The band was made up of guitarists Mike Kenneally (ex-Frank Zappa) and Markus Reuter (Stick Men, The Crimson Project), drummer Morgen Agren (Kaipa, Mats & Morgan, Frank Zappa), bassist Nathan Navarro, Haken keyboard player Diego Tejeida, and guitarist/vocalist Ché Aimee Dorval, as well as vocalists Samantha & Anne Preis and Arabella Packford.
Devin’s plan for the Empath touring cycle was to divide it up into three ‘Volumes’, and this was Volume 1. The idea behind the shows was a simple one: none of the backing tapes or click tracks that had long been necessary to bring the kaleidoscopic cacophony in his head and on his records to life in the flesh.
This would just be Devin Townsend and a band of genius-level musicians getting up there and trying to keep it from spinning off into outer space. Or maybe just letting it spin-off into outer space for the sheer hell of it.
“The whole objective was that I wanted to make that statement: This is by the seat our pants,” he says. “Because it’s important to me to represent this hyper anal-retentive music that I’ve made over the years but in a human way. Rather than it just being, ‘Well, here it is, perfectly done.’”
“I was overwhelmed by the fact that all these brilliant people that I have so much respect for were willing to come together and play this weird shit with me,” says Devin. “I had these unique players and this interesting instrumentation that allowed us to interpret the music in different ways. It was clear to me that I could just have fun and be me and know that they would effortlessly be able to follow that.”
That sense of fun and freedom was evident to anyone who was there on the night. Visually, it was an assault on the senses in the best possible way. A digital screen projected vivid images throughout the show. A giant gleaming mirrorball hung from the ceiling. There were multiple costume changes and a tiki bar onstage (a tiki bar!).
‘Order Of Magnitude – Empath Live Volume 1’ will be released as a Limited Deluxe 2CD+Blu-Ray+DVD Artbook (including expanded artwork & photos), Limited 2CD+DVD Digipak, Standalone Blu-Ray, Gatefold 3LP+2CD vinyl box-set & as a Digital Album.
The Blu-Ray disc includes a bonus behind the scenes documentary, and both DVD & Blu-Ray feature a 5.1 surround sound mix. The track-listing is as follows:
5. Gigpig Jam
8. Heavens End
9. Ain’t Never Gonna Win
12. Lucky Animals
14. Spirits Will Collide
15. Disco Inferno
Look out for the first clip and pre-order start on the 28th August.
In June, ‘Empath – The Ultimate Edition’ was released, the definitive version of his latest studio album. It features a glorious 5.1 surround mix with accompanying visuals, plus a host of bonus material including mixing lesson, documentary, as well as a live set filmed during his April 2019 acoustic tour.
Order now here.
The ‘Empath Live Volume 2’ tour would’ve started this year during the European summer festival run, followed by a club tour in November. Whereas Volume 1 is considered the more mellow/prog version, Empath Volume 2 encompasses the more ‘heavy songs’ from Devin’s long time career and these were selected by the fans last year through an online poll. This setlist would’ve have been played at UK’s Bloodstock Festival [see below] Finland’s Tuska Festival and at Hellfest in France but COVID-19 decided to put a stop to that. Instead, Devin has now put in massive efforts to bring the show to his fans via an online stream.
Devin explains best in his own words:
“So I was thrilled to announce my headlining of Bloodstock this year, and with an eye on doing my first ‘by request’ set that included my entire career, (including SYL and all the DTP albums), I know there were a lot of people that were really excited as well.
But then, as we all know, circumstances prevented that from happening, and that was disappointing as the show was meant to be a pivotal moment in my creative career. But every roadblock is an opportunity for something different so we have come up with a plan to bring you the show in a way I believe will be kind of revolutionary and damned exciting. We have been working tirelessly to bring you a ‘virtual’ concert of the by request set, with musicians playing together, yet all in different parts of the world.
However, I wanted to do something different, not the ‘Brady Bunch’ type split-screen visuals filmed on smartphones, (they are cool, but also not really exciting in my opinion) instead, we have opted to make a full production, filming ourselves separately, playing our instruments live, on greenscreens, with 8 cameras each, (all at the same heights and distances for each of our remote shoots), and then combine these elements on a crazy virtual stage.
It’s ambitious, but I think the closest to a monster concert as can be achieved this summer =) Considering everyone is scattered throughout the land yet not wanting to ‘let the dream die’ we have stumbled upon something rather amazing I think.
The players are Samus Paulicelli on drums, Wes Hauch on guitar, and Liam Wilson on bass… They have been going crazy learning the material, and we are putting it all together on September 5th, for the most ambitious live stream I think I’ve heard of thus far. We have been dealing with Stageit to avoid any hiccups, and it poised to be rather awesome.
I will be live with it, and you, at this show, answering questions and talking to you throughout, to make it a totally interactive experience that acts not only as a cool way to spend a Saturday but also as a potentially new way to do concerts entirely. The players I have hired have worked their butts off learning the material, and it’s going to be one of the coolest things I’ve done in recent memory.
So please consider coming to this, Stageit has allowed the show to be the full 85 minutes, so it will be the full Bloodstock/Tuska/Hellfest set. I can’t actually believe we’re managing to pull off something like this, and there’s a lot involved with it, but it’s worth it to me. It’s not just any ‘quarantine concert’ this one is a quantum leap of sound and visuals. I can’t wait for you to see this, hopefully, you’ll consider it.”