“BODS Mayhem Hour” recently conducted an interview with Canadian producer/musician Devin Townsend. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether his latest studio album, “Empath”, took a toll on him physically and emotionally:
Devin: “I think they all do to some extent, but that’s just the nature of it. I think that any job that we do, whether or not it’s art or building a structure or making a porch, anything that you do, if you’re going to do it right, it’s going to take a certain amount out of you. That’s been no different with ‘Empath’. I think, however, in comparison with the other records, it maybe took a little bit more out of me than the other ones, but not so much that it’s been detrimental, but enough to where I wanted to take it easy for the first few live gigs.”
On what stuck out or “excited” him during the making of “Empath”:
Devin: “Prior to the record starting, I really had an objective, and that objective was just to be free to do whatever it is I wanted to do and work with whoever I wanted to work with. If some of the music was super-heavy and some of it was really orchestral or whatever, I just wanted to be free to do it all in one place. Having that kind of mission statement prior to getting going on this allowed me to really put aside a lot of these kind of preconceived or premeditated parameters that I think I’ve had on myself for all of these years. That sort of sense of whatever goes was different on this. I think it was awesome.”
On whether Townsend likes being in control as a result of producing all of his albums:
Devin: “It’s essential on some level. However, it’s a little different this time because Mike Keneally co-produced. Although I still was able to maintain the vision, which is essential, having somebody that is that capable and brilliant and good-hearted to act as devil’s advocate was of huge significance on this. I really appreciated that.”
On whether ending DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT in 2017 enabled him to get a fresh start:
Devin: “Yeah, and I think that ‘Empath’ helped clear out the pipes and allowed me to sort of purge some things that I’ve been holding on to creatively. I had the idea for ‘Empath’ while DTP was still active, but it became clear to me pretty quickly that the scope of what I was trying to do with ‘Empath’ was going to be problematic with the band I had together. It wasn’t them as players; it’s just parameters of what you can do with a rock band is very limited. I wanted to have different drummers and orchestras and different singers and players, and all sort of things that ultimately gave me complete freedom to not be confined to one person’s skillset or what somebody likes or dislikes. It became clear pretty quickly that as I was working through the material that I was going to cause myself more problems by trying to fit it into a band mold than I cared to. The writing had been on the wall for a few years for me that I needed to move on. But I think ‘Empath’ not only acted as a catalyst to end it, but also when I was working on it, allowed me to spread my wings a little bit.”
On what he hopes people will get out of “Empath” by listening to it:
Devin: “I want to help. I don’t want the work that I do to make people feel worse. [Laughs] You know what I mean? I think if there’s a message, if there’s a message on ‘Empath’, it’s that life is not always beautiful. It’s a lot of chaos, it’s a lot of positive, it’s a lot of negative, it’s hard to handle a lot of times, but like it says in the end of ‘Singularity’, through it all, we can get through it. The fact that other people are trying helps me to try and maybe the fact that I’m trying can also help other people to try. It’s basically an anti-suicide message, I guess on some level, but in order for it to be that way, it couldn’t just be ‘Everything is great.’ It had to be ‘Everything is great sometimes, but also, sometimes everything is terrible.'”
On Townsend‘s music being able to take listeners “on a ride”:
Devin: “Ultimately, whenever I start a new record, it’s really about trying to identify the vibe and make a record that contains that vibe, so when people put it on, like you say, they’re saying, ‘Okay, I want to feel this way right now. I want to be in this frame of mind. I want it to be dark and creepy. I want it to be super-violent. I want it to be loving.’ Whatever it is, a lot of my creative process goes into trying to capture those vibes in ways that people can kind of like you say, escape for a while. Definitely.”
On whether he has seen himself grow personally and musically during the creation of “Empath”:
Devin: “I think it’s hand in hand. I think the musical growth that I have wanted to achieve may possibly be coming that. I don’t think that a lot of ‘Empath’ is really reinventing the wheel for me as much. I think that between those two choices that you presented there, ‘Empath’ is much more about the personal growth and using the tools I have at my disposal to illustrate that. I have a feeling it sort of signals the beginning of a new thing for me. I feel there’s a bunch of new stuff on the horizon that will be more in line with musical growth.”
“Empath” was released March 29 via InsideOut Music.