Back in 2003 Strapping Young Lad toured Europe supporting Fear Factory, and being the diehard SYL fan it was a no-brainer I’d take in at least one show and do some press while I was there. The fact that frontman Devin Townsend and I had been crossing paths and doing interviews since 1995 – including a memorable evening at a pseudo-posh Hawaiian restaurant in 1998 ordering up overpriced food and drink that the label paid for – made it a necessary visit, if only to say hello.
A late afternoon interview was scheduled but Devin chose to get some very necessary sleep before the gig, leaving guitarist Jed Simon, drummer Gene Hoglan and bassist Byron Stroud to play hurry-up-and-wait with me. We traded the latest tour, album and industry info until word finally came down that Dev would be available after the band’s set instead. Thus, after double-checking all the necessary guest list arrangements, I made my exit so as not to wear out my welcome.
On the way out through the back door of the venue I encountered a fellow journalist – an assumption (foolishly) made based on the camera bag over his shoulder – and his well endowed eye candy. An inexperienced fellow judging by the way he was waiting around for someone to magically appear and say “Come on in, Dood!” as opposed to simply going in and looking for the tour manager. Not my problem, I decided, but as I walked past – offering a courteous nod to him and his woman’s attributes – he flagged me down.
“Excuse me? Do you know if Al is around?”
Continue reading Journalism For Dummies Starring Karma The Bitch
Having spent well over a decade as a member of Strapping Young Lad’s indestructible line-up, the fans are justified in expecting guitarist Jed Simon’s first solo outing to be a continuation of the SYL legacy. And that would be a big fat “nope.” Sure, there are moments on Sovereign that recall Simon’s days of sonic devastation circa the City record (‘Take A Long Line’, ‘Hail Hail’), particularly with drummer Gene Hoglan behind the kit and Byron Stroud ripping up the bass, but this is flat-out mean rather than trademark SYL aggressive. Tenet is about old school so-raw-it’s-bleeding thrash, and minus the big Devin Townsend production values the band has still turned in an unexpectedly brutal debut. A mere nine songs, Sovereign is a frantic beating within the realms of Death Angel’s heaviest Bay Area thrash punk moments and old, old, old Metallica; all shred and no brakes save for the half-speed rest during ‘Going Down’. Continue reading TENET – Sovereign (Century Media – 2009)
By Carl Begai
(Click here for my December 31st, 2009 interview with Devin about the Addicted album.)
The original strapping young lad Devin Townsend is back. And he’s naked.
We’re speaking metaphorically, of course, in reference to his return in the form of a remarkably understated record dubbed Ki. Completely devoid of the camouflage, smoke, mirrors and assorted baggage that enabled him to create the hellfuelled carnage that was Strapping Young Lad, it is the first of a four part introduction to the real Devin Townsend. The initial buzz surrounding Ki has been laced with confusion and some outright negativity due to its mellow nature, leaving fans ponder what might have happened to their revered Hevy Devy during his two year self-imposed hiatus from the spotlight. There are other diehards, however, that have followed him through his non-SYL escapades (Ocean Machine, Physicist, Terria, Synchestra) and embraced Ki as another important step in Townsend’s career.
Ki is also a pointed confirmation that Townsend wasn’t kidding when he announced back in May 2007 that Strapping Young Lad was dead. It was a decision made out of necessity, as according to the press release issued “the last tour (for The New Black) was a real struggle for him to muster any enthusiasm, mostly because SYL was initially created to vent all his frustrations, which no longer exist.” Furthermore, Townsend admitted flat out he was tired of touring and doing interviews, and had no intention or desire to return to the grind although he would release music from time to time. And while there’s little to no chance he’s going to resurrect SYL, Townsend decided in favour of the interview circuit in order to set his rather volatile record straight.
Continue reading DEVIN TOWNSEND – The Deconstruction Of Destruction