Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Devin Townsend Experience

Mein Traum hat treu!

I have to admit, the level of anxiety to meet Devin Townsend more than quadruples the amount I felt for meeting Jahri. Devin Townsend has been on a ridiculously productive roll in the past half decade, and I had the opportunity to explore the reasons why, as well as other things. For anyone who knows me personally, they're familiar with my love and appreciation of Devy's music. I've been into his solo work and Strapping Young Lad for as long as I could actually appreciate music enough to justify buying my own CD's. With that, I thought I might have more of a "right" to meet this musician than most people, but I'm sort of wondering what a "right" is, and I'll explain that in a bit!

So I worked all day down at the M-O-N-D-R-A-G-O-N and went straight down the street to the Garrick, snaked through the back exits... asked Gojira where Devy was, got redirected to a stage-hand named Paul, then to some other guy, and then I think I was told to just sit tight because Devin was doing a live acoustic with someone... Me nerves was rubbed right raw. And by that, I mean, I was pretty nervous. I didn't know what to expect! I just didn't want to seem like a moron, and ask a lot of the same questions he had already gotten (I always imagine that's pretty annoying, especially when you're hot shit at the moment) I hadn't thought of any REAL questions all week... not ones I knew I would ask for certain. Eventually someone came up to the seats and said the man was down there with the big hat. The hat wasn't that big, but it was Devin! We shook hands, and I had to gather back up all my faculties, because this thing we call "speech" was all of a sudden pretty difficult. I just about spilled all over the floor.

We went to his tour bus, and throughout the interview- Ryan, Brion and David were going in and out. I would not have minded talking to the gentlemen who have been accompanying and complimenting Devin's talents for the past few years, but we just let them go about their business. The interview was easy-peasy in the way that... Well.... Devin is such a relaxed character, at least at this time he was. He was extremely honest, he wasn't putting on any kind of act and he was open. Wide open. Probably more than he's ever been in a his life, and I mean this in terms of this period in his life with Epicloud, Retinal Circus and everything. He described something I was desperate to know, and that's how Epicloud differs from the rest of his discography before the quadrilogy, which is apparently the transition period for him. With his solo work before Ki, he does say he believes in peace, love and happiness but... FUCK YOU. With Epicloud, there is no sinister twist, or what he described as insecurity with his past work. He's exposed himself, laying it all out, he loves love and peace and wants to find happiness. Right on.

Want one of these awesome easy-peel oranges?! They're delicious!

So about the "right" to hang out with Devin... he made an interesting point about being a musician and how people are personally invested in it--"his" music,  which insinuates risk... "I HAVE to meet you." or "I NEED to have your next record"... it's all personal investment and it makes Devin somehow responsible for something he has no need to be responsible for. This is all in the interview which will air on Radio Active Metal on the BY THE WAY... Devin is a musician and this music, as he says, is not "his"- he merely interprets notes and uses a set of skills to manifest something that's always had the potential to be there. "That's MY riff" now sounds like a ridiculous statement of ownership. It really makes me think about what intellectual property is. By the way, I don't ever expect or necessarily want to get paid for taking pictures.

I've already used a hell of a lot of quotations, but I think I should just get to the off-interview festivities... The interview was long, and during it, it did not take me long to loosen up and not feel nervous anymore. When we went back into the venue, it was a bit of standing around watching roadies be roadies... I noticed Devin speaking with one of the stage managers- or at least trying to while a drum check for Gojira was happening... Devin had said on the bus that he was hungry and a vegetarian, but also intended to go to my restaurant if time permitted, so I walked over and offered to pick him up some food if he was too busy to. He said thanks, but that he would be walking over himself. I said I'd show him where it was and then all of a sudden, I'm walking in the exchange district with my favourite musician of all time... We talked about Winnipeg, and what makes it Winnipeg, we talked more about ourselves and it was a nice little walk. When we got in the restaurant, of course no one recognizes him off the hop. Daunted by the menu, I made my recommendations and he picked the Dragonbowl and the Southern Fried Strips. Of course I made all the food for him, because that's what I do all day. So I deliver his food and get my bearings.

I sit down with him as he gnoshes on vegan fare and he asks when I'm getting married and... we just have a nice relaxed, but personal conversation about ourselves. We talk about marriage, his and my future one, what we're learning about in life at the moment... One of the things that stuck with me is that he's been on tour since him and Tracy have been together, and that in itself has caused contention, but more so is having CHILDREN.... in the end, Devy tells me that if your spouse isn't an idiot and you are friends, that's all you can really ask for. There's a fantasy period, and then there's having kids... I took a lot away from this 41 year old man, who has made music that I've listened to through some of the most emotionally hard and wonderful periods of my life... I was able to describe this to him and I can't think of a more fulfilling feeling....

Oh! I also got Devin to try Kombucha for his first time! He thought he knew what it was, and was like "that shit is weird" so we split a bottle of Ginger Kombucha and he liked it, as he felt the probiotics going to town on his meal. He also likes comfort food, so we agreed that next time he's here, it's Liz's lasagna all the fucking way. That was a pretty excellent experience, having Devin try something new and him enjoying it, and agreeing to hang out with me again. This tour is definitely the mark of a new period in Devin's life and career, and I hope he finds his happiness. When he left to get ready for the gig... I felt like a really close friend of mine was going away for a while... but... he'll be on stage in just over an hour! Anyways, enough of my guts spilling all over the internet... here's all my stupid pictures!

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