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The Lowdown: Interview with Devin Townsend

The Lowdown: Interview with Devin Townsend

"I've never done a record like this and it felt natural to do so, so I did. Eat a bag of shit."

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Last Edited by: Chris MUG5 Maguire October 3rd, 2012.

Devin Townsend has always been considered as somewhat of an oddity in the world of Heavy Metal. He's metal's own 'mad professor,' known for his astounding intelligence, sharp wit and most of all his ability to create music that is aurally challenging, ranging from the brutally heavy to the sublimely ambient to downright bizarre. Whether it be with Strapping Young Lad, his solo venture The Devin Townsend Project, or his alien-puppet-heavy-metal-opera project Ziltoid, you never know what to expect from Hevy Devy, and from the sounds of it neither does he!

AltSounds caught up with Devin to talk about his latest curve ball, the stunning Epicloud (read the review here: Review: Devin Townsend Project - Epicloud [Album]and his plans for the future.

Altsounds: Where the hell did Epicloud come from?

Devin Townsend: No clue. It surprised me as much as anyone, but to be fair... I think the fact that I decided to 'go with it' when it started appearing says more about my approach than if I tried to force out something that wasn't coming naturally. Regardless of what your feelings are about Epicloud, it's what I felt compelled to do and as such, I back it. It's a sound that maybe I've been hesitant to do for a long time based on what peoples assumptions of me may be as a result, but then again...It's one of 25 records that I've done, and in the history of 'each record being different', it makes good sense to me.

Altsounds: What were some of the thoughts and feelings that were going through your mind during the recording process?

Devin Townsend:During the process, I tend to not think at all about what I do. Instinct and 'autopilot' play the majority of the role, and the pragmatic side of me is usually most concerned about the technical aspects rather than any implications of the actual content. This way of working is effective in terms of 'getting shit done', but often poses temporary confusion once its completed as I objectively stand back from it, and the listening experience puts me in the position of having to confront the motivations. During = 'lets get it done,' After = 'Holy shit! I made a freaking pop record! ...WTF?!?'

Altsounds: Were you worried at any point about what your fans or peers would think once they heard Epicloud?

Devin Townsend: Once it was done and I listened to it, yeah. However, that fear forced me to confront the fact that maybe I had more invested in my reputation of being 'edgy' (if that is the case) than is healthy. So you know what? Fuck it. I like commercial stuff. I like hard rock. I've never done a record like this and it felt natural to do so, so I did. Eat a bag of shit.

Altsounds: Similarly, what would you say to people who might think you’ve gone soft after hearing Epicloud?

Devin Townsend:Wait till you hear what happens next!

Altsounds: How was it working with Anneke van Gierbergen (who appeared on his previous DTP record Addicted) again and do you plan on working with her again in future either for recording or touring?

Devin Townsend:I didn't even plan on making Epicloud, to be fair... So yeah, who knows? I spend a great deal of time in interviews and essays, explaining lyrics and rationalizing decisions... but I'm rapidly reaching a point where I feel like saying 'who knows? I don't even know...' so yeah, who knows? ...I don't even know. She's fucking awesome though.

Altsounds: What was it like recording in Perth, Australia?

Devin Townsend:Hot and Perth-y

Altsounds: You’re obviously very used to working with many other musicians while recording your albums. How did you find working with a full gospel choir?

Devin Townsend:It was interesting. I had to be clear with them from the get-go that I'm not a religious person. The lyrics and my theme are of course based on 'spiritual' ideas, of which the sound of a gospel choir plays into quite naturally...but I wanted to be sure they knew that a) I wasn't trying to take the piss out of them and b) It was definitely NOT a religious statement. Epicloud I suppose is more about love and vulnerability set to heavy sounds, and the dichotomy of those two things not only interested me, but them as well.

Altsounds: Will you be taking the choir on tour?

Devin Townsend:We can barely afford catering at this point! If it's meant to happen it will, but at this point, we're still just trying to get the band to the gig, let alone 20 choir members.

Altsounds: What made you decide to re-record the song ‘Kingdom’ and are there any other songs from previous records that you would like to re-record in future?

Devin Townsend:There are, yes. But again, I sort of wait to be compelled by something rather than have a ton of plans of unrequited artistic statements. Physicist in general though, was a record that at least from a sonic perspective I was unhappy with since the moment it came out. I always thought a good deal of Physicist was really cool music though, so the thought to redo that stuff has been omnipresent. Because with the new 'DTP band' we have found that 'Kingdom' works well live now, it seemed like an appropriate place to start that 're-recording of Physicist' process. We'll see though, time will tell.

Altsounds: I saw on Youtube that you are in the process of putting together a fan made video for 'Lucky Animals' (great dancing in your contribution by the way). How is it coming along and what have the submissions been like so far?

Devin Townsend:I've been waiting for the files from Century Media to start editing, but to this point, I've not gotten the hard drive. What I've seen online though is awesome and flattering, so I'm confident it's going to rule.

Altsounds: Any plans for Ziltoid?

Devin Townsend:Fuck yeah. That's the next big thing for me. Ziltoid 2 (Z2). Actually, Epicloud and it's little brother record, Casualties Of Cool, kind of snuck up on me while I was settling in to write Ziltoid. Again, to have forced Ziltoid when Epicloud was rearing it's head would have been a mistake for me. Z2 is a big, proposed multimedia project from what I can sense... and a new puppet, symphonic theatrical album of unrelenting weirdness in inevitable. All I can say is: If you liked Epicloud, enjoy it while it's here, as Z2 is going to make you very uncomfortable.

Altsounds: What about Strapping Young Lad – has it definitely been put to bed or do you think you may put them back together one day?

Devin Townsend: Oh Gawd...Stop it for fucks sake.

Altsounds: How is sobriety treating you these days?

Devin Townsend:Like a baby treats a diaper. But you know, the options aren't good for my life.

Altsounds: Have you ever been close to falling off the wagon in the years you’ve been sober?

Devin Townsend:Of course, but it's always a choice, and I choose to do what I know works for me at this point. Who knows what the future holds, but 5 years running now, and I'm productive and happy.

Altsounds: You’ve said that Epicloud is something that you wanted to get out of your system and not representative of what you want to do in the future. What have you got planned for future releases?

Devin Townsend: Casualties Of Cool, and Z2. Peace man, thanks for the interview.

The Devin Townsend Project will be touring the UK later this month. Full tour dates can be found at Devin Townsend - The Official Website. Epicloud is out now via Hevy Devy records

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