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INTERVIEW – Simone Dow, Voyager – June 2014

| 1 July 2014 | Reply

INTERVIEW – Simone Dow, Voyager – June 2014

With fifth album V just released and garnering excellent reviews around the world, guitarist Simone Dow tells SHANE PINNEGAR that Voyager embark on a national tour in July, culminating in a homecoming show at Amplifier Bar on 26 July with Eastern Staters Caligula’s Horse & Orsome Welles.

Voyager Simone Dow 01

Dow is justifiably happy with the response to the album, which was largely financed by a crowd funding campaign through Kickstarter.

“Absolutely, a really great response,” the flame-haired guitarist says, excitedly. “We’re really proud of this album and we want to really put the pedal to the metal and actually get it out there to as many places as possible because we knew we had something pretty special with the record.

“We managed to enlist the wonderful Lulu Davis from Incendia Management, she is now managing us, and she’s helped us get a lot of promo and managed to get the CD out to a lot more places as well. The reviews – yeah, we’ve been absolutely blown away by the response. Hopefully it just means we can get out there and tour some more because we’re getting reviews in a lot more countries.”

The band’s Kickstarter campaign aimed to raise $10,000 to part-finance the record, a goal they reached in just three days, eventually ending up with almost double that figure.

“Yeah!” Dow says, “That was another thing that just blew us away. We wanted to give it a go because most people should know by now that working in original music is not exactly paying the bills for a lot of us out there. Everything we’ve done in the past has all been from our own pockets and it’s hard sometimes – you work full time jobs as well trying to do all of this and it’s a lot of money. It’s not like it’s just a little bit of money, it’s thousands to get all of this done.

“We thought, well, let’s give it a shot, because it would really help us out so we could actually build a promo and everything like that. We thought we could epically fail and get ten dollars or something like that but at least we gave it a go. We’re just so lucky that we have such a loyal fan base – they’re just really, really loyal to us. They’d do anything for us. We try to do as much as possible, throw a concert with them and chat away with them on Facebook and things like that as well. We didn’t think that in three days we would have that much money [pledged] and it actually ended up nearly being double what we asked for. We’re just forever grateful to our fans for doing that.”

Voyager 02

Not that that was enough to cover the full cost of the album, Dow continues.

“It covered a lot of it though. It covered pretty much most of the actual CD portion of it and actually getting it produced and mastered and the CD’s pressed. That side of it was covered, and a little bit of the primary cost, but yeah, we’re still at thousands that we’re paying out of our own pockets. The promo for the vinyls, yeah, we didn’t realize how expensive they were. They have about three plants in the whole world so even if you use an American or an Australian company, it’s coming from Europe so the price curtails [that option] a lot of the time.

“There’s still a lot to pay for but it helped a huge amount,” she continues, “we don’t mind paying for a lot of things out of our own pocket but if we can get a little bit of help from our friends – it’s basically just like a pre-order for them anyway because they’re getting the album and all of the cool little benefits from doing it so if we can get the money in advance at least we know that there’s people out there that actually want the product so that’s great.”

Musically speaking, Dow says V is a definite progression for the already-progressive metal band.

“I think that with the last album, The Meaning Of I, we really took a bit of a change in direction. It became a lot heavier, and was a lot darker. It still had some old school sort of elements in it, but there were a few songs that were really taking a lot of the new modern metal influences as well.

“This time round, basically the whole band wrote this whole album, rather than it being Danny coming in with 80% of the tracks and then us adding some pieces to it. This time round most of it was actually written in the jam room.

“We’ve got a new drummer,” Dow enthuses. “Ashley Doodkorte, and he’s just made a huge difference to this. He’s very into jamming in the jam room, which is [something] we were never comfortable with before. He’ll come up with some sort of beat or something like that and the next thing you know we’ve written half a song. That’s really great.

“All of us have got such an eclectic mix and taste in music that it’s just turned out a lot different from what we’ve done in the past. It’s still got these poppy, synth elements to it, it still sounds like Voyager – I think it’s a natural progression from the last album but I think it’s quite a bit more polished and heavier and it’s a lot more focused than our previous albums.”

Voyager Simone Dow 02

The first track most people heard from the album was the single Hyperventilating, a track accompanied by a video clip featuring the band onstage with a full stadium-sized light show behind them. It’s a magnificent, full-on, exciting clip full of lasers and the works.

“Thanks mate,” Dow says, grinning. “Believe it or not, that video clip gave me a four day migraine [from all the lights]!

“Yeah, I’m a migraine sufferer and I was just like, ‘I am going to pay for this so bad, but it’s going to look so awesome when it’s done.’ It was worth it. It was worth it.

“We went with the same producers and director we did the last time – Ben Berkhout and Natalie Lewis – who are fantastic, they did a killer job of our The Meaning Of I clip as well. We wanted to do less of a scripting job this time and more just the band and cool shots. They got in touch with Frontier Lighting who happened to have a massive LED screen that they hauled out, and they sorted us out so it’s nice and cost effective for us. And they actually supplied us with some stuff that helped do the lighting and stuff for us as well while we were shooting it. Thank you Frontier Lighting because it wouldn’t look that awesome without them to be honest: Legends.”

Dow goes on to suggest that Voyager’s new sticksman has changed the way the band do things.

“Yeah, I think so. Ashley’s a bit more of a rock drummer. Not to take away his love of metal because he’s played in a few metal bands before, [like] Pyromesh, who were quite a big band back in the day.

“[Now] he’s pretty much in every band in Perth,” she jokes. “I don’t know how he does it, man, he’s plugged in, like all the time, doing graphics for everyone. I don’t even know how he’s got enough hours in the day – he must have a lot of berocca, that’s all I can say.

