Devin Townsend first came into the public attention in 1993, when at the age of 19 he was picked by Steve Vai to be the Vocalist on his Sex and Religion album and the accompanying world tour. Previous to this Devin was playing the Vancouver metal scene with his band Noisescapes. Noisescapes recorded a demo, which was sent out to several labels including Relativity Records, the label on which Steve Vai was signed. Devin thought that a way to make this demo grab peoples' attention was to mail it wrapped in a pair of his old underwear. This tactic worked, because a copy wound up with Steve Vai, who was impressed with Devin's vocal abilities and decided to include him in his latest project.
Shortly after he finished touring with Vai in 1994 Devin landed a gig touring with The Wildhearts, beginning a long relationship with The Wildhearts' singer Ginger. Around this time Devin also contributed guitar parts to the Front Line Assembly records Millenium and Hard Wired.
Following this, in 1995, Devin began writing and recording his own music under the name of Strapping Young Lad. Strapping Young Lad began as a solo project, with Devin performing vocals and playing most of the instruments on Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing.
The same year (1995), Devin released a pop punk parody album under the name of Punky Brüster called Cooked on Phonics. This album was created with the help of fellow members of the Vancouver metal scene, and people who helped record the Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing album.
In 1997, while continuing with his Strapping Young Lad project, Devin released an album called Biomech, under the moniker of Ocean Machine. This release has caused much confusion over the years, because shortly after its initial release, Devin's label HeavyDevy Records requested that the name of the project be changed to Ocean Machine: Biomech, and the artist be changed to Devin Townsend. Many fans however, still refer to the artist as being Ocean Machine. Interestingly, the Australian distributor refused to change the CD covers, and the album is still released in Australia as Biomech by Ocean Machine.
Over the years Devin has become known for creating a completely new studio and touring band for each solo release. This may be partially explained by the fact that while the solo releases are thematically similar each release usually has a very different sound to that of their predecessor. Devin has stated that each album has a different sound because he writes from his experiences of the past year, and what he is feeling at the time.
In 2003 Devin changed his approach to his solo material by stopping releasing albums under the name of Devin Townsend. Devin now releases music under the name of The Devin Townsend Band. Devin has stated that The Devin Townsend Band will be a much more permanent band that those assembled for his previous releases, and was created to parallel and oppose Strapping Young Lad, with his more mellow music released by The Devin Townsend Band, and his more angry music released by Strapping Young Lad. More information on this project is listed separately.
He has also dabbled in electronica, initially with the Project EKO EP, which was available as a bonus with the Special Edition of Accelerated Evolution, and more recently with the dark ambient record Devlab. His plans to release another ambient electronic album reached fruition with the release of Hummer in November 2006.
Devin Townsend still releases some material under his own name, but this material is only available for purchase from his website at www.hevydevy.com . Devin has chosen to do this for material that he does not believe to be appropriate for the general public, and the casual listener. To date he has release two Demo albums in this way, as well as Devlab and Hummer.
Devin Townsend produces, either alone or with others, all of his own work. He has also worked with other artists in producing their music. Townsend's work is often very experimental and progressive. Utilizing digital audio tools and multitrack recording processes, Townsend layers sounds, sometimes with several layers of the same instrument, and he will frequently lay down a soundbed of atmospheric noise giving a dense wall of sound effect.
Devin Townsend has his own label HevyDevy Records. This label is used almost exclusively for his solo material, but has also released a couple of releases for side projects involving members of Strapping Young Lad.
Devin Townsend has bipolar disorder and has had a self-imposed stay in a mental hospitaL. Devin has also used the disorder theme in the Strapping Young Lad record Alien. From May 2006, after the new Strapping Young Lad release "The New Black" and a successful tour, hitting the road at the Ozzfest, Devin is taking a hiatus from making records to enjoy some time off with his wife Tracy and their newborn baby Rainer.
He will be back in 2007 with a new project style (like Terria or Infinity) he hopes to record in Spring.
In 1998 (just after the release of Strapping Young Lad's City), Devin Townsend released a new album entitled Biomech. Biomech was originally released under the band name Ocean Machine and Townsend himself explained that Ocean Machine was the opposite of Strapping Young Lad in the way that the songs were in a more mellow and progressive style, rather than the metallic industrial thrashings of SYL.
Ocean Machine released only one album. While Ocean Machine was more or less a solo project of Devin Townsend, he formed a band for touring purposes (including many members from the 1998 lineup of Strapping Young Lad) and that band toured extensively in 1998 and 1999 through Europe, Japan, Australia and Canada (sometimes only as "support" to Devin Townsend on the Terria Tour). Tour dates can be found here: Devin Kingdom.
Songs from the album have been, and still are, performed by The Devin Townsend Band and Ocean Machine is now considered to be a part of Devin Townsend's solo career. Since all of Devin's albums after Biomech have been released under the name Devin Townsend or The Devin Townsend Band, new prints of Biomech now read Devin Townsend: Ocean Machine instead of just Ocean Machine. This is the same for airings of the music video for "Life".
