Devin Townsend: 5 Albums That Made Me | Revolver

Devin Townsend: 5 Albums That Made Me

From Jane's Addiction to Enya, eclectic musician tells stories behind records that changed his life
devin-townsend-gonzales-phototerje-dokkenpymcaavalonuig-via-getty-images.jpg, Gonzales Photo/Terje Dokken/PYMCA/Avalon/UIG via Getty Images
photograph by Gonzales Photo/Terje Dokken/PYMCA/Avalon/UIG via Getty Images

Revolver has teamed with Devin Townsend for an exclusive "tan" vinyl 2LP edition of Devolution Series #1 - Acoustically Inclined, Live in Leeds. It's limited to 250 so grab yours now.

Canadian multi-instrumentalist Devin Townsend has been firing on all creative cylinders for some time now. Since his early days with Strapping Young Lad to his eponymous Devin Townsend project, the musician has explored a wide range of styles: from hard rock and extreme metal to progressive and electronic ambient to straight-up new age. The self-imposed goal for his latest effort, Empath, which was released on March 29th, was to see what would happen if all the styles that made up his interests were represented in one piece. Helping him in that effort was an appropriately far-out list of guest musicians, from godfather of shred Steve Vai to Canadian rock royalty Chad Kroeger of Nickelback. To dig a little deeper into Townsend's own eclectic roots we asked him what albums had changed his life, shaping him as both a fan and a musician — below are the five pivotal records (plus two honorable mentions) he offered up.

Jane's Addiction - Nothing's Shocking (1988)

This album affected me more than any record has a right to affect someone. In every way it felt like a liberation. It was chaotic, out of tune, heavy, drugged out and included both the light and dark dynamics that Zeppelin instilled an interest in me, as well as the more Metallica-ish vibes that I loved as a teen. The use of echo on the singer's voice to accentuate purposely wrong notes was a literal revelation.

Grotus - Brown (1991)

I saw this band open for Mr. Bungle in about 1990, and almost entirely forgot about Bungle following their performance. Almost, but not quite, as revolutionary to me as Jane's Addiction, this album painted images of an atonal, rhythmic and dystopian future that was both terrifyingly ugly and profoundly beautiful. I loved the bass-driven qualities and the singer was amazing. I punished this band every time they came to town for several years ... I was "that guy" when they showed up. [Laughs]

King's X - Gretchen Goes to Nebraska (1989)

Gretchen Goes to Nebraska hit me when I was a teen. I had heard rumblings about how great the band was, and when I first heard it ... I actually didn't get it at all. However that night, when "The Burning Down" finished ... I felt that something internally had shifted. It was a hard thing to explain, but I woke up the next day feeling different than I did the previous day. What a fantastic album.

Def Leppard - Hysteria (1987)

It wasn't the lyrics, it wasn't the music — well, I mean partly it was those things of course — but more it was the production. When this album came out, it just legitimately sounded ten times better than all the other records in my collection. It was big, full, had amazing depth and had a type of fidelity that I have sought ever since. I believe I lost my virginity to the song "Hysteria" as well, which didn't hurt ...

Enya - Watermark (1988)

It sounded gorgeous, it was romantic and dark, it had a vocal production that was evocative, and I've always been fascinated with women. The combination of these elements created something that was dreamy and moody in ways that I have been trying to capture ever since. I sincerely loved this album and have bought many copies of it over the years.

Honorable Mentions: Metallica - Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets

I believe in looking at this list, I could continue going on and on about pivotal albums in my career, but barring the huge amount of "new age" tapes I used to binge on, Metallica really hammered home the heavy thing that I became enamored with. Even though those records themselves weren't as life changing ... the sound of those guitars, drums and vocals unto themselves influenced everything.