Metal Insider recently conducted an interview with acclaimed Canadian musician/producer Devin Townsend (STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, STEVE VAI, LAMB OF GOD, DARKEST HOUR, GWAR). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal Insider: You've produced such a wide variety of bands. Some, like BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE, seems like you'd be a dream producer for, but a band like MISERY SIGNALS or BLEEDING THROUGH isn't necessarily so obvious. How do you find such a diverse range of bands to work with?
Devin: The funny thing is, I don't. Either they come to me, or the management provides it for me. And in all honesty, all the production I've done up to this point is really just to hone my skills to be able to do my own [music] more efficiently. A band like BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE, it's a good band, but also it's a scene that I wasn't involved with. The Christian metal thing was interesting for me to get in there and figure out what they're doing. The same with BLEEDING THROUGH. It's a scene that I had nothing to do with, so just hanging out with those guys and hearing their casual conversations, even on a personal level, is interesting just to kind of hear and be like, "Wow, I had no idea this scene was based around this."
I've worked with so many bands over the past couple of years, and it kind of burnt me out on a personal level because the inter-band politics is draining for me. After being in a band for 15 years, it goes without saying that [I know] there's going to be politics, but when they're not your issues, you end up being a mediator in a lot of ways. A lot of times to get the record sounding like a band, like a group of dudes that are on the same page, you have to play that role.
Metal Insider: What circumstances or band would be a production project that you would jump at now?
Devin: I could see maybe doing a SLAYER record, I could enjoy getting behind that. To be clear, I was never a huge SLAYER fan. But I think the thing with metal that I really appreciate the fact that they are still doing it from the heart. I think when music, specifically heavy music, the motivation for it is other than truly feeling it, that's when it becomes really difficult for me. When people are saying, "We have to do it this way, because this is what's popular," it becomes difficult.
Andy Sneap [MEGADETH, EXODUS, MACHINE HEAD], for example, has got a great sound, but that's Andy Sneap's sound. It seems like there's a lot of folks that say, "We want our record to sound like Andy Sneap." And I'm like, "Well, why don't you go to him?" They can't afford him. Okay, well, I can give you a half-assed version of what Andy Sneap does. And it will never sound the same, and in fact on a couple records, that's what I've done — but it just sounds like a more compressed, shittier version of Andy Sneap. But if I just do what I do, which is a different sound altogether, then we're good to go.
The identity of each band is what's important for me, production-wise. I think this is why a lot of bands that come to me end up being such an ordeal, when we're working and I'm like, "What is it you guys truly are? What's your angle? If this is your lyrical point of view, are you sure you wanna say this? Are you sure you wanna say that? Are you sure you wanna do this?" Then sometimes when you get into it, you realize that maybe: #1, they're not sure or #2, their motive for doing it is something that you either don't agree with or you wonder if they even understand.
I honestly haven't figured out if I really want to be a producer, and probably if I really felt like I did, I wouldn't even be talking about shit like this. But I kind of fell into this producing thing, and then realized at the end that it's like a lot more of a kind of therapy to make a good record with a metal band.
Read the entire interview from Metal Insider.
Holland's FaceCulture recently conducted an interview with Devin Townsend. Watch the first part of the chat below.