Devin Townsend Provides Massive Update on Next Album Empath


Devin Townsend sent out a lengthy update to his email newsletter last night containing a whole lot of updates about Empath, the first of many albums he plans to release in the post-Devin Townsend Project era.

You can read the entire letter below — and you should, as Devy has a very fine way with words — but here are a few of the key points if you’re currently on the office shitter and your boss is probably wondering why you’ve been gone for so long:

  • he has been working with The Elektra Choir
  • he starts rehearsals this week with three different drummers (Morgan Agren, Samus, and Anup Sastry) to be recorded at Monnow Valley studio in Wales on September 21st
  • after drum tracking, he will head to Serbia to film a video of “epic scale” for the song “Spirits Will Collide,” which he describes as an “anti-suicide song”
  • Empath will have a bonus disc that contains an animated visual for the album with a narrative, as well as a full 5.1 audio mix
  • he talks a bit more about his relationship with Chad Kroeger from Nickelback, which made the rounds in the news last week
  • as mentioned previously, he is looking to put together a tour of one-man acoustic shows with some spoken word and a Q&A

He also talks a bit about the goings-on in his personal life, which I find interesting in and of themselves, but should also be of note to his fans because of how they tie into his musical work.

Read the full letter below:

“Hi it’s Dev here again. I hope everything in life is going along well for you at the moment. Its a complicated time for a lot of folks all around so here’s hoping you’re staying afloat. =)

“Things are currently cruising along nicely for my new music. The record I’m currently working on, ‘Empath’, is now really beginning to evolve and take shape. If you’re following me on social media you might have seen that I’ve started the recording process and have been busy working with The Elektra Choir (which was a great experience).

“I start rehearsals this week with the three drummers for the project (Morgan Agren, Samus, and Anup Sastry) and have been in negotiations with various symphony orchestras to try and make this statement as bold and accurate as possible. It’s an expensive venture, but one that I have faith in. It’s such a thrill to be able to actualize these works after years of struggling to get myself in a position to do so. Thank you so much for allowing me to do so with your continued support and interest.

“We leave for Wales to record the drums at Monnow Valley studio on September 21st. The logistics of 9 people, transport, food, and gear acquisition is a laborious task, but the legwork is almost done and will be worth it once we’re there. In theory, we can simply be as creative as possible, as opposed to slogging through further logistics while there. Its the equivalent of eating one’s spinach so that the desert can be enjoyed with no (or relatively little) guilt.

“Upon finishing drums, I’m immediately headed to Serbia to film a video for the song ‘Spirits Will Collide’. I have a vision for that so hopefully we can pull it off. The song is basically an anti-suicide song, and as a result, I feel it needs to be loud and very assertive. A video of epic scale to underline its intent is what I’m hoping for. Fingers crossed it doesn’t just turn out silly.

“Speaking of video, I have been working closely with an animator to produce a bonus disk for Empath that includes a narrative as well as a full 5.1 mix of the album. Empath works with peaks and valleys, and I believe with this visual, it can be an extremely immersive experience for people. It can also be used for the live shows that eventually will become a reality and fortunately, by delegating this large workload between so many sources, I am finding it an efficient way to do a lot simultaneously without sending me off the rails.

“As I touched on in my last email, the new record is going to be a very complicated statement and it’s not going to be a particularly easy listen…however, the point I hope it makes will be absolutely accurate with the place I find myself in life now, and if there’s anything I believe I can pull away from the work, its that the ebb and flow of it all, the pain and happiness, is important to recognize it for what it is: Energy. To participate in these dynamics without necessarily absorbing them, makes Empath hopefully act as a metaphor for the duality of it all, and surrendering to one’s own true nature. As much as I tend to self deprecatingly ‘warn people’ about my upcoming works, it’s always with the frame of mind that yes, it will be different than the past, but also: Yes, it’s absolutely accurate. It’s all just ultimately rooted in a search for some kind of truth, whatever that may be at the moment. All the complexities of the process are worth the effort for me.

“In other news, it’s been interesting for me watching the media, audience, and other observers comment about my relationship with Chad from Nickleback. For years I was critical of Nickleback for a number of reasons, including jealousy and falling into the negative public sentiment surrounding the band. However, it’s been great to unexpectedly get to know the guy. I’m not looking for anything from him, and nor he with myself. Yet in the aforementioned search for ‘Truth’ amidst it all, and having had experience with ‘rockstars’ who are not able to participate on a more down-to-earth level, spending a day with him fixing his studio and watching him on his back under the mixing board doing the grunt work was refreshing. Everyone is fighting a battle, no matter where you look, and I feel it’s good to be reminded through situations like this that we’re all searching, regardless of what our paths have put in front of us. No matter what our individual ‘curriculum’ is all about, it seems to boil down to perspective. He’s a cool guy and really talented at what he does. He’s also been a help to me throughout this writing and creative process. For a housewarming gift I bought him an Iron Maiden poster and a box of donuts.

“I’ve recently taken a couple of days off with the family for a short summer vacation and that was really nice. Time away from work and with family is obviously very important. It helps me recharge and revitalizes my creative process and productive output. Plus, as the kids grow, it’s wise to invest in ‘memories’ I think… its a link to something real amidst the hullabaloo of the career.

“I’m also starting to look at booking some upcoming acoustic shows. I talked to the booking agent today and I expressed my desire to do a one-man show with a bit of spoken word and a Q&A. Reintroducing myself with Empath, and prior to a new ‘band’ per se, is important for me to get out there and play for people in this capacity. Stripped of a lot of the glitz I’ve been doing for a long time now, It could be a way to describe that the process that has resulted in all these records over these years, as well as Empath, is a pretty linear thing. It will be nice to get a chance to see people again.

“Ultimately I want to present the first shows of the next cycle as a performance based on this process. The shows are going to go to several territories, including some new ones, and will hopefully be an interesting way for me to preface the new record.

“So as you can tell, I’ve got a lot going on. I wish I could write more this morning, but I have several appointments today, so I’ve got to run.

“A quote I dug this week is from Lauren Eden- “Sometimes we are just collateral damage in someone else’s war against themselves”.

“This week I’m currently reading ‘Modern Romance’ by Aziz Anzari and Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Author Conan Doyle.

“I’m still watching ‘Parts Unknown’ by Anthony Bourdain. I’m glad there’s a lot of episodes of this, but its kind of haunting to see his personality shift over the series to something a bit more despondent.

“Again I really hope that you’re all doing well. I’m off rehearsal. Until next time take care and be excellent to each other.


“Dev. =)”

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