tooth Saloon.


Gene Simmons' hair piece or Blackie Lawless's cod piece?
Peace porridge hot.

Brian James or Johnny Thunders?
Bo Diddley, Ace Frehley.


Iggy Pop or Stiv Bators?
I favour all my gods not one.


1% or 100%?
Same sum to every equation.


Vinyl/cd or download?
I like physical sex not computer sex, that turns me offline.


Black & white or Grey?
It's all black and white to me.


Charles Bukowski or Jack Kerouac?


Magic mushrooms or lava bread?
Mushrooms are for hippies and lavority - isn't that the shithouse? I choose a dripping sandwich!  (Clearly the common Welsh delicacy is lost across the pond - and Zoot, I think BH is calling you a hippy!)


Simon Cowell and his X factor Wherevers Got Talent world domination or Satan?


Just you remember I'm still un-neutered and out to hump the legs that feed me !
Like Billy Shakespeare used to say, "To thine own self be true and fook the rest of them!"


Amen to that, Billy.


In case you are wondering, Billy scored a great big fuck you when in the chair......because he knows the score. All that is left to say is a massive thanks for being a friend of Über Röck and we'll be keeping a look out for the next time Mr Hopeless records or tours.


Go check him out at