Devin Townsend Project: Along for a Great Screaming Ride


By Laura Wiebe Taylor

After a few years of relative quiet, Devin Townsend came back with two new albums in 2009. The first to fall on anxious ears was Ki, a relatively restrained outing for the often bombastic Townsend, introducing the Devin Townsend Project and what will eventually be a four-part multi-album endeavour. A few months later, Addicted followed, taking the project in a more straightforward and lively direction while shaking up the musical cast. (Addicted features vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen along with previous Townsend collaborators.) Here Devin answers a few logistical questions about the new project, covering distribution, pragmatic accounting, and future touring plans.

Addicted has been getting a lot of attention but Ki seemed to slip by with less fanfare earlier this year. Why the difference?

Since Ki came out, the label got picked up in the States by a new label. So it’s the same people but just with different distributors. I’ve been signed to InsideOut – they’re a German label and a progressive label and they’re really cool. They’re super concerned about the art and the packaging… They had been distributed in Europe by SPV and they had SPV in America too but it just never worked. But then SPV went broke and I was just like, ‘holy shit, what’s gonna happen now?’ But Century Media, who I was signed to with Strapping Young Lad, absorbed InsideOut, so basically it’s the best possible situation because I’ve got the same deal that I had with InsideOut, which is a good deal. I license with them through my label [HevyDevy], and then all the promo work, all the production, all the manufacturing is done by Century Media, who are, I think, the number two independent label in American. And they’re now distributed by EMI, who are huge.

So we’ve got that, and then I signed my first deal ever in Canada, last month. Being a Canadian that’s like the craziest thing for me too, but it’s true. I signed to E1 in Canada and it seems to be cool. I’ve done more interviews with Canada in the past week than I’ve done cumulatively in my whole career. It’s crazy. So it’s all kinda working itself out, and not to any great screaming ends but it’s great, you know. We’re able to keep doing what we do and that’s awesome.

You explained that you wrote all the Devin Townsend Project music more or less at once – have you started recording the next two albums yet?

I’m about a quarter of the way into both of them and they’re both being released simultaneously in May.

Why the simultaneous release this time?

Well, one record, the heavy record, it’s got a symphony on it and a bunch of guests and everything, and it’s gonna cost me way more than the budget I have for that record. So if I do both of them at the same time, considering the second record is very cheap to record – it’s just like a bunch of acoustic stuff – then I can kinda cross-collateralize. And knowing that the amount of attention that the heavy one [Deconstruction] is gonna get over the folky one makes the folk record almost negligible in terms of like its sales potentials … To put them together allows me not only to have more money to do the orchestrated one but it also allows me to have a buffer when recording the heavy one gets too intense. You know, I can just put it aside and play some acoustic.

Sounds very practical.

That’s me.

What touring plans are in the works?

We start in America on January 7th . We’re doin’ a tour with a couple kinda progressive heavier bands. One of them’s Between the Buried and Me and the other one’s Cynic. And it’s just kinda like gettin’ your feet wet, you know, see if water’s nice, and if it’s nice we’ll continue, right? We’re doing a quick tour in Australia, New Zealand and Japan in March. And we’re doing a bunch of festivals, like really good spots at some big festivals in Europe, starting in the summer. One of them is – we got this incredible offer to do a musical. The record I did before this four-record project was called Ziltoid the Omniscient (2007), right, and it’s a kind of a silly, in a way, musical, about this coffee drinking alien. It’s a metaphor for a bunch of things but on the surface it’s this alien puppet. And when I first released it people were just like, ‘what the fuck man, this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,’ but it’s been a couple years and people are like, ‘actually, this is like really cool.’ So Finland offered us a substantial chunk of money to do the whole album, with screens and a choir and performers and the whole works. I’m really excited about that. Again, it’s like the ship just keeps floating and I’m just kinda along for the ride a lot of the time.


Sean is the founder/publisher of; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.