Nfld. & Labrador

Rat-infested ship abandoned in St. John's inspires Ontario band Billy Talent song

The Lyubov Orlova becomes a metaphor for global warming.

Ghost Ship of Cannibal Rats born from the saga of the Lyubov Orlova

Rodents swarm a boat in the Warner Music video for Ghost Ship of Cannibal Rats by Billy Talent. (Warner Music Canada)

Five years ago, the story of the cruise ship Lyubov Orlova inspired some memorable headlines.

It also inspired a song by Canadian rock band Billy Talent.

"Don't be afraid of the view from economy class/It's just the captain and crew jumping off of the mast/All aboard on the ghost ship of cannibal rats," goes the chorus.

The Russian ship was abandoned at the St. John's waterfront for two years before eventually being towed out to sea in January 2013, at least until the towline broke.

I thought it was a cool metaphor for how … we're going to end up like those rats on a ship.- Ian D'Sa

The vessel then drifted and, presumably, succumbed to a watery grave, along with its final passengers: the rats on board who, without food, were reportedly eating each other for survival.

International media picked up on the saga, with headlines invoking the adrift "ghost ship" and its crew of "cannibal rats."

So too did Mississauga band Billy Talent, who played Iceberg Alley on Monday night and whose song Ghost Ship of Cannibal Rats was released on their 2016 album Afraid of Heights.

Billy Talent's Benjamin Kowalewicz (l-r), Ian D'Sa, Aaron Solowoniuk and Jordan Hastings speak with CBC's Krissy Holmes before their Iceberg Alley gig. (CBC)

The band told CBC's Krissy Holmes that coverage by CBC Newfoundland and Labrador and others inspired the song.

"I thought it was a cool metaphor for how, with climate change and global warming, we're going to end up like those rats on a ship," said Ian D'Sa, the band's guitarist.

With climate change and global warming, we're going to end up like those rats on a ship- Ian D'Sa

"They have nowhere to go and they're literally eating each other on a ship. When you have no land because of water levels rising, where do you go?"

Some of the members of Billy Talent also crashed a St. John's gig for Silly Talent, a local band that covers their songs.

Band members play with tribute group

Silly Talent singer Jay Miln says the tribute band's drummer put an invite out for the band to join them at CBTG's Monday night, after the Iceberg Alley show.

They never expected the band to actually show up, Miln said, let alone play a few songs with them. In the video player, check out Silly and Billy Talent perform River Below.

Billy Talent, meet Silly Talent

3 years ago
Imagine playing in a cover band for a group you love, and having some members crash your gig and play a few songs with you. Silly Talent singer Jay Miln says it was a dream come true. 3:05

"They thanked us almost as much as we thanked them, and were just generally really awesome about the whole thing," Miln said.

"They hung out for a while afterwards, a life-changing night for sure. I had just seen them for the first time at Iceberg Alley so I didn't think my night was going to get better."

With files from Krissy Holmes and Stephanie Tobin

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