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Biography

Vancouver's STRAPPING YOUNG LAD is the adventurous and genre defying, highly respected ultra Metal act created by ex-THE WILDHEARTS guitarist DEVIN TOWNSEND. Previous to STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, Townsend had made his mark working with various bands and projects including STEVE VAI's 'Sex & Religion' album, at just 19 years of age, Industrialists FRONTLINE ASSEMBLY plus METALLICA bassist Jason Newsted's side project IR8. As the band stature grew, Townsend's esteem behind the studio desk also rose in parallel, the frontman's uncanny ability to engineer monolithic slabs of crystal clear audio generating a side career as an in demand producer.

Townsend initially worked with guitarist Ash Blue, later to forge UNIT 187 then FUEL INJECTED 45. STRAPPING YOUNG LAD's debut, April 1995's disjointed, expletive infested and grating 'Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing' made an impression simply for its sheer unadulterated heaviness. The overriding factor with 'Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing' was anger, and although Townsend's opening gambit utterly confounded critics, it unequivocally achieved its mentors objectives. Essentially a solo undertaking, Townsend employed session musicians guitarist Jed Simon, a former incumbent of local acts CAUSTIC THOUGHT and ARMOROS, keyboard player Chris Meyers and no less than three drummers, Adrian White, Chris Bayes and Greg Price. European versions hosted a bonus cut, a hypercharged rendition of JUDAS PRIEST's 'Exciter'.

The January 1997 Daniel Bergstrand produced album 'City', which saw drums contributed by DARK ANGEL and DEATH man Gene Hoglan, made more significant impact for the quality of the material. Besides Townsend and Hoglan, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD would be rounded out by guitarist Jed Simon, with bassist Byron Stroud. 'City', including the COP SHOOT COP cover 'Room 429', effectively channeled the unrestrained aggression of its predecessor into a more familiar song based vehicle. Townsend also found a valuable creative foil in Gene Hoglan, the drummer's superhuman abilities giving the band a greater range of expression into ever more extreme territory. It would also introduce Townsend's supreme skills at manufacturing keyboards into a deluging audio wave, now a recognised trademark of STRAPPING YOUNG LAD. The absoluteness of 'City' was personified with 'Oh My Fucking God', a song that built to such a previously unimaginable crescendo that it comfortably justified fans assertions that it was the heaviest Metal song ever recorded.

The recording unit, plus UNIT:187 keyboard player John Morgan, would form part of the 'Full Of Hate' European touring package ranked alongside OBITUARY, ENTOMBED and CROWBAR prior to pursuing successful American shows billed with TESTAMENT and STUCK MOJO. As a solo artist, DEVIN TOWNSEND debuted with the 'Ocean Machine - Biomech' opus that same year and would also gain credits as co-producer of Atlanta heavyweights STUCK MOJO's 'Pigwalk' album.

In August 1997 a STRAPPING YOUNG LAD Australian tour would subsequently spawn the live album 'No Sleep 'Til Bedtime'. Two new studio tracks 'Japan' and 'Centipede' were included as a bonus. However, during November of the same year Townsend voluntarily entered a mental institution in order to restore some balance to his chaotic lifestyle.

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD would later add keyboard player Matteo Caratozzolo. Bryon Stroud and Jed Simon also gained infamy operating the toilet humour fuelled side project band ZIMMER'S HOLE.

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD activity would be put on hold whilst Townsend embroiled himself in sessions for his next solo offering, November 1998's Infinity. Notably the track 'Cristeen' was written by Ginger of THE WILDHEARTS, the man also putting in a studio session appearance. Gene Hoglan contributed drums whilst Christian Olde Wolbers of FEAR FACTORY supplied bass, Chris Valag additional vocals and Andy Codrington embellished things with saxophone. Although the music naturally created a stir, so too did the album cover, a photograph of a gleefully naked Townsend.

Townsend leapt back into the public eye in 2001 with a typical whirlwind of activity. Not only was Townsend working on his own solo 'Terria' project with Hoglan and MIRV's Craig McFarland but also involved in Hoglan's Just Cause act and producing records for FRYGIRL and ZIMMER'S HOLE.

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD would feature two live tracks, 'S.Y.L.' and 'Detox' recorded at the Hollywood Roxy in September 2001, as part of the Century Media tenth anniversary DVD release.

Townsend would act as producer for Swedish act SOILWORK during October 2001 as well as for Reno Metalcore act DECEMBER's 'The Lament Configuration'. Taking his solo band out on the road, he hooked up with KILL II THIS and GODFLESH for a package tour of Britain during December 2001.

During 2002 Chris Valagao would be pulled in as keyboard player for STRAPPING YOUNG LAD but then swiftly backed out, citing commitments to ZIMMERS HOLE as well as movie work. He would be replaced by Will Campagne. Jed Simon and Gene Hoglan unveiled a fresh new Vancouver based Thrash band project TENET in August 2002. Forming a union with ex-GRIP INC. bassist Stuart Carruthers and former SACRIFICE and current INTERZONE frontman Rob Urbinati TENET signed to the German Virusworx Records label, Townsend slated to produce their debut offering. Jed Simon would also apparently find space in his schedule to join the reformed Thrashers DARK ANGEL, taking Jim Durkin's place for West Coast and European gigs. Although officially announced, within days Simon had scotched the proposed union with DARK ANGEL.

