Devin Townsend

He's explored the most extreme extremes of extreme metal with Strapping Young Lad, performed as lead vocalist for Steve Vai when he was just 20 and created an omnidimensional alien puppet known as Ziltoid The Omniscient, but there's one thing nobody ever thought they'd call Devin Townsend: a pop star.

That's still …pretty unlikely. But his new album Epicloud taps into a surprisingly radio-friendly vibe, as Townsend himself admits in an interview with “I’m really proud of it and I’m really happy to get it out of my system because it clears that whole thing out that I’ve been flirting with for so many years but maybe unwilling to commit to because it wasn’t cool or too commercial or something," Townsend says. "When I actually committed to doing Epicloud it was ‘[Expletive] it; take all the pop stuff and the Def Leppard stuff and the over-the-top epic production stuff and do it all.’"

The result is an album which uses metal as a texture rather than a focus, and some of the material is downright chart-friendly, such as 'Save Our Now' "I wanted to make a rock record and I wanted to write romantic lyrics and make it simple," Townsend explains. "I didn’t want it to be over people’s heads thematically. I wanted to get back to Slade and Def Leppard. Maybe that’s because of the topsy-turvy world we live in, or because music in general these days seems pretty dire."

Aside from a completely over-the-top new Ziltoid The Omniscient project (Z2), Townsend's next work is Casualties of Cool, which features vocalist Ché Aimee Dorval. And Devin describes that one as "Johnny Cash …in outer space."