Devin Townsend first came into the public attention in 1993, when at the age of 19 he was picked by Steve Vai to be the Vocalist on his Sex and Religion album and the accompanying world tour. Previous to this Devin was playing the Vancouver metal scene with his band Noisescapes.
Noisescapes recorded a demo, which was sent out to several labels including Relativity Records, the label on which Steve Vai was signed. Devin thought that a way to make this demo grab peoples' attention was to mail it wrapped in a pair of his old underwear. This tactic worked, because a copy wound up with Steve Vai, who was impressed with Devin's vocal abilities and decided to include him in his latest project.
Shortly after he finished touring with Vai in 1994 Devin landed a gig touring with The Wildhearts, beginning a long relationship with The Wildhearts' singer Ginger. Around this time Devin also contributed guitar parts to the Front Line Assembly records Millenium and Hard Wired.
Following this, in 1995, Devin began writing and recording his own music under the name of Strapping Young Lad. Strapping Young Lad began as a solo project, with Devin performing vocals and playing most of the instruments on Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing.
The same year (1995), Devin released a pop punk parody album under the name of Punky Brüster called Cooked on Phonics. This album was created with the help of fellow members of the Vancouver metal scene, and people who helped record the Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing album.
In 1997, while continuing with his Strapping Young Lad project, Devin released an album called Biomech, under the moniker of Ocean Machine. This release has caused much confusion over the years, because shortly after its initial release, Devin's label HeavyDevy Records requested that the name of the project be changed to Ocean Machine: Biomech, and the artist be changed to Devin Townsend. Many fans however, still refer to the artist as being Ocean Machine. Interestingly, the Australian distributor refused to change the CD covers, and the album is still released in Australia as Biomech by Ocean Machine.
Over the years Devin has become known for creating a completely new studio and touring band for each solo release. This may be partially explained by the fact that while the solo releases are thematically similar each release usually has a very different sound to that of their predecessor. Devin has stated that each album has a different sound because he writes from his experiences of the past year, and what he is feeling at the time.