INTERVIEW: Simone Dow (VOYAGER)
Having spent years voyaging their synthy prog wares around airways and stages all over the world, Perth's melodic metallers Voyager have blasted into 2019 with their usual energetic gusto - with new material, Aussie Download festival appearances and a tour alongside prog icons Twelve Foot Ninja, there's a lot of noise whipping around this metal melodic quintet that doesn't look to be easing off anytime soon.
Freshly armed with their latest track 'Brightstar', the first sign of new material since their 2017 opus 'Ghost Mile', there's no question the future of Voyager will continue to deliver to the Voyager trademark standard: catchy choruses, expansive melodics and the occasional dirty breakdown to keep you on your toes. But in between kicking it at Download with the likes of Slayer, Anthrax, Alice In Chains and more, we grabbed Voyager axe-slinger Simone Dow to chat all things live, loud, plus some memorable Voyager moments. Interview below.
TIANA: Hey Simone! Awesome to chat to you today! It's been a pretty hectic time lately for yourself and Voyager, new album in sight and, the 'Upload' tour including a show at home - and now you've got Download in your sights very, very soon! Have you been able to catch your breath at all lately with everything going on?
SIMONE DOW: It has been very full on behind the scenes for a few months now, writing and hitting the studio to record the new album!! Honestly, it’s just great to get back up on the stage and play music again and see the outcome of your hard work. We are absolutely stoked to be playing Download and can’t wait!
TIANA: And you got to play your brand new track ‘Brightstar’ to a hometown crowd to start off the ‘Upload’ tour – what was it like to finally bust out the track live, and in Perth no less!
SIMONE: It felt amazing. Absolutely packed room and they all really got into it. Seeing people already singing some of the words always puts a smile on our faces.
TIANA: On the topic of ‘Brightstar’, it certainly marks a bit more of an 80s foray for Voyager, with a healthy mix of prog and pop. You’re no strangers to soaring melodics and djenty breakdowns, but can you talk me through a bit of the creative process with this one – was there any particular catalysts or inspiration that sparked this synthy bopper?
SIMONE: I mean, we’ve always had that 80’s pop influence underlying our music. We like big catchy choruses, what can I say hahaha! In terms of the writing process, Danny came in with the beginnings of the song (like up to the first verse and chorus) and from there we worked on the rest of the arrangement and parts. But that’s been our process generally for the last 3 albums. Someone will come in with an idea and then we write together in our rehearsal space.
TIANA: With ‘Brightstar’ marking the first sign of new tunes since 2017’s ‘Ghost Mile’, is it a solid indication of what may come with future new material from Voyager? Are we in for a few more surprises potentially?
SIMONE: Oh there are plenty of surprises in store. The new album is funnily enough one of our poppiest yet heaviest records (if you can believe that’s possible). I can’t really say too much more other than to keep your eyes peeled to our socials for updates.
TIANA: Back to chatting about the Twelve Foot Ninja tour – I’ve read Ash talk about how it’d been whispered amongst yourselves for years to tour together…but in your own words, how did this tour of prog perfection finally come to life?
SIMONE: A few of us had messaged one another in the past after seeing the other bands at shows, and then we finally met in person at Euroblast on our Ghost Mile European Tour. It was basically just all of us frothing at each other’s stuff and we both said we wanted to tour with one another. A few times it didn’t line up for either of us, but we seem to be running on a similar timeline at the moment and it worked perfectly. Twelve Foot Ninja are an incredible band and just lovely guys. I’m a huge fan of them. It’s an absolute pleasure to be touring together.
TIANA: Amongst the Uploading will be two solid days of Download in Sydney and Melbourne. It’s a pretty ballistic lineup of heavy Who’s Who – do you have a particular band or a few bands you’re super keen to check out live on the day(s), and why?
SIMONE: Well, obviously you wanna see the classics: Anthrax, Alice In Chains, Slayer, Priest etc, but I’m keen to try and walk around and check out at least a bit of everything if I can. I’m really stoked to see so many great Aussie bands on the line up. Download have really done a great job of showcasing our countries talent amongst some great international heavyweights.
TIANA: This run of shows obviously isn’t your first rodeo for live performances. But given you’re mixing it up with pub-ish shows and festivals in this run, do you have a preference these days for the types of shows you play? Do you still love the slightly more intimate shows or do you love jumping up onstage at festivals and busting a move for the masses?
SIMONE: Both have their charms to be honest. Sweaty club shows are always fun to interact with the crowd on a more personal level, but it is super awesome to have a massive stage to really move around and go nuts with each other on stage. And it looks awesome when you’re looking out at large mass of people getting into your music.
VOYAGER ONSTAGE AT BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR // @voyagerau
TIANA: On the topic of live shows, have you had a particular standout live moment that still sticks with you to this day? Whether it was memorably good, bad or just plain hilarious?
SIMONE: There’s been so many, but one of the sillier moments that happened was at a show many years ago where we hadn’t played live in a while due to working on an album. As we launched into the first song, a group of people all held up bits of paper with a word on each one and it made a sign that says “Voyager f@#ks my ear pussy”. We all completely lost it on stage laughing. Fans bring some crazy shit to the table at shows Hahahaha.
TIANA: And what is your absolute must-have item when you’re on the road to keep you sane (and why)?
SIMONE: Ooh, probably my headphones so I can relax and just zone out from the rest of the world. When you’re on a relatively long run on a bus, it’s really important to try and give yourself some alone time. I find it just helps you recharge and keep yourself mentally healthy, as when you’re playing shows you don’t get a lot of time to yourself.
SIMONE DOW // pic by Joel Barrios
TIANA: It’s no secret Voyager are proud Perth kids, as evidenced recently by the music vid for ‘Brightstar’ where you showcased the epic landscape (and I believe nearly burned to a crisp in the process). But do you have a favourite place to visit either when you’re touring or on a rare holiday? What’s your go-to home away from home and why?
SIMONE: I’ve actually become a lot more of a homebody in more recent years. I love just relaxing at home with my kitty and watching a good tv series with some nice food. Last place I went to that was incredible here in WA was down south around Donnelly River and Margaret River area. Very different to what everyone saw on the video: lots of green, wineries, caves to explore. It’s really beautiful.
TIANA: And finally, you’ve started off the year signing with Season of Mist, blasting out new tunes and playing some kickass shows. How on earth are you going to top this massive start to 2019? What’s next for Voyager beyond the next few weeks?
SIMONE: It’s definitely not stopping! We’ve still got an album to finish recording, mixing and mastering and in the meantime there will be some more new music coming over the coming months. We were also just announced to play Dead of Winter Festival in Brissie, which we are really looking forward to. Other than that, we are definitely looking to head back on the road both nationally and internationally. We are just getting warmed up!
TIANA: Thanks so much for chatting Simone! Hope the rest of the tour is fantastic, and look forward to catching you in action very soon
SIMONE: Thanks for having me!
VOYAGER ARE CURRENTLY ON THE ROAD ALONGSIDE TWELVE FOOT NINJA FOR THEIR EPIC 'UPLOAD' TOUR. FOR TOUR INFO AND ALL THINGS VOYAGER, HEAD HERE.
BY TIANA SPETER