The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
INTERVIEW 2014

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2014 - VOYAGER GUITARIST SCOTT KAY

VOYAGER

TALKS TO The roCKPIT...

LONG A FIXTURE ON THE LOCAL WESTERN AUSTRALIAN ROCK SCENE VOYAGER'S NEW ALBUM 'V' SUGGESTS A BAND READY TO TAKE THAT GRET JUMP FORWARD ... WE CATCH UP WITH GUITARIST SCOTT KAY TO FIND OUT MORE...

JULY 2014

READ OUR REVIEW OF VOYAGER'S 'V' HERE

Voyager has long been a band not to be missed for Perth's Hard Rock and Metal community and over the years they have delivered a slew of quality albums, but this year's 'V' may just be the album to take the band into the unknown and on to much bigger things... We caught up with guitarist Scott Kay to talk 'V' and the way forward for the appropriately named band...

Thank you for taking the time to talk to the Rockpit. As a Perth rock institution I know everyone knows of you locally but for our far flung readers in places like Oklahoma, Nottinghamshire and our growing Eastern European readership can you tell us just enough about the band to make them read on!


Hello! My name is Scott and I play guitar in five-piece progressive band, Voyager. If Scar Symmetry and Soilwork had to write 80's synth pop, it'd sound a lot like us.


You must be happy with the way the new album ‘V’ came out?


We are absolutely stoked. The reviews have been glowing, the Kickstarter was a huge success, with over 180% of our target reached... It's been a very empowering process. We're currently on tour around Australia promoting it, and the shows have had huge turnouts too. We're very happy!


The response locally and internationally has been pretty glowing! Do you read your press and did you have any favourite moments in those reviews?


We do, both positive and negative. Thankfully, there's been very little of the latter, if any at all. I think the best line in a review we got was what they believed we sounded like: Epic, electro, progressive, power pop metal. It was so good we put it on the back of one of our most recent shirt designs!


But really, it's just been so nice to see the positive reaction to this album, as we believe it's taken another big step away from our earlier sound.


A few years ago we might have got away with calling you ‘Metal’ but especially with ‘V’ it’s a very different sound, far more layered, complex and satisfying. Are there any labels that can ever adequately describe what you do?


We can't even adequately describe it, and we're the ones creating the music! I think that, while 'metal' as an overall genre is best suited for us, we don't have a lot of the stigma that attaches itself to the word. When you think 'metal' you think growls or screams, less focus on melody, loads of blast and thrash beats, etc. but we really don't fit those stereotypes at all. To me, the only thing that makes us 'metal' is the sonic heaviness of what we do.

To us we noted that “on ‘V’ Voyager appear to have stumbled upon their own great step forward. ‘V’ is simply all that Voyager was and so much more” were we being over dramatic?


I don't think so. This record really represents what we all love about music as individuals, and in that way, it best suits us as a band too. I think we've found our groove on this album, and all the pieces are starting to come together in a really cool way. This was the first album we did together where the majority of the writing was done in the jam room, rather than by Danny in his studio at home, and that definitely influenced the end result in a very positive way. Five heads are better than one in this case!


We understand that the recording process for this record was somewhat different to previous albums? Do you think that is the main reason for the sonic shift?


It was slightly different, just in terms of experience and who we decided to go with for mixing and mastering, but really the writing process was what made the sonic shift for us. Like I said above, this record was mostly written in a collaborative way, and thus we all got to do what we wanted to do musically, and we all got to influence the structure and sound of the songs as well.


I tracked bass and guitars at my studio, Danny recorded vocals and keyboards at his studio, and drums were done at Sumo Studios in Perth, WA under the guidance of Matt Templeman and Fraser Cringle. The mixing was done by Matt Templeman and mastering by Simon Struthers. The cool thing about this process, was that the whole record, production wise, was done by people here Perth! We have a very talented little city here.


