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  INTERVIEW WITH DEVIN TOWNSEND

Xander

Xander


devin townsend

Hi Devin!

"Hey!"


I think you have a bit of a love affair with us over here as you have been coming back annually for a few years now, and with special occasions, such as playing Bloodstock-Open-Air two years running (something they don't do), Metal Hammer's Golden Gods Awards ceremony, your album play throughs last year with the first four DTP releases along with the acoustic show which have all been released, headlining at Download festival this year and now the Retinal Circus which shall be released too! So what is it about the UK that makes you keep coming back? And why here with such unique performances but not back home?

"That's a good question, but I suppose it has to do with the UK seemingly 'getting' what it is I do, I don't know... but I go where it seems like it's wanted, and I don't take it lightly. The UK has been extraordinarily kind to me, and I can't thank them enough. Seriously, so flattering.

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Is there any discussion for returning to Bloodstock? I know for a fact the organizers want you back!

"There was momentary talk of an acoustic show, but no follow through from what I've heard... I don't know actually, I'm usually not privy to those discussions. I would do so happily though! Great people and great festival."

How did the Retinal Circus come about? Will it become an annual and/or a touring event?

"It was an idea of my manager, Andy Farrow. It served as a closure for me in many ways and was a roaring bit of fun on a Saturday! In terms of it being a touring thing, that would be a bit impractical at this point, and I don't think it needs to be... the dvd will document it well, and the next things we do should be even cooler..."

Let's talk about your latest release, 'Epicloud', which has been out for a month now. How has the album been received? Are you happy with the progress?

"I don't quite know how it's doing in terms of sales, but I am happy with it, very happy. It was another bit of closure for me in a sense, and from what I can tell, people really seem to understand and appreciate it in general. I'm happy with it!"

For those that haven't heard 'Epicloud' yet, how would you sum it up?

"Spiritually uplifting, epic, cheesy hard rock with Metal and stuff..."

I've noticed you don't play many songs from 'Addicted' and you commented at the Reading show about having to use a backing track for the newer songs with Anneke. Do you stay away from songs featuring her for not being able to have her on stage?

"Not consciously, there's just a certain amount of things I can do comfortably without her and with backing tracks before it gets ridiculous. We experiment with a few tracks, but I tend to focus on the stuff that really seems to work as opposed to just doing songs for the sake of it."

I think your website is fab! I love the little quirky images running around and it's also almost a little mecca of information. In particular I am fascinated with your stories of each album. Have you thought about writing a biography?

"Thanks! I totally dislike writing. It takes me too long to say what I want. I guess I wouldn't mind dictating to someone at some point, but the idea of writing my own works would do my head in tbh."

And for the actual website, is it all completely your input? Did you built it yourself?

"No, I have some friends who have helped in many ways. The designer and Jasper from management had a lot of ideas. I had the final say and contributed much of the info, but credit where credit is due, those guys are amazing!"

Whilst we're on the subject of internet, what benefits and cons are you experiencing from the "digital and internet" age, with sites such as Spotify and iTunes?

"I suppose the same as anyone else, increased exposure to casual listeners and less physical sales. I can't imagine my situation is much different from others. The thing I have going for me though is an incredible fanbase of very supportive people who want me to keep doing what I do. I'm very very lucky."

Moving on to the future; Z2 is coming! What stage is the album at?

"Demos and concepts at this point, it can go in a multitude of different ways at this point, and I'm letting it evolve naturally instead of forcing it at all..."

From reading your website you explain that you created Ziltoid after you became a father. As your children have grown over the last few years has this influenced a growth or change in Ziltoid?

"He's gotten more acerbic and more crude. Less of a filter or conscience, (which is strange). Again, it remains to be seen once the pieces of the puzzle start falling into place as to which direction it will find itself moving in, but really, it's still of great interest to me, and I doubt it will be that far from where it started."

What's the gist for this chapter of Ziltoid and can you sneakily reveal some antics from the album?

"Still in development my friend... =]"

Will there ever be a Ziltoid movie?

"The plan is to do so, but the project itself is quite multi-faceted and may or may not include many things. I'm sorry to be so vague, but again, it's a work in progress, and I rarely think about one thing until the current work is done."

Unfortunately I was unable to get a slot to interview you personally this week, a great shame for me but also potentially for you as I believe I may well have made the world's best coffee cupcake! (I ate it instead and I must say it was rather yummy!) Do you get many fans trying to make you the world's best cup of coffee?

