By Rod Whitfield
Devin Townsend and Periphery, touring Australia together. It’s a match made in progressive heavy music heaven, and a wet dream for Aussie fans of that style of music. It almost sounds too good to be true, but it is a reality, and is coming to the eastern seaboard in October. Both are riding high with triumphant recent albums, both are absolutely at the top of their respective games. Although it must be said that Hevy Devy has not been anywhere but for 20 odd years.
Misha Mansoor, lead guitarist, main driving force behind the Periphery sound and all-round nice guy, speaking from his home in Washington DC, tells us that both he and his band are jumping out of their skins to share the stage with the great man again.
“Well, I mean it’s Devin!” He states simply, “we had an amazing time in Europe with him, he’s a huge influence of mine obviously, so there’s the bucket-list aspect to it. And a bunch of members of the band, I mean Mark is…I really shouldn’t out Mark!” He laughs, “but Mark loves him to death. But then again, he’s like the nicest guy. His band and his crew are the nicest people ever. So it’s just really good vibes.
“There’s no egos or divas on the road. It’s just like a big family having a good time. And in Australia, we’re gonna go on a vacation with our buddies, and then we’ll just happen to play a show later that night.”
The band released a double album earlier this year, entitled Juggernaut, with one disc being called Alpha and the other Omega. The albums have come out to absolute rave reviews and massive fanfare from their growing legion of fans worldwide, and Mansoor says the reaction to the new tunes in a live sense has been just as good as to their older, better known songs.
“The crowd response is awesome to these songs,” he states excitedly. “We have an inkling, and I think we’ve gotten better at what will work well live and what won’t. Things don’t always translate, and we know that people aren’t going to be as familiar with it. But man, something like The Bad Thing, that is undeniable, that’s just one of those songs that is just pure destruction with an energetic crowd, you get chills, you know?
“Alpha, everyone just sings along,” he continues, “Psychosphere is like a slow burn, in the beginning, but by the end, by the time it’s built up, you can really feel it. All those songs have a very palpable energy to them, live, and it’s very exciting.”
Periphery have been described as one of the most important bands in heavy music today, and to some it may appear that they have exploded into popularity overnight. But to Mansoor, it has been far more of a slow build to their current status than being any kind of 15-minute sensation, and he is very happy with that situation.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” he concurs whole heartedly, “and as long as that continues in that direction, I’ll be stoked. I don’t think we ever expected it to get this far, and this is all just kinda icing on the cake, as I like to say.
“So we’re just going to take it as far as it will go, really,” he goes on, “but it’s not something that I want to get to the point where it dictates the kind of band that we have to be, or the kind of music that we have to write, or the way that we have to present ourselves or anything like that. Because the whole point of starting this band was that it would be fun and so we can express ourselves. I would hate for the band’s career to make us lose sight of that. And I think that the way things have been going, it’s been slow and steady to the point where people don’t have unreasonable expectations of us and we don’t have unreasonable expectations of ourselves.”
Similar to his major influence Mr Townsend, Mansoor’s mind is an ever-active hive of creative activity, and he has several other projects on the go outside of Periphery. One of them is a heavier, doomier project that he does with one of the band’s other guitar player’s Mark Holcomb, called Haunted Shores, and they are about to unleash something brand new.
“We’ve got three months off, which does mean a lot of video games for me!” He laughs, “but I can’t play video games all the time, because I’ll hate myself. So mark and I are working on the new Haunted Shores, which is coming together very nicely. We’re planning on putting an EP together, and that’s pretty much done, as far as the instrumentation goes, so that’s good.
“And I might work on some other projects over the summer as well. I kinda want to be in a position to talk about stuff after it’s done, or when it’s mostly done. So I’m talking about Haunted Shores because we’re well past the point of no return on that one.”
Tour Dates with Devin Townsend
Thursday 22 October – Brisbane, Max Watts – 18+
Saturday 24 October – Sydney, Roundhouse – Licensed All ages
Sunday 25 October – Melbourne, 170 Russell – 18+