STRAPPING YOUNG LAD - Straight Jacket Talk With The Man From Lad
By Martin Popoff
With five years elapsing and collapsing since Strapping's white noise live album No Sleep 'Till Bedtime and seven since the second studio album City, people thought Devin Townsend had killed Strapping for good. Interviews with the manic man over the past few years underscored that thought, as well as the spate of classy, classic solo albums emerging from the twisted wreckage of Devin's constantly reconstituting fleshy brain bits. But here he is, and here they are, a backbone band of real metal men, churning out straight-eight thrash under the guise of one mutha of a self-titled stab to the metal heart.
"The new things that are being introduced are primarily the fact that the humor of Strapping has sort of changed to irony, in a less than subtle way," begins Devin. "So the humor is not really apparent. We tried to epitomize, like, let's just become a heavy metal band as opposed to an extension of Dev's paranoia. Let's take the obvious strengths of this band, the kinship we all feel with the energy, and use it to make something cathartic. And sort of put it aside to a certain extent. Like, for the sake of the project, we will do this. For the sake of the project, it will happen this way. For the sake of the project, it's democratic. For the sake of the project, it's this or that, you know what I mean? And we tried to approach it from taking the raw energy that we had, and really meditating on it, for lack of a better word, into becoming something. And that's why we called it Strapping Young Lad. Between the SYL record and the Devin Townsend Band record, which were done simultaneously, they kind of epitomize both ends of the spectrum."
With simple cover art, and simple, short song titles, Strapping Young Lad is all business, cards close to the vest, poker faces all around. Lyrically, it may be a bit of a different story. "When we did the lyrics, it's like, if you say the lyrics aloud, they're cheesy. But if you scream them, they're scary, you know what I mean? And that was kind of the point with it. Obviously, all of us being raised in a no war environment, 9/11 was a wake-up call for everybody. And I think the emotions that adults playing heavy metal have a responsibility of portraying are that of what we're truly feeling. And I think this record is based on insecurity and fear as opposed to anger, whereas City was really hostile. This one is angry, but I almost get the impression that it's the anger you feel when, if you were just chilling out, and someone came up behind you and scared the SHIT out of you. You'd just turn around and go 'Holy f**k rah rah shit rah!!' That's me; that's my role in the band. And the other guys in the band are different. It's a freaky dude supported by a bunch of really commanding individuals. You know, like Gene Hoglan and Jed Simon and Byron Stroud, they're dudes; they're heavy metal dudes. It legitimizes that emotion, and I think that makes it scary."
STRAPPING YOUNG LAD - Straight Jacket Talk With The Man From Lad Page 2