Just last week, Devin Townsend took part in a challenge presented by Toontrack, in which he’d have to record a demo of an entire song in only two hours while it was streamed online. While he may have already come into the challenge with plenty of ideas, templates, and backing tracks beforehand, it was absolutely insane to see this man lay down a solid four minutes of fairly dense layering in such a short and hectic period of time. It also gave us a peek into his creative process and how he fleshes out his ideas into a complete whole. Head on over the jump for some more thoughts as well as a full stream!
Any musician who records demos (or even records complete albums) in a bedroom studio, take note: this stream and subsequent interviews are absolutely essential. Regardless of your preconceptions about Townsend’s music, this stream was an immensely insightful look into the work flow, thought processes, and quick problem solving skills of any truly professional musician. One of the most important points made by Townsend during the recording process was that it’s always important as a musician to not always second guess yourself. In that sense, this challenge ended up being just as much of a motivational video as it did an intense look into gear and Pro Tools.
The end product of the challenge, “Stars,” is right in line with that was presented on the first disc of Z2, Sky Blue. The major-key, shimmering guitar riffs are just as present as ever, there’s the quad-tracked vocals that anyone on Epicloud is more than familiar with, and loads of positivity. Fans of Devin’s odd love of fusing pop and metal will certainly be all over this. While the verse isn’t particularly memorable, the song’s much darker and more melancholy bridge more than make up for things. It may just end up being a B-side in the long run, but it’s already a more than solid base for something that the DTP can expand on and make much more dynamic and boisterous in future recordings.
This was really the first time something like this has been done before, regardless of the genre. Despite the incredibly frustrating wireless keyboard issues that unfortunately really detract from the quality of the challenge at times, this idea was a roaring success that will hopefully be copied by many more bands in the future. In an age where social media and staying connected to one’s fans is a top priority as a band, what could possibly be more intimate than letting your listeners see the very rough sketches of your future recordings unfold before them in real time? It’s obviously way too early to say where this could go, but it wouldn’t be shocking if a ton of like-minded progressive metal bands start emulating this in upcoming years. Let’s certainly hope so.