Mxdwn recently conducted an interview with Devin Townsend, Canadian multi-instrumentalist and ex-STRAPPING YOUNG LAD mastermind. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Mxdwn: So the big topic of course is your new album, “Epicloud”, coming out this month. It has a big epic sound. Is that where the title comes from?
Devin Townsend: I’ll go with that, that sounds alright. This record is something I put a lot of effort into it being the way it is, almost as a reaction to how my career and how my life seems to go. Like, I’ll spend so much time being complicated and worrying about this, that, and the other thing, that I feel like on some level I neglected to acknowledge the part of me that just wanted to make big, simple, positive music. In making that decision for myself, I took it as far as I felt I could go, gospel choirs and the real big epic sort of stuff. In the whole scheme of it, I’m 25 records into my career, I’ve been doing this for so long, and nothing I’ve done has really been the same thing twice, so this is just another example of it. I’ve always wanted to make a straight forward, accessible type of record and I’m very happy with it. It remains to be seen whether or not that sentiment will be shared by the people who’ve been supportive of what I do, but at least it’s honest, right?
Mxdwn: You think by now people would be used to you doing something completely different every single time though, right?
Devin Townsend: I find that a lot of the time now, the reaction of the record that I get are technically not the people who are used to it, it’s people who are new to it who are expecting the record that came before it. It seems like it always takes about a year for people to understand the prior record. I remember with the record label I had done “Terria” and when I first delivered it to them, they were like, “What the hell is this?” Then a year later they were like, “Oh, that was really cool. We get it. We like what you did with ‘Terria’.” Then I was like, “Well, that’s unfortunate, because here’s ‘Accelerated Evolution’,” and the reaction across the board was, “Well, we wanted more ‘Terria’.” With each record that goes by, it seems the reaction is based on the one prior and “Epicloud” is no different. The reaction tends to be, people were finally understanding what “Deconstruction” and “Ghost” were about and it seems like that’s where people are at the moment. I suspect that when I do the next record after “Epicloud”, there will be a certain portion of people that want more of that, so it’s just business as usual, my friend.
Mxdwn: I find it interesting how each record itself uses a lot of different styles within it, but there’s always cohesion. Like how you said, you take each theme as far as it can go. It doesn’t seem like you go into it trying to do that. I’m just amazed that if you’re just letting whatever come out that it still all seems to match.
Devin Townsend: I appreciate that; that’s nice. I would say if I’m interested enough in a theme, then my interest in that is enough that I can complete it in the way that it wants to be. If halfway through a record — and this has happened to me before — halfway through I have to see if the theme that inspired me to start it was extensive enough for me to take it to its logical conclusion. Sometimes it just isn’t, and I’ll have to abandon a project five songs into it, because I just run out of steam and the story isn’t ultimately that interesting. But something like “Epicloud”, for example, when I started coming out with these riffs and choruses and lyrics and all this, I thought, “Well, it’s based on getting over it. It’s based on connection to reality that is pragmatic, or realistic.” Realistic in the sense that there is good and bad, and there is tons of horrible shit that happens on the planet and all that. But, really, the choice that I found myself in, artistically, is you can focus on that horrible shit, which I’ve done for a long time, or you can focus on your own existential crisis in whatever form that’s in at this age, or you can just make a conscious decision to do something that promotes a frame of mind that is separate from that. And not in a deluded sense. I wanted to make something that was heavy and positive and say, “Hey, things are rough all over, but let’s not focus on that right now. Let’s focus on this, and let’s make it big!” Once that concept and that theme seemed to interest me enough, then it was just a matter of effort to try and complete it.
Read the entire intervie at Mxdwn.
“True North” audio stream: