with Devin Townsend (acoustic), Dance With The Dead, '68
Reserved Seating Available
All Ages Show
This used to be a barren land. Valley after valley with nothing but frozen deserts and dried out river beds. The people doomed to live here were nomads, wanderers of Dystopia. Their fingers were worn down to the bone as they spent their existence searching for ancient roots to eat. It was as if they were kneeling, praying to the soil, to remember what it was like to be alive. Born into starvation, held captive by the cold.
Then he came. The first one. It was an alien sound to ears who had only ever known the howling wind and their own dragging feet. Hooves. Galloping hooves. First very distant. Then closer. And closer. And closer. Then they could see him. The sight was even stranger than the sound. High upon a mighty steed rode a lion of a man clad in a red cloak. Tied on his back was a strangely shaped axe with six strings.
The wanderers of the dead land gathered around him as the horse came to a halt. He dismounted and stood in the middle of the crowd. A circle of hollow eyes and dried lips looked back at him. He spoke:
“Where there is silence, there shall be sound, and it shall be LOUD!”
He took his axe and held it high in the air.
“Where there is a sky, there shall be thunder, and it shall be LOUD!”
Then, with a force not seen in this land for millennia, he struck the ground. The sound was deafening and made the people fall over. The earth started to rumble and the sky darkened, only to be lit up by lightning. The heavens were torn apart by the storm as the clouds twisted and twirled as if in convulsions.
It started to rain. And from the crack where the axe had struck, water started to rise. The people kneel to drink.
“I am the chosen one, for I have chosen myself! This land which was once dead is now alive. And it’s mine!”
The crack in the ground was growing as the water came faster and faster. The man went down on one knee and reached down into the crack. From the depths, he retrieved a golden crown that he put on his own head. He stood up and looked around at the people who were still kneeling in the rising water.
“You are no longer lost wanderers, you are Citizens! This is no longer a wasteland! This is Avatar Country!”
He then picked up his axe and struck the six strings. The sound was devastating and made the sky clear up, just ever so slightly to let a few rays of sun break through for the first time since memories and stories came to be. Finally, the people woke up from their near eternal slumber. They looked around, saw thunder, rain, lightning, sunshine, and flood. As terrifying as it was, they knew that this wasn’t signs of the end time. This was signs of the beginning. So they said:
“GLORY TO AVATAR COUNTRY! GLORY TO OUR KING!”
There are many myths that surround the origin of Avatar Country and of how the King ended up becoming king. Above is one of the more popular ones as it emphasizes many of the things the Citizens love about their ruler. He brings sound where there is silence and He creates a home where there was none. He takes everyone in need and makes them belong and he protects them.
No one remembers for how long the King has been King. Time is a confusing concept in Avatar Country as the nation is in a constant state of celebration. Looking back it almost seems as if he is immortal, although there is evidence that suggests otherwise, at least to a degree. In the Royal Museum of Paintings of the King, we can observe that the King seems to have been around for at least as long as we’ve been able to preserve visual art. There are sculptures depicting a bearded man, with a lion’s mane and a crown, dating back to long before the invention of the metronome and even the dropped guitar tuning.
Regarding the mortality vs immortality of the King, we have the famous painting “The Procession of the King” after the “Battle of the Decibel Limits” which shows the body of a fallen King being carried by his officers, back from the battlefield. However, hanging in the next room is the painting “Victory in Volumes” which is the depiction of the final moments of same said battle, where we can clearly see the King, alive and well, raise the PA volume to desired levels. The confusion gets even bigger as there are documents supporting that both these events took place, more or less, in the way they’ve been shown here.
So is the King eternal? Well, the fact that both paintings in question are over 300 years old makes a good case for this being very much possible. For it is without any doubt the very same king who recently posed for the minting of the current Avataro coin, that we see in this painting. Even the tattoos are spot on.
As this is being written the Ruler of All Things Worthy of Being Ruled has decided in coalition with the Royal Court to open up the borders of Avatar Country and take applications for Citizenships from all across the globe. The decision was made after the Royal Department of Measurements of Things That Should Be Measured concluded that the METAL veins of the Land were rich enough to supply the globe with enough heavy nutrition without starving the blackened souls of His Highness’ fellow countrymen.
