Billy Talent used to be called Pezz. They formed in 1993 in Mississauga, Ontario and released an album called Watoosh! under the old band name in 1998. In 1999, Pezz discovered an American band with the same name signed to BYO Records. The Canadian Pezz threatened to sue the American band for thousands of dollars if they didn't change their name, but their plan backfired. The American Pezz sent documentation proving they had been using the Pezz moniker legally since 1989, so the Canadian Pezz was forced to change their name. They took the name Billy Talent after a character in the novel Hard Core Logo.
While still under the name Pezz, the members of the band now known as Billy Talent maxed out their credit cards in order to fund the recording of their 1998 debut album Watoosh! Guitarist Ian D'Sa worked as an animator, bassist Jonathan Gallant was working on a business degree, singer Benjamin Kowalewicz worked at the Toronto radio station 102.1 The Edge, and drummer Aaron Solowoniuk worked at Chrysler Canada.
In 2001, Billy Talent drummer Aaron Solowoniuk was involved in a tubing accident that could have killed him. Solowoniuk suffered multiple injuries, including a broken rib, after being sideswiped by a boat. The band was forced to cancel a show at Toronto's Lee's Palace while Solowoniuk recovered, but luckily he was able to get back behind the drum kit after only a short time off.
Billy Talent singer Benjamin Kowalewicz has stated that the band's song "This Is How It Goes" is about one of his friends with multiple sclerosis. In 2006, the band revealed that the friend was actually drummer Aaron Solowoniuk. Solowoniuk suffers from the disease which can cause everything from numbness in his limbs to paralysis to loss of vision. Solowoniuk has continued to play with Billy Talent as he believes it's helped him cope with the symptoms of his condition.
In 2011, Billy Talent guitarist Ian D'Sa appeared in a Canadian documentary called The National Parks Project. The film was created to mark the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Parks system of Canada and involved different filmmakers musicians going to one National Park in each Canadian province to shoot a short documentary and score for that park. D'Sa went to Kluane National Park in the Yukon Territory to play music with Graham Van Pelt from the Canadian band Miracle Fortress.
In February 2012, Billy Talent drummer Aaron Solowoniuk underwent open heart surgery to repair a leaky aortic valve. Solowoniuk had already finished his drum parts to Billy Talent's upcoming album X at the time, so the other members of the band finished their parts while he recovered at home. Unfortunately, Billy Talent was forced to cancel a festival show in Belgium while Solowoniuk got better, which the drummer was actually upset about as it was the first time the band was set to share the stage with Refused, one of his favorite bands.
In 2011, Billy Talent frontman Ben Kowalewicz recorded a cover of Weezer's 1995 hit "Say It Ain't So
" with Toronto rapper K-OS. The song was recorded at the Masonic Temple in Toronto and appeared on the 2011 album MuchMusic Presents K-OS Live. Other Canadian guests on the record included pop star Lights, Metric front woman Emily Haines, and rappers Saukrates, Drake, and Shad.