Devin Townsend has been hard at work over the last few years on his latest LP, Lightwork, which is one of his most stylistically diverse records in a catalog that was already not afraid to push boundaries. Which is probably why Townsend's collaboration with Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger doesn't sound so strange—on paper or on record. The pair teamed up for the track "Hear Me" on Townsend's Empath LP in 2019, and in a recent chat with Ultimate Guitar, Townsend spoke of his appreciation for Kroeger.
"Chad's brilliant. Chad is a phenomenally intelligent human being. But he's a rockstar, too, on levels that you and I will never participate in. And so there's gonna be a disconnect just based on that. You only have a few things in common, and then, after a while you run out of things to talk about.
"I think it was flattering for me at first, too. But again, the guy's got a very complex life, and I can't understand a lot of it. How could I? It's not within the realm of my world. But I think he's exceptionally talented. I think he's phenomenally intelligent. And I think that there's a certain degree of intensity to his life that I just can't hang with, man. It's too much for me. For every hour of social activity, I need two hours on my own to recover."
For some contextual background, Townsend has spoken in the past about observations he made of his peers and acquaintances with mega-fame recognition.
Most recently he spoke about his collaboration with Jason Newsted. Townsend, then-Metallica bassist Newsted, and Exodus drummer Tom Hunting had a very short-lived project called IR8 in 1994. The band recorded one demo that eventually got put out in 2002 as part of the IR8 vs. Sexoturica compilation, but that was that, with Townsend alluding that the big machine that is Metallica made it difficult for Newsted and Townsend to connect on a deeper level.
Following up on that idea in the UG interview, Townsend said, "[T]here's other people… that end up being at that level of success [where it's] never enough. You play a concert in an arena, and then you go to a club, and then you go parasailing, and then you drink all night. And I'm like, 'I can't do it.' I hate it. Even if I respect and care for people, after a certain amount of time, again, I have to tap out. I'm like, 'Dude, I can't hang with this.' I'm in bed by nine, usually. I don't want to listen to Pantera at four in the morning, you know? And that's not a character flaw at all, it's just a different frequency that folks exist on. I'm not like that…
"And I mean, with Chad, I remember being at his house a couple times, and just being, 'Wow, this is so intense, man.' He had a stage set up, and it's metal all night. And I'm thinking like, 'Man, you are so much more of a metalhead than I am.' But I do care for him. And I think he's brilliant."
In other Devin Townsend news, please don't ask him about a Strapping Young Lad reunion, because it ain't happening. In a recent interview, Townsend said, "I can explain it until I'm blue in the face, and people are, like, 'Yeah, cool. Anyway, can you do it?' I think it's good for me having to try and work on my patience, because there's a part of that's, like, 'Really? You think that it's that easy?' I know why they want it. I love it too — I love it — but I can't do it."
So there you have it, folks. Keep calm and listen to Lightwork!