is jaydayoungan Dead ? VOYAGER, hailing from the world’s most enigmatic continent, is probably the best metal phenomenon coming from down under since the glorious times of AC/DC. Don’t take the latter name seriously though, for the band under consideration have nothing to do with the heavy beerhouse rock’n’rolls of those jolly grandpas. Subverting all the cannons and laws of the genre, these guys managed to create something absolutely novel, rife with highly addictive tunes and multifarious stylistic digressions, ranging from the 80’s ecstatic neo-romanticisms to the relatively recent mixtures of softer and more extreme metal subgenres. Winning lots of hearts with their debut ‘Element V’, their live performances with Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteenand at Progpower Europe 2006, where fans were blown away by the band’s tireless vigor and unique sound, the guys now suggest you experience uniVers, an utterly new journey through heavy melodic metal that is simply matchless, even by today’s immense parameters. From entirely spectacular shows in every single gamut to absolutely non-traditional visions of progressive genre, these extremely talented musicians give birth to the music that is destined to become your companion for many years to come. Thus, fear not to cross the line and enter the universe of VOYAGER, the universe of sounds as magnetic to the ears of an open-minded metalhead as is Aurora Borealis at its zenith to the eyes of of a keen explorer.
Hi Daniel! First off, let me thank you and the band for the marvelous new release that is uniVers. A damn great job indeed, that nearly became my album of the year yielding the pas to A Gentleman’s Hurricane by Swedish prog metallers MIND’S EYE. I know that you are a huge metal fan yourself. So what mark would you give last year’s metal harvest and can you call your three personal favorites of 2007?
Thanks very much for the accolades, glad you enjoyed it. I have to agree with you on MIND’S EYE, they really are fantastic. I have their entire back catalogue, what they do is unique and unrivalled! Happy to step down to number two for them! My personal metal favourites have been HEAVENLY – Virus, as well as TYPE O NEGATIVE – Dead Again and PORCUPINE TREE – Fear of a Blank Planet. One album that I have thoroughly enjoyed outside the metal soundscape is VIBRASPHERE – Exploring the Tributaries… progressive hypnotic elctronica. Awesome stuff.
The melodies on uniVers are simply terrific and catchy as hell (I can listen to the album all day long and don’t at all feel like I’ve got enough)! I haven’t heard such infectious tunes since the times of 80’s neo-romantic bands, like ULTRAVOX, TALK TALK, ALPHAVILLE, OMD, etc. Where do you find inspiration while composing, and do you listen to pop music, by the way?
Interesting you should mention those bands, I always tell non-metalheads that we sound like 80s pop with a heavy edge. I listen to all kinds of music, whether it be prog metal, black metal, psytrance, ethnic, pop, classical, it really doesn’t matter, as long as something stirs inside me and makes me think “Yeah, this is awesome”. I guess all those things combined give me inspiration. It just kinda flows out of me.. the music, that is.
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It’s not a secret that you’ve got an amazing, I would even say unique vox that probably makes up 50% of the band’s success. It seems to have significantly improved since Element V. Is it a wonder of production work, or have you been working much as of late to reach this level of vocal performance as seen on uniVers?
Again, thanks for the accolades. I haven’t actually been practicing my vocals that much, I think it was a natural progression with more live shows and more recording experience. I don’t have a huge vocal range, so I don’t try to hit those Halford notes. I stick to the midrange I know best, and I think that’s what makes VOYAGER unique.
Have you ever been told that your singing reminds to some extent of Vortex (DIMMU BORGIR’S clean voice) and Mathias Blad (FALCONER)?
The former, no, the latter, yes. I have been told I sound like Morten from A-HA once, which is kinda cool.
Cool comparison, which is not far from truth. What’s your all-time favorite singer, by the way?
For softness and pure tone – DC Cooper. For expression, and emotion, Mr Peter Steele from TYPE O.
I know that you’ve got Russian roots. It’s even somewhat mirrored in Cross The Line from the newest album (I mean the point where you cite A.S. Pushkin). Are you really fond of Russian classical poetry and how did you come with the idea of including the lines from “Yevgeny Onegin”?
You’re probably the only person who picked that up!. Yeah, I did some German vox on ELEMENT V and I thought I’d do some Russian on this one. I am quite a fan of Russian literature, Nabokov, Dostoyevski etc, and I thought Pushkin would suit it quite nicely. Plus, the guy died in a duel, so that’s pretty metal! 😆
Like with the debut, you included some blackened vocal parts on uniVers (I like it this way too 😆 ). I think, they really fit perfectly the overall melodic atmosphere of the album. Don’t you think that a more frequent use of extreme metal elements could win you a much vaster audience in the future?