As it turns out, the Royal Mad Scientist’s Laboratory and Research Center has determined that the METAL resources of Avatar Country has a most unique quality. Not only does its use to feed the souls of the starving, removing any need for other food sources, but on top of that it turns out that it has a property that has been dubbed “Sharing is caring and caring is King.” This special trait means that Avatar Country’s METAL resources actually multiplies each time it’s consumed. In short, METAL makes METAL more METAL. Who would’ve thought?
In the pitch black, yet loving and always righteous, heart of the Most Potent One every man, woman, and child is already a glorious Citizen of Avatar Country. Most are just a canceled appointment with the hairdresser away from making the cut.
Trade deals are being made with all of the discovered world, but it hasn’t been pain-free. Diplomats and negotiators who have wandered the globe to spread the good will and intentions of the Masterful and Magnificent Myth of a Man King have had a hard time explaining the properties of the rare mineral found only in Avatar Country’s METAL mines. Sadly the outside world has shown to be somewhat underdeveloped in their taste and vocabulary when it comes to understand and appreciate the true value of METAL the way we know it. Luckily, the King of All Kings Who Have Ever Had the Audacity to Call Themselves Kings has taken it upon himself to educate the people of Earth on their way to Citizenship.
The Chamber Of Food Pyramid Schemes has found that although inhabitants have learned to consume their METAL through their skin, eyes and all general and particular body openings, people in other countries seem to mainly consume their scarce portions through their ear canals. The Kingelikookeliking has therefore alongside His elite orchestra put together a sonic remedy, named after the nation it represents. Avatar Country the Album can be consumed and purchased everywhere where sounds generally are.
GLORY TO OUR KING!
Devin Townsend (acoustic)
Over the course of the last 25 years, accomplished heavy music artist Devin Townsend has remained consistent. Consistent-that is-in that he’s rarely consistent in what we’ve come to expect from him. Constantly making unique inroads with many different styles of music, he has followed his particular muse in any way it leads him for almost three decades.
Although heavy metal and progressive rock has always been his primary focus, each year that passes recently has resulted in new peripheral works that have seen him branch off to everything from country, new age, ambient noise or even orchestral musical theatre. As endearing as that has been to his constantly growing fanbase, it has also made it difficult to classify with much accuracy what he does and what he represents. Who is Devin Townsend? What is his musical identity? With his new album, ‘EMPATH’, we find that Devin Townsend is actually all of these things.
Over the past few years, the success that Devin has slowly worked for has fortunately come with the power to control his own creative destiny. The recent successes with the DVD from a sold-out Royal Albert hall, or his 2012 ‘Retinal Circus’, or last year’s ‘Ocean Machine’ live DVD with the Orchestra and Choir of State Opera Plovdiv has put him in a position where with the new album ‘EMPATH’, he will once and for all define himself as a musical force outside of any particular genre classification.
There has been a strangely conservative trend within the heavy music scene with the industry needing to define artists as one particular thing. Often that relegates musicians to boxes that are very limited. If you play heavy music, what genre of heavy music are you to be categorized under? If you play anything with a pop aesthetic, are you selling out? If you make beautiful chill sounds, and then promptly follow it with savage metal sounds, you are either viewed as doing it to be provocative, or that it’s coming from an unfocussed vision. So what does one do if a single category does not contain the breadth of the expression that needs to come forth? If you have a history of heavy music -yet have skills that extend into different realms- getting any attention from those outside genres is next to impossible. You are automatically relegated to the metal world and that world alone. To be fair: EDM, Jazz, Classical, ultimately any genre…the music world in general requires artists to ‘stay in their lane’ due to a need for categorization or simply the out of necessity due to the glut of albums released every month.
So what happens if you’re an artist that simply uses ‘genre’ as colours in a wide palette? What happens if you’re an artist like Devin Townsend with a history of musical knowledge and experience that extends far past the genre that made him famous? Furthermore: What if you think that Heavy Music is not something to be ashamed of, and you feel it deserves to fit into the typical fold of ‘respected’ music? It has been well known to those proficient in heavy music that it can represent emotions in ways that no other music can, and can add a dynamic to emotional music that makes the topics truly heavy. Devin has always had this ethos, and his fanbase has quietly followed him through a myriad of styles over the years where he has applied this.
If the desire (and the ability) to play different styles is not done to be provocative, but rather to illustrate a full spectrum of musical emotions, why would one not want to follow that?
