DEVIN TOWNSEND

WHY HAS IT TAKEN YOU 25 YEARS TO PLAY AGAIN WITH STEVE VAI FROM STRAPPING YOUNG LAD?

Well I think we both had to get to the point in our relationship were it made sense again. I mean the same reason why I didn’t go back and work with Steve was the same reason I didn’t go back and work with strapping young lad.  I mean you get older as you work through music, for me my process really includes taking what it is that is important to me at this age and writing that and once you have extinguished the material in that you move on to go backwards, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. At the same time Steve and I have kept in contact and our relationship has become very strong so we will do one of the songs from that album and were going to do one of my songs with an orchestra and then we will do another one of my songs with a couple of other guests and another song together. I think its four songs in total but there’s been no other reason than we have been very busy for many years.

YOU HAVE A REAL CONSCIOUSNESS FOR FOOD AND EVERYTHING, CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT IT?

It so weird to be seen as a rock star, but to be fair because I am in that tax bracket. you get the attention with all the stuff that came with the 80s, like sober dad going to track meet with his kid but I think that that aside my view on music is it’s a great thing for all of us to participate in. I love the idea that if you do it properly.

If you articulate your emotional growth in such a way that other people can relate to in some sense it serves it has a really meaningful purpose. I truly love being involved with it, but as a conscious thing just as a human my goals are very separate from music. Music is the by-product of being functional as a human being to try and be healthy in mind body or sprit and that’s the goal ultimately if this ends tomorrow, I have people in my life that would help me move my house, I have friends that would come with their truck and help me and I think that says ultimately more about what we’re doing then any of this.

 

YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH THE BAND ‘COME BACK KID’ WHO WILL BE PLAYING TOMORROW, HOW DID YOU CONNECT TOGETHER AND HOW WAS IT TO WORK TOGETHER?

Andrew is a friend of mine and Stu as well.  I mean years ago, I produced two albums by a band called Misery Signals, it was part of that scene but Canada is a small scene. I worked with Andrew on a side project of his, and I produced an album called Sights and Sounds that was his band. For those of you that don’t know Comeback Kid is a hard-core band, but it’s so funny to me, there’s such a distinguishing characteristic. Well I can’t believe you would work with a hard core band or a new metal band or whatever, except in my ears its fast and got heavy guitars and a guy screaming so it’s as close to metal as anything right plus he’s nice and I think that’s basically where it goes.

I do work with other bands typically because I have a relationship with them. I get asked a lot to sing but unless V know somebody in fact I turned down a couple of people recently that would of made sense for me to contribute to their record because their famous, but there is no reason for us to do it. I think it’s important that if you are going to lend your voice to somebody, that it’s rooted in having a relationship of some sort because other than that it’s a scene thing you know. Like when you are trying to get photos of yourself with somebody like selfies, it doesn’t really work for me.

 

WAS IT A BAD MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU WERE PLAYING FOR STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, WILL YOU EVER REFORM?

There’s a lot of people who want me to reform the band and it wasn’t a bad moment in my life, I was really proud of it. So a band like AC/DC can make AC/DC music till the day they die because the way they write is a little different to the way that I  write. The reason I think people like what i do and the reason I think people continue to listen is because I’m not lying. If I don’t feel like doing something, I don’t do it and if I want to I do the same thing.

 That made Strapping Young Lad great makes the same thing I’m doing now important to me and I’m more than happy to loose people who like what I do as opposed to having to go back in time. What I needed to learn about strapping young lad was 25 year old problems and I’m 45 now and I think that anybody that likes what I do if I tried to get up there and pretend I was 25 again they would see through it. That doesn’t make any sense for the nostalgia ting and the pay check makes sense but for me as a human being and going back to that makes less than zero sense.

WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO INTERVIEW?

No one I think for the sake of my interest in people. What I like to think as well there is no real difference between any of us, there is no real difference between the audience and the band most of the time when you meet people they let you down so sometimes its easier to keep that illusion.

 

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PLAY BASS GUITAR WHAT DRAWS YOU TO IT?

