Musicscan: Zugegeben: Belgien ist nicht gerade der Nukleus der europäischen Metal-Szene. Bekannt ist unser westlicher Nachbar eher durch Fritten und den schwelenden Streit zwischen Flamen und Wallonen. Und sonst? Halt! Da gibt es eine Band, eine junge Band, die sich anschickt, Belgien als fixen Punkt auf der musikalischen Landkarte zu verorten. Die leider viel zu kurze, dafür aber umso intensivere CD “Seas” zeigt eine Band, die musikalische Scheuklappen total ablehnt, experimentierfreudig daher kommt und sich bald schon als europäische Alternative zum Dillinger Escape Plan erweisen könnte. Grund genug den Jungs auf den Zahn zu fühlen. Flämisch? Wallonisch? Englisch!
Musicscan: Belgium is not what I would define as the centre of the European metal scene. Tell me more about the difficulties, chances, surroundings you're facing. Do you feel an advantage or not, because the band comes from Belgium?
Now, Voyager: Nabil: I think there's a lot to take into account to be able to fully answer this question. It's definitely true, Belgium is not the centre of the European metal scene. Far from it, actually. Belgium has many talented bands, but it is as though it's almost impossible for most to break out of Belgium and tour around Europe. It's even harder to earn recognition for the few who do. By default, it's clear that Belgium is not a trend setting country, but rather one that follows. It's even quite hard for a Belgian band to start gaining momentum and support within Belgium, as there's always a preference to support to touring acts, especially UK or US based bands, rather than the local ones.
Clearly, we are at a disadvantage in many ways, and it makes opportunities within Belgium hard to come by, and it's even worse for a band trying tour in Europe. The best thing you can do though, is keep pushing and believing in what you do, and sooner or later others will believe it too, and that's when opportunities start to come.
Musicscan: Your sound is rather complex. First band that comes to mind is The Dillinger Escape Plan. What would you regard as your main musical influence?
Now, Voyager: Martin: It is funny to hear the comparison with The Dillinger Escape Plan, because I remember the first time I listened to this band, I thought to myself: “What the fuck is this music? This is awful and I hate it”. And since then, I began to listen more and more to them and now it is actually one of my favourite bands. Of course, The Dillinger Escape Plan is an influence for us. When we played Groezrock, Ben Weinman actually watched our set and congratulated us after. It was quite an honour.
To answer the question about other influences, I’d say we listen to a lot of different things. Nabil is a fan of pop-rock music like for instance his favourite band is Lifehouse, Ben’s favourite CD is “When I Am God” by Oh, Sleeper, Tony is both a fan of funk music and Gojira, Tom is more into hardcore stuff and I am more into indie music and post-rock (I’m a fan of Mono, Explosions in the sky, TotorRo, Bon Iver, etc.).
Musicscan: To me, “Seas“ is a perfect blend of complexity, melodies and high end metal. How would you define your sound? What is your approach to music?
Now, Voyager: Martin: I don’t know how to answer this question properly without being windy. I’d simply say our sound is metal music made by fans of rock.
Nabil: It's hard to define our sound as a genre... It's what you get when 5 guys who like completely different music come together and create something. We simply try to keep it honest and true to ourselves.
Our approach to music is to be as honest as possible. We want to write real songs, with a specific theme as the starting point, sometimes before a single riff has been composed. Also, we like to mix a lot of influences and we try to stay “fresh” and spontaneous at the same time.
Nabil: It's very important for us to always try to explore some kind of dynamic or theme in the world, and try to capture what it is, by representing it through our music. That way there's always a focus, and a challenge on how to achieve the feeling we want to send to the listener.
Musicscan: Because your music is complex, how do you work with the band? Do you jam on ideas, do you exchange ideas via the internet?
Now, Voyager: Martin: Like I said, we want to be honest with what we write. That is why it all begins with an idea, a theme, a text, before writing the music. Sometimes I go to see Nabil and I explain to him a concept and what kind of song I imagine, with an idea and a world around it. Or sometimes, like it happened for “Tabula Rasa”, I just read the lyrics written by Nabil and I try to translate it into music. Once we have a “first draft” of the song, Ben, Tony and I work on the arrangements, samples, drums, etc. We all work on the vocals together at the end of it. We don’t often work with jams actually.