Enter ‘EMPATH’. Devin has decided to see what would happen if all the styles that make up his current interests were finally represented in one place. To finally shake the fear of expectation, and just do what it is he was meant to do creatively, ‘EMPATH’, true to the name, is about allowing the audience a feeling for a variety of musical emotions. The musical dynamics represented on this single album are broad, challenging, and immense. To approach this sort of work with a long history of what makes heavy music ‘heavy’, allows this to be done with a type of power rarely heard.
The theme of the work was based in participating with all of what makes life so simultaneously beautiful and challenging, and to not neither fear those things, nor let them define us. As much as this may sound like a confusing output, care was put into the trajectory of the album so that hopefully each section is ‘welcomed’ by the listener when it arrives. A roller coaster of emotion that makes each consecutive section that much more effective. Having a constant thread throughout makes it a thrilling and constantly interesting sonic experience. One that is very much rooted in the hope that through this work, it can be something that may inspire other musicians to do the same. This is not meant to be a ‘glory project’ rather; it is meant to be a celebration of the dynamics of what makes music interesting with great talent involved.
In what started as a clear vision several years ago, Devin realized that time was running out on the inspiration that had propelled ’The Devin Townsend Project’. Although that band (and the series of records that bore its name) had seen his career surge in many fantastic ways, he knew that in order to proceed forward with his creative development, the band was limiting his ability to actualize what was becoming obvious he needed to pursue. When DTP disbanded at the end of 2017, there was concern that the decision was impulsive, rather than what it truly was: a strategic way to eliminate the parameters that being in a traditional rock band imposed on him.
The ‘EMPATH’ project and the massive amount of artists involved, was based in a need for total, uncompromising actualization of what he had been trying to achieve for much of his career. However, the ambition behind it required a strategy, so Devin began assembling a team of like-minded individuals to help him actualize this task in the most efficient ways possible. To create a completely over the top artistic statement that ultimately makes sense, yet also rings of hope in uncertain times, was a workload not to be taken lightly.
In an unexpected meeting with Frank Zappa Alumni and all around brilliant musical mind Mike Keneally, Devin began bouncing plans off of him as a friend until it became clear that Mikes mind was suited to help Devin organize the logistics of the project.
It began with the drummers, Devin had been writing ideas ranging from extreme metal, to prog, country, new age, orchestral and free jazz. All of which required the absolute best people for the job to not come off as a gimmick. Not content to find one drummer who would be pushed beyond his wheelhouse, Devin set out to find drummers that he could relegate certain songs and sections to from the large canon of music written during the ‘EMPATH’ period, and then track them in the best way possible. He chose Morgan Ågren (Mats And Morgan, Frank Zappa, Fredrik Thordendal) for the improvisational, quiet and jazz portions of the album. Anup Sastry (Monuments, Periphery) for the prog metal pieces, and Samus Paulicelli (Decrepit Birth, Abigail Williams) for the full metal sections. Repeating the process that had resulted in pleasing drum sounds on his last album Transcendence, Devin enlisted Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood to engineer the three drummers in order to achieve consistent results for what would undoubtedly end up being a monumental mixing task. The whole process was then taken to the famous Monnow Valley Studios in Wales, where Devin was joined by an army of talent. A host of engineers, technicians, the three drummers, an additional bassist by way of internet phenomenon Nathan Navarro as well as co-producer Mike Keneally. The studio was then set up as a residence studio, so the group lived in this fascinating UK location where artists such as Queen, Oasis, Black Sabbath (among many others) had recorded to great success. From there, the arduous task of making sense of music that would ultimately go between the lightest and the darkest sounds they could imagine would begin.
Through the entire process, either intentionally or by happenstance, Devin found himself in contact with many brilliant and unpredictable collaborators and people willing to help and inspire. Among the list of people involved were Elliot Desagnes, Steve Vai, Chad Kroeger, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Ché Aimee Dorval, Ryan Dhale, the fabulous Elektra Women’s Choir as well as several renowned orchestras from around the world. The process became increasingly more fantastic and eclectic the more it all began to grow and take shape.
