Ahead of the release of his upcoming album Empath (Read Our Review Here), Metal Wani’s Jake Patton spoke to Devin Townsend to get some insight into the album, the writing process, and how this album remains reflective of other albums that Devin has created throughout his career, while also being very different at the same time.
Beginning the conversation by discussing the albums title Empath, and empathy more broadly, Devin opens up about the exploratory process that ignited the seed to create the album, but also allowed for the greater exploration of genres and styles that are used on Empath in contrast to any other albums that he has done, stating “I think upon my recognition that this was a part of my nature that was becoming a liability, specifically when it comes to the kind of job I have which is so public and puts you in front of so many people of varying degrees of emotional intensity, it seems like that was a topic that was worth exploring, and as a convenient loophole it also gave me the opportunity for the first time to put a lot of styles in one place as opposed to what I’ve done in the past which is to kind find an angle for each specific style with each record”.
Empath shares a similar degree of artistic extremes as Devin’s 1998 album Infinity, and this is something which Devin acknowledges, but also takes time to express, as he has taken a more holistic and existential approach to this record rather than it being internalized and something that was owned by Devin himself. When speaking about the similarities between Infinity and the journey that has been undertaken towards Empath and the realization of sharing his music with others Townsend remarks “I made a bunch of personal errors at that point (Infinity) that were really, really, like I had a lot to learn and I f**ked up pretty heavy and then it took me this long to come back to sort of thinking about these same sort of existential questions and what have you, and the difference now is at the age of 46 – twenty years later – I’ve got kids, I think I’ve got a pretty balanced lifestyle, and the experiences I’ve had with you know birth and deaths and existential pondering has really made it clear to me that it’s not about me, it’s about the interpretation of something that’s beyond me. That’s what I’m wanting to sing about!”.
The conversation then discusses the writing and recording for the album, something which was logistically different for Townsend this time around due to hiring different musicians to fulfill different parts for the same instrument all in the name of getting the right sound with minimal stress. Devin then talks in detail about the writing and recording process for the track Singularity, a 23-minute long opus that has several layers and how this song managed to come into being.
Devin then closes out by discussing the identity of each of his albums and how it is important for each album to have its own identity, before analyzing his vocal performance on Empath and discussing how he manages his voice during the recording process.