First entering the metal world with the progressive death metal band Strapping Young Lad in 1994, Devin Townsend is one of metal’s most original and most hardworking gentlemen. Among his various projects, he has released a total of 23 albums, all which showcase his large variety of influences, causing some to dub him “The Heavy Metal Frank Zappa”. Just last year he released Z2with the Devin Townsend Project, and the self-titled debut album by his new project, Casualties of Cool. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing him by phone. We talked about topics such as his plans for 2016 as well as why Strapping Young Lad will never get back together.
On being compared to Frank Zappa:
I don’t smoke cigarettes… so I guess that’s a difference. I do love Zappa, though if I had a choice, I would have gone with Captain Beefheart. Beefheart was completely unaware of how brilliant he was while Zappa knew it.
On Casualties of Cool:
Casualties are a project I have been working on for a long time. I guess because I do all this work with DTP and all these other projects it’s easy to forget the other stuff you have planned and easy to fall into a paint by numbers sort of thing. This project was something that started slowly without any intention of it turning into anything, but it ended up being a very personal reflection of where I am in music at this point. I’m sure my typical heavy metal fans don’t have any interest in this, but for me it was a really important one cause I got to do something without anyone asking for it. People call this project country all the time but I think its not quite country. I think its more progressive and dark. I think the influence for the sound comes from where I grew up. I grew up on the Americana sort of vibe, stuff like Johnny Cash and Pete Seeger. Then in 2008 I remember hearing that Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration record Raising Sand and thought it was pretty cool. I guess in natural ways this sound just found its own footing.
On possible future albums:
There are always tons of future ideas! Kind of like how I let Casualties evolve the way it did,I let my future solo work evolve in whatever way it wants to. Next thing I’m doing is a Devin Townsend Project record which will be different than anything I’ve done in the past, but along the same lines of that epic heavy metal vibe. I plan on doing a symphony by the end of the year and I have a bunch of a little side projects I’m working on but I’ll let the ones that feel most important to me take a pole position and that would be the Devin Townsend Project.
On 2016 tour:
We have a planned Devin Townsend Project 2016 US tour, but no dates or locations are decided yet.
On Strapping Young Lad Reunion:
I hate to disappoint you, but the short answer is no. Other then Jed, I don’t really talk to those guys anymore. A lot of fans are upset that there won’t be a reunion and that I’m not doing Strapping anymore, but I can’t spend anymore energy apologizing. I feel I have progressed as an artist and have moved on from that stage in my career.
On who he would like to collaborate with in the future:
Pretty much everyone I’d like to collaborate with I have already. I don’t listen to enough modern metal to have a new list of favorites. The biggest problem with metal in general is that its hard to sustain. Look at Metallica for example they are these 50 year old guys who can’t seem to put out another metal record. They had Orion fest, movies, and Lulu, but no new metal material. I see their problem being they just don’t have the energy anymore. Which I can totally relate to. The collaboration album Deconstruction was an idea I had at the time and though I feel its a good record, I don’t have any plans to do anything like it at the moment. I often wonder if the people I respect as musicians have anything in common, if we just hung out. I wonder if we tried to put together some kind of supergroup that we would end up just all hating each other’s guts… that would suck.