“[He’s got] the rock influence, it’s not just metal. Like I said before, because he’s really big on jamming in the rehearsal room, we came up with so many different ideas being able to work with someone like that. He’s a phenomenal drummer, so underrated, he’s probably one of the best drummers, I reckon, in Perth. He’s so bright and anything he puts his mind to, he’ll do it.”

Voyager 03

Dow goes on to discuss Voyager’s recording process, and it sounds like a mostly harmonious environment.

“We’re really lucky – I’m not going to say we don’t argue because we do, but we tend to try and be as diplomatic as possible with it and just do it on a majority rules system, to keep things fair.

“The recording process,” she continues, “is stressful but it’s actually quite smooth for us. We track a lot of it in our own studios and then we’ll give it to someone to do the mixing and the mastering because we’re lucky [that] our guitarist Scott [Kay] has got [a studio] set up and he does a lot of recording. Him and I are very comfortable with one another and there’s no arguing, we’re pretty straight up with one another and we get it done, basically. Danny [Estrin] does his vocals in his own studio, and keys as well. Bass is done with Scott as well and then it’s time – basically the only one at the studio is Ash and he works with the guy that actually produced our album at Templeman and he bashed out the drums in, I think it was like, a day and a half. He’s a bit of a machine – and that was setting it all up and everything. I don’t know how he managed to do that. He was like, ‘Oh I did a terrible job,’ and we’re listening to the album like, ‘dude, shut up. This is awesome.’

“It is stressful, because you want to get it done, you’ve got a deadline, but we’re very focused when it comes to recording. I think the most stressful thing for us this time was actually making sure the mix and everything was good. Working alongside with Matt and actually getting a really great sound. That was what we spent the most amount of time on this time and it’s come out fantastic, it sounds punchy and fresh so we’re really, really stoked with it.”

Voyager embarked on a fruitful tour of the United States last year in support of their The Meaning Of I album, an experience Dow can’t speak more highly of.

“I think all of us would agree that that was the best thing we’ve ever done in our lives: we just had the best time ever. We didn’t know how it was going to be, because you’re in each other’s face every day. We were in an RV so we were basically around each other 24/7. You could go retreat to the back of the RV if you wanted your space, your alone time and stuff like that and of course, you do that when you’re on the road for three weeks – you need some alone time.

“It was great, we got along like a house on fire and we became a really tight knit unit and really close to one another. We were already really close then, I consider the band my best friends and I know that the rest of the guys are the same. We just became an even tighter unit.”

Voyager Simone Dow 03

A return trip to America hasn’t been locked in yet, though Dow says the band are looking forward to making it happen in support of the new album. In the meantime, Australian audiences will be first to hear the new tracks live, and with five albums to choose from, writing a set list is getting harder.

“On this tour we will be focusing more so on the new album material seeing as it is the tour for it,” she says, “but never fear – there will certainly be a few fan favourites in there.

“It is [getting harder to write a set list], but I think we really want to push this new album to the max seeing as it has opened up so many doors for us internationally. We want to play as much as we can from the new album, but we’ll keep the older tracks in there that we feel are still as strong as the music we are writing today. We hope the fans will agree with our song choices.”

Voyager 01

Dow has been particularly active on the band’s social media about where Voyager would rather fans buy their music from, with different outlets paying artists different royalty rates and percentages. It seems that a shoe manufacturer or a mechanic is allowed to do that, but musicians are frowned upon when they try and act like savvy business people. It’s a subject the guitarist is passionate about.

“I think the problem is that musicians are made to feel like their product has no monetary value,” she says bluntly. “And this has happened over time due to download sites like Napster, Lime Wire and nowadays Pirate Bay, Spotify and Pandora, etc etc

“We live in a privileged society where it’s so easy to access things and if people can’t then they feel ripped off. I guess what crowd funding is doing is showing people that we can’t keep making the music they love if we have no money. I don’t think people understand that a CD costs around $15,000 – $30,000 to make and that’s just the studio time, mixing and mastering! On top of this there are artists to pay for artwork design, pressing companies to make the CDs, vinyls etc, then we have to get it marketed. And we haven’t even got to touring and merchandise costs!

“When a band is on a label,” she continues, “we see very little of that royalty return as everyone gets a piece of the pie and then we are given what’s left, usually somewhere between 10-30% of the value… does that seem fair when it’s a product you made with blood, sweat and tears?

“I think it’s super important to treat your band like a business. I know it sounds lame and people will say ‘you used to be about the music, man’, but to actually really be about the music you have to have money and a profile behind you! The only way to do that is to be business savvy. I’ve learnt so much in my 15 years in the music industry and I continue to do so every day. I really hope that crowd funding changes the business model for music world wide as from our experience it just works and it’s so much fairer for both the bands and the fans!”

You heard the lady: support the artists you love, it’s only fair.


V is out now

VOYAGER tour Australia in July 2014

FRI 4th – Canberra @ ANU Bar
w/Caligula’s Horse (QLD), Local Supports (TBA)

SAT 5th – Sydney @ The Factory Floor
w/Caligula’s Horse (QLD), Mish, Without Parachutes

FRI 11th – Brisbane @ The Brightside
w/Caligula’s Horse, Toehider (‘What Kind Of Creature Am I?’ Album Launch) [VIC], Dark Symphonica

SAT 12th – Melbourne @ The Workers Club
w/Caligula’s Horse (QLD), Toehider (‘What Kind Of Creature Am I?’ Album Launch), Orsome Welles

SAT 19th – Adelaide @ Enigma Bar
w/Caligula’s Horse (QLD), Dyssidia, Local Support (TBA)

SAT 26th – Perth @ Amplifier Bar
w/Caligula’s Horse (QLD), Orsome Welles (VIC), Local Support (TBA)


Category: Interviews

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