Photo by Thedore Swaddling

The veteran Australian progressive band is aptly named, exploring musical worlds beyond the expected. They even shared one notable gig with bona fide astronauts.

Though the Australian quintet Voyager has been a staple of European progressive-rock festivals for nearly a decade, their sound isn’t quite so easily defined. Melding syncopated djent guitar lines, ’80s synth fizzle, cleverly displaced cymbal accents, and anthemic vocals, the band has much to offer followers of progressive metal, but also fans of electronica, mainstream rock, and other genres.

Not yet a household name in the U.S., Voyager has nonetheless earned a sizable following in Europe and Australia, with respectable streams on Spotify, views on YouTube, and reaction to their opening sets for Coheed and Cambria, Deftones, Opeth, Nightwish, Leprous, and Twelve Foot Ninja. Recently Voyager signed to the French metal label Season of Mist, which released their seventh album, Colours in the Sun, this past November.

“The writing process for Colours in the Sun was interesting,” says drummer Ash Doodkorte, “because it was the first time we had to work to a deadline. After we signed on the dotted line, we had twelve months to deliver the masters for a new album. I think at the time of singing, we had half of one song written, so we had to really get to work. It was a very different experience for us, and I think it was really beneficial, because everything came out of it leaner.”

In order to promote the release of Colours in the Sun, Voyager embarked on a short tour of Europe and did several festival dates in Australia. According to Doodkorte, using a tour kit provided by Tama in Europe meant he only needed to carry his sticks and cymbals from Australia—a huge benefit. “Every time I go to the U.S., the U.K., or Europe,” the drummer says, “the Tama guys are really good to me, and they always set me up with a kit. The one I used for this run was a Starclassic in a Black Cherry finish with maple shells. Normally I take my own snare, but we have the wonderful situation that whenever you’re going anywhere from Australia, you’re having to deal with excess baggage fees on the airline. It’s always the drummer who has to give things up!”

On the selection of material for the tour, Doodkorte says, “We played a smattering of tracks from I Am the ReVolution [2009] and The Meaning of I [2011]. But most of the songs were picked from V [2014] and Ghost Mile [2017], along with about three tracks from Colours in the Sun—which is great for me, as those are the ones I was involved in writing.”

When asked about tour highlights, Doodkorte cites one particular U.K. gig. “We played in one of the rooms at London O2,” he recalls, “which is cool to say. The event is called Space Rocks, and it’s organized by the European Space Agency. It’s a conference where they bring in astronauts and astrophysicists to talk, and then at the end of the event it turns into a gig in the same venue.” Other highlights for Doodkorte were ProgPower Europe in the Netherlands—the band’s fourth appearance there—and the Euroblast Festival in Germany. As you read this, Voyager will be in the midst of another U.K./E.U. tour.

To deal with his stage volume on recent club shows, Doodkorte had to find a solution to keep the peace with the band’s front-of-house audio engineer. “In the middle of the tour,” he recalls, “our sound engineer was getting cranky with me because I ride my crashes a lot in Voyager, and he was sick of them bleeding into the vocal mics. I ended up switching to Sabian FRX cymbals, which are designed to be lower-volume. Some of the bigger crashes have a ring of a couple of hundred small holes maybe two inches from the edge, and a couple more around the bell. Because we do a lot of club shows and there’s no riser, the cymbals project right into the vocal mics. For the rest of that tour we’d use the FRX cymbals on the club shows and my regular crashes for the bigger shows.”

Ash Doodkorte plays Tama drums and Sabian cymbals.

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