The group's third studio album, the more coherent, riff structured 'SYL', arrived in February 2003. Novelly, Devin had included notes in the lyric sheet indicating where he expected fans to sing during concerts. Backed by regular rotation of a promotional video for the cut 'Relentless', the band helped forge an impressive extreme Metal cast for North American dates during January and February packaged alongside NILE, NAPALM DEATH, THE BERZERKER and DARK TRANQUILITY. Later US shows in May had the band paired with MESHUGGAH prior to latching onto the SUPERJOINT RITUAL tour commencing August 15th in Little Rock, Arkansas. The band subsequently united with CATHEDRAL and SAMAEL for September North American dates dubbed the 'Redemption' tour. October found the band headlining in Canada with familiar road partners the DEVIN TOWNSEND band and ZIMMERS HOLE. Byron Stroud would join Californian Industrialists FEAR FACTORY on bass in December.

Gene Hoglan stepped in as temporary substitute for OPETH's Vancouver January 2004 date, the Swedish act's regular drummer Martin Lopez recovering from panic attacks. Meantime Bryon Stroud would be deputising too, covering bass for FEAR FACTORY's US dates. Amidst all this activity STRAPPING YOUNG LAD announced they had re-signed to Century Media Records for further product and had recorded a set at The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver for a DVD release entitled 'For Those Aboot To Rock'. The band entered studios in Vancouver to craft a new studio album dubbed 'Alien', press releases stating that amongst the tracks to be laid down would be an unlikely cover of TOM JONES' 60s hit 'What's New Pussycat?'. This song was excised from the track listing just prior to manufacture. Gene Hoglan laid down the drums at Armoury Studios in just three days before vocals and guitar were cut at Greenhouse Studios then the recordings finalised at Townsend's studio in Maple Ridge.

Deepsend Records provided fans with a highly collectable variant of 'Alien', as a double 10" vinyl set in gatefold sleeve limited to 200 copies pre-order only pressed on alien green and 300 on navy blue, all of these being hand numbered.

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD headlined US and Canadian dates throughout April and May 2005, backed up by THE AGONY SCENE, MISERY SIGNALS and REFLUX. Bassist Byron Stroud then hooked back up with FEAR FACTORY for the participation in the US 'Gigantour'.

European headline dates in June saw support from END OF DAYS and CEPHALIC CARNAGE. The Summer of 2005 found STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, rejoined by keyboard player Will Campagna, participating in the US 'Sounds of the Underground' touring extravaganza, a collaboration between independent labels Ferret Music, Prosthetic Records, Trustkill Records and Metal Blade Records. The mammoth billing for these shows saw the band sharing stages with CLUTCH, OPETH, POISON THE WELL, FROM AUTUMN TO ASHES, CHIMAIRA, NORMA JEAN, EVERY TIME I DIE, UNEARTH, THROWDOWN, HIGH ON FIRE, DEVILDRIVER, ALL THAT REMAINS, A LIFE ONCE LOST and GWAR. Regional additions included MADBALL and TERROR, splitting the East and West portions of the tour respectively, THE RED CHORD on the East Coast, FEAR BEFORE THE MARCH OF FLAMES in the Midwest and Southeast and HIMSA for Western gigs. For gigs after July 14th Jon Miller of DEVILDRIVER took over the bass position as Bryon Stroud had been previously contracted out to FEAR FACTORY. Gene Hoglan too was subbing for another band, OPETH utilising his services whilst regular drummer Martin Lopez underwent treatment for a blood disorder.

The band would contribute their rendition of 'Zodiac' to a MELVINS tribute album, 'We Reach: The Music Of The Melvins', through Fractured Transmitter Records. The band also featured in a studio collaboration with FEAR FACTORY and MASTODON to craft a take of 'Joan Of Arc' for the same compilation and had their track 'Love' featured on the soundtrack to the 'Rainbow Six Lockdown' game issued by 3volution Productions. The track 'Love? gave the band a good degree of extra exposure when it was included on the soundtrack to the Bruce Hunt directed movie 'The Cave', released in August.

October 28th in Lawrence, Kansas, marked the start of another US tour, the band forming up a bill comprising FEAR FACTORY, DARKANE and IT DIES TODAY. Swedish act SOILWORK was added to the bill from 8th November. STRAPPING YOUNG LAD then partnered with MESHUGGAH for a further leg in the USA before hooking up with ARCH ENEMY and THROWDOWN for UK shows in December.

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD's 'The New Black' album, the group commencing sessions in February 2006, featured a bevy of eclectic guests including BIF NAKED on the track 'Fucker', GWAR's Oderus Urungus on 'Far Beyond Metal' plus Cam Kroetsch of THE ALMIGHTY PUNCHDRUNK on 'You Suck'.

The band put in a significant appearance at the TOOL and DEFTONES headlined 'Download' festival in Castle Donington, UK on June 9th. As 'The New Black' arrived on Century Media in July, 'Ozzfest' loomed for the 2006 summer touring season, the group sharing the festival stages with OZZY OSBOURNE, SYSTEM OF A DOWN, HATEBREED, LACUNA COIL, DISTURBED, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, UNEARTH, BLEEDING THROUGH, NORMA JEAN, A LIFE ONCE LOST, ATREYU, THE RED CHORD, FULL BLOWN CHAOS, WALLS OF JERICHO, ALL THAT REMAINS and BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME. The band line-up shifted shape mid tour, as ICED EARTH, MEGADETH and NEVERMORE credited man James MacDonough took over the bass position in August.

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