Voyager

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“ When you think of external pressure and the expectation that other people have on your product there’s little to nothing that you can do about it,” shrugged Scott Kay, guitarist for Perth’s Voyager about public pressure and expectation of their upcoming album.

“People can say ‘I don’t like this record as much as the previous one’ or whatever and you can take on board criticism, but I think that you should take it with a grain of salt. The only people that you need to listen to with the deepest concern are your band mates and yourself. You need to be able to ask yourself honestly do I like what I’m writing and if you’re umming and ahhing then maybe it’s not up to the standard that you want it to be. I feel like the best way to overcome the pressure is just to narrow it down to the people that matter. Obviously, we love our fans, and we take into account what they are saying but when it comes to being creative it only comes down to the people in the room that are actually creating. They are the only opinions that truly matter.

After receiving international success and acclaim with their fifth album V in 2014 Voyager’s trajectory climbed sharply. They received rave reviews in Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and Revolver Magazines and were nominated for ‘Breakthrough Artist’ at the 2014 Prog Mag Music Awards on the back of that release with the band also receiving an invitation to play at the prestigious Bigsound 2014 festival.

Based on the response to that groundbreaking album it is understandable that no matter how hard they try to stay focused on the upcoming, as yet untitled release there is undoubtedly extra pressure on the quintet.

“Absolutely,” confirmed Kay “We are all really happy with not only the music on that album but also in terms of how it was received. It was unbelievable how much traction we got just from that record so the pressure is definitely there to… I don’t like the idea of us saying we have to top that record but… it’s kind of like when you see the first Transformers movie and everything is so epic then the second one has to be more epic with more explosions. We don’t have that feeling where we have to always make the next record better than the last because that’s something I don’t like framing in that way, but by the same token I want to release a record that I’m absolutely stoked with and really the pressure was more on ourselves to write something that we all liked more so from outside.”

After the success of V and subsequent supports of bands of the caliber of Nightwish, Epica and Deftones, Voyager seemingly went into their shell throughout 2016 but Kay explains that was purely to focus on writing for the new album.

“We’ve been working on this record on and off for the last two years,” he reflected, “and the biggest difference is this is the first time we have had the same line up in the band for consecutive records. In the entire history of the band we’ve had at least one new member join in between albums so this time we were able to consolidate where we were as a band from the previous album cycle and not have to worry about introducing new members and getting them up to speed which made it a really good process. We were able to make decisions as a band based on what worked on the last record and where we wanted to go from there. In terms of writing it was mostly collaborative and we did a lot of jam room writing. Our structure was we would basically come up with ideas in our own studio or space and we would bring them to the jam room and go through them and then reconsolidate them in the studio again. We did the whole back and forth process which worked well.”

 

 

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As for the sound of the album, Kay didn’t want to give too much away but did admit it would differ a little to what fans might expect.

“This record will be a lot heavier,” he conceded. “Heavier than we’ve ever gone and darker than we’ve ever gone as a band. Danny (Estrin, vocals) has written some fairly personal stuff in the past that worked through his dark moments in life, but I think in terms of lyrically there is more discussion of the human condition on this one. There are elements that make it a personal journey for Danny but the tracks are also quite relatable. In terms of music it’s way heavier and darker without question. I think people will be genuinely surprised by what they hear.”

One aspect that has stuck with Voyager since their inception in 1999 is their refusal to fit stylistically into any set genre or musical trend. They have been criticized in some circles and praised in others for their ability to make music on their own terms and Kay believes strongly that it is this non-conformist mentality that is the heart and soul of the band.

“Voyager has never really stuck to a particular sound over the journey of the band,” he said. “It’s history that we started off as a power prog band and we’ve just eliminated the whole power metal from what we do almost entirely. On this upcoming record, we’re delving even deeper into the progressive side of things. There’s no power metal on this record which may alienate some of our older fans but from our perspective we need to stay true to what we create. It’s not a conscious thing. We just go in and create stuff and we either like it or we don’t and it just turned out that what we wrote for this record is nothing like what we have done in the past. There’s still the catchy choruses and the poppy element that we are always going to have because that’s what we enjoy but in terms of power metal influence or even the prog metal influence it is becoming less and less a factor in what we are doing.”

When it comes to their unique sound and the changes with the content on the upcoming album Kay says that it is more of a natural evolution than a contrived effort.

“I think what creates our sound is that while we all have a common love for heavy music it feels like everything else that we are all into as individuals is very separate. I think that is what generates that extra creativity in the process. Again, the more you learn about different things the more arsenal you have to be creative with. In that sense it was never a conscious effort but we do like the fact there is an element to what we do that we don’t feel is done much by anyone else. While it is quite a poppy sound that we have I think it’s a combination of all of these different things that we have honed. We’ve turned a four and a half minute song into something that hasn’t really been done before where we can be progressive but also have the cleanliness that you get from pop music and make it concise. A lot of the time if you consciously try and create something new it can feel forced but I don’t think we’re doing that.”

Written by Kris Peters

 

 

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Written by Carl Neumann

Carl is the owner and the director of HEAVY Magazine. Carl is a music journalist and photographer for HEAVY, Rolling Stone, scenestr, Planet Rock and Kerrang!

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