"Not as much =] Folks tend to be very generous with gifts and I appreciate that! Unfortunately, I rarely drink coffee past noon, so it often is gone to waste... =I "

Additionally to Z2, you will also be releasing 'Casualties Of Cool' in 2013, a collaboration with Ché Aimee Dorval, who also featured on 'Ki'. What direction have you taken this album and what was it that made you chose Ché to collaborate with?

"I actually have been writing with Che. I feel it's a good time for me to write with some friends. Che is absolutely amazing and hasn't been heard properly yet. I'm happy to be working with her. The music is dark, quiet, blues-tinted folk rock from outer space. I don't know how else to describe it. It's very different for me in many ways and I'm very much enjoying it.

I love your collaborations and believe you bring the best out in musicians; Anneke van Geirsbergen sounds outstanding with your work and from reading your website I was amazed to find out that it was you that got Gene Hoglan to blast beat, and that's what he's probably most famous for, he sounds like a machine! So it's fair to say you're a good influence, but how does working with the musicians you have chosen influence you? What have you gained personally?

"I find things in the music that I am interested in achieving, then find people who I think can offer that with a twist. The potential is the interesting thing, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't...but when it does, you get a twist on the things you're interested in that often make things personally interesting. I think the personality is what I'm interested in... most decent musicians can achieve any technique over time I've found."

I have already asked about maybe a biography or a movie, do you have something on the horizon aside from music and puppets?

"I don't know, I just kind of let it roll and go with what interests me. I have no goals other than being creatively free and seeing how that can tie into personal happiness and satisfaction. It's all a work in progress."

Included in your accompanying videos whilst playing live, you display album covers from other acts, such as Between The Buried And Me: 'The Great Misdirect'. Are these bands you currently admire?

"That is because the singer from BTBAM sings that section. It's more about letting the audience know it's him rather than a direct homage. He's a good friend and he helped me in that song. I used a puppet to represent him."

OK, now it's time to get a little bit more personal!

"OK"

What was the first album you owned and the first album you bought?

"The first one I owned was probably the Star Wars soundtrack, the first one I bought as well... around the same time was the Dark Crystal soundtrack and 'Long Distance Voyager' by The Moody Blues."

What is the most embarrassing album in your music collection?

"Not embarrassed to own anything really...but it's probably some ignorant Metal shit."

What musical act is your guilty pleasure for liking?

"Same as above."

What was the first gig you attended?

"Johnny Cash. Saw him at Expo 86 in Vancouver."

When and with whom, was the first gig you performed?

"At Spotlight 88, a local radio station talent contest... actually Beav (Bass) played keyboards... was terrible all round!"

Do you listen to music whilst on the road? If so, who's on your iPod at the moment?

"I do, yes. Captain Beefheart, Cowboy Junkies, Jon Hopkins and Primus."

Who is your all time hero? Someone you look up to that inspires.

"I don't really have heros. There's many in everyday life though. Everybody has their ups and downs."

Describe your music in three words...

"Totally under pants."

What is your favorite style pizza?

"Cheese, garlic, hot peppers."

What is your signature dish to cook?

"I don't really cook.., soup? maybe?"

What is your drink of choice? (teetotalers still need liquid!)

"Depends. Black coffee in the morning, sparkling water at night."

If you were a superhero, what would your super power be?

"Farting in space."

If you could be a woman for a day, who would you be?

"Someone who didn't know me."

If your house was on fire, excluding people and pets, what one item would you save?

"My Telecaster."

What is your favourite movie?

"Don't have a favorite... Dark Crystal? Pulp Fiction? Eraserhead? Never Cry Wolf?"

In your band, who snores the loudest?

"Paul, the tour manager."

Who has the smelliest feet?

"Me."

Who is the most OCD with their equipment?

"Ryan."

What's the funniest moment you've had whilst on tour?

"Seriously man? =] too many."

What moment has been the most worrying on tour?

"Missing flights at Christmas, no internet on birthdays etc..."

What's your favourite city to visit and where is the nicest city you have been?

"It depends on mood. I like Sweden and Australia, though I prefer west coast of Canada to all."

And my finale question that all must answer in my holy grail to find the best; what is your favorite cheesecake?

"Dog shit flambe."

Devin, thank you so much for your time and all the best!

"Cheers! Have a good one! =]"

The Devin Townsend Project are currently touring in Europe with Fear Factory and will return to the UK in December. Check hevydevy.com for more info!

Read our live reviews for The Devin Townsend Project by clicking here.

'Epicloud' is out now via HevyDevy Records and you can read our review by clicking here.

9.11.12









 


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