Eternal Voyager is from Bloomington, MN. They are known as a heavy power metal band, with influences that stem from the likes of Iron Maiden to Hammerfall. I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Blake. He plays guitar and does vocals for the band. You can read it below.
SRR: I’d like to start out with a question about the band’s name, was this something of a prophetic nature, based on a love of sci-fi, or just because it was a cool name?
Brian: It was based on a two-part concept, that life is a voyage or a journey, and it goes beyond this world, so it’s eternal. Also that the music is a journey and it’s like the eternal voyage of metal, always growing and one never giving up in the eternal quest to reach new heights musically.
SRR: For those who don’t know much about Eternal Voyager, how would you describe your music?
Brian: Well, our style is considered heavy power metal, but I think it’s a mix of certain influences, old and new. The main style comes from a mix of old school metal with European metal influence, which is very much like Iced Earth, Hammerfall, and Iron Maiden. But, we definitely put our own twist on it.
SRR: You haven’t put out any new music since your debut album, Battle Of Eternity. That being said you do have a song Eternal Voyager on it, just curious as to why that wasn’t the title track?
Brian: Yes, we do. We are in the studio right now recording the next album, titled Darkened Times. Yes, the song Eternal Voyager was going to be the title of the first album, but the Battle Of Eternity really said more about what the album was about as a whole, very metaphorical.
SRR: So you are in the studio now?
Brian: Yes, as I just said, the new album Darkened Times, has taken a bit to get out. We’ve been working on it for some time now. We had a lot of things that went on, after the first record. Lineup changes and having to restructure the whole band. We hope to have the new cd out this winter.
SRR: Is Darkened Times a reflection of the struggles of what you went through with the band to get where you are now? Is it just a straight out power metal album?
Brian: Well, the first one, The Battle of Eternity, was more so about the struggle I went through to make the album and get to that point. So this is an extension of that. But, it also deals with today’s struggles everyone is going through. In terms of the state of the world, personally, it’s about the world being in a dark time, but also rising out of that dark time as well.
SRR: Now that you have new members of the band, is the band changing direction, or staying true to their roots?
Brian: Yes, the band needed a new line up after the first album. Our drummer had stepped down for family reasons and others were just not working out anymore. I had got our current bass player when the first album was being recorded and he stuck with us. The rest, have come along one by one since, and they’re the best guys I’ve worked with to this point. And no, our style and direction is the same, we have just grown. The sound is much bigger and more dynamic.
SRR: Because there isn’t much of a record industry, or at the very least, not like it was, do you find it better controlling your own destiny through social media and live shows, or would you feel better having a label and its resources behind you?
Brian: I have mixed feelings on it. On one hand, it’s great to have your independence and not worry about the complications, of a label, and that you’re completely self-managed. But on the other hand, it can be tough without a label to help with CD sales and touring. It’s a tough world right now, I think we will have to see what comes after our next release.
SRR: Do you believe social media is the main vehicle today to get your music out there and to be heard?
Brian: Yes, it’s a great tool for bands, to advertise themselves a lot more than from the past. I also think that it helps connect you to fans from around the world. It’s great for new work, business-wise, too.
SRR: What’s your thoughts on streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music, etc.?
Brian: We are on most of those and I think it’s great to hear new bands that way when you wouldn’t have otherwise. But, I also hope that people once they have heard a band they would go actually purchase the album. Not just download it for free.
SRR: It seems that the music scene in the rest of the world, such as Europe, South America, Japan and Australia, have a better support system for rock acts. Here in North America artists seem to struggle. For instance, band’s like Kiss, have to tour with Def Leppard to sell out arena’s here, but not in any of the other countries. They can sell out a stadium on their own. Alter Bridge has to play clubs in the States but does play Wembley Arena in Europe. Why do you think that is?
Brian: Good question. I think that just what you said, there is basically no support, for metal in the US anymore. It’s just not able to have any ground here, especially if you’re a European-style power metal band like us. Europe also has a better musical education than us and I think they start with a better head start that way. Having people who are musically educated in an abundance, really helps with the quality of the bands they produce. It is much harder here to have a band and be a good band. We have tons of bands, but a lot don’t seem to have a clear direction, and if you play the style we do, there is very little support compared to the rest of the world. It really sucks, it’s pressed me for years trying to figure out exactly why.
