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Voyager: the Meaning of Prog

Voyager: the Meaning of Prog
BANDS : Voyager

Even though Australia's capital is Canberra, the city of Perth, at about the other end of the continent, is said to be the capital of Australian drum & bass. And when one thinks about Pendulum, one is inclined to agree. However, since 1999, Voyager have made it their duty to place this city on the progressive metal map as well and succeeded in making it the capital of Australian progressive metal so far.
Even though The Meaning of I is their fourth studio album, only now we had the opportunity to talk to these wonderful guys about anything that is Voyager. Therefore, with  the help of Danny and Alex, two very nice and talkative guys as you'll see, we tried to compile all the important data and details of this bands. So all we can hope is that this interview will be read with the same pleasure that the two Voyagers have taken in answering our questions.


 


Metalfan: Although Voyager has released four studio albums so far, this is the first time we get to interview you. We’re sorry we’re late!  And we’d also like to know what we’ve missed: tell us a bit about the early times of the band. How did you guys meet, what were your influences at the time, what kind of music was Voyager playing?
Danny: That is ok, thank you for taking the time to speak to us now! We are so thrilled, especially because I remember our last album was “album of the month” at Metalfan, which is amazing. Well, we started because there was no power metal in our city, Perth, Western Australia. Believe it or not, I started playing guitar in VOYAGER. I was terrible, so I switched to keyboard. It was all death metal and black metal back at the time and having keyboards in a band was kinda considered uncool. But we did our thing and got quite popular and then we released Element V, which was picked up by DVS Records in Holland. That was a huge deal for us in Perth at the time. 

Metalfan: Starting Element V, all your albums have been placing a constant emphasis on the letter V, which I presume stands for Voyager, the band’s name. Tell us about why you chose this name for the band, what does it mean to you?
Danny: Voyager to me means a progressive journey through sound and music, and I think with each of the albums the listener travels with us on this journey around different styles, different emotions and different colours. The “V” was just something we started and continued, right up until the last album, where we decided that we didn’t need it, as it was kind of a new chapter in the band…

Metalfan: Let’s talk a bit about your fan base and your positioning on the international metal scene. Australia is somewhat isolated, at least geographically; does that make you feel disconnected from the world, is it difficult for you to get the attention of the European or American metal fans?
Alex: Perth does feel a bit like a bubble sometimes but we seem to managing fairly well being based here. I think where it is a challenge geographically it also creates a bit more interest around the band as most other bands come from Europe or the USA, people are intrigued to hear music from places they wouldn’t ordinarily. Our live show speaks for itself so our main goal is to get out there and tour tour tour!

Metalfan: There’s a saying that goes: “no one is a prophet in their own land”. Does it apply to Voyager; do you get as much recognition at home as you get from the European public?
Alex: Tell that to Jesus Christ and see what he says! Haha! We have a strong and loyal fan base here in Perth. It’s where it all started and where the band learned to walk so we do like playing shows to the loyal locals.

Metalfan: Your Facebook biography mentions 2 European tours, but doesn’t say anything about them and we’re curious to know what countries you played in and how would you sum up this experience?
Danny: We played the Progpower 2006 festival in Holland and that was just amazing. On the same tour, we played in Stuttgart, in Goslar and other parts of Germany. Then we got invited to Progpower UK 2008, which was cancelled 3 weeks before we were scheduled to depart. So in the end we still did a tour, through Denmark, Switzerland, Holland and Germany and it was a great success, although some gigs had some hilarious hiccups.

Metalfan: Your second album was released by German based record label Dockyard1, that’s a bit far from home, isn’t it? How come you didn’t find a local label? Wasn’t the Australian music industry excited about promoting progressive metal?
Danny:  Haha not really. Europe was where this stuff was big at the time. I actually just went into Dockyard’s offices in Germany and talked to them about signing us. They did. At the time it felt amazing. Unfortunately they went under and we didn’t see a cent.  But it helped us get to where we are today!

