Raymond Westland of Ghost Cult Magazine recently conducted an interview with renowned Canadian multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer Devin Townsend. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Ghost Cult Magazine: Can you takes us through the motions of coming up with the concept behind "The Retinal Circus" to the point where you have actually performed it?
Devin: Sure. I've been making music for so long and the main hurdles I've run when dealing with any public exposure is that many of my projects are so different from each other. There is the cyber thrash/death metal stuff, pop, rock, silly music and everything in between. So when a new record is presented to record stores and magazines, people have difficulty with how to label my music. So when I signed on to the new management I have now, the main problem we were facing was in terms of how we should make my music more visible. What I said to them is that the aesthetics of each album may be different but the intention is the same and that's being true to whatever I wanted to do. So they came up with the idea of using the platform of a circus to essentially present my back catalogue in some way to people in one space. The logistics of that took approximately a year and there were close to a 100 people involved with it. The whole thing was wrapped in a dubious story, but a story nonetheless, and all the things that went into articulating that. We worked on it up until the point of rehearsal. We essentially rehearsed the whole show with all the performers in a period of only two days due to financial restraints. That's essentially how it went. It was chaos, then incredible chaos and then unbelievable chaos and then it was over. After that, it came down to mixing and coming up with the artwork and that was another hurdle to get over.
Ghost Cult Magazine: Given the little time and limited recources you managed to put on quite a show.
Devin: It went well, but it's fair to keep in mind that I did a lot of editing, not only to the audio, but also to the video to try make it as close as possible. to the original vision behind "The Retinal Circus". During the actual show, there were syncing issues with the video, people coming in at the wrong time and some of the gear went down. I had a debate whether it was more important to leave the show exactly as it was or to make it as close as possible to how I envisioned it. I decided to do the latter thing, because it's my thing. Every time I put it on, I saw the mistakes and I viewed those mistakes as unneccessary distractions.
Ghost Cult Magazine: You also included two STRAPPING YOUNG LAD songs in the setlist. This is quite remarkable because you commented that the STRAPPING YOUNG LAD book is closed for you and that you moved on as an artist. Why this decision?
Devin: True, I've said that many times in interviews and it's fairly well documented why I don't want to do any new STRAPPING YOUNG LAD material anymore. I'm not ashamed of STRAPPING YOUNG LAD and it's still a huge part of my life. The reason why I don't want to do it anymore has more to do with people wanting to force me to do certain things and that's absolutely the wrong way to approach me. The best way of me not doing things is to demand it from me. My nature in reacting to that is a big phat no. I have no interest in being told what to do. STRAPPING YOUNG LAD is a representation of me, just as much as "Ki", "Ghost", "Ziltoid" or "Infinity". There's no difference, it was just a different period of time. Including "Detox" and "Love?" on "The Retinal Circus", seen from the point being it a retrospective, is just obvious to me.
Read the entire interview at Ghost Cult Magazine.