Disco balls beware! 

Vancouver rockers the Black Halos carry the weight of the world on their livers

By Shelley Arnusch

What: Punk Night featuring the Black Halos & Chinatown

Where: The Boot Pub

When: Sunday, September 21

Hide your disco balls, people – the Black Halos are coming to town.

The hard-living, harder-rocking quintet of black-clad punk miscreants’ lead singer Billy Hopeless has a personal vendetta against disco balls. He’s lost count of how many he’s destroyed.

"The disco balls always started it," Hopeless claims in his defense over the phone from Vancouver, where the band is resting up after a tour of the western U.S. and preparing for the trip up here this Sunday to headline Punk Night at the Boot.

Perhaps it’s life on the road that makes a young man turn against the kitschy mirrored orb. The Halos tour incessantly and their loyal fans love them for it. Hopeless chalks the fan fervour up to morbid fascination in typical self-depreciating style.

"We always give over 110 per cent of our total disgusting selves," he explains. "People seem to really appreciate that. They seem to be able to go back to their normal lives and go, ‘they’re doing it for us so we don’t have to have liver damage.’"

Currently unsigned, there’s no team of record company execs mapping out tour date after tour date for the band. It’s of their doing. According to Hopeless, life on the road is the reason to make music at all.

"Once you’ve created, let your works be shown," he says, sounding for a moment like a professor of comparative literature as he duly attributes the concept to Rastafarian guru Peter Tosh.

"I believe those are true words. What’s the use of creating something and not sharing it with other people, especially when it’s something as repulsive as our music? It’s pointless to create something so ugly and not put it upon the earth," he adds, sounding every bit like a professor of rock ’n’ roll.

Their ugliness could extend further if they were to find a new label. They last recorded with Sub Pop, releasing The Violent Years in March of 2001, but the label chose to leave it at that.

Hopeless says the band has racked up a good amount of new material in the meantime and is looking for a new label that will once again let them smell the sweet scent of fresh pressed vinyl. "We want a bit of romance this time," he says wistfully. "The last relationship was really good, but I think the love died somewhere in there."

Perhaps there’s more love out there for a more non-threatening brand of Halo. A more poppy, happy-punk, Simple Plan-like style of Halo with an album that Moms and Dads across North America aren’t afraid to drop into junior’s Christmas stocking. Hopeless says he once considered cleaning up his act to be more mainstream-friendly, but came to the same conclusion as childhood idol Paul DiAnno, original lead singer of Iron Maiden.

"In this interview he once said, ‘you can’t polish a turd,’" says Hopeless. "It’s true. I don’t think they’re willing to buy me a new throat, and get rid of this evil brain and put in an innocent brain. If you could buy my virginity back that’d also be a beautiful thing. But you can’t."

"So yeah, you can’t polish a turd."

But you can watch one rock out at the Boot Pub this Sunday night. Hopeless and the rest of the Halos take the stage after openers Chinatown. Tickets $10 at the door. Just leave the disco balls at home.

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