It’s all come full circle for The Black Halos with the recent release of their new full-length How the Darkness Doubled. The acclaimed Canadian punk rockers dropped the album on November 25th via Stomp Records, a set of brand new tracks meant to act as an unofficial follow-up to their highly lauded 2001 release, The Violent Years. It felt like a good time to do a follow-up to that record, seeing as the recording of How the Darkness Doubled reunited the collective forces of the original songwriting team Billy Hopeless, Rich Jones, and Jay Millette. With the quintessential Halos lineup back in action, How the Darkness Doubled is widely viewed as a return to form for the band.
Reuniting this lineup provided a laser focus to the songwriting in a way that the members had not felt since The Violent Years was written and recorded. Remarkably, The Halos can function at such a high level 28 years after their formation. Part of what has helped elevate the band and keep things interesting has been the addition in recent years of new members John Kerns (The Age of Electric) and Danni Action (ACIIDZ). Combining Kerns and Action with the classic Halos lineup has helped reignite the fire and the passion within the band, and it’s been recognized by the fanbase, evidenced by some sold-out Toronto shows during Canadian Music Week and two sold-out nights in their hometown of Vancouver.
For our latest Fahrenheit V13 interview, we recently spoke with guitarist Jay Millette about books and reading. As an avid reader, Millette discusses his favourite genre, favourite writers, his reading habits, and his top musical biographies.
What was the most memorable book from your childhood?
Jay Millette: “It would be any of the Hardy Boys books or Alfred Hitchcock and Three Investigators. I really loved all those when I was young. I only found out in my adult years that the man (Leslie McFarlane who, like many others after him, wrote under the pen name Franklin W. Dixon) who wrote the first 20 Hardy Boys books lived in the town next to mine where I grew up!”
How important were books and reading in your family growing up? Did you share that same level of enthusiasm, or did you differ from them on that?
“My mom read all the time. She read every day. She read pretty much Harlequin romances, but she read a huge amount of them. My sister started reading when she discovered Judy Blume books.”
What is the book that has made the most impact on you as a person?
“Tough question. But I absolutely love John Irving’s A Prayer For Owen Meany. I’ve read it twice now, and I’ll no doubt read it again in the future.”
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? What’s your preferred genre?
“I read mostly fiction, and I’m a bit all over the map in terms of what I will read, but I do read a lot of mystery. In particular, I really like British mysteries from the 1800s (laughs)! I know that sounds pretty specific, and it is, I suppose; I just like that era of mysteries. Victorian whodunits. But I do also read a fair amount of history books and music biographies. But I always find myself going back to mystery.”
Who are your favourite writers?
“I enjoy a great deal of different writers… a few big ones are Charles Dickens, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Cormac McCarthy, John Irving, Michael Chabon, David Sedaris, Rex Stout, Jim Thompson, Wilkie Collins, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Erle Stanley Gardner (I read and collect Perry Mason paperbacks).”
Which book series do you think deserves a proper screen adaptation? Who would you want to play the main characters? Which artists would do the soundtracks?
“I would like to see Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe on the big screen. A gritty, noir-themed film. Hollywood attempted some Nero Wolfe films in the 1930s, and there was a made-for-television movie in the 1970s. There have been various television series about Nero Wolfe, but there has yet to be a big-screen movie adaptation since the 1930s. So I think it’s due and it could be great! I would love to see Olafur Darri Olafsson as Nero Wolfe and Sam Rockwell as Archie. Soundtrack would be by The Lounge Lizards.”
What book have you been meaning to read? How long have you been meaning to do that?
“Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. I’m serious. I love that hidden-code-mystery-puzzle-religious-templar thing. I just never bothered to read it. I will eventually.”
How many books do you own? Any titles or editions you’re particularly fond of?
“I own about 450 books, some hardcover, lots of softcover, or vintage paperbacks. I have a pretty large collection of Erle Stanley Gardner Perry Mason paperback mysteries. I can read those stories in a few nights. I’m always entertained by them.”
Are there any particular editions or collections of books you’d be excited to collect and own?
“I don’t own any expensive editions of books at all. I once had a very early edition of Dracula, but I no longer have it. I’d love to get an old edition of it again along with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.”
How often do you find or make time to read? Are you paperback, hardcover, or eBook?
“I read every day. I read at night, and I read on my lunch break from work. If I get up early enough, I’ll read before I get out of bed. I’ll read paperbacks or hardcovers, and I even have an eBook that I keep at work to read from. When it dies and needs to be charged up, I have a physical paperback ready to go as a backup.”
What’s your most controversial opinion on books and literature?
“Well, it’s not so much a controversial opinion, but I really feel like books aren’t being read as much with young people as they were when I was young. I’m making a big generalization about the youth of today, but I just don’t see many of them have any interest in reading and it makes me sad.”
Have you read any musical biographies? If so, any favourites?
“In addition to reading mysteries, I do read a fair number of music biographies. A few favourites are Bob Mehr’s, Trouble Boys (about The Replacements), Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s Please Kill Me, Clinton Heylin’s From The Velvets To The Voidoids, Peter Guralnick’s Sweet Soul Music and Lost Highway, Eric Davidson’s We Never Learn, Chris Walter’s SNFU What No One Else Wanted To Say, Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz’s Beastie Boy Book.”
What’s the longest book you’ve ever read? Did you enjoy it despite its length?
“I read Alexandre Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo while on tour once. It’s the only book I brought because it was huge. I finished it, and I loved it!”