During a recent interview with Australia's Heavy magazine, Devin Townsend discussed at length his motivations for disbanding the DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT, the five-piece band he fronted from 2009 until 2018.
"In order to have a touring band, it obviously costs a lot of money to maintain, and in order to generate that type of money in today's industry, it forces you to not only work continuously, but also be more cautious about chances that one might take," Devin said. "If we're paying $15,000 a month for salary and [a] jam spot and all that sort of thing, my ability to sort of be more lenient with my creativity when it comes to following things that maybe aren't as sellable really gets neutered in a way. That's just inevitable. I think also, if you're whole reality scheme is touring, touring, touring, like, eleven months of the year — [which] is what I toured in 2016 — the things that you are able to draw from creatively end up being very inward on itself. You end up singing about being in a band, or being on tour, being away from home and all these things. These are all sort of sidelines to the decision, but they were certainly contributing [factors]."
He continued: "Specifically, the financial thing — to not be able to financially stop for fear of not being able to pay the bills, and people who are depending on you not being able to get what you had promised them — was something that propelled me into a period in my work that was just perversely productive. To be honest, that is something that I was interested in for a while, but after a certain amount of time, I realized that my nature is highly sensitive to begin with, and that level of constant flying and interaction with people and being seen and all this was starting to become really unhealthy. I think the combination of the kind of parameters that a rock band imposes creatively, not only with being more cautious of what you put out for the sake of money, but also what a rock band is able to do... it was a great band and a great group of people, but there are very strict parameters [of what] a five-piece rock band can do, some more than others, and I was aware of that as well."
Townsend added that entering middle age made him reflect on his career trajectory to date. "I think that when I got to a certain age, it was important to me to sort of analyze my relationship with myself and my past," he said. "I had to ask myself some hard questions about the career that I was in, and whether or not it was going in a direction that I was going to be comfortable with in ten years. The answer to that was no — I truly didn't want my future to be based on being in a traveling rock band. That's really what it came down to. I would prefer to make the decision to do things that were more provocative musically, I suppose — running the risk of the fan base becoming smaller, yet not being responsible for other people. I managed to give everybody three months' worth of severance pay, but then after that, I was like, 'Okay, now I'm going to take some time to myself and really just put the pieces of what has happened over the past ten years together.' Ultimately, it was undeniable to my creativity, to my family, to my mental health that this was just going, yet again, in a direction that the writing was on the wall — [it] was something that I was going to feel trapped by. I left it, and I feel better for it."
Townsend's new solo album, "Empath", will be released on March 29 via InsideOut Music. Joining Devin on the album is Frank Zappa alumni Mike Keneally as music director, as well as Morgan Ågren (MATS AND MORGAN, FRANK ZAPPA, FREDRIK THORDENDAL), Anup Sastry (MONUMENTS, PERIPHERY), Samus Paulicelli (DECREPIT BIRTH, ABIGAIL WILLIAMS), Nathan Navarro, Elliot Desagnes, Steve Vai, Chad Kroeger, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Ché Aimee Dorval, Ryan Dhale and the Elektra Women's Choir.