Devin Townsend 2003

Another find from the archives is Dan's interview with Devin Townsend.

12/9/20038 min read

Conducted 12/8/2003 by Dan Barkasi

On December 8th, 2003, The Devin Townsend Band was playing at the Hard Rock Café in Pittsburgh, PA. Devin being one of my all-time favorite musicians, and really, one of my idols, I was insanely pumped up for this one. Not only was I going to see The Devin Townsend Band for the first time ever, I had managed to schedule an interview with Devin himself! I was really excited, as you could imagine. I came to the venue right after my classes for the day had concluded, and met up with Devin. The interview was an absolute blast to do. Devin is one hell of a cool guy. I hope you enjoy this interview!

Dan: Nice to meet you, Devin!

Devin Townsend: Same here man!

Dan: First off, how’s the tour going so far?

Devin: Ah, interesting! Because we’re packing ourselves and driving ourselves, so it’s been a lot more work than the rest of the years been. This definitely hasn’t been our audience, especially at the beginning of the tour. But towards the end now, I’m starting to learn now how to be a little more polite. Which I guess is a result of all this Strapping thing right, just being so rude all the time! Then when I didn’t get taken to immediately by the fans, I freaked out! laughs But I think I’ve kind of figured it out now. Just do it nice and play your stuff as well as you can, and if people like it they like it, and if they don’t they don’t.

Dan: That’s all you can do!

Dan: How’s the sales of Accelerated Evolution gone?

Devin: How’s the sales? Oh god! We probably haven’t even sold anything! laughs

Dan: laughs

Devin: But really, whatever. laughs

Dan: How did the making for the video for "Storm" go?

Devin: It was fun. It was a really quick thing we did on a green screen. Have you seen the video yet?

Dan: Not yet, but I’ll be sure to soon!

Devin: It’s cool! It was the same night we did Strapping, filming. And it was fun, it was a good time.

Dan: What are your plans for after this tour is over?

Devin: We’re doing a DVD for Strapping. It’s gonna be out of control! We’ve got multi-camera angles, big thousand seater venue, it’s gonna have fucking flames and chicks and rectifier armor and heavy metal and double kick and lights…

Dan: That’ll rock!

Devin: Oh yeah, totally rock man! Then I’m producing a few bands. The Heavils and Misery Signal. Ah, new Strapping Record, new DTB record.

Dan: You’re obviously pretty busy with production and making music and all that. How do you do it and stay sane?

Devin: I’m not sane! makes a goofy face


Dan: How would you describe The Devin Townsend Band to somebody who has never heard you before?

Devin: Zeppelin, modern. Judas Priest, modern.

Dan: You’ve obviously made a pretty big name for yourself in the metal world, is there anything you’re looking to accomplish from here on out?

Devin: I just want to be able to continue what I’m doing. Making music, and being able to pay my rent sometimes. Most of the time! Being able to pay my rent, and make music. That’s a great thing!

Dan: What do you enjoy more: production or making your own music?

Devin: Making my own stuff, definitely. Definitely! But, production helps me make my own stuff.

Dan: What are some of your biggest musical influences?

Devin: Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Jesus Christ Superstar, Fear Factory, Godflesh, Krokus, Morbid Angel, Dimmu Borgir, Samael. Ween! Old lady drives. Anything man. ABBA. Anything man. Hell, Linkin Park!

Dan: Linkin Park, really?

Devin: Yeah, I like Linkin Park! I like anything that really sounds sonically good. As a producer, I’m like, that sounds killer. Music is really just whatever, ya know? This might appeal to some 10 or 12 year old perfectly, and that makes it valid too, right? I remember Def Leppard’s Hysteria effected me really heavily when I was a teen. I had people telling me it was gay, and I’m like no man, I got something from that record. It was cool.

Dan: Is there a specific process that you go through when you write a song?

Devin: I usually just come up with a theme and go on it.

Dan: What do you think of the metal scene today?

Devin: It’s cool! Dimmu Borgir are fucking amazing. God, there’s so many. What else am I listening to… Children of Bodom, Nevermore.

Dan: Those bands are great! I saw them here back in November

Devin: Yeah I know, they’re killer! The only reason those ones spring to mind initially is because I just saw them at the Metalfest.

Dan: What inspired you to get into music in the first place?

Devin: Probably my parents. My grandfather. Musicals, I think. Like Fiddler On The Roof and Jesus Christ Superstar, things that had a story set to music, and the emotions were so dramatic that when I was a kid I could really relate to it. Now it’s a little cheesy, but at the time it was like “wow” because it made me understand emotions. Like, “oh, she must be sad” because it’s a sad song and she’s crying. So that’s what a sad song should do, it should make you cry. Or happy songs should make you do this, right?

Dan: For sure, man.

Dan: Is there anything that you’d like to portray with your lyrics?

Devin: Just that power, that one thing. The thing, the one thing. The one whatever. That thing! But really loud and really heavy!

Dan: Where do you see yourself in the next couple years?

Devin: Ah, I dunno. Probably doing something like I’m doing now, probably amplified. Or, I might be having a kid. Ya know? But I really like what I do, and I really enjoy being on stage.

Dan: Making it in the music industry is obviously pretty tough. Is it worth all the struggle?

