|Height:||185 cm (6' 1'')|
|Birth Day:||May 5, 1972|
|Birth Place:||New Westminster, Canada|
|Height:||185 cm (6' 1'')|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
At five years old he started playing banjo; by twelve, he had switched to the guitar.
Devin Garrett Townsend was born in New Westminster on May 5, 1972. He picked up the banjo when he was five and began playing guitar when he was 12. As an early teenager, he befriended Brian "Beav" Waddell, who would later play guitars as part of the Devin Townsend Band and bass on the Devin Townsend Project. He participated in several metal bands while he was in high school, and founded Grey Skies at the age of 19. Around the same time he joined a popular local group called Caustic Thought, replacing Jed Simon on guitar and playing alongside bassist Byron Stroud, both of whom would later become members of Townsend's flagship band, Strapping Young Lad. In 1993, Townsend began writing material under the name Noisescapes, a project he later described as "just as violent as Strapping Young Lad".
In 1994, Century Media Records offered Townsend a contract to make "some extreme albums". He agreed to a five-album deal with the record label, and also provided much of the guitar work on the 1994 album Millennium and the 1995 album Hard Wired by Vancouver industrial band Front Line Assembly. Townsend began to record material under the pseudonym Strapping Young Lad. He avoided using his real name at this point in career, looking for a fresh start after his high-profile Vai gig. "At the beginning, I wanted to avoid at all cost to use my name because I was known as the singer for Steve Vai and it wasn't the best publicity to have," he later explained. "I was playing somebody else's music and I was judged in respect to that music." Townsend produced and performed nearly all the instruments on the debut studio album, Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing, which was released in April 1995.
Following the release of the record, Townsend and several other musician friends he knew in Vancouver recorded his first solo album in 1996 entitled Punky Brüster – Cooked on Phonics. Written and recorded in under a month, the album was produced as a parody of punk rock bands and documents the act of selling out for mainstream success. Townsend founded his own independent record label, HevyDevy Records, to release the album. Townsend assembled a permanent lineup of Strapping Young Lad to record City, including prolific metal drummer Gene Hoglan, along with Townsend's former bandmates Jed Simon on guitar and Byron Stroud on bass. The industrial-influenced album was released in 1997. To this day, the album is widely considered Strapping Young Lad's best work, with Metal Maniacs calling it "groundbreaking" and Revolver naming it "one of the greatest metal albums of all time". Townsend himself considers it the band's "ultimate" album. Later that year, Townsend released his second solo album, Ocean Machine: Biomech. The album featured a mix of hard rock, ambient, and progressive rock.
After the completion of City and Ocean Machine: Biomech, Townsend began to approach a mental breakdown. He explained, "I started to see human beings as little lonesome, water based, pink meat life forms pushing air through themselves and making noises that the other little pieces of meat seemed to understand." In December 1997, he checked himself into a mental-health hospital, where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The diagnosis helped him understand where the two sides of his music were coming from; he felt his disorder "gave birth to the two extremes that are Strapping's City record and Ocean Machine: Biomech." After being discharged from the hospital, Townsend found that "everything just clicked" and he was able to write his third solo album, Infinity, which he described as "the parent project" of City and Ocean Machine: Biomech, with music influenced by Broadway. Townsend returned to the studio, accompanied by Hoglan, to work on the album, on which Townsend played most of the instruments. Infinity was released in October 1998. Later in his career, Townsend has cited Infinity as his favorite solo record.
Townsend's next project took several years to come to fruition. After the creation of the IR8 demo tape, Townsend and Jason Newsted had begun work on a new project called Fizzicist, which they described as "heavier than Strapping Young Lad". When the IR8 tape was leaked, Newsted's Metallica bandmates James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich learned of the project. Hetfield was "fucking pissed" that Newsted was playing outside the band, and Newsted was prevented by his bandmates from working on any more side projects, although Townsend would later downplay Metallica's role in Newsted's unavailability. With the project stalled, Townsend instead wrote the album himself, entitling it Physicist. Townsend assembled his Strapping Young Lad bandmates to record it, the only time this lineup was featured on a Devin Townsend album. The thrash-influenced Physicist was released in June 2000, and is generally considered a low point in Townsend's career. Hoglan and the rest of the band were dissatisfied with the way the sound was mixed, and Townsend considers it his worst album to date.
