My First Band: Devin Townsend, Ayreon, Fear Factory, Stolen Babies, & God Forbid

Posted by on March 1, 2013

Everything has to start somewhere, and this fact is no different for our metal heroes. Over that past few years I have been asking some of my favorite artists the question “What was your first band called and what did it sound like?” and here are their answers.

Devin Townsend
Well, I guess I was in sixth grade and I had a “band” that I put together. We were called Manta. Yeah. Incredibly cheesy. But it was just a bunch of kids in sixth grade listening to Motley Crue. And I liked that whole heavy metal satanic thing that was going on at the time. I found that to be enticing as a young kid,  which, in hindsight is very interesting, not because I necessarily believed in any of that shit, because I certainly don’t, but I find it interesting in hindsight how susceptible kids are if they are connected to a type of music, you know? So I think that my fascination with that sort of aesthetic led me places that, in hindsight, that weren’t the best life choices for me. So I think now, that with what I do, I think I’m trying to make a conscious effort to make what I do healthy in a way. I don’t feel like I have a responsibility, necessarily for younger people or anything. There’s none of that sort of, you know, need to be the focus of any of that attention. But I think if you’re given a loudspeaker, which I feel I have been, I feel you have a choice of what you want to say through it and just recently I decided that I want to say things that are maybe a little more empowering than I have in the past and I feel better for it, to be honest, right?


Arjen Luccasen of Ayreon
My first band was back in 1976, I think it was, oh my god that’s a long time ago. My first band, at first, was called Energy, then it was called Mover, and I think those were the days that I was a big Rainbow fan. So I think it was in that style, like Rainbow, the hard rock thing. Actually, I’m lying. My first band was actually a playback band which I had in school that was called The Flying Potatoes. Now we’re talking about ‘72 or ‘73, and it was just a playback band and we were playing songs by David Bowie and Alice Cooper, but my first serious band was Mover.


Burton C Bell of Fear Factory
I moved to Los Angeles in 1989 from Washington DC. I had hopes of being a writer and bounced from job to job. After I’d been there for a few months, a friend of mine handed me a flyer and goes, “hey man, why don’t you try out for my new band I’m putting together,” because I always used to talk to this guy and we had similar tastes in music. So, went and tried out and got the part. We were inspired by early 1990’s, so bands like Helmet, Big Black, early-White Zombie, Tad. We were kind of a gritty, industrial, noise kind of rock, and we were called Hate Face. We were really about William S Burroughs, Naked Lunch, Jim Bean and crystal meth.


Gil Sharone from Stolen Babies
Our first band was called The Fratellis. To just sum up what were musically, we were a ten piece band, and that was just the instrumentalists. We had additional musicians come and go, but we had a full on horn section, a clarinet, sax, trombone, trumpet, sometimes double up on each instrument, then rhythm section and vocals. With us, The Fratellis, was primarily instrumental. There wasn’t that much vocals. When Dominique (Persi also of Stolen Babies) would hear the music I’d bring in for a song, she’d have the creative impetus to say, “Let’s keep some theatrics to this, let’s keep this cartoon music because that’s what it is,” and really that’s what it was. It was really stylistic, really probably jazzy, it swung a lot. Carl Stalling, Raymond Scott, those were our heroes. Whenever we would play live people would ask us, “Do you like Frank Zappa? Do you like Mr. Bungle?” Of course, we were aware of it, but we weren’t really trying to be like it. We really were just trying to make cartoon music. When Dominique wasn’t singing, there was this plotline or story that was acted out live by puppets or actors or costumes.


Doc Coyle of God Forbid
Me and my brother (Dallas, ex-God Forbid), before we joined a band, were just playing in our house, just playing guitar along to Pantera and Slayer records, and then through a friend, we basically met with Corey (Pierce) and Byron (Davis). They were 5 or 6 years older than us. Basically, we just went over there and were basically a garage, basement band. You know, pretty terrible. And then that was the only band I played with my whole life, until lately. I don’t know if it’s a positive or negative. In some ways it would probably be better for me to have your first band not really hit it, because it gives you more perspective, how to learn from your mistakes, where we had to make all our our mistakes with this band.

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Categorised in: Interviews, My First Band