Devin Townsend on his love of Judas Priest, holding onto guitars for nostalgia and learning to forgive yourself

Getting his break as the vocalist on Steve Vai’s Sex & Religion, the Canadian musician has gone on to be one of the most respected musicians in metal. Here he talks how it all began, his reliance on delay and what he’d prefer to do over going to a gig.

Devin Townsend

The moment it all started…

“I think the live solo from Victim Of Changes from the Judas Priest album Unleashed in the East. There’s a note KK Downing went for that immediately turned to feedback that grabbed me in such a way that I never looked back.”

I couldn’t live without my…

“Delay. It’s an integral part of my style because it allows me to interact with my past in a way that now is a huge part of my process. I enjoy playing guitar to a certain extent without it, but rarely write that way.”

Devin Townsend’s Order Of Magnitude – Empath Live Volume 1

The one that got away…

“I tend to cycle through identities with writing and once a phase is over the guitar that was so significant at the time often seems ‘empty’ and I only hold onto it for nostalgia. I tend to be romantic with instruments for only the time I’m using them.”

My signature model…

“Well, I’ve had several. I worked for years with ESP, then Peavey, and now Framus and Prestige and I’ve had signature models with each to some degree. Essentially, I tend to design guitars that suit my needs at the time, but fortunately, my Framus Stormbender I was able to design from the ground up, and it covers most of the things I could ever need in a beautiful way. The Prestige acoustic is called the ‘Empath’ and is a beautiful guitar as well.”

The first thing I play when I pick up a guitar…

“I tune to Open C, so I typically retune it and start with a bunch of suspended chords and some lead patterns I tend to default to.”

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given…

“Forgive yourself.”

Devin Townsend

My Spinal Tap moment

“Most of my career if I’m being honest! But again, forgiving myself tends to nullify a lot of that.”

My guilty pleasure

“I have no guilt with what I listen to. I like a bit of it all to some degree. I have enough guilt in other parts of my life to more than make up for it though…”

I’m in the band

“Maybe Led Zeppelin for the symbiosis between players and the power they were often able to wield, but I also feel much of what they did and stood for would have maybe not worked for me in the long run. Maybe just a recording with Bonham would have been cool.”

Devin Townsend

I wish I was there

“I hate going to gigs, I’d rather go to a restaurant if that’s okay?”

The first thing on my rider…

“Socks! Followed closely by a selection of fruit and vegetables for my trusty juicer.”

If I could play one thing…

“If I were to narrow it down, probably jazz. I love it, but it’s all Greek to me…”

Devin Townsend’s Order Of Magnitude – Empath Live Volume 1 is out October 23 on InsideOut Music


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