It’s always great to hear an Australian (let alone West Australian) band with a world class sound especially when we think of the heavyweights in the Progressive Metal field as largely being American or European. What added pressure does being from such an isolated place put on a band trying to be heard?


The added pressure is finances, mostly. Touring is expensive, simple as that. In terms of reach, I don't believe it matters as much where you are from these days, because the internet makes promotion a lot easier. Thankfully, we have teamed up with Lulu from Incendia, and she's been helping with our PR and management in ways that we've never experienced as a band before. She's incredibly motivated and has landed us a lot of great opportunities already. It's really just having to budget for the flights to get to where we need to go!


Back to the album ‘Hyperventilating’ is a bold statement to make first up. But it’s also the track that I think has sunk its teeth deepest at The Rockpit. Was it your intent to say ‘this time it’s different’ right off the bat?

 

Absolutely. We weren't sure whether we wanted to release that song as the video clip, but after some deliberation with management and amongst ourselves, it was the right choice. It is a bold statement, and I think it's done us well. The song sums up a lot of the changes we've made as a band, in the sense that we're not really a 'power prog' band any more, nor have we really been for some time. Our tastes have changed, and 'Hyperventilating' showcases that perfectly in my opinion, whilst still maintaining a lot of the other distinctively 'Voyager' elements.

 

The single ‘Breaking Down’ that follows is a nice contrast the perfect counterpoint! Tell us why you chose that song as a single?

 

Honestly, Breaking Down was a safe bet. It's a catchy song, and it's more like our previous work, so it was a no-brainer to release that as the very first song from the new album in the form of a lyric video. We didn't want to shock our old listeners too much from the get go haha.

 

‘V; is an immensely rich album and tracks like ‘A Beautiful Mistake’ which features some nice female vocals is all cascading riffs and driving rhythms. We felt an almost  New Romantic pop sensibility mixed in with the Progressive Metal bulk… are we going too far?

 

Haha, I love it! Honestly, when we writing the music, we just plainly ask ourselves whether we like what we hear or not. If we like it, we expand on it, without thinking too much about what it is we're doing. I think this sense of freedom is what allows us to evolve as a band. I'm a sucker for atmospheres and pads, so 'A Beautiful Mistake' was a lot of fun to write for me. Then when I heard Zemyna's vocals on the track for the first time, I had goosebumps. Her voice is absolutely astounding.

 

We loved the Power-Prog ‘You the Shallow’ and ‘Embrace the Limitless’ which are probably our two favourites here: who brought those to the table?

 

'You the Shallow' was the result of me and Ashley jamming on a few riffs I had written, and Danny said 'That's awesome!' A lot of the riff work on that song were my conceptions, and then Danny did his magic by writing some seriously catchy vocals. The thunderous and epic middle section of that track I believe was something Danny had written from a while ago.

 

'Embrace the Limitless' started with the opening synth line that Danny wrote. I laughed aloud when I heard it the first time, because it sounded incredibly similar to the opening arpeggios to the main Final Fantasy theme. I hope Square/Enix are reading this. From recollection, we all worked on the verses in the jam room, and the pre-chorus was an idea Danny and I had written some time before, and discovered worked really well in the song.

There’s a huge thrusting groove on ‘The Domination Game’ are we likely to hear that track live?

 

We've actually been playing it on this Australian tour, and it's been going down a treat! I think it'll be a staple track in our set for the future.

 

Tell us about the lightest track on the album ‘Summer Always Comes Again’, which isn’t particularly ‘Rock’ (and certainly not ‘Metal’) at all, but very, very good!

 

I believe this was a ballad that Danny had written some time ago, and in the process of using it for 'V', went through many different versions. There's an electronic version, a full band version, a completely stripped back version with only piano and vocals... We finally decided to go with the piano version, with a little help from the rolling drums at the end for a climax. The lyrical content suited sitting right next to 'Seasons of Age' at the end of the record too, so that worked out quite well!

