by Justin Gaines
– Senior Columnist —
Australian progressive metal band Voyager just wrapped up their first-ever tour of North America, supporting Rhapsody of Fire. We recently caught up with vocalist/keyboardist Daniel Estrin and guitarist Scott Kay, who gave Hardrock Haven an update on the tour as well as some thoughts on the ProgPower USA festival, guest appearances and of course Voyager’s latest album The Meaning of I.
Hardrock Haven: First off, tell us how this tour came about, and why Voyager decided the time was right to come such a considerable distance to play North America.
Scott Kay: It was actually a really opportune time for us to get over to North America! After coming back from a really successful performance at last year’s ProgPower USA show in Atlanta, there was some hype being generated about our music as well as our live show. The time was right for us to do a proper, full tour of North America, riding off some of that hype we created late last year.
HRH: So far, how has the fan reaction been? Is Voyager winning over the Rhapsody of Fire fans that might not be familiar with the band?
SK: The reaction has been amazing! I think I can speak on behalf of the band that we weren’t expecting such a warm response from the shows. In talking to a lot of people at the merch desk (we’re running the desk ourselves, with help of our one awesome crew guy, Brendon), a lot of people were listening to us for the very first time, and were leaving with shirts they bought from the show! It’s been a really great experience so far!
HRH: What has been your favorite part of the tour so far? Has anything really surprised you about the experience?
SK: One thing that I never thought I’d grow more love for than I already do, is showering. When we can all get a shower, it’s a good day! I think for me, the best part of the whole experience, is simply playing the music, and having people come and say they really enjoyed it and the end of the show. There has been a lot of driving at all hours, organizing – everything that ISN’T music, so when we finally get the chance to play, it’s really rewarding for us.
HRH: Shifting gears a bit, Voyager played at the ProgPower USA festival last year and made quite an impression (not to mention a LOT of new fans). What are your thoughts on that whole experience?
SK: ProgPower USA is still one of the best experiences of my musical life. The show is unbelievably well organized, so it was a real pleasure playing there and hanging out. The coolest thing about it was the sense of community – all the fans, newcomers or PPUSA veterans, were all sharing a common love for progressive music, so it was a lot of fun for us to meet people and hang out with fans and other bands too!
HRH: Voyager’s latest album – The Meaning of I – came out last year. Obviously we loved it here at HRH, giving it a 9.5/10, but what has the reaction been from fans?
SK: Thanks! We’ve been very happy with the response to The Meaning of I. It seems to be doing well in Germany too from what we can gather! The reaction from fans has been great overall, I can’t really say anything more than that to be honest! We’re very happy.
HRH: The album had a pair of noteworthy guest appearances from DC Cooper (Royal Hunt) and Daniel Tompkins. How did that come about?
Danny Estrin: DC’s participation was brought about by me being a fanboy and contacting him mercilessly. Luckily his sons are big fans of Voyager and so he agreed to do it. A pivotal moment was in our Pittsburgh show when DC came up on stage and sang “Fire of the Times” with us. Dan Tompkins is a brilliant singer who is currently working on an album with Scott for Absent Hearts. Look out for it, mellow and moody ethereal stuff. He was a logical choice for “The Pensive Disarray.”
HRH: Voyager has (and this is putting it mildly) a unique sound, with gothic and even pop elements mixed with what you typically expect from the progressive metal genre. What kinds of influences are you all bringing together when you approach the songwriting process? Is there a particular artist that has influenced your approach to writing more than others?
DE: Everything from electronica to death metal. We listen to a whole bunch of stuff so it’s never boring in the V-tourbus. One thing we all seem to agree on is Soilwork. That featured a lot on this North American tour.
HRH: You’re also a lawyer back in Australia. This is not your typical metal day job. What drew you to that profession, and how do you maintain a balance between your two careers?
DE: I don’t. It’s a constant struggle, because different sides of the brain are constantly battling with each other. I kind of just fell into the legal profession, and have stuck with it. It’s good to have that to fall back on, y’know, in case all this rock star business doesn’t work out!
HRH: Last, but not least, what can we expect from Voyager in the near future?
DE: More touring, a steep upwards spiral (hopefully), a couple of new videos, more touring, and hopefully the songwriting process will continue for a future opus. But The Meaning of I is still pretty fresh, so we’re riding that wave right now.
HRH: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us.
DE: Thank YOU!! WE LOVE YOU NORTH AMERICA!