MS Benefit concert hits home

<p>Getting diagnosed with any kind of sickness or disease is enough to change your whole outlook on life, especially if it’s something there’s no cure for.</p>


Billy Talent drummer lives with the disease



Dustin Rabin Photography


Billy Talent’s Aaron Solowoniuk, left, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and the rest of his band, Jonathan Gallant, Ian D’Sa and Benjamin Kowalewicz helped start the MS benefit concert.

Getting diagnosed with any kind of sickness or disease is enough to change your whole outlook on life, especially if it’s something there’s no cure for.

For Aaron Solowoniuk, 32-year-old drummer for Juno-winning rock band Billy Talent, living with multiple sclerosis for about 10 years hasn’t been easy. And he doesn’t think twice about voicing his opinions about the subject either — he’s down right pissed off that he’s stuck giving himself three needles a week so he can try to to live a normal life.

“It’s very hard and it’s very difficult, it can be invisible at the beginning because it’s not really showable,” Solowoniuk told Metro. “And as you get older a lot of people decline quicker, so it sucks and that’s my reasons for calling this F.U.M.S.”

Solowoniuk and the rest of Billy Talent started a benefit concert, which he was adamant about calling F.U.M.S. (Fuck You Multiple Sclerosis), in support of multiple sclerosis last year to raise money and awareness. According to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, MS is unpredictable, affecting vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility. Its effects are physical, emotional, financial, and can last a lifetime. There is no cure.

Though F.U.M.S. was the perfect way for Solowoniuk to describe how he feels about MS, not everyone supporting the benefit concert thought so. In fact, many threatened to pull out the first year.

“I had kind of a backlash from a lot of people because they didn’t want me to call it that but I am really angry that I have this disease,” he says. “It’s very difficult for me to wrap my head around every night and every day, so yeah it’s kind of a harsh thing to name something.”

Solowoniuk was inspired by an article he read about a Buddhist monk who wrote a story called Fuck You Cancer after being diagnosed with the illness.

“After all this stuff started happening and I needed to name the show I said that’s it, that’s what I’m going to do,” Solowoniuk recalled. “And after having so many people saying they wouldn’t support me if I called it that, I told them I have to, that’s how I feel. I’m mad.”

F.U.M.S. has become an annual benefit concert, primarily supported by Billy Talent, raising money for the MS Society of Canada’s Scholarship Fund.

If you go ...

  • The concert takes place at the Phoenix Concert Theatre on Dec. 28, and includes performances by Billy Talent, City And Colour and The Saint Alvia Cartel, with special guest DJ sets featuring k-os, DJ Jazz and Justin Peroff of Broken Social Scene.

  • Tickets ($49.50) are available at Ticketmaster.

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