It’s the end of the tour, he’s got a stinking cold, but good ol’ Devy didn’t shirk from the opportunity to give you the insider’s perspective on his rig.
He’s a musician who goes to the extremes of melodic mellow and metallic madness in his music and as a result, Devin uses distinctive rigs for his different projects. But for his main focus, the aptly named Devin Townsend Project, it’s an evolving situation, of sorts.
"My rig always changes," says Devin. "One of the things about doing odd, progressive heavy metal is, although it might not be financially the most lucrative thing, we get given a lot of gear. It’s awesome! So I’m trying to figure out what’s best for my rig, but the root of it is always the same."
"I’ve decided on Framus as my main guitars for DTP. They’re a German company and they also do Warwick basses.
"They’re sort of throwback-looking guitars with lights and things like that to bring them into the modern world. A 335-like shape [Mayfield] or big Les Paul kind of shape . They’re all sort of customised to what I’m looking for.
"I have so many different styles of music with different touring bands. DTP being the primary one. I use different guitars for different applications. For example, if I’m doing the Casualties Of Cool stuff I work with the Fender or Hansen, but Framus is just incredible stuff. I love it, I really do."
"This [Framus Mayfield] is typically hollow bodied but I asked for a solid chunk of mahogany with a maple top so it’s like a Les Paul."
Framus 1974 semi-acoustic
"This one [Framus 1974] is semi-hollow."
Framus 1974 solid body
"This one [Framus 1974] is solid mahogany with a maple top."
Peavey Baritone PXD Vicious Seven-String
"I had a signature guitar with Peavey for a while there, and that was a good relationship that we had, but with my music I tend to do a lot of different styles and I wanted to branch out from the typical heavy metal guitar.
"Although I still use this guitar. It’s a seven-string baritone with an EMG in it and my brother in law made the bridge and the wings."
Fishman Fluence Signature Prototype Pickup
"I worked with EMG for many years and I’ve written so many records with an 81. But for this type of music, it was going to take something really significant to pull me away from it and, recently, I was contacted by Fishman and I’m working on a signature pickup with them now. I’ve got a prototype in my main guitar on this tour.
"The main idea with the Fishman Fluence is I was down with the Fishman guys voicing it. In essence, it’s a pickup with two tones - a real Jekyll-and-Hyde vibe. So these are prototypes, and in position one, it’s a ceramic Alnico metal tone. Similar to what I was going for with an EMG 81, but a little broader, in my opinion. Voice 2, which I haven’t voiced with Fishman yet, will be a low-gain passive clean sound.
"So it really does reflect what I try to do - the bipolar nature of it. Currently, it’s on a pull-pot to get to the Voice 2, but in the new version of the Framus guitar I’m working on, we're going to have it on a switch, which allows me to do more than just the metal."
"I’ve been trying to get these installed on all the guitars. My tech Armando [Aguirre] and I have unanimously decided that these are the greatest thing that has ever been invented.
"I’m so OCD about what I do, I’m such a perfectionist, and I’m so imperfect, that the combination of these things is just hilarious frustration at every turn. And tuning is an example of something that makes me crazy!
"So having the EverTune allows me to put my guitars that are in open C and open B into something we can forget about. And it helps my pitch for singing and helps a lot of things."
"I enjoy experimenting with gear and I like pedals; I really enjoy the tactile sensations of changing my own patches and tweaking things when I’m playing live.
"With the Casualties stuff, or with my home rig, it’s a very different pedalboard: different guitars, amps, everything. But with DTP, this is what I'm using now."
One Control Crocodile Tail Loop Switcher
"This One Control acts as a true bypass loop, which, depending on the patch, sends a MIDI signal to both the Kemper and the Axe-Fx- it goes to the Kemper and then to the Axe-Fx.
"Each one of these patches corresponds [to a sound], for example; one is a Rectifier profile with my main GP sound, another is a Fender profile with my clean Axe-Fx sound. And with the buttons on top, every time I change it, the light corresponds to one of these loops.
"The numbers on these pedals signify a different loop. So if I want the Rainbow Machine to be on my Dead Head patch, I just hit six and then that engages that loop. It’s as simple as that with this thing."
Mesa/Boogie Grid Slammer Overdrive
"The main chain I run for my heavy channel. I’ve got these drive pedals ahead of the amplifier. I’ve got a Mesa profile on the Kemper, too, but these are for a clean boost. I went through a ton of different overdrives and I’m still experimenting with them.
"I had a Maxon OD808, and I’ve used the Keeley [Red Dirt]... Seymour Duncan has a new one that is cool. But for this tour, I chose the Grid Slammer because it’s a bump in the mid that is really aggressive-sounding and adds a bit more mid to the Kemper. And if I want to add that to my clean channel as well, I can add a bit of distortion."
TC Electronic Spark Mini Booster
"If I want to play a lead, I throw this in, which is basically just a clean boost."
"The clean-sound loop starts with the compressor. I tried a bunch of different compressors.
