Musician Devin Townsend is a master of paradox. He creates music that moves seamlessly from the ridiculous to the sublime, from heavy to light. We talked about Nickelback, Carl Jung, and the weird things that come up from being a highly empathetic person. 

Following our interview, I photographed his performance at The Complex in Salt Lake City:

Prior to when I started, I made a map of the album. I really liked the [Joseph Campbell’s] hero’s quest. That was certainly an overarching concept on the whole album. 

Devin Townsend

Part of the Empath project was me sort of going back and allowing the part of my creative identity that I had viewed as being flawed -recognizing, no, you’ve just got a lot of anger in you… Until you allow it to have a voice, you’re just going to be afraid of it. 

Devin Townsend

My only problem with Jordan Peterson – and it’s not a problem – 
…the amount of shit that he’s gotten for that has put him on the defensive in such a way that whenever I see interviews with him now, he always seems like that he’s angry, in a way that doesn’t too credit to what he’s saying. He’s so well spoken, so clever, so pragmatic with this thoughts…If he hadn’t had been ruthlessly interrogated in some really dumb ways, I think it would be easier now to participate with him. 

Devin Townsend

I write and function on such an automatic level. I don’t think about it. If I think about it, it’s never as good as if I’m just vomiting… It’s just easier for me  just to write, and make sure it gives me that visceral reaction that resonates on some level with the truth so that hopefully when other people hear it through the bias that I present that you either take or leave, there may be something where other people can say oh I recognize a truth in that. That ultimately is  all that matters. 

Devin Townsend

I like the idea that as artists, our role, is to have an experience that strikes a primal nerve 
That allows us to be in the presence of something that is beyond us, something that resonates with the truth and then through who we are, what we’ve learned, what we play, what we don’t play, where we’re from what our gender is, whatever – we say “here is my interpretation of that experience.”

The hope is that other people who have a sensitivity to your bias, don’t hear all that shit. 
They don’t heart the notes and songs and chords – they hear the experience. From that point of view, what you are resonating with as an artist is something that is universal. 
It’s got nothing to do with you.  Ultimately I like to think that all artists that are worth their salt are just conduits to something that is larger than us. 

Devin Townsend
Click here to buy EMPATH on CD or vinyl
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