Feeling he had "ostracized a bunch of fans" with Physicist, Townsend felt he had the chance to make a more personal and honest record. Townsend was inspired one morning while driving across Canada with his band, and looked to write an "introspective" album dedicated to his homeland. He produced and recorded Terria, a "highly illustrated stream-of-consciousness" album, with Gene Hoglan on drums, Craig McFarland on bass and Jamie Meyer on keyboards. Townsend cited Ween's White Pepper as an inspiration for the album. Terria was released in November 2001.
Townsend's solo run lasted until 2002. After a five-year break from recording, Strapping Young Lad reunited to record a new album. Townsend credits the album, Strapping Young Lad, as an emotional response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, in the United States. "If the world's about to blow up," said Townsend, "let's write the soundtrack for it." The album's lyrics were based more around fear and insecurity than the "hostile" lyrics of City. Musically, Strapping Young Lad was less industrial than City, and more reminiscent of death metal, with a "larger-than-life" rock production style. Townsend cited Front Line Assembly, Grotus, and Samael's Passage as influences. The self-titled album was released in February 2003. It received lukewarm reviews, with critics finding it inferior to City, but it was the band's first charting album, entering at 97th place on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart.
Strapping Young Lad began working on their next album, Alien, in March 2004. Feeling that the band's previous album did not live up to expectations, Townsend decided to take his music to a new extreme. During the process of writing and recording the new album, Townsend stopped taking the medication prescribed to treat his bipolar disorder because he began expressing doubt about the initial diagnosis, and decided to stop taking the medication, but continued with his substance abuse, and he eventually "flipped out" during the process, and later called the resulting album "toxic" and "psychologically very unhealthy". Although Townsend considered the album an "impenetrable mass of technicality", it was well received on its release, selling 3,697 copies in its first week and appearing on several Billboard charts. Around this time, Townsend also contributed to the soundtrack of the video game Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel.
Shortly thereafter Townsend began putting together the next Devin Townsend Band record, with the working title Human. Townsend intended the album as the more "pleasant" counterpart to Alien. "It's basically a record about coming back down to earth after being in space with Alien for a while." The album ended up being renamed Synchestra and was released in January 2006. Townsend showcased a wide variety of musical styles in Synchestra, blending his trademark "pop metal" with influences from folk, polka, and Middle Eastern music. The final Strapping Young Lad album, The New Black, was released later in 2006.
Townsend withdrew from touring to spend time with his family. From home, Townsend completed his second solo ambient album, The Hummer, releasing it exclusively on his website in November 2006.
Townsend is married to Tracy Turner, whom he began dating when he was 19. She gave birth to their first son, Reyner Liam Johnstan Townsend, on October 4, 2006. Townsend and his family live in the Coquitlam suburb of Vancouver.
In May 2007, Townsend released Ziltoid the Omniscient, a tongue-in-cheek rock opera about the eponymous fictional alien. This was truly a solo album; he programmed the drums using Drumkit from Hell, a software drum machine that uses samples recorded by Tomas Haake of Meshuggah and played all other instruments himself. Shortly after the album's release, Townsend announced that he no longer planned to tour or make albums with Strapping Young Lad or the Devin Townsend Band. He explained that he was "burnt out on travelling, touring, and self promotion" and wished to do production work, write albums, and spend time with his family without the stress of interviews or touring.
In 2008, Townsend lent his voice to characters in several episodes of the Adult Swim cartoon Metalocalypse (see Musician cameos in Metalocalypse for more). The original character design for Pickles the Drummer, one of the series' main characters, bore a striking resemblance to Townsend. The series' co-creator Brendon Small acknowledged the similarity, and altered the design before the series began. "We made sure he didn't look like Devin Townsend. We gave him the goatee and the dreadover so he wouldn't look like that."
