Billy Talent To Co-Design T-shirt For Bluenotes Kids Help Phone Campaign

By Karen Bliss 7/5/13 |

Toronto rock act Billy Talent is next in line to create a graphic t-shirt for Bluenotes clothing retailer to benefit Kids Help Phone. The shirt is due in stores and online the first week of October.

“We sent some ideas to them and we’re going to collaborate,” guitarist Ian D’Sa told Samaritanmag just prior to heading on tour behind 2012’s Dead Silence album.

The band is currently in Europe, then joining the Vans Warped Tour in the States in late July, followed by shows in Europe and South Africa in mid to late August. By the looks of their schedule, Billy Talent then has some time off before heading to the Netherlands and UK in November for Warped. By then the t-shirt will be in production and in the 125 Bluesnotes retail locations across Canada.

Royal Nasager, director of marketing at Bluenotes, tells Samaritanmag that their in-house design team will “probably work with Ian because he’s got a big background in illustration.” D’Sa has a design degree in classical animation from Sheridan College and went on to do art direction and package design for the Billy Talent II album.

In 2011 Montreal pop-rock band Simple Plan co-designed the “I Got A Heart On For You” t-shirt and last year a whole bunch of Canadian acts — Simple Plan, Lights, Hedley, Kardinal Offishall, Alyssa Reid, Walk Off The Earth and The Gregory Brothers — had their names splashed across a special True Colors tee for the 24/7 help line and anti-bulling campaign, after recording a version of the Cyndi Lauper song to combat bullying.

No word on whether Billy Talent will record a charity song as well, but frontman Ben Kowalewicz told Samaritanmag, “On our Canadian run [tour], we charged everybody on the guest list $10 and we raised a whole bunch of money for Kids Help Phone.”

Bluenotes has already raised $1.5 million dollars for Kids Help Phone over the past 17 years. Nasager says, “We give all the money from that [t-shirt] to Kids Help Phone. Generally, it’s about $40,000 that we are able to raise. On top of that, we sell gift boxes which raise between $40,000 and $60,000. I think last year we donated something like $95,000 just on the t-shirt and gift boxes alone.”

Billy Talent — an arena headliner in Canada — is involved with other causes as well. Drummer Aaron Solowoniuk, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, helped launch the web site, an online community for youth affected by MS, operated by Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

“It’s a shared collective,” Solowoniuk tells Samaritanmag. “A lot of people work on it.  We’re trying to add video content to it now because right now it’s just kids blogging to each other.”

The band also started F.U.M.S., an annual concert with their friends, to raise money for the MS Society of Canada Scholarship Fund to help send young people to college or university.

“We’re really trying to focus on F.U.M.S.and keep that up and running,” says Kowalewicz, “and as Ian said we’re working with Kids Help Phone. So on the charity front, we’re always really looking for different things. Musicounts [a charity which primarily provides musical instrument grants to Canadian schools] is also a big one for us right now, working with them to do something special in the future.”

D'Sa is also involved with Make Music Matter's My Song For Change contest with his good friend Cone McCaslin of Sum 41 and producer David Bottrill (Silverchair, Tool). Founded by Darcy Ataman — and formerly known as Song For Africa, Make Music Matter works in countries that have been deeply scarred by conflict, HIV/AIDS, and violence against women. 

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