Devin: It depends on what you want, right? Because I think you have to compromise to get what you want. And for me, it was a really weird thing that happened in my life when I made that compromise. If you’re the type of person that doesn’t ever want to compromise…you can do it I guess, but you’d have to be Ween! The band Ween. Because they’re the fluke, in my opinion. But, for everybody else…yeah, if you want it, rock it! I wanted it, I got it. I don’t have it big, but I got it. I get to play on stage. Ya know, like this is a new band and we’re starting out again so it’s a little fucked up. But I’m able to do it for a living, and that’s what I consider getting it, right? Sometimes it’s scary, but you know, whatever!

Dan: Is there any music that your fans would be surprised that you’re into?

Devin: Ah, I dunno man. Aqua. Andrew WK. Garth Brooks. Anything, really.

Dan: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen a fan do?

Devin: Well I’m a fan, right? So I’ve done some crazy things. I was such a fan of Jane’s Addiction when I was a kid that I painted “Jane’s Addiction” all over my car! laughs I still am. When I hear a band that I like, I’m just like, I like that band! And I’m in the position now that I get to tour with them, and I’m like, I get to be buddies with that guy! I think fan mentality is essential, man. I think it’s like, being a fan of music is important to being a musician.

Dan: You’ve gotta love what you’re doing.

Devin: Yeah! And other people do such amazing stuff, and personally I would say that it would save me the effort of trying to do something like that. Just let the people that are doing it do it, and do your own thing.

Dan: If you weren’t a successful musician, what do you think you’d be doing right now?

Devin: I dunno. I could do anything, I think. I’d probably like, do manual labor or something. I like lifting things.

Dan: Besides music, do you have any special and unique talents?

Devin: I can flip my foot around backwards!

Dan: Really??

Devin: Yeah! I’ll show ya, check it out!

Devin then proceeds to do just that…flip his foot around backwards! Boy did that look painful!

Dan: Wow, that’s crazy!

Devin: laughs

Dan: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Devin: Smoking pot, drinking coffee, playing on my computer.

Dan: Do you prefer working in a studio or touring?

Devin: Both. One gets tiring, so does the other.

Dan: What do you do to keep yourself occupied when you’re on the road?

Devin: Play on the computer, smoke pot, drink coffee.

Dan: Do you have a favorite place to play?

Devin: I really like Australia. We were there for 3 days before this tour started with Strapping, and it was awesome!

Dan: Really? Sounds cool!

Devin: Yeah, it was killer! Killer! But anywhere man, anywhere’s cool. It’s just being on stage, either way you’re on stage. That never changes. It’s like it’s your world up there and you’re sort of performing for yourself. So it’s like, a stage is a stage, really. The only thing you notice is when people boo or play hangman on the stage or something. Then I freak out.

Dan: Do you notice a difference between crowds in America and crowds elsewhere, like in Europe?

Devin: Yeah, I think it’s a little unabashed. I don’t think the passion or anything is different, but I think in Europe its a little more…the history is such a big thing. They’re able to let go more than us North Americaners. Because we’re pretty reserved when it comes to letting it all hang out. We can get drunk like no ones business, but it takes us 20 minutes, right? laughs They start at fucking 9 in the morning!

Dan: If you could tour with any band in the world, past or present, who would it be?

Devin: Zeppelin!

Dan: Damn good choice!

Devin: Yup!

Dan: What’s your opinion on the whole MP3 thing?

Devin: Go for it! Rock out. Download the fuck out of it. If you like it, come buy something. We’ll make it available, but the whole point is like getting music heard.

Dan: Do you have a favorite TV show?

Devin: I like Mr. Show. I like Mystery Science Theater 3000. I like Iron Chef. I like Futurama.

Dan: Futurama’s great!

Devin: Yeah it is! It’s fucking awesome.

Dan: Have you ever seen Family Guy?

Devin: Yeah, it’s good! It’s growing on me! It’s growing on me. But Futurama’s got Bender though!

Dan: Oh yeah, Bender is classic.

Devin: I know! He’s fucking awesome!

Dan: Do you have a favorite cartoon character?

Devin: Favorite cartoon character? The Dirty Pair.

Dan: I’ve never seen that one, man.

Devin: It was a Manga thing, but then it was adapted by a cartoonist named Adam Warren, who kind of Americanized Manga, and it was like super commercial, slick looking. It was like two hot chicks, a red hair and a black hair, wearing like nothing basically, but destroying worlds and laughing about it. When I first saw it, I was like that’s so awesome!

Dan: Are you into any kind of sports or anything like that?

Devin: Eh, no. I like sports, but I just don’t do them. I just jump on the bandwagon when everybody else is drinking and having fun.

Dan: Do you have any words of advice for any band that’s trying to make it?

Devin: Try harder. Seriously, bust your ass.

Dan: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Devin: Don’t shit where you eat! Thank you Ween. That was one of their songs. Ween is amazing, man!

Dan: They’re different, man!

Devin: Oh yeah, they are. They’re odd. But once you get into them and listen to them sometimes, it’s like, man! Every now and then I’m like those guys are a lot more aware of shit than they’re leading on. When they do lead you on, it’s so deep, it’s like, wow! And they’re really good musicians. Their songs, they’re memorable. And funny! They don’t give a fuck I think they’re my favorite band. Ween and Zeppelin. Right now, at least.

Dan: Awesome man! Thanks for the interview!

Devin: You’re welcome!