 

Aside from that track, which might be too far for some rock fans, ‘Seasons of Age’ that closes smacks of 80s synth-led pop-rock, but manages to meld so much Rock in the mix it’s almost Duran Duran does Prog and of course Daniel’s Simon Le Bon-style vocals just solidify that feeling? Again pull us up if our ears are deceiving us!

 

I'm personally really proud of 'Seasons of Age'. It's my favourite Voyager song to date, actually. The harmony in this song is very different to the rest of the album, with the chorus descending in whole-tone major chords (this will make sense to some music nerds out there haha). I think it's just got a lot of drive and punchiness from the bass and drums too, giving the song continual forward movement. Danny will forever provide the 80's vibes, because his voice is very reminiscent of that era, as well as his choice of pads and synths.

 

What are the next steps for Voyager?


We have two dates left of our Australian tour, with Adelaide on the 19th of July, and Perth on the 26th of July, and then it's back to finishing off our Kickstarter pledges. We have vinyls to press and two songs to write for our pledgers, which will definitely keep us busy! After that, we have ProgPower Europe in October, with the potential for some additional dates in Europe and the UK around that time too. Keep your ears to the ground, follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Beyond October, there are a lot of plans in the works, but nothing we are allowed to announce just yet...


What have been your greatest challenges to date, and your favourite moments musically?


I think our greatest challenges have been trying to get out of Australia. We are quite far away from the rest of the world, so our ability to travel is stifled quite a bit. We need to make the best decisions for us in order to maximise our exposure. My favourite moments have been on the road, without a doubt. I absolutely love playing music on the stage, and I think we all agree as a band, that touring USA in 2012 with Rhapsody of Fire, was an absolute highlight. We hope to be back over there soon.


With technology changing so much over the last few years and seemingly not slowing, and TV force-feeding us the lowest common denominator, what hope is there for rock music?


There will always be a demand for underground music. Mainstream music is not enough to keep everyone happy, and when it comes to art, diversity is not only important, it's necessary. We are all different, and all have different tastes in art, and because of this, our desire to find that art will always lead some people to the back alleyways of music, away from the bustle of the mainstream.

Thinking back to your early memories of music, what was it that first made you decide you needed to be in a Rock and Roll band?


Four words: Rage Against the Machine. Timmy C was the reason I wanted to play bass and rock out (bass is actually my primary instrument). I was in a rock band called BulletChild when I was 15, and we basically ripped of RATM in the most unashamed way. But who can say no to playing huge riffs all day?


From what you’ve learned so far what is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as a musician?


I think the most important lesson about writing and creating art, is that you will start off creating stuff that sucks. Once you write and fully complete a handful of sucky songs, you'll write something that will suck less, and so on and so forth. There is no way of speeding up this process, unless you write more often. The flip-side of this coin though, and it's something I've realised over the years, is that hindsight is the only thing that should convince you of that upward progression. You should always feel confident in what you're doing, because that's what gets you out of the jam room and onto the stage. While the stuff I wrote when I was 13 is now awful to my ears, when I was 13 I thought it was AWESOME. That confidence is absolutely paramount to your progression as an artist.

 

Can music still change the world in 2014?


I want it to. I believe it does, but maybe on a more person-by-person basis. It's very moving for us to hear stories about how our music has helped someone through a rough patch in their life. It's part of the reason why we do what we do. If we can help others in some way, by providing an emotional escape or release, then that's our job done.


If you could have been a ‘Fly on the wall’ for the creation of any great album from any period, just to see how the magic happened and it all came together, what would it have been for you any why?


Infinity by Devin Townsend. Apparently that record was sort of like a personal realisation for Devin, so it would have been pretty amazing to see how the songs came together from their humble beginnings to the epic masterworks that are present on that album.


What is the meaning of life?


Forty-Two.

 

Scott spoke to Mark Diggins July 2014

 

 

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