DEVIN TOWNSEND Talks 'Retinal Circus', Touring With GOJIRA
The Rock Pit recently conducted an interview with renowned Canadian multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer Devin Townsend. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Devin: "Retinal Circus" was an idea that took about a year to bring to fruition and what the basic thought behind it was the end period of the DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT with "Epicloud" and four records and all this. It seemed like appropriate use of our resources to make a show that essentially put it all in one place and gave us an opportunity to sort of make an overview of everything that I had done. And so "Retinal Circus" ended up being this really theatrical, very strange show that included elements of all my solo records more or less and some elements of STRAPPING YOUNG LAD and then it was wrapped up into a story, including Steve Vai. In a lot of ways, it was a real purge for me; it allowed me to represent the past, sort of confront the real nerdy elements of it and just make it larger than anything I've made. It was a cool experience.
The Rock Pit: It sounds almost like a theatrical version of a biography. Would you put it like that?
Devin: I guess so. I mean it's a biography of the music rather than a biography of me. I think a biography of me would be pretty boring, but I mean, taking the musical end of it, I think it's so up and down and all over the place that from the dynamics of the back catalogue, it was very easy to put together something theatrical. Yeah, I guess it would be a biography of my music, but maybe not directly of myself. Who knows?! Maybe it is.
The Rock Pit: I, unfortunately, missed your set at the Soundwave Festival last year but I did manage to catch you performing with GOJIRA, which looked like a lot of fun. You guys did a tour together?
Devin: That's correct, yeah. As I get older, I find my connection to heavy music wanes in a lot of ways. If nothing else, there's an element of heavy music that just no longer fits into my daily muse in terms of sound. But GOJIRA and MESHUGGAH are two bands that even within that, I still just have immense respect and awe for in a lot of ways, so the tour with GOJIRA was a great experience for me, to be able to hang out with people I like but also to watch them devastate every night. Really, it's an astonishing thing.
The Rock Pit: Now you have such a huge varied back catalogue as well, how do you go about choosing a setlist for these shows?
Devin: Good question. I think it happens in several ways. There are certain songs that you play, and over the years as you play them, you find that these songs work, these ones don't. These ones illicit a crowd reaction, these ones don't. These ones may illicit a crowd reaction at a certain part in the set and not in another part of the set. So I think that setlists are built in a lot of ways by reflecting on how they succeeded and failed in the past and which circumstances. I think you also have to take into consideration what you have played in that territory before so if you're doing a consequent tour of Australia, you wanna make sure that you're not hitting them with just a different variation of the last tour. Otherwise there's no reason for people to come and participate after a while.
Read the entire interview from The Rock Pit.
The Rock Pit: I wanted to ask you about the "Retinal Circus". Tell us a little bit about that.
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