Well my son is 11 years old now and I have been sober for about 11 years.  I have a fun free lifestyle I don’t necessarily recommend it but it works for me. I think that when that change came into my life the things that I needed to learn about my own connection to being a person was that everything. I had done prior to kids was a fundamental selfishness and you can get away with it in this job, you can be selfish people placate that they allow you to have smarties before the show and don’t talk to Mr Townsend and all this sort of stuff right.

 I think if ultimately when I had kids I realised my role I mean like there’s the kid then there’s your wife then there’s the dog, then there’s the good cutlery, then there’s the shirt your mum gave you and somewhere down there is you and somewhere below that is your penis.

 I think for me at that point my whole role as a human got regulated to support and I like to support you know, it’s so strange to me that I find myself in this job where I’m the focus of so much attention. It’s not strange that I did choose it but now at this age where I think I figured out a bunch of things about it. I’m like omg now in doing a press thing but I think at the same time you can use that to say something  is coming from a place of well. Ok I have learnt this and this and I want to be part of a ladder opposed to being at the top of it I want people to learn from my mistakes. I want other musicians to learn from what I can provide in terms of my production techniques or the things that I have failed at or succeeded at. so bass for me is just another example of you can sit back you can support and then finally as a Canadian because we are a passive aggressive group, bass is awesome because whatever your playing is what rules its quietly powerful, I love that you know if you choose to be in the key of b everyone else is fucked so it’s a combination of those two things.

 

ARE THERE ANY PLANS TO DO ANY MORE PROJECTS WITH CHE?

Yeh, Che and I are working on a relationship, I mean it’s like all these things are complicated and it’s all a bunch of people. Che and I have a great thing going on, we are going to play a show in Germany  but we are currently seeing what would be important to write about because at the time we last wrote we were at a cross roads creatively in our world. There was a point of mutual interest we were able to draw from but then you move on. We have to see what we have in common now if we have something in common then certainly we will write about it but if we don’t we will find that out right.

YOU WROTE ZILTOID IS THERE MORE TO THE STORY IN A ZILTOID 3?

Well Ziltoid is clearly me but I think I was pretty naive in the beginning, because I didn’t think that people were able to figure that out then you see that thing were people get in trouble with puppets or marionettes because they end up projecting and then the marionette saying some stupid shit and there like it’s not me it’s the puppet right and everyone is like no its clearly you. So I think with Ziltoid got me to a point where I said what I needed to say.

Then all of a sudden kids but not only my own kids like neighbourhood kids and my sisters kids and they are all interested in it because it’s an alien. At first you’re going to ask what does he do next and I’m like well he’s going to do something really fucked up, but then I changed it for the second one.

All of a sudden my neighbours’ kid named it the posers because it looked like a butt. So he’s whole trip ends up being in line with the development of me as an artist at the end of casualties. We had the moon in that story we just vanished Ziltoid to the moon until he can get his shit together and he’s got some potty mouth tendencies. I don’t know I get bored so easily that once you use up the information whether or not its strapping or Ziltoid or whatever. I’m like alright, ok what’s next and hopefully people will come along the ride

 

ARE YOU WORKING ON 4 ALBUMS AT THE MOMENT?

Well I don’t think about music that’s the thing I think about my life. I think about the things I need to accomplish in day to day life and music just happens peripheral to that a lot of times. While I’m working ill have other things on the TV or ill have other things I’m paying attention to. I don’t think about music so I keep these little mental notes and books and demos. When I am at home ill blast off demos but it’s done sort of subconsciously that I don’t give it to much credit. I’ll write a song and then I’ll go mow the lawn or I’ll write a song and go do something else completely so as a result of that  my work happens according to whatever frame of mind in in that day if I feel like writing and when I sit down and see where I’m at I usually have three or four different directions that depending on my motivation to finish it can transpire into records so it may seem a little strange,  I think because of the way I’ll write it doesn’t seem strange to me so yes there’s maybe 4 or 5 things of verifying qualities.

 

IS THERE SOMETHING IMPORTANT IN YOUR CREATIVE PURPOSE TO CONNECT WITH THE AUDIENCE?