Over two years, Townsend wrote over 60 songs, and found that they fit into "four distinct styles". In March 2009, Townsend announced his plans for a four-album series called Devin Townsend Project, with the goal of clarifying his musical identity and being "accountable" for the persona he projects to the public. The project's concept includes a different "theme" and a different group of musicians on each album.
Ki, the first album of the Devin Townsend Project tetralogy was written to "set the stage" for the subsequent albums. Townsend channelled his new-found control and sobriety into Ki, a "tense, quiet" album, which contrasts with much of the music he had been known for. Additional female vocals were provided by Ché Aimee Dorval (Casualties of Cool). Ki was released in May 2009.
The second entry, a "commercial, yet heavy" album called Addicted, was released in November 2009 and features lead vocals from Townsend and Dutch singer Anneke van Giersbergen. Brian "Beav" Waddell was recruited from the Devin Townsend Band to play bass.
From 2009, Townsend worked on a long-running album project called Z, a sequel to the album Ziltoid the Omniscient (2007). Originally in 2012, he teased he "may have just written the heaviest thing (he's) ever done" for the album, and stated there might a surprising lack of Ziltoid himself appearing on the album. However, in August 2013, a London-based radio station, TeamRock Radio, aired the first episode of Ziltoid Radio, a satirical radio show hosted solely by Ziltoid, this being one element of the Z project. Townsend also discussed a "ZTV" or "Ziltoid TV" to precede the album. Townsend later stated he found the project hard to schedule and work with amidst touring and writing, stating "it takes a lot of effort" to keep the content and its tongue-in-cheek humour entertaining.
After returning to public view in 2009, Townsend began endorsing Peavey, and later released a PXD Devin Townsend signature model, essentially a Flying V-style 7-string baritone guitar with an EMG 81-7 pickup and a 7-string EMG SA single coil pickup in the neck position. Peavey also made Townsend a number of custom 7-strings, including one with a single EMG 81-7 pickup that is used for playing most of the material on Ziltoid The Omniscient. Aside from his signature model, Townsend also utilizes two custom 6-string Predator models made by Peavey; one with a natural flame-top finish and the DTP logo on the 12th fret, and one in a black finish with a Floyd Rose vibrato unit (for Open C and Open B tuning, respectively).
Townsend returned to the stage in January 2010, touring North America with headliner Between the Buried and Me as well as Cynic and Scale the Summit. This was followed by a headlining tour in Australia and a series of high-profile shows in Europe (for example co-headlining the Brutal Assault festival in Czech Republic). He headlined a North American tour with UK label mates TesseracT supporting, which began in October 2010, and toured in Europe with support from Aeon Zen and Anneke van Giersbergen.
For Strapping Young Lad and solo projects from 1996 – 2004, Townsend mainly used the Peavey 5150 head, with Mesa Boogie and Marshall 4x12 cabinets, for his main sounds. Around 2005, Townsend began to utilize Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier and Stiletto amp heads, boosted with a Maxon OD808, running into Mesa/Boogie 2x12 cabinets, and Marshall 4x12 cabinets. He would also run a 3rd signal into a 1990s Roland GP-100, which would be amplified by a Mesa/Boogie tube power amp. He would still make use of the Peavey head for some solo recordings, such as Synchestra. He switched to a Fractal Audio AxeFx system in 2010, replacing his entire Mesa/Boogie and Marshall rig. He has been through a number of outboard modules that were mainly used for echo/reverb effects, something that Townsend is known for as a part of his signature sound. One of his favorites is the Roland GP-100, a unit that Townsend still uses along with his Fractal units. He also used a TC Electronic G-Force in tandem with his Mesa/Boogie rig. Townsend also utilizes D'Addario Strings (.010-.052 and .010-.060) and Planet Waves Custom Series cables.
The third and fourth albums in the Devin Townsend Project series, Deconstruction and Ghost, were released simultaneously on June 21, 2011. In December 2011 all four Devin Townsend Project albums with additional material were released as the Contain Us box set. Townsend performed all four of Devin Townsend Project albums in London and recorded them for a DVD box set called By a Thread: Live in London 2011 that was released on June 18, 2012. The first three shows were held at the University of London Union, November 10–12, 2011. Ki, Addicted, and Deconstruction were each performed on one night, respectively. The show for Ghost was held at the Union Chapel, Islington on November 13, 2011. These four shows were each entitled "An Evening with the Devin Townsend Project".
