Devin Townsend opens for Children Of Bodom, Saturday, July 9 at The Beacham.
There’s no predicting where he will go next
Devin Townsend is part of no music clique, and all of them
Opening for: Children of Bodom
Although he was born and lives in New Westminster, B.C., most of the news of Devin Townsend comes via Europe.
For instance, a German distributor, Inside Out Music, stocks all his albums and is religious about mentioning him. In Vancouver he’s barely known, rarely named. He is not alone. There are many bands that have a stronger fan base outside of their hometown, but Townsend is an extreme example.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I have 25 albums, but I’ve never been able to make any headway in Canada,” he admits.
Townsend, who plays in Edmonton on Saturday night, might be partly to blame for this. He’s so darned hard to follow. One album might be industrial heavy metal, the next more what he considers pop, and the next avant thrash.
He’ll freely name such varied influences as Paul Horn and Andrew Lloyd Webber. His albums have appeared under different names, notably his best-known band, Strapping Young Lad.
The current Devin Townsend Project has completed four albums, the two most recent, Deconstruction and Ghosts, released on the same day, June 21. Practically nobody except Townsend would release two albums on the same day, and two contrasting albums at that. Deconstruction is orchestral and pairs him with a parade of heavy metal musicians. Ghosts is described as his New Age album and prominently features flutist Kat Epple.
“I doubt that there’s anything logical to what I do,” Townsend says. “What I’ve never done is be the best business model. The one thread that holds all the albums together is that I just react. I react to what is around me.”
This might be the war in Iraq, the state of the economy or his immediate environment. Although the four Devin Townsend Project albums are vastly different from one another, they are united by a concept.
“The approach we’ve taken is that I’m kind of the ringleader,” he explains. “What I decided to do with the four albums is a chronological story of how I ended up where I am. If I was pressed, I want people to see that.”
Townsend achieved fame as the vocalist for guitar magician Steve Vai, who heard him and got Townsend to front his progressive band in the early 1990s. This became Townsend’s springboard as Strapping Young Lad. The Strapping Young Lad albums were acclaimed, but they also were different from one another. Townsend was writing about the things that immediately were influencing him and finding freedom in the Vancouver environment, whether cycling or soaking up the greenery. None of this was making him famous, but it was shaping his identity.
“There’s a dubious honour to not being a part of any clique, not part of any scene,” Townsend says.
He’s finding freedom in not being a slave to hit records. He’s 38 years old and a father and doesn’t have to put a show together that can enslave him, doing the same songs every night.
“Now, zooming in on 40, there’s no limit to what I can do. I’m definitely not afraid of failure, having failed so many times.”