I wish it was that cleaver, I mean I am just really insecure and I don’t think there’s really a point to life, so with that in mind it seems like the only thing that makes sense for me to try and pursue to do thing a that help in some way, you know and if its if people can see you know. I like the idea of taking the vail out in some way if people can see that you struggle anyone who does what I do vs what the audience does, you know there’s no fundamental difference.

It’s luck if the cards in a lot of way so I think the only thing i can do is try my best. I mean I don’t want to talk about politics, I don’t want to talk about religion you know everybody has so many opinions on so many different things.  There’s to many humans so when people come to a show I just want people for an hour and a half,  I feel ok now I want it too sound good look good I want it to be the vibrations, I’m putting out there. I want it to be heavy but I want it to be rooted in something that’s human. I don’t want it to be even if it’s a metaphor, I don’t want it to be so abstract that it’s just like dungeons and dragons even Ziltoid is just a metaphor but ultimately, I don’t know, I get dumber every day you know kids will really hammer that home so when people come to the show if we have to tour and if we have to be away from the people we love and travel over 40 hours in a car then you might as well try have fun. It doesn’t make any sense to not, so that’s why even by the end of strapping, I was like so I travelled over 40 hours to tell everyone to go fuck themselves  it seems like I could probably go and different ditch and sleep better speaking of which I  still sleep like shit so it didn’t work.

 

DOES HAVING YOUR OWN RECORD LABEL HEAVY DEAVY ALLOW YOU TO HAVE MORE CREATIVE CONTROL OR WORKING WITH A STUDIO ALLOW FOR BETTER COLLABORATION?

Well I like to think anything I have done was pre meditated, but I think my whole the reason I have had any success what so ever is because I am pig headed. I just do what I wanted to do and then when people tell me not to I just kind of kept doing it. It wasn’t with any agenda it wasn’t like, I’ll show them, I’ll keep doing it, I’ll stick to guns it had none of that. It’s just point B I’m going to go there and Heavy Deavy records which is the shitiest name for a record company ever was basically just a tax thing. No one would sign Ocean Machine so Sony in Japan said well if you cooperate a record label, well distribute it and so Heavy Deavy records at this point exists as a piece of paper there’s no label there’s nothing and its good for tax because I can write off half of the car or whatever right but it’s like we licence things and creative freedom is going to happen for me regardless because I am a bull.

 

LEPROUS BAND DEEPLEY RESPECT YOU AND IF YOU DON’T LOOK AT THAT SAYING A THE YOUNGER DOSNT KNOW ABOUT PROGRESSIVE METAL I WAS WONDERING IF YOU RESPECT THEM DEEPLY?

I loved Motorhead as a kid, I didn’t really listen to Marillion so it seems strange that I am known as progressive metal but I will take it. It’s just because i didn’t get laid in high school, so I learnt how to do guitar thing and any musician that has figured out a way to articulate them self so things that are important to them recognise through their music by others has my respect and it doesn’t matter your age genre. Leprous are great people, they have a wonderful voice; wonderful arrangements and they are fun to tour with.  I guess as I get older I can do that kids get off my lawn thing.

DO YOU HAVE THE SAME PLEASURE TO PLAY AS YOU USE TO OR JUST ROUTINE?

I don’t know, I was thinking about that today on stage, I had a really weird show today, I couldn’t get my head around it. It was like everything was right but my perspective sometimes as the way that its changed as I got older is I have always struggled with nihilism it never really slips into the point it becomes a lifestyle and really it doesn’t matter and that helps as you get older that becomes more of a thing its easier in the sense it matters less it means the same thing as ultimately if things don’t matter then why not make something nice.

CAN YOU CONFIRM AGAIN YOU WILL WORK WITH STEVE VAI AND MIKAEL FROM OPETH?

I cannot confirm it, but I can confirm ill play with Steve in two days. But Mike it’s up to him, I told him I would like to play bass if he wants to do anything I am only 14 hours away, but a lot of it is pillow talk.

CHECK OUT DEVIN TOWNSEND ARTICLE  AND PHOTOGRAPHY HERE:
2017 - Twinmusix
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EST: Oct 2016