Latest release: V (Independent)

Perth progressive metal band Voyager have just released their fifth album of their trademark quirky blend of melodic metal and synth-driven pop. As they prepare to head out on a national tour with Caligula’s Horse this week, we caught up with frontman and founding member Daniel Estrin to discuss and future plans.

Hi Danny. Voyager is now up to album number five. What was the your main inspiration this time?
My main inspiration is to continue writing catchy, heavy music. The last album was a bit introspective and delved into self-exploratory wankery, but this one is probably a little more positive. It’s a more objective wonder of the world yet not quite understanding how it all works. For example, the concept behind ‘The Beautiful Mistake’ is about a divine being that makes the world – fictionally, of course – and then comes back after millions of years and goes, ‘Goodness! What happened? Was it all just a beautiful mistake?’ This is also the first time I’ve authored a more political concept, as well. I’m not a political man at all, but during the last election I just couldn’t help myself. ‘You the Shallow’ is more in that political direction. I just couldn’t help myself!

Well it’s certainly inspired a lot of people who probably wouldn’t go anywhere near that sort of stuff, so you’re not likely the only one.
I think the one positive thing that’s come out of the last couple of years is that people have become interested in politics, which I guess is a good thing. It may have come a little bit too late! I think it’s made people a little bit more interested in what’s going on in the upper echelons of politics.

The political angle isn’t the only thing that’s different on this album. I actually think that this one gels a lot better than the last one.
OK! People say various things. Some people say that it does gel very well. We’ve had a couple of users says there’s a lot of genre-hopping. I personally think that it gels very well and flows along very nicely.

It’s quite heavy too, particularly the last track. That’s probably one of the heaviest things you’ve ever done.
Awesome. I’m glad you think so. I think so too. The last track is, I think, one of the stand out tracks. It’s very unusual. We used a little bit more guitar-driven blues, and I agree with you. It’s kind of poppier but also heavier – if that works together.

And it comes after one of the more lighter tracks too.
Definitely. That [heavy] track is ‘Seasons of Age’, which is really about getting older and that fear that we all face, so the end is just a brutal smack in the face to say that there’s really nothing we can do about it.

Is this the second album with the current line-up?
No! Close (laughs). Mark Boeijen, who was the drummer on the last album, has gone off to have children and do wonderful things like that. So Ash Doodekorte is the drummer on this album. But with this formation, it’s the first album and I think it works really well. He’s added a dimension with his drumming that is, I guess, I little bit more tribal at times, with some of his tom work, and stuff. I think it works really well.

Quite a few people have passed through Voyager over the years. I know that you and Simone (Dow – guitar) have been there for a long time now, but does that make it difficult, song writing-wise?
I guess that given I’ve been primarily, in the past, the songwriter, it hasn’t made it too difficult as it may do if that main songwriter has left the band. Generally what’s happened in the past is that I have written about 60 – 70% of the songs and the rest of the band has made a full living being out of it. With this album it’s still Voyager, you can still hear that it’s still us and I think that this album you can hear that it’s very very much a collaborative effort. It all kind of gelled together in a way that came very naturally for all five of us. It is hard at first, but it becomes easier, especially with the last couple of albums. I have to say that the current line-up is the strongest one from a touriing perspective and also recording as well.

What’s happening on the touring front? Voyager has done a lot of overseas work now and I know the North American tour went very well because I spoke with you just after you returned.
Surprisingly, America and Canada went absolutely nuts for us. I really didn’t think we’d have much of a following there or get much success there, because we have what you might call a European sound, I guess. America has been incredible for us. After the kickstarter [to fund the album] results came out, we were really surprised that over half the pledges that came in from overseas were from the USA and Canada. So we have a fanbase there and hopefully we’ll be making our way there again next year. This year we’re focusing on Europe. We’re playing the ProgPower festival in the Netherlands in October and a few more shows around that as well – I can’t say too much but we’re definitely playing some European shows. Then early next year we’re looking at some Asian dates and then hopefully back to the States. The main thing we’re concentrating on now is the Australian tour. We’re trying to fit in the capital cities as best as we can and we’re really looking forward to that, actually.

That’s the next thing I was going to ask about, because that’s why we’re talking today. How do you think that’s going to go? This is the third or fourth time around the country now?
I don’t know! Ticket sales have been really good, actually. Especially in Melbourne. It’s been really good, really heartening to see that even locally we’re getting some good exposure. I think the bands that we’re playing with are very high calibre. We’ve got Caligula’s Horse supporting us on the tour and they’re a really good band – one of the best progressive rock / metal bands currently in Australia. We’re really looking forward to playing the SUnshine Coast, playing Canberra, Adelaide… we’re really looking forward to playing Adelaide again, and of course Melbourne and Sydney.

What do you think has been the best reaction you’ve had to Voyager outside of Perth?
I’d say Melbourne. Melbourne has accepted us in a way that I’d say has been really passionate. The last time we played Canberra it was awesome. We played on this bill with a lot of different bands, death metal bands, mainly, and to a very different crowd and it was really good. I don’t think there’s much in Australia… I don’t think there’s much in the world that sounds like us, which is really cool but it can cause problems. Because how can we describe us? The most apt title we’ve had recently, and I’d love to use this as a shirt design, was ‘electro-progressive power pop metal’. There’s a lot of progressive metal purists who say, “That’s not progressive metal because it’s not in 7/8 time and there’s not 7-minute guitar solos” and point taken, but I think we’re progressive metal because of the complex undertones underneath the pop layer. Call it what you like. You like it if you like it.

Brian is Loud’s editor and is releasing The Encyclopedia of Australian Heavy Metal later this year. Join his Pozible campaign here.

Voyager is touring nationally with Caligula’s Horse this month:
4/7: ANU Bar, Canberra ACT
5/7: The Factory, Sydney NSW
11/7: The Brightside, Brisbane QLD
12/7: Workers Club, Melbourne VIC
19/7: Enigma Bar, Adelaide SA
26/7: Amplifier Bar, Perth WA