Devin Townsend (en)

"People are always looking for answers: “Oh, you are in this spiritual thing, you are vegetarian (or whatever)…. maybe you have an answer”, you know? And it is like: I’m fucked, you know? Like… Fucked!"
Check out the chat that Spirit of Metal had with Devin Townsend on September 8th in Los Angeles.

interview Devin TownsendYou are releasing Epicloud now in September. Can you talk a little bit about this new record?
I think it is really good. It is a record that I’ve wanted to make for a long time but I think that at some level I’ve been afraid to make it because it is so commercial. I was afraid that people would think one way or another about me making a commercial record. To be honest it is commercial in terms of my stuff but overall [it is] not commercial. To be able to get pass that sort of fear, of what other people think, to make a record like this, it’s been a big success for me.

[The Album] It’s pretty positive, I think, and pretty heavy, lots of layers… and I think the sound it’s pretty big too, so… I think it is a very cool step for me, in my own mind.

Some of Epicloud’s songs are already available on youtube (before the official release of the record). Has the album leaked or have you somehow made it available there before the official release?
It was probably a leak. I can’t say I am super concerned about it, to be honest. It doesn’t bother me, those things. Whatever songs are on youtube, I hope people will enjoy. That’s the bottom line.

You have mentioned in other interviews that you wanted to write the next Ziltoid album but you ended up writing Epicloud. So, when is the new Ziltoid coming out?
Humm… probably in a couple of years, still. I mean, I want to make the next Ziltoid thing really big, you know? I wanted it to be like a Broadway sort of thing (movies, puppets, orchestras and that sort of stuff). And I think that I’ve been working and putting out so much music recently that I need to be able to take [it] a little slower this time. But, I would say probably [in] two years.

A few days ago you started this tour with Katatonia and Paradise in North America. How did this lineup happen?
We all have the same management and it was a suggestion on the management’s part. And I think it is working well, I mean, it is hard to tell because each band is very focused on their own performance and the music is very different from each other… different “moods”, definitely. But I can say from my point of view, that I think it is nice to have different moods. I’ve always done that to my own music. Being on a tour that isn’t just one thing is refreshing.

But, it is too early on the tour too, right? [the tour had started a few days before the interview] I mean, I hope that people who will come to this enjoy it for its diversity and see it for what it is.

After this tour: what are the plans?
Well, we’ve got this “circus” thing that we are doing in London, on the 27th of October at the Roundhouse. We’ve got this really big production. It sold out a year ago and there will be a lot of people, a choir, fire breathers and all sorts of crazy shit. So, that can go one of two ways, you know? (laughs) We are also filming it for a release.

After that we are doing a couple of months in Europe with Fear Factory. And then, you know, pass that point there’s rumors of several tours back in America for January. We will see where it takes us, right? I am willing to do whatever it takes to get us to where we need to go, as long as it is fun.

Talking about your career in general: you have experimented with many different styles of music. Are there any other styles that you are kind of keeping “inside your sleeves” and waiting for the right time to use them?
Well, yeah, there are a lot of things. But, I mean, I certainly don’t think of future projects in terms of: “what haven’t I done?” I just hopefully allow it to manifest itself in whichever way it does. And so, if I feel one day that country music is an interest then I will do a country record, right? If I felt li
interview Devin Townsendke brutal, industrial metal, then I would do that. I tend to just follow it where it leads. Most of the time it surprises me more than it surprises other people (laughs).

Since you have so many different projects: what makes you draw the line – this will be for the Devin Townsend project, this will be a new project, this will be Ziltoid, etc?
It seems to be obvious. Maybe sometimes the song changes: you think it is going to be for one project but it ends up being in another. But, for the most part, you write a song and it’s like: “That sounds “Addicted” or “Deconstruction” or “Epicloud”. It seems to categorize itself automatically for the most part.

You have stopped drinking and using drugs and you are also a vegetarian. How different it is to write music, when thinking before and after starting this “healthy” lifestyle?
Well, I’ve been vegetarian for many years. It is always been part of the scene.

Yeah… drinks and drugs: the obvious ways you know? I mean, I’m 40 so I still feel like shit when I wake up, regardless if I drank the night before. But, probably the most obvious ways: I have so much more time to do music now, you know? I’ve got an extra of 8 hours a day (laughs) to spend doing other things. So, I find that I get a lot more done that way. With that in mind, I think that the sobriety is very productive.

But do you see a lot of difference in the music itself?
I think that in some ways the process changed. Like, when I was smoking weed for example, I would wake up, smoke, have coffee, play guitar and just get stuck on it. But now, I just write and I finish it, I write and I finish it, I write and I finish it. My ability to finish things now is much greater then it’s ever been.