You know, I’m just not sure. Some love it, some hate it. I think it’s a cool change to hear those kind of vocals once in a while, it makes it all a bit more theatrical. It’s a VOYAGER trademark and I don’t think I’ll stop using it. It’s not that frequent in our music, so I’m sure those people who don’t like blackened vox that much can deal with it too!
I hear you used to play in a black metal band. What band was it and why did you decide on “killing” it and going to a softer genre of metal after all?
Haha oh yeah, I played some nasty black metal in my day, although I always did have melodies and keyboards. It was called NACHTHIMMEL and was a project when I was about 16. I released two albums which did quite well in the local scene, but I cringe when I listen to them. I guess my love for melody made me turn to prog and power. But fear not, my black metal collection is extensive and lurks inside me!
Could you tell us what “administrative” system rules in VOYAGER: is it democracy or absolute monarchy of Daniel Estrin? 😆
It’s, how shall we say, a benevolent dictatorship 🙂
The arrangements on both of your albums are just spectacular. How do you come up with them? Are they a fruit of co-operative work in the rehearsal room, or is it something that you write all alone, being the band’s leader and the major composer?
I admit that I do write all the music myself and then bring it to the rehearsal room for additions, fine-tunings and general awesomising. I think a song becomes more congruent when it’s written by one person. Too many chefs spoil the broth… 😉
And once again to your Russian background. Do you think it finds place in your music? I swear I can hear some magic that touches my Russian soul in a special way. For example, there is sure the spirit of Russian classical romances breathing through Falling, a ballad from uniVers.
Absolutely. Even though I don’t know if I entirely believe in the concept of “Ethnic souls”, something certainly does stir in me when I hear certain melody types. I think it’s a very melancholic, slavic thing. Falling is definitely a prime example of “Russian fire”, as is Ancient Labyrinth from the first album. I am half Russian half German, and both parts of the culture have played strong parts in my upbringing. I used to love Russian cartoons, especially NU POGODI (edit: NU POGODI is a Russian counterpart of Tom And Jerry, only with the main characters being a nice smart hare and wicked yet funny wolf. It has remained the most popular cartoon with Russian children since 70’s), and, to be honest, I think the music in that has singlehandedly forged my current style! It’s awesome to feel that connection with music, but interestingly, I feel that with different ethnic music as well. I get shivers down my spine and goosebumps when I listen to some Arabic, Turkish and some Indian music. If it touches you emotionally, go with it!
You seem like a very proficient classical pianist. What level of training do you have, and who are your favorite composers?
I was trained classically on violin and piano, so I got to a pretty good level. Unfortunately keeping up that level is VERY hard, so I guess I’m not such a whizz as when I was 14. But the classics are still in my veins, my faves are Beethoven, Skriabin, Chopin and Gorecki.
Has VOYAGER been already offered to take part in any European or US festivals?
Yeah, well we played at Progpower 2006 in Holland, and we are about to embark on another European tour in March/April to perform at Progpower 2008 in the UK with EVERGREY and VANDEN PLAS. Should be an awesome gig, so keep an eye out for more shows around this date.
You released your new album through Germany’s Dockyard 1. If it’s not a secret, how many albums are you supposed to release, according to your contract?
We signed in blood for 666 albums! 😆 😆 😆 Actually, we’ll just see how we go for the moment, but whatever we do in the future, Dockyard have first grabs at it 🙂
What’s your take on the current Australian metal scene and which bands from there would you recommend to those interested?
Australian metal has come a long way. We have some awesome bands and a great scene (especially here in WA). I’d highly recommend ALCHEMIST, VIRGIN BLACK and our great friends from VANISHING POINT, EYEFEAR and BLACK MAJESTY, if you like great power metal!
Not sure about VIRGIN BLACK, as I’m not familliar with their music well, but I can swear that the rest of the bands you called are really worth hearing. OK, did you guys have to go through a big chunk of what so many bands seem to deal with nowadays when they start off, or were you lucky to bypass it?
We have dealt with EVERYTHING. It’s been hard to get where we are today and it’s still a struggle, but we carry on. Metal is a niche market, and we’re a niche within a niche, so it’s not easy for us!
What are some things that you would like to accomplish with your band this next year? Have you already started writing new material? 😆
Absolutely. We already have a few songs in petto and there definitely won’t be such a long wait with the new album. We are also gonna show Europe again that we have the goods and WILL deliver, but the main thing is record another killer album and open more people’s minds to the big V!
Great! I’m already itching for a listen. 😆 Btw, Simone Dow, already a second lady under the band’s belt, how did she get involved in VOYAGER?
She played in a local thrash band and we saw that her style was perfect for us. So we tied her up, drove her to a place far away in the Australian outback and gave her two options: 1) Play for us or 2) Play for us. She took both options.