"I really like this one, and I also like the new Seymour Duncan one that just came out; the Vise Grip. They’re a parallel compression so you can bring in your clean tone."
Way Huge Saucy Box
"Then is goes into the Saucy Box, which is essentially a Klon overdrive sound. Again, it’s a parallel addition to the sound."
Voodoo Lab Tremolo
"For this tour, I’m using the Voodoo Lab. Someone broke into my truck at home and stole my Malekko one, so this was what was kicking around. And it’s good - it acts like a tremolo!"
Earthquaker Devices Rainbow Machine
"I was looking for something that when you turned it on, you didn’t know what it would do. Kind of like my wife. This just goes crazy. It’s got a magic button and when I press it, it does weird shit. And I like having it at the end of the chain.
"I’ve got the TC delay prior to it as well, so basically, they feed into each other. You kick this Rainbow Machine on and it does random things. There’s something to be said about it that I really dig, for that element of surprise."
TC Electronic Flashback Triple Delay
"I've got this in front of the amp and it adds three different styles. With this triple delay, you can stack them as well. This is more just a big washy delay."
"I remember we toured with a band years ago when I was with Strapping [Young Lad] and when this pedal first came out, we made fun of the guy relentlessly for having a Decimator.
"We thought it was the stupidest name for a pedal ever. And we had this whole back story about his Decimator where it was in its own rack - don’t fuck with the Decimator, man, because if you hit it wrong or you turn it up past a certain threshold, it will create a vortex that will suck us all in.
"So we made fun of him, then after a while I realised it was the best noise gate ever! So now I have a Decimator. But don’t fuck with it, because I will and have been known to turn it up past its threshold."
TC Electronic Polytune
"Great tuner from TC Electronic. If you hit all the strings it tells you which ones are out of tune.
"Which is great if you aren’t in an open tuning like me, so we use it as a standard tuner because that special function does fuck all for me. But it’s really cool."
Dunlop Crybaby 95Q
"I used to use a [Morley VA-1] Bad Horsie wah, the Vai one, but I didn’t really like the sweep on it. It’s a real specific sound - less of a wah and more of his sound.
"As much as I ended up using that thing, I really liked the Judas Priest sort of wah sound. This Dunlop is an auto engage as well, and it has a variable Q and volume boost on it."
Fractal Audio Axe-Fx II XL
"I've used Mesa/Boogie for many years with a clean boost in front of it, but now, I’m trying a bunch of new stuff. The one constant in my rig is the Fractal Axe-Fx. I’ve been using that for five years.
"When we first started, it was direct, straight to the board - and we use in-ear monitors onstage - then I tried doing it a different way, running it with a Mesa/Boogie, then I tried doing it with a power amp.
"But essentially, my tone has been the same since I was a teenager, in that I use two separate sounds: I use a heavy sound or a clean sound dry, and then I mix that with a very specific wet sound.
"I’ve named a patch GP Main, and Matt from Fractal has been working for me over the past year to try and replicate this crappy old effect that I’ve written all these records with.
"It was originally a Roland GP-100 and it was a sound that is technically terrible, but because I wrote so much with it, I need it and Matt has gone ahead and tried to replicate it [with the Axe-Fx]. The Axe-Fx now acts as amp two and has my effected GP sound or the clean effects."
Kemper Profiling Amp
"Profiling means you setup your amps and you can make what is essentially a tone print of your amp/mic chain to take with you. For the sake of weight, I wanted to try it.
"I’ve been using the Rectos for so long for a specific sound, but I wanted to see if we could do it with less weight. There’s a 23kg weight restriction when you fly and we have to keep our costs down. So I tried the Kemper and it’s worked out killer.
"This rack-mounted one has a 400-watt Class D power amplifier under it. So I have a Mesa cab onstage to get some sort of air movement, which I do like. I miss having amps onstage. The whole completely direct thing kind of sucked for me. So having the cab onstage has been great."
Shure ULXP4 Wireless / Radial JX44 And JR-5 Remote
"I run wireless so I can assume rock poses for the whole show, and then throw my back out like I did the other night, but nobody knew until the next day when I complained viciously about it to everybody within earshot.
"We’ve got a bunch of packs and we switch with the JR-5 remote, which runs this [Radial JX44] and is essentially my splitter box. It gives you the opportunity to run four inputs, four outputs, change the phase, isolate the ground. It’s a brilliant piece of gear.
"So when Armando gives me a guitar, one of them might be pack A or pack B, so he switches it here before he passes over the guitar. On the guitars, B has two stripes on the pack and A has one."
We have to ask, why is there a large plastic poo sitting on Armando’s tech station, Devin?
"I bought this for my dad for Christmas. We have this thing at Christmas so we don’t have to spend tons of money for each other as a family. Everybody gets one person [to buy for] so I bought my dad this lump of shit and he didn’t like it, so it’s out here with us now. Sorry, Armando!"