THE DEMO CORNER
This interview was conducted by Philip A. Wickstrand with vocalist/keyboardist Daniel Estrin at the Hawthorne Theatre in Portland, OR on June 11, 2012.
Most people who listen to a decent amount of Metal have come to associate certain styles of it with particular countries. Sweden gets pegged with the Gothenburg sound, Norway with Black Metal and England with Traditional and NWOBHM. But as any intelligent Metal fan knows, some of the best bands are not within the range of what is typically expected. When asked about Australia, most Metalheads think of Thrash and Death Metal, but VOYAGER does not fall within those bounds.
Evoking a Prog style that also reminds one of bands like SOILWORK during their Predator’s Portrait and Natural Born Chaos days, VOYAGER is a great Aussie band with four albums under its belt that is criminally underexposed. That, however, may soon be changing if the crowd reaction to the live set on the North American tour with RHAPSODY OF FIRE, a band that they came extremely close to upstaging, is any indication.
Phil: How’s the tour with RHAPSODY OF FIRE been so far?
Daniel: Brilliant. It’s exceeded our highest expectations, to be honest. We were never sure how we would go [over] on the U.S. market until we were here last year; we had an amazing reception. I honestly didn’t think the U.S. would be our thing at all, sort of thought it was more like a Metalcore/Hardcore market. But we came here and the response has been overwhelming. At pretty much every show we’ve had people singing along and pumping their fists in the air and screaming “VOYAGER!” at the end, which is really, really good, so we can’t complain at all. And the RHAPSODY guys are wonderful; everyone’s just great, so no complaints at all.
Phil: Were you surprised that they picked you as their opener or was it something management had been angling for?
Daniel: It was through our booking agent, sort of presented as a package. I didn’t think we were necessarily entirely compatible in terms of sound, but in terms of the fan base, and the open-mindedness of the fan base, I think it works. I think it works really well. I mean, we’ve toured with bands like ALESTORM, CHILDREN OF BODOM, NIGHTWISH, so it’s always a struggle to see how we’d fare with the fans of those bands. I think the toughest crowd so far has probably been CHILDREN OF BODOM because they’re very guitar oriented, but even that, touring Australia with them, we got the crowd on our side by the end of the show, so it was really, really nice.
Phil: Tell our readers a bit about your most recent album, The Meaning of I.
Daniel: So the most recent album came out on an American label called The Laser’s Edge/Sensory and I think it’s our most mature opus to date. It’s a little bit more introspective, the production is well above anything that we’ve done in the past. It’s still got that VOYAGER melodic, sort of poppy edge, but it’s very heavy and it’s very atmospheric and I think in terms of sound, in terms of fullness, I think it’s the best one we’ve had to date.
Phil: What was the writing process for it like?
Daniel: The writing process for this one was a little bit different because the lineup that we have pretty much now, but the drummer who’s changed recently, was sort of much more collaboratively involved in the whole process. It used to be very much me writing the songs and getting the band to make a full song out of it. This was a much more collaborative approach where I would say I still did the majority of the song writing, but it all came together really well and we all contributed substantial amounts to the songs, so it would either be someone writing a riff or someone writing a whole song, me putting the keyboards and the melody over the top of it, me writing a whole song and then the guys sort of puzzling it together and putting their stuff over the top of it and their little nuances, so in terms of that, it’s been really good and it’s the direction that I definitely want to be going in. And the new songs that we’ve been writing with the current lineup as well have been written very easily and have been flowing really, really well.
Phil: What was the time in the studio like for this album?
Daniel: Much more efficient than last time. We recorded drums in a studio in Perth, in Western Australia where we are. I did vocals and keyboards in my home studio, Scott did the guitars and bass at his home studio and we all sent it to Jens Bogren in Sweden, who’s done OPETH, KATATONIA, SOILWORK, that sort of stuff. We sent it to him to mix and master and it just came through really, really well because we had time to work on it ourselves rather than being under this constant studio pressure, which if you’re paying a thousand dollars a day for a proper studio you want to be getting your hour’s worth. So here we can sort of polish things up and then make sure we had the time to do the takes as we would like it.
Phil: What are your favorite parts of the album? Not necessarily your favorite songs, but what aspects do you enjoy the most?
Daniel: I think just the melodies and the catchiness and the depth of the songs. I think the heaviness also, I think it compliments very well, just a little bit of, I wouldn’t say there’s a djent element in there, but it’s a little bit heavier, it’s got some sort of djent-esque type elements in there, which I think compliment really well with the sort of atmospheric keyboard stuff and the sort of Pop edge that we have.
Phil: You mentioned new material a little bit ago, so that folds over a bit into my next question; what do you have planned for the next year with VOYAGER?
Daniel: For the next year I think definitely a new album is on the agenda, more touring; we’ve got a taste now for what it’s like doing this big tour, seventeen shows in the States and Canada. I think more touring either here in the States or Europe is something that we’re definitely aiming for, just to sort of reach out to more fans who may not have heard us before, which is exactly what we’re doing now. Id say probably about ninety percent of the people at our shows haven’t heard us, there’s a few people who sort of sing along and are really into it, but the majority of people haven’t heard us and I think most of them have been converted to our side, which is really, really nice and that’s kind of what we’re hoping to do with Europe as well.
Phil: Recommend a book for our readers and then recommend why you recommend that particular work.
Daniel: I’d probably say The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I started reading it and I didn’t like it, I started reading it again, I thought “This is boring” and then I kept reading it and I was completely engrossed in it. It was just so disturbing… I’m not really into disturbing books but you’re just drawn into it and it’s one of those books that once you get past a certain point you cannot put down; it simply captures you and captures your imagination. I don’t want to see the movie because I think it will a) ruin it for me or b) just disturb me even more. It’s a great book. And when in doubt, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Phil: Both excellent recommendations.
Phil: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Daniel: No, I’d just like to thank all the fans in North America who’ve been absolutely fantastic to us, who’ve been supporting us in everything that we do and have even allowed us to play America, Fuck Yeah! And not shut us down. [laughter] That’s been awesome.
Voyager's Daniel Estrin
Interviewer: Philip A. Wickstrand
June 13, 2012
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Element V (2003)
I Am the ReVolution (2009)
The Meaning of I (2011)
Daniel Estrin: Vocals & Keyboards
Simone Dow: Guitars
Scott Kay: Guitars
Alex Canion: Bass
Mark Boeijen: Drums
Perth, Western Australia
Label: Sensory Records
Genre: Progressive/Melodic Metal
PHOTOS BY PHIL A. WICKSTRAND
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