Interviewed by Kate Prothero
When I first found out that I’d have the opportunity to chat to one of of the most highly thought of and complex musicians in the world, I said yes without really thinking about it. Why would you even hesitate right? As the day of the interview dawned I found myself sat at the computer screen watching Devin Townsend’s live DVD of his fantastical Retinal Circus project… followed by a stint listening to his mellow country record from Casualties of Cool. I had a quick look on his Facebook and Twitter pages, and ‘googled’ him. I’m a fan. I saw him live a few years back, and have purchased most of his back catalogue, however, I pale insignificance to the hoards of mega-fans and obsessives, some of which, according to google, have his face tattooed on various parts of their bodies. He has been admired, obsessed over, copied, scrutinised and lauded as a metal messiah for the best part of 25 years. With these facts in mind, coupled with the sneaky suspicion that I might be completely out of my depth and about to chat to somebody who may well be a wizard or from another planet, or functioning on a higher mental level than me, and my brain might explode during our conversation.
Luckily for me, he was none of those things, and my brain is in tact – despite the fact that he does indeed function on a totally different level to most mortals. I found him to be extremely bright, a complete musician and refreshingly for somebody with his legendary status, a person with a well balanced view of his work. In the past he has had battles, some pretty huge ones too, battles that he has been painfully honest about, including his diagnosis of Bi-polar disorder and struggles with cannabis. However, things have moved on. He has moved on. He doesn’t seem to be the kind of person that looks back, rather embraces the past and channels it into new and more magnificent bodies of work, which, in my un-qualified opinion, is extremely healthy.
It has been seven years since the release of ‘Ziltoid the Omniciscent’, his highly thought of and extraordinary concept album based on the character he created – Ziltoid, who is from the planet Ziltoidia 9, it’s very tongue-in-cheek, very witty and in Townsends trademark style, so over the top and gargantuan that it is impossible to not love it for those facts alone. This month will see the return of Ziltoid, in Devin’s next ambitious and highly anticipated project ‘Z2 – Blue Sky vs Dark Matter’ a double album that promises to be every bit as huge and impressive as everything that Devin Townsend has ever released. Whats more, is that he is also on tour all over the world with this album, and excitingly for us here in the UK – he will be performing a special show at London’s Royal Albert Hall in April next year, tickets for which sold out in record time.
Devin Townsend does not do small talk, which after several weeks of constant interviews about the new album and the tour is understandable. This interview perfectly demonstrates why Devin Townsend’s music sounds the way that it does – an eloquent man, surrounded by self inflicted chaos, whilst having the talent, skill, power and vision to keep the plates spinning. His capacity to explore his own imagination with nothing out of bounds is admirable.. on second thoughts.. maybe he is a wizard after all.