Australia has quickly become one of the hotbeds for exciting and consistently great metal, covering all ends of the spectrum. Though the country’s scene may be more recognized for its extreme roots on a global scale, there’s still a great deal of incredible power metal and progressive metal coming from down under too. One of the most consistent groups to be on the look out for here is Voyager, who are just about to head over the states supporting Evergrey. We got a chance to speak with guitarist Simone Dow about what they’ll expect on the road, any work on upcoming material, and much more!
You five are just about to head over to North America to tour with Evergrey, which seems like a pretty good and fairly diverse pairing of bands. Have you ever performed with Evergrey before, and what expectations or hopes do you have for this particular set of dates?
We are indeed and we are super excited to head back over there! We played with Evergrey the last time we played the ProgPower USA festival back in 2011, but this time it will be nice to do an actual run of shows with them and the other superb supports Borealis and Oceans of Slumber. We are keen to catch up and play to all the fans and friends we made the last couple of times we were over there. The last tour was just incredible, so we are expecting nothing less this time round.
You are also slated to perform at the ProgPower festival in Atlanta during your time here. Have you ever performed at one of these festivals before, and if so can you share any special memories?
We sure did, back in 2011 and what an experience it was. We really didn’t know how we would go down as we weren’t expecting to be well known at all, but the Progpower USA family welcomed us with open arms and showed us the time of our lives. The response from our set was insane and then afterwards we were asked if we wanted to do a half hour signing session, which turned into an hour and a half and was dubbed the “record for longest signing session”. What an indescribable feeling.
What can fans expect to see on this upcoming tour with you? Will the set focus more on your latest LP or span the entire catalog?
We are taking three different sets with us on this tour due to the Evergrey dates, the Midweek Mayhem show and then the Progpower set. The Evergrey set will feature some of our punchy favourites new and old, whilst at Midweek Mayhem we will be playing one of our albums in its entirety as picked by the fans and the Progpower set is a fan picked set list as well so I’m sure that everyone will be satisfied with at least one of the set lists!! Hahaha
Voyager comes from an incredibly diverse musical world, being labeled as a “progressive” act, but stylistically showing signs of power metal, ambient elements, some electronic mixed in there, and more. Being active since the late 90s, do you feel that being “difficult” to label has had a negative effect on the band?
It’s definitely had some good and bad connotations. On the positive, we are unique and we don’t sound exactly like anyone else, but sometimes that can be a disadvantage because everyone loves to stick things under a label or category these days. I think over the past few albums we’ve definitely refined our sound as a band to the point where we sound like Voyager. I personally believe we started to move away from the power metal sound from our third album onward and V (our latest album) represents who we are as a band, as musicians and what we like to play and listen to the most in recent times. It still has those electronic elements that we love, but it’s heavier, groovier and more focused.
Do you ever make a conscious effort to blatantly combine multiple genres or include odd instruments in your music, or does it always feel natural? Have there ever been times where you deliberately forced something in just to see if it could possibly yield good results?
The combination of multiple genres has never been something that was conscious or forced. We write what comes out naturally to us and I think that’s due in large to eclectic mix of music that we all listen to. If you are on a tour bus with us you will hear everything from Type O Negative to Soilwork, jazz fusion to Infected Mushroom, Nine Inch Nails to Tesseract and the list goes on and on!! Our music taste spans a variety of genres and I think that’s what keeps us inspired and passionate about what we are doing.
Your Kickstarter campaign for V was fairly successful, and we’re glad for it! What sort of opinions did you have about crowd funding before you ran? How have your perceptions changed about using such services as a source of funds?
Thank you! We were very sceptical at first. We honestly thought that it could end very badly and we would make $500 and have to come up with some new idea to fund the album hahaha. Fortunately for us, we have such a loyal, supportive and passionate fan base who ensured we nearly doubled our target. I think we would certainly consider doing it again as it’s the future of music. If there is demand and the fans want your music, they will support it. Thank you once again to everyone who helped make V happen.
Do you anticipate that you’ll want to crowdfund your next record since the last campaign was so successful?
It’s hard to say at this stage, it really will depend on what else pops up in the next 6-12 months that may involve money. Touring is amazing and such a great opportunity, but it is very costly, so the short answer is maybe. I know we would like to have a new album out before the end of next year, but again it really depends on what else pops up!!
Do you think that this is the way of the musical future, especially for bands that play underground and heavy music?
At this stage in the industry it certainly seems that way. With companies such as Spotify and just the download era in general making it harder for bands to sell albums, it is becoming increasingly difficult for artists to earn enough money to continue creating music and also a product that is of high quality for release. And as mentioned above, touring is another area that is very costly. The main problem being that bands need to front a lot of money before reaping any sort of remuneration. We are very lucky here in Australia that we can apply for government grants through the Department of Culture and the Arts. This has helped us out immensely over the years.