Devin saw his music in colours and explained that Ocean Machine was blue whereas Strapping Young Lad was red. Bass duties on Biomech were handled by JR Harder while the drums were performed by Marty Chapman. Townsend completed all other instrumentation on the album, which includes vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, synthesizer, all production on the album and of course all song writing duties. A video was made for the track Life, easily Biomech's most mainstream song.
In 1998, Strapping Young Lad released their first live recordings on an EP titled No Sleep 'Til Bedtime. It was just before the EP was released when Devin announced he and SYL drummer Gene Hoglan would be entering the studio to work on a new project called Infinity. It was assumed at the time that Infinity would be a new "band" similar to Ocean Machine. The music Infinity would be coloured white, according to Townsend.
When Infinity was released, it was to the surprise of Devin's fans as the artist was credited as Devin Townsend and the album as Infinity. Previously it was assumed Infinity would be the band name. The second surprise was the nude photograph of Devin that was used as the cover art. The artwork for the disc was completely white with a naked Devin crouching (covering his more "explicit" body parts) and grinning like a madman. This image was unlike what was seen of Devin thus far. A video and single/EP was released for the stand-out track Christeen, but as with Life, Devin was dissatisfied with the outcome as he believes his music doesn't translate well to film.
It was also with the release of Infinity that Strapping Young Lad began touring as The Devin Townsend Band and merged songs from Biomech and Infinity into a separate set.
During this era, Devin began working with Jason Newsted (who was still a member of Metallica at the time) and the pair of them, along with Tom Hunting of Exodus, completed a 3 track demo under the name IR8. After this, Devin and Jason began talking publicly about a new project they were working on called Physicist (or Fizzicist) which they claimed would be "heavier than Strapping Young Lad". The IR8 tape was leaked, and aired by a Californian radio station that James Hetfield of Metallica was currently listening to. Metallica were unhappy with Jason working outside of their band and made it difficult for him to continue with Physicist. This prompted Devin to record the album himself with his Strapping Young Lad bandmates, but as a Devin Townsend album.
Physicist's combination of Extreme metal with more mellow "pop" melody was a massive hit with fans and critics alike.
Townsend followed up Physicist with Terria, a warm and organic progressive album that had more atmospheric and soothing parts than crushing riffs. Terria was recorded with Gene Hoglan on drums, Craig McFarland on bass and Jamie Meyer on keyboards.
In Feb 2003, Strapping Young Lad released their self titled follow up to City. A month later (March 31) a brand new line up of The Devin Townsend Band released A.E and for the first time, the two bands toured separately for their separate albums, once again creating a clear line between DTB and SYL.
Accelerated Evolution was released to grandiose praise from critics, fans and musicians like Steve Vai. It is also the first album released by The Devin Townsend Band.
A live "in studio" DVD was included as a bonus with the Special Edition of the second Devin Townsend Band album Synchestra, released January 30, 2006 to overwhelmingly positive reviews. Devin describes Synchestra thus:
So far, the only touring Devin has been doing to support the new album Synchestra is the beginning half of the Opeth tour with Dark Tranquillity. It is highly unlikely that the DTB will tour extensively again until 2007, due to Devin and his wife Tracy expecting their first child in October 2006. The video for the first single from Synchestra: Vampira - first aired online March 17, 2006.
Brian initially wanted to be a drummer but between his parents fearing the racket and witnessing Ace Frehley, Beavis opted to start playing guitar. While most renowned for his work with the Devin Townsend Band, Brian Waddell has achieved much in the area of rocking the frig out with Bombscare and Evenlight. Despite all this, Brian feels he has a long way to go before being a full-on Metal God, remarking that were he a tree he would never fear his own buzzsaw like riffing because "there that are just as good or better, so if I dont chop that tree I am sure someone else will come along and take that sucker down."
More info about Brian Waddell at www.evenlight.com
More info about Dave Young at www.tenwaysfromsunday.com
More info about Mike Young at www.tenwaysfromsunday.com
Ryan Van Poederooyen is an ambitious drummer from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Gene Hoglan introduced him to Devin Townsend who was looking for a new drummer. After a few rehearsals, Ryan got the job and he played on both Accelerated Evolution and Synchestra records. In 2004/2005 Ryan performed for several bands (including remarkable studio performances on the "Non Human Level" and "Lalu" records). In 2006 he decided to start a new band named "Terror Syndrome". The band is in studio righ now to bring the final touch to their first release that should be out in 2007. This band features Dave Young on guitar, Mike Young on bass, Denton Bramley on vocals and an impressive list of guests ( Alex Skolnick, Trevor Dunn, Michael Manring etc).
More info about Ryan Van Poederooyen at www.rvpdrums.com
Devin Townsend has founded several other projects over the years:
Devin has also been a member of several bands including: