Voyager, from Australia, are about to embark on the biggest tour of their career so far, opening for the mighty Deftones, alongside Karnivool across their native homeland. For anyone who knows the band, this is well deserved and this tour is no doubt an important stepping stone in their career. To speak about the band and their upcoming tour, I caught up with the band’s guitarist Simone Dow.
Jack: Hey Simone, thanks for taking the time to speak to me. How are you doing?
Simone Dow (Guitar): No worries at all! Doing fantastic at the moment. We’ve just finished writing album 6 and we are about two and a half weeks away from jumping in the studio to start recording so it’s all very exciting.
Jack: How did Voyager form?
Simone: Voyager is Danny‘s [Estrin, vocals/keys] baby and I believe he started the band back in 1999 (as a guitarist believe it or not). I joined back in 2005 when they parted ways with Manny & Geoff and have been friends with Danny since I was a teenager (my first band used to rehearse at the same space as them every week). I think the band in its current line up is the most cohesive and strongest we’ve ever been, not only from a musical perspective, but also in terms of our friendship too.
Jack: Do you think being in a progressive band has given you more freedom?
Simone: Honestly, I don’t think any of us ever really think about the labels used to describe our music or the categories people like to place us in. We all have such an eclectic taste in music that there are ideas coming from everywhere. We just write what feels and sounds good to us and what we enjoy playing and listening to and we are just humbled and stoked that people also enjoy what we do.
Jack: Your fifth album V came out two years ago, are you happy with the response?
Simone: Oh definitely! It has been our most successful record to date and we couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve achieved with it. We hope album six gives us even more exposure and success once it’s released.
Jack: What was the recording process like?
Simone: In general, we spend a lot of time fine tuning the tracks in our rehearsal space and then tracking pre-productions to hear what it all sounds like listening back. Once we are happy with the structures we book Ash [Doodkorte] in to track drums. We’re lucky that our other guitarist Scott [Kay] has his own little studio at home so we can track all the guitars and bass there and really take our time ensuring we are happy with it all without the stress of time constraints and budgets. Danny also has his own little home studio and tracks his vocals there. Once it’s all tracked it’s the mixing process. We are all very hands on when it comes to this and know how we want things to sound, which is both a blessing and a curse! It’s a long and tedious process for all bands, but very rewarding once you hear the final product that’s for sure. What is it they say… suffering for your art? [Laughs].
Jack: Is there a theme to the album?
Simone: Lyrically, Danny will normally write about how strange the world is and the status quo of it all. Lots of melancholy in amongst some really uplifting and anthemic themes I think has generally been our sound for the last few records (though ‘Meaning of I’ was quite a bit darker lyrically). Musically, as I said above, we just write what comes naturally and what we like. There’s inspiration from Type O Negative to TesseracT in there. Big melodies with some fat grooves.
Jack: “Hyperventilating” is my favourite song on the album, what is the song about?
Simone: It’s about…hyperventilating? [Laughs] Seriously, I’m not 100% sure, but if I had to hazard a guess, it’s about being overwhelmed by life and everything it throws at you, trying to breathe and just go with it all/take it in your stride. But that’s easier said than done, right? Maybe even believing at times it may be easier if you just stopped breathing. I think maybe Danny was a bit stressed when he wrote this! [Laughs]
Jack: The album features different styles (heavy, piano led ballad), how does this improve the dynamic?
Simone: Like I mentioned above, we don’t really sit down and think “this has to sound x,y,z”. If Danny comes in with a ballad and we all dig it and think it will add some colour and dynamic to the record, then that’s awesome. My favourite artists like Opeth, Leprous, Katatonia and Devin Townsend are just that because they have never been afraid of going from an absolutely crushing and heavy track or riff, to the most beautiful ballads/soft melodic moments. Life is all dynamics!
Jack: You’re going to be touring with Deftones and Karnivool later this year, how excited are you for this tour?
Simone: This is will be the biggest tour we have done in Australia playing the biggest venues we’ve ever played, so we are nothing short of losing our minds! We can’t wait to play for a lot of people who have likely never heard us before and share the stage with two bands we highly respect and look up up to immensely.
Jack: How did you discover Deftones’ music?
Simone: I was a ’90s teenager and so bands like KoRn (another of my favourite bands) and Deftones were massive at that time. It’s great to see these guys are all still writing banger records and are still as relevant as they were back then. They had such a big influence on heavy music as much as purists like to say nu metal/alt metal was the worst thing that happened.
Jack: Why have Deftones as a band survived and stayed relevant?
Simone: I think Deftones were always a bit more artistic and (dare I say) intelligent with the music they wrote. They’ve never been afraid to shift from light to heavy and you can hear the culmination of influences from each band member. Much like KoRn, they weren’t a carbon copy of everything else that came out at the time. When you are the innovators of that style, everyone follows you and I think that’s the key to staying relevant: always staying true to that.
Jack: What’s your favourite Deftones album?
Simone: I’ve only just started revisiting their records again since we got the support, but in terms of what influenced me and what I blasted (especially when I was in high school) I’d say Around the Fur and White Pony.
Jack: Karnivool are on the tour as well, what do you like about them?
Simone: Sound Awake is one of my favourite records and still gets rotated regularly. Beautiful melodic ideas around some awesome grooves and heavy riffs. Goliath just makes you want to flip tables! [Laughs]
Jack: You’re also supporting Katatonia at the end of the year, do you think it’s important for artists to play with bands of different styles of music?
Simone: I do, for sure. Katatonia are one of my favourite bands, I truly think they should be much bigger than they are. I love music so much and I always find it refreshing to go to a show where there is a mix of styles on the line up. You mentioned the progressive tag earlier in the interview. I think one positive take away of that label is there are so many different types of progressive music, that the possibilities are endless. We’ve played Prog Power USA and EU a few times, and what I really love about what their organizers will do is that they will always mix up the line ups to try and get so many different styles of bands that fit in those progressive and power categories so it’s a real experience and journey.
Jack: Do you plan to visit Europe and the UK someday?
Simone: We’ve already been to Europe a few times, we were just there on a small run with our good friends Leprous earlier this year and that was awesome. We’d really love to jump on a big tour and reach many more places and grow our fanbase there. I think once the new record is out we will be planning tours and EU/UK will certainly be on our radar.
Jack: You released a new single recently, when can we see a new album?
Simone: As mentioned, we finally managed to finish writing and head into the studio in about two and a half weeks. We had planned for it to actually be out this year, but we received some cool touring opportunities we couldn’t say no to, so put the record on hold. We haven’t settled on the release date as yet, but I think we are hoping for it to be within the first half of 2017.
Jack: What else do you have coming up for Voyager?
Simone: It’s all about the new album at the moment. Planning everything around that and then hopefully lots of touring! We can’t wait till we can share the new music with you all.
Jack: Finally, Nirvana’s Nevermind turned 25 in September what does it mean to you?
Simone: Nirvana were my favourite band from about the age of 10 and were a huge influence on me. I actually bought the 20th anniversary edition of Nevermind and In Utero when they came out and they are both awesome. Absolute timeless classics that I hope we continue to listen to and celebrate for decades to come. Kurt was an amazing artist and I really connected with what he was trying to say when I was a young woman. The three of them had an amazing chemistry together that’s for sure.
Jack: Thank you so much for your time and I hope to see you in the UK soon.
Simone: Thank you, I hope we make it back there very soon!