Jay Millette (The Black Halos)

  • Steven Farkas posted
  • Interviews

Jay Millette (The Black Halos)

  • August 2020
  • via Phone

Since getting back together in 2016, Vancouver gutter punks The Black Halos have played a number of sold out shows in both Toronto and Vancouver and following the sad passing of SNFU frontman and Canadian punk icon, Ken Chinn (aka Chi Pig), the band have recently released a new single Ain’t No Good Time to Say Goodbye in which all proceeds are being donated to the crowdfunding effort to create murals to celebrate his life, both in Chi’s hometown of Edmonton and now in Vancouver as well. In the lead up to the single dropping back in August we were fortunate enought to speak to Halos guitarist Jay Millette about the single, recording during a pandemic and what the future holds for the him and the band.

Update as of October 1st: $1,000 has now been donated to the mural fund in Edmonton (which has met its funding goal), with another one now setup for another memorial in Vancouver and future proceeds will be donated to the Vancouver project.

Although the single has been out for almost a month, today is another Bandcamp friday, where all proceeds go direct to the band, so what better time to get your wallet out and buy a killer new single and help honour the memory of a true Canadian punk legend.

The single is not available on streaming services, so get your copy now via the Yeah Right! Records Bandcamp.



Hi Jay, we really appreciate you making time before before your work day to speak to us!

No worries, I’m always up at this time anyway so it’s all good.

So you guys have just released a new single, “Ain’t No Good Time to Say Goodbye b/w Rusty Rake” to honour Chi Pig.  How did how did the idea for the single come around? And how did you guys end up putting it together?

Well, (The Black Halo’s frontman) Billy (Hopeless) and Chi were really good friends and we all just kind of knew him from living and being part of the music community in Vancouver for a long time and although I had hung out with him on the odd occasion, Billy was really, really good friends with him. So we sort of wanted to do something in tribute to him and he got the idea together, then pitched it to (Black Halos guitarist) Rich (Jones) and then from there we got the ball rolling really fast actually, like within a  week it was all said and done from conception to being ready to be sent to a pressing plant.

How is it putting stuff together during lockdown? You guys are all dotted all over the world  as it is anyway, was the recording of this single any different for you?

It’s actually pretty unique because we’re all sort of are savvy with recording something out of our houses, so it’s actually really easy. When you think about it, it is  kind of funny how easy it all comes together. It was very cool.

Do you do you have any particular kind of memories or experiences of Chi that you could share, and how did those feed into the single?

Well, I know speaking just for me, I used to often run into him at various bars in Vancouver. We’d sit at The Cambie and we’d drink beer and he would just tell story after story as he had so many to tell! But that’s just me, Billy and him did a lot more stuff together, and I can’t speak to that, but it’s fair to say that  all of us we were all just such big fans of SNFU growing up and stuff. He was such an interesting guy and then because him and Billy were so tight, we just really wanted to do something for him.

And how did you how did you guys end up landing on doing Rusty Rake as the B side? Was there any debate on which track it would be?

That was always the one as far as I know. Again going back to the point that this was so driven by Billy wanting to do something special for him, he and Rich had the idea of doing it as a charity thing for the mural fund, we just deferred to Billy as he knew (Chi) him so well. When we asked him what he wanted to sing, he came up with Rusty Rake straight away and none of us debated it, we just said “lets do what you want to do”.

It’s such a great song from as well, personally one of my favourites from that record (1995’s The One Voted Most Likely to Succeed)

Yeah for sure, it’s a great tune.

Was this the first time you had attempted an SNFU cover, either live or on record?

Surprisingly, this was our first attempt as we’d not done an SNFU song before! Which is kind of strange, because of course so many people on the planet know that band but we just never ever went there or mined that territory, but everyone was really down for it. We had all been such fans and listened to them for so long but had never done one, but once we decided to go for it. It was kind of wild and we’re really happy with the way it came out.

Going back to 2016, how did you react when you got the call about Rich and Billy getting The Black Halo’s back together? Were you on board straight away or did you did you need some convincing?

