The UK and Europe are poised to experience a French and Aussie invasion this fall as prog-metal maestros Voyager and Uneven Structure join forces for what promises to be an equally eclectic and energetic tour. FRONT had the opportunity to catch up with the lovely Simone Dow – Voyager’s guitarist – at Germany’s Euroblast Festival for an epic chat about the band’s origins, what life is really like on the road and what we can expect from this upcoming run.
First up, for the benefit of any readers who aren’t familiar with you guys, how would you sum up the core Voyager sound?
It’s always hard describing our sound as there’s such an eclectic mix going into the music we write. We’ve been described as electro, progressive, djent, pop metal before. We’ve been called “the INXS of djent” and others have said we sound like what would happen if Tears For Fears went metal. If that’s got you interested, then check us out!
As a collective, the band has been rocking and rolling since 1999. But we believe you didn’t actually enter the fold until around late 2005 – how did that come about?
I was asked to join the band in late 2005 by Danny when they had parted ways with their drummer and previous guitarist. I was absolutely humbled to be asked as Voyager were always a band I would watch and had always impressed me. At first I just agreed to record their second album with them as I wanted to make sure we would all gel together. After the first rehearsal with everyone, I joined immediately as the chemistry was incredible.
With several lineup changes, we’d hazard a guess that morale could be running low among everyone on occasion. Did you ever feel added pressure regarding your position or was it more of a learning curve?
I never felt like my position was in jeopardy. If anything, once certain people joined the band it then became apparent who the weaker links were. I’d say each movement within the band was certainly a learning curve, and this current line up we have is the best we’ve ever had i terms of creativity and our relationship.
You released Ghost Mile in May. We, along with many other music industry types, thought it was astonishing. It has however, been critiqued by some for being “too varied.” What is your response to such statements?
We receive that criticism with nearly every album we release, and the funny thing is I believe this to be our most cohesive album to date. We all listen to such a wide variety of music that it’s inevitable that it creeps into our writing. People for the most part are loving the new record, so we try not to focus on the negative comments.
Is there an atypical writing and recording process for a Voyager album?
Not really. This is certainly something that has changed over the years (and more so with this line up). Danny used to be the main songwriter and would come in with the shell of the song mostly written. Then the rest of us would make it sound more like a song and fill in the gaps/ make the instrumentation more realistic on our given instruments. These days one person will come in with a riff/idea and we all write the song together in our rehearsal space.
You were nominated for a Progressive Music Award for “Best International Band / Band of the Year” alongside folks like Devin and Opeth. Some stellar nominees there! Are you guys more blasé / used to such accolades now or is it all still a bit of a head fuck?
Absolutely still a shock to us. We are still relatively unknown in most parts of the world, so it’s absolutely spun out to see ourselves nominated amongst some of our favourite acts.
You’ve toured with Deftones and are about to embark on an EU/ UK run with French tech-prog mindbenders Uneven Structure. We can’t wait! Is it true the Dublin show will be your first ever Irish date? And how excited are you to whip up the UK crowds?
It is indeed the first time we have played Ireland and we’ve just found out that the Guinness factory is across the road from the venue. Very dangerous hahaha! We are really stoked to head back over to the UK. I’m really looking forward to playing the Underworld, just knowing how many of my favourite bands have graced the stage of that venue. I’m also keen to see some family and friends at the Glasgow show.
Is the touring life all that it’s cracked up to be – is it all glamour or more just like being stuck in a van with a load of smelly dudes?
It’s certainly nowhere near as glamorous as people perceive it to be, but at the same time when you have the best people sharing the experiences with you it makes for some super awesome memories you’ll have for the rest of your lives. I call it more enjoyable work, because the reward for all the hard work you go both organizing albums/tours and the super long drives to get to venues is to play your music to people on the other side of the planet who know your tunes and are wearing your merch. How awesome is that!?
Do you lot have any weird or wonderful pre-stage rituals?
Nothing weird. I like to try and warm up my hands as much as possible so they are ready to play as accurately as possible come stage time. Also doing lots of stretches and warming up the muscles so you don’t pull anything while going for that big rockstar move haha
Can you give us any hints as to what we can expect from the upcoming shows?
Catchy choruses, big Riffs, lots of energy and a sprinkling of some hilarity.
And can we expect a set list that spans the entire six albums, or will you concentrate more on Ghost Mile?
For the tour with Uneven Structure its heavy on the most recent 3 albums (Meaning of I, V and Ghost Mile). We hope everyone enjoys the selection we’ve picked.