When I smoked, I found that I didn’t finish things that often. I got so hung up on it that I wouldn’t finish it. And now, I have a good idea, I finish it and I move on.

This “healthier” type of style is not the most common/ popular in metal. Do you think that by setting this example, people will see that they can still be cool and also be healthy?
Maybe. It is definitely not my intention though. I mean, what works for me it is not going to work for you for the most part, right? Just because I don’t do drugs or drink, it is not because I have a problem with drinking and drugs. It is not like I think they are bad. They just ceased to work for me.

I think [that] if there is an example that I hope to leave, it would be: if you are doing things that you know don’t work for you, then maybe try not doing them and see what happens. There is going to be a transition period that is difficult but, afterwards, you may find that you’re better off.

But, it doesn’t mean that I’m trying to make a statement: “Don’t do drugs, don’t drink”. I mean, I don’t because it doesn’t work for me. I think that the only thing is to be honest with yourself. A lot of people think that things are working for them but they are not, right? So, just look at your life and take it into stock. You are convincing yourself that things are working for you when they are actually pretty destructive, right?

Again, in previous interviews, you have mentioned several times how all these factors influence you “spiritually”. Do you see yourself as someone like Geroge Harrison, who tried very hard throughout his life to grow spiritually (without meaning religiously, of course)?
Yeah, of course. I think my friends do to. I don’t spend a lot of time with people that don’t try to grow spiritually, right? I think that the best way for me to make that point though, is to say: I don’t know what the fuck is going on. I have no idea. I screw up all the time. I don’t have any answers and sometimes I feel like I’m gettin
interview Devin Townsendg further away from the spiritual growth that I was years ago.

So, my interest on those things are not like I’m trying to stand on a milk crate and say: “Spirituality …” and all that shit. I just think that human beings are connected to it, like it or not, you know?

Even if you don’t want to think we are I, personally think everything is connected to each other. So, to not have this as part of my process doesn’t make any sense to me. But, again, that may not work for [other] people.

I am certainly not saying that because my interest in it comes out in music, it is something that I am trying to ram down other people’s throats… because I don’t understand it. I don’t understand anything. Every day that goes by I feel that I understand less, and less, and less. So I am interested in it just because I think it is a big part of life. Maybe THE biggest part of life but, I have no idea, you know?

I watched a few days ago the documentary about George Harrison by Martin Scorsese. He actually spent years, and years preparing to die in a “proper” way, basically…
I think we all do in our own way but at the same time, who knows what happens when you die? Maybe you are just dead. You can spend all this time and effort not eating steak and not going to the disco because you want to die properly and then you die and you [think]: “Oh shit, I should’ve had the fucking steak”. So, I think that there is all that sort of western spiritual nonsense in a lot of ways. I am not talking about George Harrison, but just in general, this whole sort of like, selling Buddha kind of trip. [It] again implies that people have answers and which they don’t. I think that everybody’s answers are for them to figure out and unique to them, right?

Again, what works for me it is not going to work for somebody else. So… I am not on a path but life puts us on our own path, I would imagine. So, I’m going to learn with this but, all my non-drinking and non-smoking, vegetarian, it could have been a total waste of time, right? Who knows…?

It is important to have perspective on it. People are always looking for answers: “Oh, you are in this spiritual thing, you are vegetarian (or whatever)…. maybe you have an answer”, you know? And it is like: I’m fucked, you know? Like… Fucked! So… (laughs).

About your personal life: you have a family. How do you balance your professional life and your personal life?

Any plans to spend more time with them in the future?
Oh yeah. We do what we can. The thing is: this is what I do, you know? It is what I do for a living. I don’t have a job from “9:00 [am] to 5:00 [pm]”. I’m very lucky I don’t. But, this is what I do and in order to do this, it takes me away. So, you know, it’s like you can’t cry about things the way they are, right? So, everybody has to compromise: family has to compromise, the band has to compromise, everybody has to compromise. Ultimately you do the best you can.

I feel, for the most part, that I work at 150% of my capacity and everything in my life gets done in about 65%. You know what I mean? So, I am working way harder than I feel I want to and nothing is getting done perfectly.

Any favorite activity that you like to do during “vacation” time?
I like to go to the nature: go to the trees, go to the mountains, go to the water… things like that. Without nature I don’t know how I would be able to write.

Any messages to the Spirit of Metal readers?
Any messages? I get asked that in a lot of the interviews, I think it is sort of a common interview question “Do you have any messages?”. And the only one that keeps springing in my mind is: Worse things have happened to better people. So, I’m going to keep saying that.
Interview done by Deesse_de_la_nuit

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krakoukass56 - 28 Wrzesień 2012: Thank you so much.

I think he's right when he says that once stop smoking you're able to finish so many things... so real.
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