Interview with Alex Canion of Voyager

2014 was a busy year for Perth Australia’s Voyager. The band released it’s fifth album, appropriately titled V, toured their homeland of Australia, performed at ProgPower Europe and a subsequent tour of the U.K. It seems that 2015 will continue to be a busy one as Voyager will be returning to ProgPower USA in Atlanta, Georgia for two separate events, the Mid-Week Mayhem show on Wednesday September 9, 2015 and performing at the main festival on Friday September 11th, a “fans pick the setlist” performance. I recently had a chat with Voyager bassist Alex Canion (who also provided me with my now infamous Honey Badger nickname!) to talk about the new album, touring and much more. Enjoy!

Congratulations on the huge response to the new album V. now that the album has been out for a few months, how does it feel to get almost universal praise from fans and critics all over the world?

Thank you! We’re absolutely stoked with the response so far. It seems that bands the world over differ on many things in terms of what they strive for; however, I think that the one consistent commonality between all artists is the ambition to connect with someone else in some way; to be a catalyst for change or emotional stirring in someone’s life. I’d have to say being privy to the reactions of strangers to our music (via facebook etc) is cathartic in that it validates our efforts as a band.

You recently finished up an Australian tour with Caligula’s Horse. How was the tour and what was the reaction to the new material in a live setting?

Going on tour is always fantastic. For me they serve as landmarks in my life and as the years go by, serve as benchmarks which guide me and also remind me how I was/what my life was like in those blocks of time.

But to be less maudlin, the tour was fab! We connected closely with our brilliant support band; Caligula’s Horse and played some awesome shows. People were being turned away from the Melbourne show because it sold out; Sydney showed us what extreme moshing was all about too. We also loved ending up in our home city of Perth because we got to show Caligula’s Horse and Melbournites, Orsome Wells, what an amazing fan base we have here.

V is the first album that was released without a record label. Instead you decided to go with the crowdfunding approach through Kickstarter, which was hugely successful reaching your target goal in only 3 days and almost doubling the amount at the end of the campaign. How did the band reach this decision and was there any apprehension or concern that you wouldn’t reach your goal?

Haha, there was nothing but apprehension and concern! It was a new model, but one that we thought was the right direction for the band at the time. As we play the game of the music industry, we’re forced to re-examine a lot of processes and most of the time, go out on a limb because there’s no other option. The way the music business works now is a strange and often frustrating dichotomy. At one end, we have this revolutionary method of reaching the far corners of the Earth with the Internet; on the other end we have that very same resource enabling people to undermine all the efforts bands and artists are putting in.

Thankfully, there are people out there that really put a lot of support behind many bands (Matt, I know for a fact you’re one of them!) which is a saving grace. It’s also something that we as musicians, business people and humans are very thankful for.

I felt that V was a huge leap from the previous album The Meaning of I. How did the songwriting process differ with V and did the addition of Ash Doodkorte bring a new creative spark to the new material?

I’m glad that the album was at the very least different than our last! Ash certainly added a lot of flair to our sound. Ash alsoOnline Size-33 brings with him a lot of positivity which is fantastic. And home-brewed stout. And glorious food. So yeah, we love Ash! haha

You have a tremendously rabid following here in the U.S. from your previous appearance at ProgPower USA in 2011 and your tour with Rhapsody of Fire in 2012.  I know the reaction to the announcement that Voyager would be returning to Atlanta in 2015 received a huge ovation from the crowd watching the roster video.

Well of course now the cat is out of the bag, you know we’re coming back to play ProgPower 2015 as well as the midweek mayhem show where fans will get to pick which album we play in it’s entirety. We’ll be trying to get a tour around that time to maximize our time in the States.

The band recently performed at ProgPower Europe as well as a short U.K. tour which must have been exciting to bring the Voyager experience to your European fans.

We had a great time in Europe and the U.K. ProgPower Europe was the highlight for all of us. We headlined the Friday night and got to play a 90 minute set; which was a first for us. It was a great experience getting to give a full and proper performance that spanned a great deal of our songs. A lot of times we do support slots on tours and we only get a half-hour set, which really doesn’t allow us time to showcase the back catalogue.

Pain of Salvation also played a special “old material” set on the day but unfortunately their airline had misplaced all their guitars. Scott (our guitarist) and I ended up lending them our guitars and bass for the show. Seeing them play classics like Ashes and The Perfect Element on our instruments was really surreal!

Getting back to the Kickstarter campaign for a moment, it seems that more and more bands are using this model in lieu of going through a record label. Do you see this as the future of the music industry and are there things about crowdfunding that you feel can be improved on?

It’s a method that’s putting all of the power (and responsibility) into the hands of the artists. I think it’s a great start and hope that it’s what spawns the dawn of a new age in the “Music industry”. Things are changing, but it’s strange. People are aware that musicians get paid sweet fuck all a lot of the time, yet they still pirate the music or simply don’t care. I’m interested to see how it all unfolds and I’m glad we had the opportunity to successfully release an album this way.

Having witnessed three Voyager performances in person I can say that the band brings an energy and a sense of fun to your live shows and the crowd seems to feed off this energy and vice versa. How has Voyagers live presentation changed since you first joined the band?

Well speaking for me, there’s a lot less “stand still and windmill” going on! I cut all my long hair off which forced me to perform in a whole different way. Danny used to stand behind a double tiered keyboard stand which completely hid him from the audience. So we’ve done away with all that, got wireless transmitters for our guitars and now we run all over the stage. The bigger the stage is, the more running I do!

It seems that Australia has become a hotbed for the progressive and power metal genres with Voyager, Hemina, Caligula’s Horse, Vanishing Point, and many more. Do you feel that Voyagers success abroad helped the prog scene in Australia?

Good question. I’m not sure I can answer that, although it seems that there are more prog-style bands breaking out recently. I’d like to think we’re at least setting an example to other Australian bands that things can be achieved overseas with persistence (lots and lots!

 Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to do this interview. I wish you great success with the new album and tour. Is there anything you would like to say to your fans all over the world?

 Thanks so much, Matt. I’d like to say that music is something that should be truly valued. Also, Fuck genre elitism. Immerse yourself in the music that makes you feel; not what makes you look cool. Thanks to those that caught us on tour in Europe and the U.K. BOOMSHANKA!

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