Danny Estrin’s life sounds like something from a comic book. The founder of the metal band from Australia leads a double life—by day, he fights for law, decked out in a suit behind his office door. But by night, he sheds his lawyer’s garb and assumes the role of metal mastermind. Okay, maybe not as cool as Clark Kent’s story of his lifetime of fighting crime, but still pretty hip. And, instead of having the ability to whisk some damsel in distress away through the skies, he uses his band’s riffs, lyrics, and earth-shattering beats to transport Voyager’s fans away to an ecstasy-fueled land.
Celebrating their 16th anniversary and the release of their 2014 album, V, Voyager really do set sail on, well, grand voyages. Take this summer as an example. After traveling across the world to meet their American fans, these guys are peppered with new sensations. While speaking with Danny, he explains just what those are.
You guys just got to the States, right?
Yeah! Well, we got here yesterday after a grueling almost 50 hours of traveling so that was fun.
Oh god, how was that trip?
It was a lot of sitting. Not much lying, not much sleeping, but yeah, it was tough. But it’s alright—we’re here and we’re stoked to be here.
We’re glad to have you back in the U.S. Was it rough adjusting to the time zone?
No, the time zone wasn’t really the issue this time, it was more of not knowing what day of the week it is and not knowing where you are. I mean, when you take five flights and fly across the world… It’s just generally adjusting to being awake for that long.
I totally get it—I have a difficult time figuring out the day and I haven’t even left the state! But your tour starts tomorrow; are you prepping for it now, or did you do all of that in Australia?
Yeah, I mean, obviously we prepped for it in Australia, but now we’re just tying up some loose ends and all of the pre-show stuff, and the tour begins in Chicago and we’re actually driving to Chicago right now. Which city are you in now?
I’m in a little town in New Jersey, actually. Several miles from New York.
Oh yeah, I think we’ve stayed in New Jersey—we were signed to a record label in New Jersey for a while.
Ah, it’s a pretty convenient place to be! But do you have a solid setlist for the concert, or are you just going off the audience vibes each night?
Nah, nah. It’s the same list for each night. We’ve got one where we’re playing the entire album, I Am The Revolution, which was chosen by the fans in Atlanta. But it’s pretty much the same set for this tour.
It’s a good idea—you can just head on stage and not worry about spontaneity or any weird happenings. You can just look forward to performing.
Yeah, that’s right. I mean, sometimes things go wrong and you have to cut a song here and there sometimes, you know, with places with curfews and stuff like that. For example, New York City has like a 10 p.m. curfew so things might run a bit shorter. I mean, as long as you have that flexibility it’s all good. But I like to have a show nice and set in stone.
Smart. Do you have a particular venue you’re looking forward to or is it all pretty even?
Yeah, I don’t know! We haven’t really played any of these venues. The last time we were here, we did a couple of the same cities, but the venues are pretty different, so… I’m looking forward to playing Center Stage in Atlanta again. That was a highlight, but I’m looking forward to any, really. There’ve been a couple of venues where we thought, “Oh my God, they’re gonna be terrible,” but they wound up being some of the best shows. So I’m sure there’ll be situations like that on this tour, too.
Is there a memorable city or venue that you have in mind?
Uh, from the last tour… Oh, there are so many. So many. Just, honestly, just driving to the amazing country side and sunsets in Arizona, and the adoring fans. People are so welcoming. But I guess in terms of memorable moments, I guess just seeing people sing your songs and know your lyrics from the other end of the world, and we’ve just been doing this for a long time and every time you see that, you’re entering a new kind of territory. Like, “Wow, how do these people know?” It’s just an amazing experience.
Totally! And you’ve been going since the late ‘90s, so you’ve seen your fans grow up and bring in new generations.
Yeah, I mean, the age range is really broad, but it kind of depends where we are as well. In America, we have a lot of older fans who’ll come to our shows, people who have normal jobs, normal families, and they just happen to like metal, which is great. And a lot of those guys bring their kids. And then we have a lot of this sort of younger audience who’ve discovered us and, so, it’s really broad, and it’s nice to see how our music appeals to not just one age group.
For sure—and it keeps your music relevant, too.
Definitely. You have some of those big bands who are huge for years and then nobody knows about them because people change scenes, or change loyalties and, well yeah. It totally keeps us relevant and we change our musical styles, so it’s really worked well for us.
Yes it has—and I’m sure you guys all grew, especially with some members coming and going.
