Devin Townsend reflects on ‘bland’ 2003

Devin Townsend says his mind was on his solo project while working on Strapping Young Lad’s self-titled album in 2003.

The group released the record in the same year as his Accelerated Evolution album and looking back, the Canadian musician says both now sound “bland” to him. And he reveals he continued working with his old bandmates as he didn’t know how to break up the group.

He tells Ultimate Guitar: “I didn’t realise at the time that what I was afraid of was not the music – I was afraid of myself. I was afraid of my lack of control over myself. So after 1997’s City, I was like, ‘That’s it. No more Strapping Young Lad.’

“I did Physicist in 2000 including the Strapping guys because I didn’t know how to break up the relationship. I thought this was a way for me to passively get away with it and it wasn’t.”

Even though he wanted to make the break, he kept recording with Strapping Young Lad and says he didn’t think their self-titled 2003 release turned out well.

He continues: “I just totally phoned that in. We were promoting a record and I was like, ‘Ah, god. I don’t even think this record turned out well.’ Because I put all this effort into Accelerated Evolution, it was an awkward time. Both those records are – even though there’s a lot of power on that Strapping record based on the participation of the other guys and even though there’s a lot of emotion on Accelerated Evolution – both of them are kind of bland to me.

“Maybe not conceptually in what they represent but that whole period was just a watery blue and kind of a washed-out red.”

Earlier this year, Townsend released Z2 and revealed that while he was proud of the follow-up to 2007’s Ziltoid The Omniscient, he was ready to move on. Now he says his future work will be very different from his previous material.

He adds: “I think the next step for me is going to be different – a lot less produced, a lot more improvised, a lot more raw and a lot more of both things happening at the same time: quiet and loud. But I think it’s going to be different than anything I’ve had currently and in the past because I think I’ve run out of my personality and my identity being of the utmost interest.

“You get bored of yourself after a while and you look to other things and I think that’s a very positive step.”

Townsend has lined up four UK dates starting in March to promote the Z2 release:

Mar 29: Bristol O2 Academy

Mar 30: Glasgow O2 ABC

Mar 31: Manchester Academy

Apr 14: London Royal Albert Hall

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.