Industrial metal singer/guitarist Devin Townsend was born May 5, 1972 in Vancouver, British Columbia; after picking up the banjo at age five, he moved to guitar at 12, and within a few years was leading the band Grey Skies, later known as Noisescapes. Sending the group's demo to the Relativity label, Townsend was not only offered a solo deal but was also tapped to sing on Steve Vai's 1993 LP Sex & Religion, a collaboration which further extended to the guitar god's 1996 effort Fire Garden. In between, Townsend worked on a series of projects with Front Line Assembly, and in 1995 issued the solo Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing under the alias Strapping Young Lad. A stint with the satiric punk band Punky Bruster yielded the Cooked on Phonics LP before Townsend began work on the second Strapping Young Lad album, 1997's City. In a move away from the industrial and death metal of previous recordings, he next formed Ocean Machine -- with J.R. Harder and Marty Chapman -- for the accessible Biomech, which was issued later that year.