Metalfan: I Am the ReVolution (2009) is the 3rd album of the band, the last to be released by Dockyard1 and the first to come to the attention of Metalfan.ro’s staff, hahaha. Since you’ve got this far, it seems that Dockyard1 did a decent job promoting you, after all?
Danny: Well, it started great and Christine from the label did a great job trying to resurrect it all when it started collapsing, but then it all fell apart and the two directors owe us money and account statements etc. It was VERY frustrating and left a bad taste in my mouth. But luckily, SENSORY are very decent and have been very good to us, so my faith has been partially restored.
Actually on that point, when we got album of the month at Metalfan, a local newspaper did a story on that and the headline was “Romanian rhapsody”. Check it out:





Metalfan: I Am the ReVolution brought about the filming two videos (Lost and The Devil in Me). How effective did that prove to be as a promotional effort and how inclined are you to repeat this experience for the new album, The Meaning of I?
Danny: Video clips are always an expensive and not necessarily financially rewarding effort, but it is certainly a wonderful way of expressing visually what you want to portray musically. We are in the process of working out what to do right now in terms of a new video, but definitely want to make one!

Metalfan: Last year the band has experienced a line-up change, guitarist Chris Hanssen was replaced by Scott Kay. First, why did Chris leave? How did you find Scott and how important is his impact on the new material?
Alex: Chris is a great guy but he wasn’t as involved in the band as we needed him to be. After a while we decided to broach the subject with him and it turned out that he hadn’t been too keen on being in the band anyway so we decided it would be best for all that we parted ways. It’s was very amicable and friendly and we’re all still friends with Chris to this day.
As for Scott, he’s a close personal friend of myself and Simone so he was always hanging around and “in the know” about what we where up to with the band. We found out later that he had thought about trying out for the band when Chris got the job but dismissed the idea because he wasn’t that confident in his playing!
Scott is an incredibly talented musician in every aspect so we were keen to get him in the band once the slot opened. We asked him about 10 months before we were due to play Prog Power USA so we said “Scott, we wanted to know if you’d be interested in joining the band and coming with us to play shows in the USA”. The look on his face was priceless! Scott had a huge impact on The Meaning of I and contributed a shit-ton of his time and sanity recording the guitars and bass. We couldn’t have done it without him.

Metalfan: Besides being the first album in the band’s catalogue not to feature a V-word in the title, what other elements of novelty does The Meaning of I bring to the existing musical frame of Voyager?
Alex: It features our first low tuned song in the title track. 95% of our songs are in E standard drop D but that song is E standard drop B. That one was my fault actually; I just love being a bass player and have a string that tunes down to low A so I don’t have to do any difficult tuning exorcises between songs like the guitarists :D
Another first was having guest vocalists on the album: Dan Tompinks and D.C. Cooper! That and I recorded the growl vocals in the colon of an African elephant. It wasn’t a pleasant experience but someone dared me to do it; I couldn’t turn it down.

Metalfan: How did these collaborations come to be, were you friends with these guys, fans of their music?
Alex: Scott, Simone and I are huge TesseracT fans and love Dan’s vocal style. Scott also happens to be in a mellow project with Dan (Absent Hearts) so we asked him nicely if he would do it. Initially he said no but I held Scott at knife point and he eventually succumbed to my terrorist demands for fear of losing his musical partner.
Danny managed to get in touch with D.C. and after some smooth talking, he agreed to do it! I heard that his son was who finally convinced him to do it as he was a fan of our music.





Metalfan: What is the meaning of I? Do we actually have to read all the lyrics to find out or are you going to make it easier for us now by giving us a few hints?
Danny: well, the title itself gives it away: It’s a self-exploratory journey into the mind, especially into the deepest darkest corners, which usually remain covered. I know a lot of people can relate to it lyrically very well and I am very pleased about that.. In this regard, I don’t mind sharing some deep emotional turmoil…

Metalfan: Who is the main composer in the band and how long does it usually take for a Voyager song to be finished? How do you know when it’s finished?
Alex: Danny has been the main composer of the band since the beginning but the writing duties where shared amongst us all on this album which was great. Once Danny puts a vocal melody or lyrical hook over the song and we all start humming it spontaneously, we usually know it’s pretty much finished!

Metalfan: Did you notice that the main beat of The Pensive Disarray is very similar to that of Queen’s We Will Rock You? What do you think Paul Taylor would say about that?
Alex: Haha! That was actually deliberate! That song was mostly written out in the jam room and as soon as our (now ex) drummer Mark started playing that we all said that it had to stay! Hopefully Queen will decide to sue us and we can get some news coverage!