For the conclusion of the process, for vibe, a cabin in the woods was rented and all the recording gear was then moved in. A host of interesting artists would come by out of either morbid curiosity or simple interest and end up participating in the record. Devin’s focus during this process was firmly rooted in his desire to not only- once and for all- make the statement he had been trying to ‘get right’ in the past, but also do it with a sense of joy and intention that was rooted in helping people and staying emotionally centred throughout. In a time of history where empathy is viewed as a weakness, the idea was to create songs of wildly varying styles to represent the need to view life from ALL its angles. To participate in these many musical emotions was about breaking away from the fears that he felt had held him in one place for so long creatively.
To make an analogy with the album that in order to understand others in this increasingly divisive time, we need to be willing to see things from other emotional points of view, was very important to this process.
The final stages of the album were when the true colours of it all began to appear. After spending a lot of time (and resources) to try and mix this massive statement with several different engineers, Devin realized that this project was not like others, and could not simply be mixed in one way. Typically, mixing nowadays relies on several techniques that, as cool as they sound, simply limit the dynamics of the material. At one moment it’s a metal record, then it’s a prog record, then it’s a jazz record, then it’s a pop record…to mix and master that takes many mix styles with great attention to detail and obsessive tweaking. Devin ended up mixing it himself and the result is an truly accurate representation of what the project was meant to achieve, with a depth to the sonics that only a great deal of care can produce.
In the past, Devin has been told that it is simply ‘not possible’ to do all these different styles of music in one place, yet with a newfound success and significant support from the industry, he was determined to prove that not only can it be done, but in a musical climate where taking chances is typically seen as ‘unwise’, it could be done with supreme confidence and absolute lack of compromise.
Devin Townsend / HevyDevy Records, InsideOut Music and Northern Music bring you ‘EMPATH’: A bold statement with massive production values and dynamic, uncompromised musicality. This is a statement about not only pursuing creative freedom in a conservative scene, but also trying to show that heavy music is truly a valid musical tool.
Dance With The Dead
Dance with the Dead is a electronic based music duo by Justin Pointer and
Tony Kim based out of Orange County, California. Inspired by retrospective
movies and music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80s, they’re sound reflects
heavily on the analog synthesizer sounds, and early heavy metal guitars.
They released they’re debut record “Out of Body” on October 31st to great
reviews in the synth wave, metal, and EDM communities alike. They
quickly followed up with the EP “Into the Abyss” 4 months later which had a
darker mood to it and explode their ability to write orchestral score pieces.
August, 2014 saw the second full length released titled “Near Dark” which
furthered their pressing stamp on the synth scene with such cross over hits
like “Andromeda” and “Invader”. Going against normal record cycle rules,
they released yet another EP release titled “Send the Signal” in December
2014. They played their first live show in January, 2015 in Los Angeles CA,
and decided to pursue Dance with the Dead as a live performance act and
not just a studio duo. By November 2015, they were headlining shows in
their first European tour. February saw the anticipated release of their 5th
release and 3rd full length record “The Shape” with great reception and
buzz. By September of 2016 they were headlining shows in France,
Belgium, Russia, Talin, Riga, Belarus, and the USA and started to
incorporate live guitar in their show. In their live shows and studio
recordings they use a hybrid of Soft synths and Hardware. In january of
2017, they released the full length record “B-Sides: Volume 1” which
composed of some material that was either never officially released by
DWTD themselves, or unreleased material written between 2012-2016. As
of early 2017 the duo has tours planned USA, Canada, France, Belgium,
Germany, Iceland, Russia, Belarus, Riga, Talin, and Scotland. They are
expected to release their 4th official full length in early 2018.
In Humor and Sadness, the debut album from ’68, demonstrates the loud beauty of alarming simplicity. A guy bashing his drums, another dude wielding a guitar like a percussive, blunt weapon while howling into a mic somehow manages to sound bigger and brasher than the computerized bombast of every six-piece metal band. A splash of roots, a soulful yearning for mid century Americana and the fiery passion of post punk ferocity rampages over a record of earnestly forceful tracks like a runaway locomotive.
Josh Scogin wasn’t out of elementary school when the Flat Duo Jets laid their first album down on two tracks in a garage. But the scrappy band’s spirit of raw power, punchy delivery, tried-and-true rhythms and urgent sense of immediacy is alive and well in ’68.
