All I can say about these guys is: (1) Fucking immense industrial metal on a grand scale despite what metal mags may say about (2) Devin, here interviewed, is one one of the masterminds behind Frontline Assembly’s “Millenium” perhaps one of the best industrial metal CDs of all time, along with SYL’s first and second CDs. Devin Townshend is quite mellow and laid back with me. This was taken in person amidst the Napalm Death section of his recent Chicago show. Enjoy!
Chain D.L.K.: According to the bio sheet I received, the new CD almost didn’t happen out of lack of anger. Are you calming down over the years, and what brought back that rage?
Strapping Young Lad: 9-11 brought it back of course. That and fear, lots of fear. It’s a very scary world out there these days, and I fear it a good deal. But I also have a belief that everything will turn out good in the end.
Chain D.L.K.: Could you picture SYL becoming a more mellow band down the line or would that mean the end of the group? Would you consider yourself an angry person or more mellow?
Strapping Young Lad: More or less we just want to make our point then leave in grace and move on to the next thing. I also have The Devon Townshend Group project to work on too as well, which will feature a lot of talented musicians.
Chain D.L.K.: On the new CD the playing seems a bit tighter and more orchestrated. What changes did you make between “City” and the new CD to make that happen?
Strapping Young Lad: Devon: Basically it’s a matter of progress and change. We just walk into the studio and one person will lay down their part and the rest of us will pick another part to go with it, and it all works out in the end. And we’ve gotten a different sense of humor now; we are more like the “Weird Al” of metal now.
Chain D.L.K.: Kind of like Mr. Bungle?
Strapping Young Lad: Nah, Mr. Bungle was clever, Weird Al is more stupid kind of funny! Our joke now is “we’re so metal mwahahaha! ”
Chain D.L.K.: Overall what is the subject matter and theme to “Strapping Young Lad” (The CD)?
Strapping Young Lad: Battle, war, ego, fear, all of those kinds of things
Chain D.L.K.: I notice the song “Rape” to be particularly, um, tongue in cheek to put it lightly. Explain this one for those who may take the song wrongly as a sign of misogyny.
Strapping Young Lad: Oh god it’s quite the opposite!!!It’s a song about killing rapists. It is the most horrible thing you can do to another person, and I believe rapists should die.
Chain D.L.K.: Some people label SYL as industrial metal, or agro-industrial, mostly I think from your involvement with Frontline Assembly (as well as Jed Simon’s). Do you feel any influence from your industrial days and how do you feel its role plays in SYL’s sound?
Strapping Young Lad: Devon: We were more industrial on “City” since I was new to industrial and trying it out. It’s still there a bit but we are more metal now. The industrial is more for atmosphere now.
Chain D.L.K.: Yeah there is very little good, aggressive industrial I can think of. Hocico is about the only one I can think of. It’s basically angry as fuck Mexican industrial.
Strapping Young Lad: Hmmmmmm sounds interesting!
Chain D.L.K.: How do you keep up the energy level for live shows and such, considering the speed of the playing?
Strapping Young Lad: Pretty much sleep all day! The tour and life on the road can suck your energy dry.
Chain D.L.K.: The sarcastic humor of the last two CD’s seems to be gone as well, minus such tunes as “Happy Camper”. Why is that on this one? Is this meant to have a more direct serious tone?
Strapping Young Lad: We’ve gotten a different sense of humor now; we are more like the “Weird Al” of metal now. Our cheese factor went way up!
Chain D.L.K.: OK, you’re given a million dollars to make a video for any song/single of SYL. What would the video be like and what song?
Strapping Young Lad: It’d be for “Aftermath”, and it would be about war. A nice little mini movie about war.
Chain D.L.K.: We did an interview with Rhys Fulber concerning his Conjure One project, which I understand you worked on. What was your role on the CD?
Strapping Young Lad: Devon: Actually that got scrapped, so I’m not on the Conjure One CD. But I did get a letter in the mail from Rhys the other day for working on a project with him.
Chain D.L.K.: Hehe for one of his 49 side projects? The man is a music factory come to life!
Strapping Young Lad: Yes he is truly an amazing musician!
Chain D.L.K.: Ever thought of working on a project with Steve Digiorgio (question from a fan I met aka Misery Alarm)?
Strapping Young Lad: Yes actually, he’s playing bass in the Devon Townshend Band later this year!
Chain D.L.K.: I forget who he is, forgive me!
Strapping Young Lad: He’s the bassist from Testament. !
Chain D.L.K.: I thought the name sounded familiar! Testament was one of my first ever bands…
OK fun question, then I’ll let you get to playing the show and kicking some ass. You and I both know nothing says love like SYL! Why should people get the new SYL for a Valentine’s Day gift instead of chocolates and roses and all that bullshit?
Strapping Young Lad: Well (laughs) it’s red! Just pour some hot fudge on it and wrap it up, and just give it to the one you love! It’s the perfect Valentine’s Day gift!
Chain D.L.K.: Any words before we go?
Strapping Young Lad: Nope I’m good!
[interviewed by Shaun Hamilton] [proofreading by Erica Breyer]