Metalfan: Iron Dream is a Peter Steele tribute song. At times, one could easily think it is a Peter Steele song, the whole concept and especially the vocals are hugely reminiscent of Type O’Negative. How did it feel to write and record it? Have you had any reactions from Type O’Negative fans so far?
Danny: Type O Fans LOVE it, mainly because it’s not a cover, nor does it try too hard to be Type O. I wanted a song which has the same VIBE but without being blatantly Type O… I’d love to write Type O Negative’s new album.  Peter Steele’s sister is a big fan of the song too by the way!!

Metalfan: Your debut album features a song called To the Morning Light. Your latest album features a song that goes “She takes me to the morning light”. Is there a connection between the two songs, are you just great fans of the morning light, or is it only a coincidence?
Alex: Nothing like a good Morning Light is there? Haha. Before I joined the band, Simone pointed out some of the lyrics of the original song to me and commented on how much they sound like a metaphor for sex. Danny assures me this is not the case but you should read the lyrics and decide for yourself , hahaha
Well you’re right, the songs are connected! Chocolate milkshakes for all! Initially the song was going to be called “The Morning Light pt 2” but we decided against it because while the songs are similar note and structure wise, it wasn’t so much the same that it would be considered a part 2 of the original. Does that make any sense?

Metalfan: Considering that you have some lyrics in German and also in Russian, who do you think loves you more? The Germans or the Russians?
Danny: The Germans now LOVE us it seems (Metal Hammer 6/7, 8th place in soundcheck), excellent review in powermetal.de and metal.de) but I think the Russians like us more for financial reasons. There are a lot of pirate copies of I am the revolution from Russia floating around. haha

Metalfan: Drummer Mark Boeijen has recently left the band due to his impossibility of keeping up with the ever-busier schedule of the band. It seems that the band has grown bigger than some would have expected, what do you think it will be the next step? Are you planning something big?
Alex: Mark and his partner Mel (who used to play bass in Voyager) had a baby together so he left the band to focus on that. He actually sacrificed going to the USA to play the gigs with us to be with Mel for the birth… Isn’t he a lovely guy? Aaaaw! Having a child plus the increasing activities of the band was making it hard for Mark so he chose family first. I really respect him for that decision.
We’re planning on making 2012 a big year for the V machine. I can’t reveal anything yet but we have some big news coming soon. We’re also planning on making it to Europe at some point also!

Metalfan: What important gigs you have planned for the near future? Is it difficult to find gigs in your home country? Is it difficult to find gigs abroad?
Alex: Our awesome manager Brad @ Soundworks touring has been working hard to get us booking agents for the USA and EU so we’ll be trying as hard as we can to make it everywhere.
As for playing shows around Australia, we don’t have much difficulty playing shows here. It’s just a matter of getting the cash together to do it!

Metalfan: Thank you for your time. As you might probably know, your latest album is doing great in Metalfan’s 2011 album chart. A message to your voters?
Danny: Multumesc!! I’m so thrilled that Romania likes the new album! Seriously. I think East European countries can relate to the melancholic part of our music and that connection is wonderful. I will be pushing our management very hard to get us concerts in Romania very soon!
Alex: Imensă recunoştinţă! Thank you for your support and help in spreading the word about Voyager. Like Danny said, we would love to come to Romania and play a kick ass show for you all!
Autor: Klawz, Fantotzii
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Voyager

   January 03, 2012  | 2 Comments  | 6038 Views « BACK

Comment on: Voyager: the Meaning of Prog

  • Interesanta discutia cu Voyager. Totusi nu prea am prins ideea cu elefantul african... Oricum ar trebui sa multumesc Metalfan-ului ca datorita lor am auzit de trupa asta dar si celor care le-au votat albumul. Asta mi-a starnit interesul pt el. Si-l ascult de-l rup. Nu prea trece zi fara sa ascult ceva de pe el. Mai ales piesele 2 si 4.

    1. Posted by stefanmare | 04 Ianuarie 2012 23:48
  • Mi se pare a fi o chestie ironica faza cu elefantul african, in sensul ca in opinia interlocutorului a iesit atat de rau, incat zici ca acele sunete sunt scoase din funful unui elefant. Cel putin asta am inteles...

    2. Posted by Fantotzii | 05 Ianuarie 2012 09:12
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