Despite the Devin Townsend Project being originally a four-album series, Townsend decided to continue working under the moniker and released the fifth album, Epicloud on September 18, 2012. Again featuring Anneke van Giersbergen on vocals, Epicloud appeared on several European charts, peaking at number 8 in Finland. On October 27, 2012, Townsend performed a one-off show covering his musical career called The Retinal Circus at Roundhouse in London. The 3-hour performance was recorded in high definition and released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 30, 2013. Also in 2012, Townsend played bass on the debut Bent Sea album Noistalgia. He also produced the record.
Another project Townsend has mentioned several times between 2009 and 2012 is Obviouser, an album featuring "creepy, bass driven apocalyptic music" created with an "Ampeg rig" and an "Icelandic choir". Working with many projects simultaneously at that time, Townsend stated in 2012 the Obviouser project is vying for pole position until "he wakes up and says 'he wants to do it'".
In 2012, Townsend announced that he was using other guitars besides his Peavey models, including two Sadowsky Telecaster models and a number of Framus semi-hollow body guitars. In regard to this, Townsend stated on HeavyBlogIsHeavy.com: "The Peavey situation was intense and a real eye opener in terms of how things REALLY work in the business side of endorsements, and I can’t say I really enjoyed it, but we got the guitar out and everyone is nice to each other so all good... I really like that V. However, I decided to use other guitars for other stuff as well, a Sadowsky Tele set, a Framus hollowbody group of guitars, and the V’s. No one is entirely happy with that decision, but I find it difficult to not be straight up with folks about what I want to play and do and have typically pissed people off as a result... The bottom line though is I like what I like and it is important to the music to be accurate with tones and vibe. The guitars I actually play, I really like, regardless of brand."
The album was completed in November 2013, and a bonus disc was also made for the album, containing the leftover material from the main album as well as songs from Ghost 2, the unreleased compilation of leftover tracks from Ghost. Originally in 2012, Townsend stated that this album will be the sixth and the last album in the Devin Townsend Project series, but he ultimately confirmed that Casualties of Cool is its own project. Townsend also started a crowdfunding campaign through PledgeMusic to support the release of the album. The funding quickly reached its goal, and all additional funds were put directly to Townsend's upcoming projects. Casualties of Cool was released on May 14, 2014. The album was re-issued worldwide on January 15, 2016 containing an additional DVD with live footage from the 2014 concert at the Union Chapel in London.
After writing ideas for over 70 songs, Townsend stated he would finally finish the whole project, followed by the announcement the album would be released on October 27, 2014. The recording process started in May 2014, and the final project includes the album, a Ziltoid TV program and a live show, with a "big graphic novel comic" and a documentary. The album itself is a double album, with disc one featuring Devin Townsend Project material and disc two containing the main album. According to Townsend, the album's theme is "Ziltoid against the world". The Devin Townsend Project disc is called Sky Blue and the Ziltoid disc is called Dark Matters.
In 2014, Townsend recorded a poppy-sounding song in Los Angeles with producer Brian Howes, but has decided against releasing. Townsend mentioned that he is against the project being contrived due to the current hard rock undertones in popular music. He described it as a "lukewarm heavy metal Devin song". On December 11, 2015 Townsend announced via Twitter that he was recording vocals for a song by Steve Vai.
As of 2014, he reintroduced the Dual Rectifier into his rig using a wet-dry-wet setup with the Dual Rectifier being the center dry sound and the AxeFx being the stereo effected sounds using the model of the Dual Rectifier as a basis. In 2015, for live shows, the Dual Rectifier was replaced with a Kemper Profiler Amplifier, and the Roland GP-100 was retired in favor of effects in the Fractal Axe-FX.
Townsend recently discussed at least a year-long hiatus, beginning after the Z show taking place at the Royal Albert Hall on April 13, 2015. During the indefinitely long break Townsend intends to "recharge his batteries", "get some inspiration and experiences" and to "see what the next chapter holds" for him.