Musicscan: Why the hell and how did you get an endorsement with Jägermeister?
Now, Voyager: Nabil: Haha, I'll start with the “why” part. Probably cause we subconsciously like inflicting ourselves with harsh nights, and painful hangovers the next day. Actually, I remember when our endorsements with Jägermeister and Rockstar Energy had just started. At every rehearsal we would all start drinking one, or the other, and sometimes mixing both. By the time we got home, some of us couldn't sleep and were shaking in our beds from all the sugar, others complained about peeing fluorescent yellow, and some (mostly me) just went home drunk. With Jäger it's always great times!
But seriously, we knew Jägermeister had a very big presence in the music industry, and is a big sponsor for many music events around the world, so we decided to take a shot at getting an endorsement with them, and got lucky enough for them to say yes. There's no real big secret to it.
Musicscan: Was it or is it still a dream to be a professional musician? What do you think about the rise of downloads (may it be legal or illegal) instead of buying CDs?
Now, Voyager: Nabil: Personally, it's been a dream of mine to be a professional musician for the past 7-8 years now. I had a band in Chicago that was doing real well, and we had an opportunity to sign with a label back in the day, until one of our guitarists decided to quit and everything fell apart. That's when I decided to leave the US behind and move to Belgium. I had actually sworn to never play music again, but somehow I couldn't let go of the desire to accomplish that dream since the first time I played a show. Somehow, by some miracle I ended up in this band, and it's been the craziest ride so far. I think we all share that dream now, and are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
The rise of downloads could be considered a bad thing, or a good thing, depending on how you look at it. I think it's safe to say that no band actually makes any money off selling CD's in the first place, at least not unless you're Linkin Park, Korn, or any high caliber band. The rise of downloads mostly affects record labels, I'd say. Downloading, however, makes bands accessible to anyone, anywhere around the world and has surely provided many bands with great opportunities and finding new publics to reach out to via that medium.
The worst thing I could find to say about downloads is that, most of the modern world has reverted to a digital format. It's almost as though nothing is real anymore. People read books on their iPads now instead of on paper, people talk through computers and cell phones more than they do in person, and people listen to music on an iPod instead of spinning a CD. That element of reality is almost gone, because we opted for technological convenience instead, and music almost loses that dimension of being “real” and becomes a lot more “temporary” instead. I remember being a kid, and having a CD from a band I loved and listening to that CD for months. Now, we all just download them, put them in our iPod, listen once, maybe twice, and move on the next band.
Musicscan: Do you read reviews about your music and how does it, or doesn't it affect your music?
Now, Voyager: Martin: It is a great honour to see the support we had with “Seas” coming out. We read every review and I try, almost everytime, to contact the writer to thank him, whether the review is good or bad. But it doesn’t really have an influence on our musical approach. We just write what we want to write and that’s it.
Now, Voyager: Nabil: I love reading reviews about our music, because it's always interesting to see what someone else thinks about it. Some may have a different way of feeling or thinking about music, and it's awesome to see how many different ways there actually is to interpret what we do. It's also an amazing compliment for us to have someone take the time to not only listen to our music, but also write about it. It takes a lot of time, and we can only be thankful that people are willing to do that with our EP. Whether it's good or bad though, as Martin put it, it really doesn't affect our music or how we're going to work and write. Our main priority as a band is to challenge ourselves, and write music we love and identify with, and that's not something we're willing to compromise on.
Musicscan: Would you like to explain what your lyrics are about and what the bands name means?
Now, Voyager: Nabil: Okay, so first the band name. Contrary to what most assume, 'Now, Voyager' was not taken from the movie. It was actually derived from the Walt Whitman poem called “The Untold Want” which goes as follows:
THE untold want, by life and land ne’er granted,
Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.
Why 'Now, Voyager'? The poem just captured the essence of what the band and the people in it represent. As people, we want to explore and discover this enigmatic world, and discover as many of its secrets. To record our first EP we tossed away the element of security, and travelled all the way to the UK, unsure of what to expect, to do it. As a band, we want to capture the world and re-transcribe it into music. Never fear the unknown, and always move forward without taking any opportunity or moment in life for granted.
