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STEVE VAI: “STRAPPING YOUNG LAD’s Alien Should Be Studied”


Steve Vai and Devin Townsend teamed up for Vai‘s 1993 album Sex & Religion. The duo have since had wildly successful careers apart from one another, but Vai still has fond memories of working with Townsend. In a new interview with The Jasta Show, Vai priased Townsend for being unapologetically himself over the years, as well as his boundless creativity.

Devin never made excuses for the kind of music he wanted to make,” said Vai. “He threw himself into it wholeheartedly. Now, when he was with me, I only recognized his talent how it would serve me in my music. And he was a singer. And he was an incredible singer. He could sing anything.”

“And he was very entertaining and very funny and wild and all this stuff. And I loved all that stuff. But I didn’t realize back then how actually creative he was. Because he didn’t really have an outlet with me to do the kind of thing…”

“But he went through my band and he probably learned some things. But once he had the tools, he exploded. Because he had to get that out.”

Vai also touched on Strapping Young Lad‘s 2005 album Alien, noting that it should be studied for its melodic and crushing content. And who can argue with that? Despite Alien being made under unhealthy circumstances (with Townsend going off his bipolar disorder medication), it’s an incredible record.

“And let me tell you something else about Devin. His music, no matter how intense it is, it’s not evil. Inside of it, there’s this beaming desire for light, for transformation.”

“I’ve watched him create, and I’ve watched how his music was a cathartic process for him in the pathway to his own sense of being centered and comfortable in his skin. Just like many of us, but he’s unique in that he was able to really get that intensity out without any excuses.

“But his melodic ear, you can hear in… Even though you’re familiar with the record Alien [by Strapping Young Lad], that record — that should be studied. It might be in the future. I don’t know. It is as intense of an offering I’ve ever heard anywhere.”

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