It’s been just over a year since the release of V, but have you begun working on any new material? If so, can you tell us anything about what it will sound like?
We’ve certainly been messing about with some ideas. So far all I can say is that sound wise it won’t sound amiss next to V.
Do you have a fairly good relationship with other bands in your scene down in Perth and surrounding areas? We know Karnivool is from there, too, and we’re pretty big fans of them as well. Even though you’re a popular international act, is the scene at home still influencing you in many ways?
The Aussie scene (and in fact the Perth scene itself) is quite amazing. There is so much talent spanning across so many different genres you can certainly see why a lot of international people say “there’s something in the water down under”. Most of us love to just hang out and party with our fellow musician friends at shows and watch one another do our thing on stage, so I think there is a lot of genuine support, mutual respect and pride within the scene. Of course you can’t please everyone and there will always be the “haters” in every scene no matter where you are in the world, but it’s always nice to get off stage and have people from all walks of the music scene chat and tell you how much they enjoyed the show. I still go out to a lot of different gigs myself to mingle to see what’s going on and what new bands are emerging.
Who do you think are a few bands in your style or area that deserve more attention, and why?
A few bands around Perth that are well loved and respected and certainly deserve more attention nationally and internationally are Chaos Divine and my guitar bro Scott’s other band Statues. Two very different heavy bands, but they are a force to be reckoned with live. Statues in particular command an audience with their energy when performing shows.
On that note, any particular albums you’ve heard in the past year or so that have blown you away?
The two albums that have absolutely rocked my socks off this year have been VOLA: Inmazes and Leprous: The Congregation. Stellar records that I haven’t stopped spinning.
What has been one of your proudest achievements during your time in Voyager? What do you still wish to accomplish as a band?
I’ve been so very fortunate with Voyager that everything we have achieved has been some of the best moments and left me with memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. The most recent thing that blew me away was supporting my favourite band of all time: Opeth. Touring USA with Rhapsody Of Fire in an RV driving around the country, partying and playing nearly every night was the time of my life. In terms of dreams: Playing some of the big festivals in Europe would be a dream come true, but just touring in general with some sick bands is living the dream and blissful insanity!!
What sort of advice do you have for musicians and bands that are perhaps lacking confidence in their work or having trouble getting their projects off the proverbial ground?
Never give up and keep on pushing. The industry will kick you when you’re down and there will be times where you really wonder why you’re still doing what you do and why you haven’t thrown in the towel. You are always reminded why you do what you do when a fan writes to you or approaches you and tells you that their music helped them through some of the toughest times of their life. That your music kept them going. Or when you walk out on stage and see a room full of people going crazy and screaming out every word to your songs. In terms of starting out: you need to keep the music and your presence in people’s faces and never underestimate the power of networking. Getting out and meeting other bands, Industry personnel etc. just turning up to other people’s shows and mingling can make a huge difference getting shows. And have a product to show people, even if it’s some demos online. The biggest piece of advise I can offer is always hang out and talk to your fans after the shows and maintain a presence on your social media to talk with them. The relationship you share with them will be key to your success Remember: you wouldn’t be playing shows if it weren’t for their support.
Lastly, as a Heavy Blog interview standard, how do you like your eggs?
Fried and the yolk has to be intact: I like to burst it myself ;) hahahaha
Thank you so much for talking with us, Simone! Good luck on your tour! Slay on the stages!
Voyager are all set to storm North America starting in Chicago on August 26th and wrapping up their tour at ProgPower USA in Atlanta on September 9th. Don’t miss them on tour with Evergrey in support of V! Tour dates below, as well as a convenient link to V via Bandcamp!
Evergrey, with Voyager, Borealis, And Oceans Of Slumber
Aug 26 – Chicago, IL – Reggies
Aug 27 – Cleveland, OH – Agora
Aug 28 – Detroit, MI – Token Lounge
Aug 29 – Toronto, ON – Opera House
Aug 30 – Montreal, QC – Cafe Campus
Sep 1 – Quebec City, QC – Le Cercle
Sep 3 – New York, NY – The Marlin Room @ Webster Hall
Sep 4 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Smalls
Sep 5 – Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
Sep 6 – Springfield, VA – Empire
Sep 8 – Charlotte, NC – The Casbah
Sep 9 – Atlanta, GA – Midweek Mayhem @ ProgPower USA (The Loft) **
**Evergrey and Voyager Only**
-KB & KG