DEVIN TOWNSEND: 'I Never Wanted To Be A Singer'

August 23, 2016

Metal Wani recently conducted an interview with Canadian musician/producer Devin Townsend. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On the new DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT album "Transcendence":

Devin: "This album was a real experiment for me. Everything that I do has very little to do with the music itself; it's more to do with the process. 'Transcendence', the process of this record, is crucial to my growth, not only as a musician, but also as a person in that it required me to step out of my comfort zone and participate with other people in ways that typically are not something that I have wanted. So, to let that go in a lot of ways has created a record that is really strong, but is also not confusing to me, but it's not as directly involved with my personality as it has been in the past. It still is, obviously, because I wrote the majority of the stuff and the lyrics. But because there are other people in there, it's something that I was interested to see how the fans would react to it. It seems overwhelmingly that people dig it, which is really cool. I'm proud of everybody who was involved in making the record and I'm proud we managed to get to a point where we could make a statement like this. But I also look forward to the future in making the symphony that's a freak-out."

On Townsend's backing band:

Devin: "You're made who you are by the people around you in a lot of ways. I think that you can give yourself a pretty good idea of where your life is at by taking a good look at the people that are close to you. The past ten years has been a lot of transformative changes in my personal life. The end result of that is that I got a bunch of really good people around me, and to not utilize them or allow them to be a participant, an active participant in something like this, it's says more about me than it would about them. That was the next step as a person. You have to try to put aside some of this narcissism and try and grow a bit."

On the differences between DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT's "Z2" double album and "Transcendence":

Devin: "'Z2' was a very challenging period for me because I was very tired and overstretched, but there was still an angle with the 'Sky Blue' album that I could dig into and that was death at the time. But because you're depressed and tired, it's much harder to engage in that creative process without it being exhausting. When it came time to do 'Transcendence', as with every record, I spent a good deal of time prior to the inception of it going, 'Where am I? What are we going to do now? What is the compulsion and which way is it pointing?' One thing that was important was that as much as I want to please myself and the band, I also want to please the audience in a sense. Abandoning the sound I've been doing for so many years without putting some effort into finding an angle that could make it still interesting, it seemed like the wrong move. I really tried to get to the root of what this music meant, what this group of people meant, what it means in relation to the rest of my career, and what it was going to mean for the future of my career. That's when the concept became clear that it's about your own need for control and lack of desire to share. That became the theme that was much easier to become passionate about than about death."

On Townsend's vocals:

Devin: "Singing is also a nightmare for me. I don't mean to sound like everything is some sort of crazy existential drama, though it probably is. I never wanted to be a singer and still don't particularly want to be a singer. It's one of those things where, after a while, when you realize you've got a vision and have a passion to say something that is emotionally very significant to you, it has to be right. It has to be a certain thing. Over the years, I've developed the capacity to make my voice do what I want it to do in ways that I can't explain to other singers or get other people to do. I try to involve different women to help me with the parts, because it's something I can't physically do, the female side of the vocal spectrum. But, man, it's like pulling teeth, the singing thing. As the years go on, it certainly doesn't get easier. I saw video clip on Blabbermouth a couple months back of RAINBOW and they have some new singer [Ronnie Romero]. And the guy was fantastic. He was great. Just like a legitimately good, schooled singer. I think to myself, 'Fuck, I couldn't do that in a million years.' I just try to shriek in tune and hopefully 60 percent of the time it works.

If Townsend follows BLABBERMOUTH.NET:

Devin: "I very much do. I think it's become en vogue to say as a person who plays heavy metal, 'I don't like metal. I don't follow the scene. I don't know anything about computers and I don't know how to tune my own guitars.' I think that's more of a fashion statement than it is a reality. I've been playing and listening to metal since I was 13. Yeah, I very much like it. I don't read the comments specifically. I think you're glutton for punishment if you choose to read them. The more attention my work gets, the more vitriol gets aimed at it just because it's sticking out. When things are below the surface, there's no reason for people to have an investment in disliking something. In a certain way, the fact that I have become more visible and the fact that it has brought a lot of detractors in a lot of ways, that's maybe one of the bonus prizes of being able to continue doing this in this day and age."

"Transcendence" will be released on September 9.



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