#931: ‘Red Flag’ – Billy Talent

I don’t particularly remember where I first heard of Billy Talent, but I want to say it was because of the 2009 lineup for the Soundwave Festival. It was my final year of high school, and I have strong memories of hearing about everyone discuss which bands they planned to see, and I recall looking these bands up and discovering them. I found quite a few good bands thanks to that festival, despite not actually attending personally.

When I started giving Billy Talent a listen, I namely stuck to three songs, ‘Try Honesty‘, ‘Standing In The Rain‘, and ‘Fallen Leaves‘. These songs served me well until I actually discovered more by the band later, but what hooked me in was the powerful vocals of Benjamin Kowalewicz, and the heavily underrated guitar work of Ian D’Sa.

However, a few years later when I looked into the group a bit more, I discovered the track ‘Red Flag’. While the others I had listened to were arguably more radio-friendly, it was ‘Red Flag’ that really made me sit up and take notice.

From the very start, the track comes on like a punch in the face and doesn’t let up for the duration., and the intensity and ferocity only add to the appeal of this intensely powerful track. However, the track’s meaning has long been a subject of debate.

While the band haven’t gone on to record to state what the song’s meaning is, numerous theories have sprung up as to what the titular ‘Red Flag’ actually represents, namely because many of these theories actually fit. While some state that the song is indicative of an issue in society, some mention the connection a red flag has with socialism, while others contend it’s more related to themes of war. In essence, all of these theories work well, since the song has an overarching theme of revolution and rebellion.

Effectively, what makes a song rather hard to understand manages to bring together these theories in such a way that give the song a newfound clarity. It’s really quite genius.

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