It’s been a spell since we’ve seen the Devin Townsend of yore — the wide-eyed musical genius with the unapologetic skullet. No, these days Devin’s gone totally Kojak, and ever since the release of his last record, the pop metal masterpiece that was Addicted, we’ve seen him only rocking the cue ball curl. And no folks, sadly, the skullet — just like Devin’s old band, Strapping Young Lad — will not be making a return. Ever.
“I’ve been married for 20 years,” Devin starts telling Gun Shy Assassin Thursday evening, over tea in his dressing room, in which the air still carried the tang of Townsend’s dinner of saag paneer. “After the first six to eight months of any relationship, when your spouse stops humping the crap out of you, trying to get laid is a pretty full-time job. The skullet wasn’t helping, man. I know people like it, or whatever. But dude — I am married. I have one option. If I wake up and my pillow is translucent because I have greasy, biohazard, snot-covered hair that smells like death, the chances of me actually getting some play are really slim.”
Devin — who says he’s finished recording Ghost and will begin tracking its companion Deconstruction at the end of this current tour with TesseracT — looks at me with a grin. “I hate to simplify the whole lack of skullet as Dev really likes sex, but…Dev needs to get laid and the skullet wasn’t helping.”
Devin Townsend has been working on completing this four-disc musical journey he’s been on for well over a year, and will wrap things up in April, when both records are released on the same day. Devin doesn’t hold back: “I think they’re good. Like, I think they’re like really, really good, dude. But definitely not in the vein of Addicted” — the second in the series; the album followed Ki, which was atmospheric and moody — “where it’s maybe more accessible. I mean, it’s pretty inaccessible material, but at the same time, I like the freedom to be able to do that, and like unabashedly so, too.”
When Townsend informed his label of his decision to release Ghost — an album he says is “not dark at all” — and Deconstruction — which “I don’t think there’s any light to it at all” — on the same day, and that the efforts would be polar opposites, he told them “I want to do two records — one’s a new age record and the other one’s a symphony about a cheeseburger…we good?,” and we was good. That’s because Devin has yet to fail us, and from the sounds of things, he’s not about to this spring either.
“With Deconstruction, there was just a point where I said, ‘You know what? This is going so far in that direction that I might as well push it over the cliff.’ It is just a completely uncompromising, uncommercial record, but I think the juxtaposition between the two is interesting, and the fact that they’re coming out together will intrigue people and if not, confuse them. In all honesty, I’m ok with either of those reactions.”
But what of the rumors that Deconstruction will feature a who’s who of heavy metal singers, lending their talents to various tracks on the album? What — more specifically — of the rumored vocals written specifically for Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth?
“I’ve got people who are willing to do it. As I get into it though, I’ve got to really see whether or not some of these singers that I’ve kind of secured, whether I’m getting them involved just because I want to utilize their name,” Townsend says. Some, he may not need. “There comes a point where you are trying to sell records with other people’s names and I think that this record is important enough to me that I should just get the singers that can do the parts that I can’t. It hasn’t been decided yet. Mike and I have been trying to get together on something for a while. I’ve been trying to rope him into doing something with my records for years. The hippie in me says whatever’s meant to happen is gonna. I firmly believe it, man. There’s several parts I’d love Mike to do [on Deconstruction] but it depends on his schedule and his availability. It will work itself out I’m sure, right.”
Then Townsend reveals that, on Wednesday, he inked a new deal with the same management firm that works with — you guessed it? — Opeth. “We’re one step closer,” Devin says to me before talking again about Deconstruction. “
“There’s sometimes when I am making a record where I think, ‘Wow that’s a really cool part, I can’t wait for this part of the record to come up.’ And with Deconstruction, there’s like a lot of those parts. It could be completely overwhelming, taxing, headache-inducing and annoying, or it could just be like, what the fuck? I’m hoping for what the fuck, right. So we’ll see.”