Devin Townsend Wrote a Song with Nickelback and Daughtry’s Production Team, Hates It
If you’ve ever read an interview with Devin Townsend, or even just bumped into the guy at a show and had a five minute conversation with him, you know how brutally honest and unapologetically forthcoming he is about his current emotional state. I learned this in person when I interviewed him for the first time in 2009 — during which I started with the boilerplate n00b question, “So, how’s it going?” and received an hour-long report on the inner workings of Devin’s psychological state — and everything I’ve seen since, right down to his Twitter account, has been just the same. Devin’s willingness to share what it’s like to be inside his formerly skulleted brain is an important part, I think, of what makes him so relatable to his fans. It’s “Honesty Tourette’s,” by Devin’s own admission.
So check out this recent interview with Decibel, in which he reveals that he recently went down to LA to write and track a song with some big wig production team (that’s worked with Nickelback, Daughtry, and numerous American Idol winners), then proceeds to talk about how dishonest it felt, and how it’ll likely never see the light of day. Here’s just an excerpt, but really, read the whole thing, which is actually part 3 of a series:
Other than playing shows, what have you been doing since you wrapped up Z2?
I went to L.A. two months ago because some people in my world thought, “This [uncertainty] is dangerous for your future, so you need to go write with somebody. So I went to L.A. and I wrote with a team who produced all the Nickelback stuff recently, Daughtry, all the American Idol people who win, and I wrote a song with them. And I hate it in such a way that is hard for me to quantify.
Hate the song or hated the process?
Both. I really like the guys, I think they’re really talented, but I told them yesterday or the day before that I’m not putting it out. There’s no fucking way I’m putting it out. I can’t spend twenty-five years sticking to my guns to try and sell people this. It’s everything I dislike about music, with my voice on it. It’s fucking disgusting. It’s not their fault, but with my voice on it, it’s just not where I’m at.
So I told everybody that I’m not putting it out, and now we have to pay for it, but what are you gonna do? To put that out, all of a sudden you have to pay fifty grand to put it on active rock [radio] and then you have to go and do interview and try and sell something you don’t like. I have honesty Tourette’s, man, and that’s gonna cause me nothing but grief. But I tried it. With that whole scene, you pay to get a Number 1 song. This is how it works: these are the chords you can use in the summer, these are the chords you can use in the winter, here are the topics that sell…
Oh my god, dude, it’s a formula.
I’m sure it is, I just didn’t realize it was that rigid.
Neither did I. We’re talking about, well, U2 had a chord structure off The Joshua Tree that works every time. You go on active rock radio and you see what’s popular, you get the tempos and the chords, and there’s people who make millions off of that. I don’t begrudge it because I actually think it’s fascinating, and I think a lot of the people who are involved with that… it’s brilliant. But for me, music is about expressing the unexpressable, and as I get older, man, what I feel the need to express becomes less and less poignant to others. It’s a shame. When people are like, “Nothing you’ve done is as good as you did when you were younger.” And I’m like, “You may be right.” But what I’m doing now is exactly what I feel like I should be doing. So what do you do? Do you go write a fucking pop song and cash in and then spend the rest of your life thinking, “I could have stuck to my guns but instead I sucked a cock…”
But wait! At this point you might feel obliged to point out that plenty of Devin’s recent material has been rather poppy — Epicloud, Sky Blue, etc — and you’d be correct. That irony isn’t lost on Devin, and he goes on to explain his motivations for writing those albums, how they’re different from the above, and what’s currently making him tick on a musical level (he cops to not listening to metal at all anymore, but does name-drop Fallujah and Xerath). Read the whole interview here, and also make sure you read part one and part two.