In early 2016, Townsend completed the seventh DTP album, entitled Transcendence at Armoury Studios in Vancouver. The album was released on September 9. On 17 March 2017, Devin Townsend Project played Ocean Machine live in its entirety at Hammersmith Apollo. On 30 October 2017, Devin announced that he was working on four new albums.
At NAMM 2016, Townsend introduced a signature set of Fishman pickups in the Fluence line and a signature Framus guitar that features an original body shapes, the Fishman pickups and the Evertune Bridge.
In November 2017, Townsend posted to social media and forums that his equipment list had been reduced, explaining how he had eliminated a number of pieces of equipment from his setup. He wrote, "I was working with many amp companies, but I have made my choice and have settled on a single Axe Fx 2XL+ for my ENTIRE chain. I use Framus Guitars, Fishman Pickups, D'Addario strings, Fractal Axe Fx. One Rig to rule them all =)"
On January 31, 2018, Townsend announced on his Facebook page that he was taking a break from the Devin Townsend Project and focusing on a number of other projects, including the 4 new albums previously announced.
On January 15, 2019, Townsend announced his album, Empath, on which work had been completed, and slated for release on March 29, 2019. The album's purpose is "to see what would happen if all the styles that make up [Townsend's] current interests were finally represented in one place.", and about "allowing the audience a feeling for a variety of musical emotions. The musical dynamics represented on this single album are broad, challenging, and immense. To approach this sort of work with a long history of what makes heavy music ‘heavy’, allows this to be done with a type of power rarely heard." Guests on the album include former Frank Zappa collaborators Mike Keneally, Morgan Ågren and Steve Vai, as well as Samus Paulicelli, Chad Kroeger, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Ché Aimee Dorval from Casualties of Cool, and Ryan Dahle. A series of documentary videos detailing the making of Empath has been released on YouTube. He appeared on the YouTube show Tuesday Talks hosted by Mary Spender.
On March 12, 2020, Townsend made an announcement that he is postponing the remainder of his Empath Vol. 1 North American Tour due to the coronavirus pandemic. Four days later, on March 16, 2020, Townsend launched a crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs of the cancelled tour. It raised $80,804 of the $50,000 goal. As a "thank you" to his fans, Townsend launched what he dubbed "Quarantine Project," releasing new music in the process. Among the new tracks is a new mix of "A New Reign" from the Sky Blue album. Townsend collaborated with the likes of Kat Epple, Samus Paulicelli, Morgan Ågren, Federico Paulovich, Ché Aimee Dorval, Mattias Eklundh, Wes Hauch and Liam Wilson.
In April 2020, Townsend began uploading a chronological series of podcasts on his official YouTube channel, with each episode discussing one or two of the albums in his discography. These podcasts have been monologue discussions and reflections on the albums themselves, the influences, the personnel, and the state of Townsend's life during the times these albums were being written and recorded.
In August 2020, Townsend announced the upcoming release of Empath Live Volume 1: Order of Magnitude, a live concert recorded during the first Empath Tour, and Empath Live Volume 2: By Request, a virtual concert for fans in lieu of the second tour, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On September 5, he hosted a streaming premiere of Empath Live Volume 2, a prerecorded virtual show featuring Samus Paulicelli on drums, Wes Hauch on guitar, Liam Wilson on bass, and Townsend on lead guitar and vocals. Each of them performed separately in front of green screens, with 10 different camera setups each, to enhance the virtual concert experience with a wide variety of dynamic camera angles. In post-production, background CGI was added to give the musicians the appearance of playing on floating platforms in outer space. During the stream, Townsend took questions from the virtual audience and indicated that since the concert had been shot and mastered in 4K, he would be open to the possibility of eventually releasing the show on Blu-Ray. The set list was determined in advance by polling fans, allowing for a wide range of songs spanning Townsend's career.
Devin married Tracy Turner when he was 19 years old; they have a son named Reyner Liam Johnstan.
Currently, Devin Townsend is 50 years, 1 months and 23 days old. Devin Townsend will celebrate 51st birthday on a Friday 5th of May 2023. Below we countdown to Devin Townsend upcoming birthday.