The lyrics, as we've said before, change from song to song depending on what we want to do. Martin and I will usually discuss themes together of what the song should be about, and have the words and music go together in order to tell a story, in a sense. Overall though, the lyrics tend to ask a lot of existential questions. 'To Every Beginning' questions life, and seeks to determine whether life has a meaning, or if we're just blindly living our days waiting for an end we know we cannot escape, and doing everything we can to distract ourselves from it. 'Foundations' touches upon the topics of how the modern world slowly seems to be falling apart around us, and seeking hope in unity among people, rather than separation which is sure to bring about our demise. 'Tabula Rasa' is simply about learning to accept life for what it is, and embracing every single day that we are alive. It's about learning to live through your love for yourself, and your love for others.
Musicscan: What are your next plans for the future?
Now, Voyager: Nabil: I don't know how much we're allowed to say, so we'll keep it simple and say there's a few things in the making right now. There's a lot of writing new songs going on as well, there's new merch designs on the way, and there's a lot of inspiration and motivation. I'm sure we'll have some new stuff to announce within the next couple of weeks, so people will just have to hang tight, and keep an eye out. For now though, we're writing, and getting psyched to play a festival with Defeater, Pianos Become The Teeth, Verse, Shai Hulud, and many other great bands, in July!
Musicscan: And personally I'd like to ask: What do you think about the struggle between Flemic and Wallonian people?
Now, Voyager: Martin: I always like to say that Now, Voyager is really a diversified band, just like Belgium itself. Tony is a real citizen from Brussels, Ben is from a Flemish community, Nabil was born in Belgium but lived in the USA until 4 years ago, and I am from Wallonia, even if I now live in Brussels.
Even if I am not a nationalist, the struggle between the two communities affects me. I am really appreciative of Flanders and the people there, the way they handle culture, the scene that exists, etc. So it makes me sad when I hear that people want to tear the country apart. But fortunately, we play a lot in Flanders, and we never had a single problem with the fact that most of the band is French speaking. I think it’s all about rock and roll, and people who like our music don’t think about us for being French speaking, Walloon, black or white.
Now, Voyager: Nabil: I'm not entirely sure I agree with Martin. I feel there is a bit of bad connotation that sits with the fact that we're a French speaking band from Brussels. In the beginning there was a lot of occasions where we've tried to get on shows but been told that Flander's bands get priority over us. Sometimes we didn't even get replies. Thankfully, we've been blessed by people giving us a chance, and giving us the opportunity to show that we are just 5 guys in a band, and it should be about the music. Music is meant to bring people together, and not create a divide for being different. The political situation saddens me, as a lot of great people that I've become close friends with in this country are Flemish. We love playing in Flanders, and somehow, Flemish people are extremely receptive to our music. I would hate to see that end with a country separating in two. I've said it before, but I firmly believe that we only find strength in unity. This country is so small, that it's sad to see people unable to get along. No one chooses to be “Flemish” or “Walloon”, these are things we are just born into, but in the end we are all Belgian. We are a Belgian band, and the only language we speak is music.
Musicscan: And finally a little game of choices:
Musicscan: CDs or Vinyl?
Now, Voyager: CD’s, because when I listen to a vinyl I always want to play with the pitch of the turntable and I broke one or two by doing that.
Musicscan: Iron Maiden or Motorhead?
Now, Voyager: Tough question… I’d say Motorhead for the rock’n’roll side they have… and also because I’m not really a fan of Iron Maiden.
Musicscan: Skateboarding or Inliner?
Now, Voyager: Skateboarding, even if I suck at it.
Musicscan: Soccer or American Football?
Now, Voyager: I’ll use my joker for this one by saying none of them. Actually I hate soccer.
Musicscan: Fender or Gibson?
Now, Voyager: Both. I play with an SG guitar and a Fender Telecaster. Gibson for the balls, Fender for the clearness.
Musicscan: Tubes or Transistor?
Now, Voyager: Tubes of course.
Musicscan: Kerry King or Jeff Hannemann?
Now, Voyager: Kerry King because he looks nicer than Jeff Hannemann.
Musicscan: Bruce Dickinson or Lemmy?
Now, Voyager: Lemmy, because I like his beard.
Musicscan: Apple or Microsoft?
Now, Voyager: Apple, because it’s easier to use (I am terrible at computer stuff).