SRR: Do you think it’s because clubs don’t take on unknown commodities and that no one wants to pay to play. It also seems lesser known acts are booked during the week, that may have an effect on having an audience, do you think it’s also a lack of promoters?
Brian: Well, if you’re booked on a tour stop, to open for an international act, it can be a bit harder to get some people to come to shows during the week. But, overall it’s good because the big bands already have a bigger audience for you to be exposed too. Local shows, here at least, don’t generally book bands on weeknights unless it’s a specific thing like I mentioned. There’s a lot of promoters, but not enough good ones, that can get you on the right shows. Sometimes, you also have to pay to play, which sucks for any band, or work for the promoter and sell tickets, which is actually very hard to do, believe it or not.
SRR: Do you make a good living or are shows profitable. Do you rely on merchandise at shows? Are you able to survive?
Brian: Well, as I said before, there’s no support, so you don’t make much money. Merch is one thing, but it’s hard to sell a lot. We all have day jobs of course, and we end up paying to actually be a band instead of the other way around. We aren’t doing this for the money. It’s a tough world for musicians today.
SRR: A new thing that’s been taken off for bands is the Pledge Music, Kickstarter and the like as a way to make an album or support a tour, etc., Is that something you have considered?
Brian: Yeah, I have thought about it. But, I question whether or not we have a big enough fan base to support something that would actually make us enough money to help. I’m optimistic, though. We may do it in the near future.
SRR: Bands are trying to come up with creative ways to sustain fans. Some are doing complete cover albums. For example, the Rolling Stones just released a new tribute to the Blues, others in the past like Def Leppard have done one, and more recently Ace Frehley. Is this something you would consider, your thoughts?
Brian: No. We don’t do covers really, we may do a song or two as a tribute, for a label or for fun, but I have no interest in going that route. If you have to play other people’s music to get ahead you’re doing something wrong. Bands should never be forced to be anything but who they are. If your music is good, people will like you for that. If not I wouldn’t want to do it. I think people need to start giving bands a real chance again, to be themselves. I write a ton of my own music, why would you want to play other people’s. Makes no sense to me.
SRR: I feel the same about the covers. I’m fine with it once in a while as a tribute, but I can’t stand the whole album thing. Then if you go see them live, they end up doing the cover songs instead of originals. Drives me crazy. That being said, some bands are doing Skype lessons and trying to build street teams to get the word out on them. Have you heard or done any of these things?
Brian: Yes, I agree with you there. I like original music. Bands get caught up, way too much these days, trying to do covers. No, I haven’t heard much about street teams or anything like that. We want to do more with Facebook, live sessions to show what we are up too. Though. I think a lot of things can help get the word out. It’s just a matter of what will work for us, and what we will end up trying.
SRR: What do you think needs to happen to get people out to the shows again?
Brian: Well, as I said before, here in the states it is hard in general to have a big movement in music sometimes. I think we need promoters who give a shit about the bands and not just the money, I also think people, in general, have to try to support local music more. People and promoters need to weed out the good from the not so good. They also have to take a chance and give bands something to have time to prove they can be worth booking and working with. There needs to be more promotion and a “give a shit” attitude from the promoters, and also people have to try to come out. Bands need to really advertise the shit out of the shows they are doing. I guess, this day and age we have to get creative, to get ourselves noticed.
SRR: Anything you want to say to the fans about your music and band that they should know?
Brian: Well, there are a lot of great bands from around the world, today, especially from Europe. But I think you just have to research what’s out there and explore new stuff. There’s too much to mention really. I love it all. I’m a huge fan obviously, of power metal. But, I also like Viking, Folk and some Black Metal. There’s so much to be into, the music world is so big now. To the fans I’d like to say, thank you for your support, it means the world to any band. Without fans, we wouldn’t be able to do this. True metal will always be who we are, we won’t change and fuck you over. We are Eternal Voyager and that’s who we will always be. Metal is life. Thank you for your time, I enjoyed talking with you. Keep up the fight!
Check us out on Facebook, our website here. We have a store for merch, and tickets for shows there as well.
Below is one of my favorites from the band. Sands Of Time off their debut album, Battle Of Eternity.