I mean, people change. They decide they don’t want to do touring anymore, or to have a family, they maybe realize the lifestyle is not for them, or they’re interested in other music. But it’s sort of a natural progression and people just leave naturally, and I think in the current lineup, which has been solid for three or four years now, I don’t think it’s ever been better. We’re all a family and musically as well, we all click and work so well together. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
It’s always good to get along with your bandmates. I would imagine it makes touring easier, too!
Absolutely. Yeah, touring is really good but… You see stories about bands on tour and they end up hating each other, but I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t be on a bus for four weeks with people that I hate and just yeah. It’s not an option. That’s not music, that’s not fun. It just becomes a chore.
Yeah! And with recording, too, I guess. If you guys hate each other and can’t compromise, how can you make music?
Absolutely. I mean, the band was my baby from pretty much the beginning and in the last few years, the songs have been more collaborative and each of us bring great dimension to the band with our songs.
Yeah, and then the songs basically belong to everyone.
Yeah! Yeah, absolutely.
And Voyager is basically your baby. You founded the band when you were still in college as a law student?
Yeah, that’s right. Yup!
How on earth did you go from aspiring law student to a metal rocker?
(Laughs) Uhm, that’s a good question. I’m the person who basically has two personalities. During the day, I’m your upstanding lawyer and by night, the other one comes out and it’s just all rock. But I’ve managed to have both of those things stay in my life for such a long time that it’s really balanced itself out. I’m able to be a lawyer and then do cool shit like this.
Wow. Almost like a superhero, I guess! So you finished law school and then became a rock star?
Oh yeah! I run my own legal practice.
My God! Good for you, man. How do you balance those two careers?
Ah, it’s tough sometimes, but I have some really good employers who are really on board with the music. But yeah, the bosses are really cool about it. Like if I want to have time off during the year, that’s fine. When you’re passionate about something, you make it work. And I’m passionate about the law, and I’m passionate about music.
That’s really awesome! Totally different.
Yeah, yeah. (Laughs) I actually had a client who must’ve Googled me and something must’ve come up and he had a lot of personal issues, but after the conversation, he said, “One more thing, Daniel, I really like your music.” And I was like, “What?” He goes, “Yeah, I Googled you and read some of your lyrics and I figured you could really relate to my situation.” And I thought that was just so cool.
That’s so funny!
Yeah. I mean, I try to keep the worlds separate, but sometimes they collide.
Yeah, I mean, it’s so much easier to learn about people now, thanks to the Internet. But since you try to keep the two worlds apart, I guess none of your clients have asked you to play for them?
No. Not yet. (Laughs) I’d like to keep it that way! I have to keep it professional.
Fair enough! I had to ask. But you mentioned before that now you guys collaborate on songs. Was that always the case?
Well, it was. Yeah, I used to bring the skeleton of the song to the rehearsal and then the band would sit around and sort of make a human being out of it. But nowadays, it’s really collaborative. I mean, I’m still responsible for the melodies and stuff like that, but yeah. It adds a whole new dimension in terms of more group-based riffing and some more modern stuff. And Ash [Doodkorte], the drummer, he contributes more of that now with interesting kind of tribal drumming and stuff that we really haven’t experimented with before. But it really works. The ideas come together easier. And some songs, we’ll put to the side for a while and then the songs end up coming together and it clicks.
When you mention the “skeleton of a song,” what exactly does that entail?
Well, I’ll have something in my mind from wherever, like in an elevator at work, I’ll be humming themes or something and it comes together in my mind, and then I present it to the band and that is where we’ll sit and record it, and then the rest of the band just comes up with these amazing ideas. Like to complement whatever I’ve already done and then it becomes a fully-formed human. And it’s really great to have a band who can work like that—work with what you present them and likewise. You work with what they present to you.
Well, you released a new album in the States in 2014. Are you working on anything new?
Yeah. We’re always working, but we’ve been rehearsing for this tour and a few times we’ll be like, “Hey, check this out, man,” and yeah. You kind of play around with it and you get excited about your new material and you kind of gotta hang on to that for the tour. But yeah. Always new material and progress and it’s pretty cool.
Yeah. Creating another musical body. So, what do you have planned for after this tour?
Uhm, going back to the drawing board and really smashing out the ideas that we had before and making humans out of the skeletons. And hopefully going to the studio to write and release a new album which will hopefully have the same success or even more as the last album. And then planning maybe some overseas tours, there are some things in the works now. Maybe for Europe and something else for North America. I definitely want to come back. We love it here, we love the fans—the fans are amazing.
Check out this Aussie metal band as they roll over to the East Coast for their New York show on Sept. 3 at The Marlin Room At Webster Hall. Their most recent album, V, is now out online. For more on Voyager, visit their site: voyager-australia.com.