Heralded by Alternative Press as one of 2014’s Most Anticipated Albums, In Humor and Sadness is a snapshot of a fiery new beginning for one of modern Metalcore’s most celebrated frontmen. Produced by longtime Scogin collaborator Matt Goldman (Underoath, Anberlin, The Devil Wears Prada), the first full offering from ’68 is a broad reaching slab of ambitious showmanship delivered with few tools and fewer pretensions. The scratchy disharmonic pop of Nirvana’s Bleach is in there, for sure. And while many associate the setup with The Black Keys, ’68 is more like Black Keys on crack.
“I wanted it to be as loud and obnoxious as it can be,” Scogin explains. “I want it to be in-your-face. I want people who hear us live to just be like, ‘There’s no way this is just two dudes!’ That became sort of the subplot to our entire existence. ‘How much noise can two guys make?’ It’s obviously very minimalistic, but in other ways, it’s very big. I have as many amps onstage as a five piece band. Michael only has one cymbal and one tom on his kit, but he plays it like it’s some kind of big ‘80s metal drum setup. It’s minimalistic, but it’s also overkill. We get as much as we can from as little as we can.”
Like many pioneers, North Carolina’s the Flat Duo Jet’s blazed a trail for more commercially successful people. They played rootsy rockabilly but with a punk edge. Band leader Dexter Romweber’s solo work was a fist-pounding celebration of audacity and disruption, which influenced the likes of The White Stripes, among other bands.
“I got excited when I thought about the distress, the chaos that this two-piece arrangement would create – one guy having to provide all of these sounds, with a bunch of pedals, with certain chords wigging out and missing notes here and there,” he says with excitement. “That alone makes up for the chaos of having five people up there.”
That idea of less is more, of building something big from something small, persists today at the top of the charts with The Black Keys, just as it’s lived and breathed in the bass-player-less eclectic trio Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the rule-breaking early ‘90s destruction of Washington D.C.’s Nation of Ulysses, and in the two man attack of ’68.
“Jon Spencer’s records always sound like he’s kind of winging it and I love that,” declares Scogin, letting out an affectionate laugh. “In my last band, that’s how we tried to make our last record feel. The excitement and imperfection is something I love to draw from.”
Before paring (and pairing) things down with friend and drummer Michael McClellan, Josh Scogin was the voice, founder and agitprop-style provocateur in The Chariot, who laid waste to convention across a brilliantly unhinged and defiantly unpolished catalog of Noisecore triumphs and dissonant art rock rage. Recorded live in the studio, overdub free, The Chariot’s first album set the tone for a decade to come, owing more to a band like Unsane than whatever passes for “scene.”
Scogin was the original singer for Norma Jean and left an influential imprint on the burgeoning Metalcore of the late 90s that persists today, despite having fronted the band for just one of six albums. Whether it’s the genre-defining heft of Norma Jean’s first album or the five records and stage destroying shows of The Chariot, there’s a single constant at the heart of Josh Scogin’s career: a familiarity with the unfamiliar.
A new Metalcore band would be a safe third act for the subculture lifer, but Scogin isn’t comfortable unless he’s making himself (and his audience) uncomfortable. “I definitely wanted to flip the script a bit,” he freely confesses. “I’ve always wanted to play guitar and sing in a band, ever since I left Norma Jean. I needed the freedom of not having a guitar onstage, but now having done that for several years, I wanted the challenge.”
Creative problem solving has long been the name of the game for Scogin, whether he was hand stamping ALL 30,000 CDs for The Chariot’s Wars and Rumors of Wars album or figuring out how to pull off his ’68 song title concept in the digital age of iTunes. Each song on In Humor and Sadness was to be titled with simply a single letter, which when put together vertically on the back of a vinyl LP or compact disc, would spell out a word. However, it’s problematic to name more than one song with the same letter, which would have been necessary to spell out what he intended.
’68 is the forward thinking progress of an artist who finds satisfaction in the expression of dissatisfaction. There’s progression in this regression. Tear apart all of the elements that have enveloped a singer’s performance, strap a guitar on the guy and set him loose with nothing but a beat behind him? It’s a recipe for inventive, fanciful mayhem.
After a raucous debut at South By Southwest, a full US tour supporting Chiodos and many more road gigs on the horizon, Scogin and McClellan are propelled by the excitement that comes along with the knowledge that ‘68 is truly just getting started.
“We’ve just broken the tip of the iceberg. We’re really just exploring all the different things we can do,” Scogin promises. “I’ll get more pedals, we’re try different auxiliary instruments, whatever – the goal is to challenge ourselves and challenge an audience.”