For Ben Kowalewicz, happiness is a garden centre.
"When you're happy at Home Depot buying grass seed, that's when you know you've turned the corner in life," the 37-year-old Billy Talent frontman says over the phone from the parking lot at Sherway Gardens, where he's waiting for his wife to emerge from a store.
Kowalewicz is enjoying a domestic interlude during a busy year of touring. After playing Australia, Europe and crossing Canada in support of fourth album, Dead Silence (Warner/Roadrunner), the Mississauga-bred post-hardcore foursome are spending a month at home, headlining NXNE and then returning to Europe for a string of festival dates.
Next month Billy Talent will celebrate 20 years together, and Kowalewicz is doing little to dispel the notion that rock stars have it easier than their pop counterparts when it comes to getting older.
"I love it! I love it!" he exclaims about aging in the music biz. "I love my city. I love my home. I love my friends. I love my band. I finally feel comfortable in my skin - almost."
This year also marks 10 years since the release of their eponymous debut, Billy Talent. (They performed as Pezz for much of the 90s.) Kowalewicz, guitarist/producer Ian D'Sa, bassist Jonathan Gallant and drummer Aaron Solowoniuk have yet to decide how they'll acknowledge the milestones.
"We sit and talk and have all these cool ideas and then don't actually put anything in motion," he says, adding that they're working on something.
The impending anniversaries have prompted them to reflect and take stock, a mood compounded by Solowoniuk's brush with mortality when he underwent open-heart surgery to repair a leaky valve last year.
A bit of mellowness seeped into parts of Dead Silence, their first album produced entirely in-house by D'Sa, who sought to capture the raw urgency of their shows following 2009's highly polished Billy Talent III. In the future, they intend to continue self-producing in their own studio.
"People are starting to realize that there's more to us than ‘pop punk band.' We don't even know what that [term] means," says Kowalewicz . "I think our best years are still to come. As long as the four of us stay together, everything is going to be all right."