Only Half There by Devin Townsend is a book that I feel reflects Devin Townsend’s personality and musical output. This is a fantastic book for fans of Devin’s music who really want to explore the creative process, the pressures of touring, band relationships, musical differences, label connections and the gear he uses to get that signature guitar tone.
The book itself is quite scattershot, meaning there is a lot of jumping around. Although there are obviously chapters within the book, Devin jumps around a lot. One minute he can be talking about 1997s City album, the next he is talking about Synchestra. I think it sort of mimics his career as an artist in the way it is written and the casual tone is very smooth and easy to read, almost as if Devin is sat next to you telling you his story.
Alongside the music, Townsend is open about his drug and alcohol use, though it certainly isn’t gratuitous. He is also forthcoming about the financial side of his work, how he provides for his family, how many records he has sold, how much he pays his tour band etc, etc. The most pleasing thing for me was reading about his relationships with other musicians, most notably Ginger Wildheart and in particular Steve Vai: a man whom I have been a huge fan and admirer of for many years. The dynamics between these two and the man’s generosity provided some fascinating and insightful reading. Similarly, Townsend’s relationship with Ginger is also touched on. The time spent in the Wildhearts frontman’s company proved to be much more chaotic and unpredictable though still hugely satisfying musically.
This is a huge book but I flew through it in a few days. I love the openness about it and really enjoyed Devin’s philosophical look at life. This is a must-read book for all Townsend fans.
5/5 delay pedals from the Grim Reader.
Pick up a copy from here.