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Interviews : “It’s always going to sound like pop on top and prog on the bottom” – An Interview with Danny Estrin (Voyager)

By on March 8, 2017

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Danny Estrin – Voyager

Perth’s legendary sons of progressive rock and metal Voyager have been around for well over a decade and a half now, and they are aging like a fine West Australian red. And as they do, they are actually expanding their already strong and committed fanbase in Australia and across the globe, which many long-running bands find difficult to do. One of the reasons behind this might be their absolute willingness to evolve as a band, to absorb what’s going on around them in the heavy music idiom and subtly fuse those influences into their own well-developed sound. The key term there being ‘subtle’, as it hasn’t been a jarring, ‘on a dime’ stylistic shift that will shock fans, like what, say, Opeth have done in recent years, rather more of a dextrous progression and a canny moving with the times.

At the same time, they still sound exactly like themselves and are unlikely to alienate many of their hardcore fans. Frontman and founding member Daniel Estrin agrees with this overall summation, but feels there are certainly other factors involved at the same time.

“Yeah, that’s definitely a fair comment,” he concurs, “but it’s not only what’s changed stylistically, and what we’ve drawn influence from, but it’s also the band members and who’s in the makeup and foundation of the band. This (their next, and sixth, album Ghost Mile, due to be released in the next few weeks) is the second album with the same lineup, V and this next album will be the same lineup for the first time.

“When Scott (Kay, guitarist) joined the band a few years ago, he brought a lot of that groove with him, which wasn’t there before. I think on the first Voyager album there’s one groove riff there, and now there’s quite a few more. I think that’s what’s modernised the sound as well. So it’s the influence of the members, and of course the members draw influence from what’s popular with the kids these days!” He laughs.

But of course, with the band members, their writing style and most of all, Estrin’s unique vocal stylings and delivery, it’s always still going to sound like Voyager. “Yep, absolutely,” he agrees again, “it’s always going to sound like pop on top and prog on the bottom.”

Like the V album, Ghost Mile is being paid for through a crowd-funding campaign. Crowd funders have been a real saviour for many independent bands in the modern age where there is so much less money in the music industry than there used to be. This time, however, they changed the avenue through which they organised the campaign.

“I think the model works really well, we’ve gone with Pledge Music this time,” he explains, “for a couple of reasons, in terms of the model that’s traditionally crowdfunding. Last time we had so many Germans complain that (in a rather good German accent) ‘we didn’t have ze Paypal, how can you not have ze Paypal’. Kickstarter didn’t have Paypal, but now we do, so the Germans are happy.

“And the other thing is that Pledge Music is actually a platform that counts the sales and the numbers of downloads for the purposes of the ARIA charts and things like that. Not angling for an ARIA here, but you’ve got to be in it to win it.”

Even beyond those two reasons, there is another, more overarching reason why the band have chosen to fund their endeavours in this manner. “The other reason we’re doing the pledge funding campaign is that it worked so well last time,” he says, “it’s done wonders for us in terms of self-management, and being a band that can stand on its own two feet. I know crowdfunding’s getting a little bit of flak at the moment, the ‘Patreon’ model’s getting a bit of flak at the moment. But at the end of the day, if you’re going to buy the album in the traditional way, that’s awesome. No one’s forcing you to do it this way (via a pledge to their crowdfunder), but if you can do it, it really helps us out, helps us get to that next level.

“It’s a wonderful model, and I think it continues that crowd-Voyager interaction that I think we’re quite known for.”

And it’s been both their willingness to try out this new funding model and then use it to its fullest extent, and their growth and evolution as a band in a musical sense that have seen the band smash through that glass ceiling that many long-term bands find themselves confronted with.

“That’s right, excuse my language, but we’ve worked fucking hard for this,” he states vehemently, “we’ve been doing this for a long time, I’ve been doing this for a long time, I used to be the youngest member of the band, now I’m the oldest! That shows you how our lineup changes have gone, but we’ve had this same lineup now for a few years and two albums, so we’ve had that real growth in what we are live, and on record as well. And I think that growth spurt that we’ve seen over the last few years is something that I’ve really embraced.

“It’s just good to see!”

Click here to find out more regarding the Voyager Pledge Campaign.

Tour Dates With The Algorithm

Thursday 11th May – Adelaide
FOWLER’S LIVE

Friday 12th May – Melbourne
EVELYN HOTEL

Saturday 13th May – Brisbane
THE ZOO

Friday 19th May – Perth
AMPLIFIER BAR

Saturday 20th May – Canberra
THE BASEMENT

Sunday 21st May – Sydney
OXFORD ART FACTORY

All tickets on sale Friday 10th March. Details at
http://voyager-australia.com

Ghostmiletour

About

Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine, themusic.com.au, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.