Yeah, I definitely took some convincing. I was doing other stuff like music wise, Rich was always really busy with Michael Monroe, but when they were doing stuff I was just always involved in other projects so the timing didn’t work and I kept saying no. Throughout this time, Rich and Billy were writing songs again and had amassed quite a few of them, but then some shows in Toronto (summer 2019) came up and Rich asked me again and I thought that would be a lot of fun and agreed.  I think he was sort of surprised by that, especially as I’d said no a few times already, but it was seriously good fun and had such a great time getting back together with them,  playing these shows and working on new things. So yes, I’m on board for this!

You guys also played some shows in Vancouver shows earlier this year as well didn’t you, just before Covid-19 really hit?

Yeah, we got in just under the wire in early February we did a couple of shows at the Rickshaw in Vancouver and they went so well. I think we were all really taken aback how well they did. I mean, it helped that we have all these amazing opening bands (The Spitfires, Sore Points, Bishops Green, Chain Whip), but it was it still pleasantly surprising.

It just felt really cool to go back, as I haven’t been back in Vancouver in years and neither had Rich or John (Kearns) who is playing bass with us now. So it was all surprisingly well received and like I said, those two have been writing a lot of songs, you know, Billy and Rich write the bulk of the tunes so we’ll just keep going and see what happens. So far its been great and the stuff they’ve been coming up with sounds really cool.

You’ve got your own stuff going on as well right? Your latest project Silver Receiver just dropped some new music last month, how did that come together and where did you come up with the name?

Yeah, so during Covid I decided I wanted to get better with tools to record stuff at home. I had all the gear and software, but never had the time, but then suddenly I had all that time, so I did. I just thought that’d be kind of fun to write my own songs and have different friends play on them. The plan is to slowly put out a song here and there and bring in different people for different tunes. It will always change, but I just decided instead of calling it my name that was just so dull, I wanted to make it sound like an ever-changing band. There’s no real agenda, it’s just for fun and having friends involved.

You’ve said that Rich and Billy have been writing and have got a whole lot of stuff kind of ready to go. Do you reckon that’ll will see the light of day as a new Halo’s record and what about the possibility of more live shows (once that is safe of course!)

I think there will be definitely be a record because hearing some of the stuff they’ve put together is just really really great. So there will be a record, we just can’t say when we’re going to get a chance to get it done. As far as anything beyond that touring or something else, that’s harder to say as Rich is quite busy with Michael Monroe, but we’re just pretty excited about actually putting together a record at this point.

The single (Ain’t No Good Time To Say Goodbye) is coming out on Yeah, Right! Records, the label you’ve been working with since getting back together, how did that kind of collaboration come about?

So that’s Tony Lima in London, Ontario and I’ve been friends with him since about 1990, so we’ve know each other for many, many years. He started the label back in 2002 and has built up but quite a catalogue since and has always been a real champion of the band. He put our first ever single (“Retro World” via Devil Doll Records) back in the day and always been so supportive of everything we’ve done..

And how did the idea to donate all proceeds to the Mural Fund come about?

So I believe that Rich and Billy agreed to just do two songs, release them digitally and all proceeds will go to the mural fund, but then when they spoke to Tony about it, he was keen to do limited run vinyl which was really cool

Was it always the plan to avoid all streaming services and just do digital direct and vinyl?

Yeah, that was always the plan. Rich presented it to us and said lets skip the whole streaming thing, they pay pennies anyway and let’s set it out so its only available through Bandcamp to ensure the maximum amount of money going back towards the mural fund.

One last question, and its something I read that Billy has said about you a number of times, which is that you are everyone’s favourite Halo? What have you done to earn such a title?

(laughing) Yeah, I would never give myself that that title, but I think it’s just because I’m pretty social. I mean, when you’re in a band, I was the guy that wanted to go to the party hang out and just meet people and have a few beers. I will say that with that approach I met a lot of people that I managed to stay friends with. Go figure!

Jay, really appreciate you taking time out of your morning to talk to us. Best of luck with the single and look forward to hearing new music from The Black Halos and Silver Receiver in the near future.

 No worries at all. Great talking to you.

“Ain’t No Good Time To Say Goodbye” b/w “Rusty Rake” dropped on August 7th via Yeah, Right Records! with all proceeds going to the Chi Pig Mural fund – https://uk.gofundme.com/f/larger-than-life-the-chi-pig-mural