Interview with ETERNAL VOYAGER guitarist Brian Blake

Eternal Voyager is a U.S. heavy power metal band influenced by the likes of Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, Hammerfall, Gamma Ray, Amon Amarth, Ensiferum. Iron Maiden and Stratovarius from the Twin Cities area in Minnesota.

 

How did you first get in to music? Who turned you onto rock/metal

Brian: I was always into music, growing up. I remember listening to vinyl records from age two or 3 various kinds whatever my grandparents, and parents had. But it was Dio that got me into metal around the age of 8or 9. I was really taken back by his voice. Of course as i got older i got into all the classics Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Manowar ect. My cousins had also played a big role when I was young exposing me to alot of 80s rock and metal as well.

How did you become a guitarist and are you proficient in any other instruments ? 

Brian: Like a lot of people, guitar was easy choice because drums are so loud that people don’t want to hear them when you’re trying to learn and it seems like guitars are always around when I was growing up. My father played guitar. I had guitars available, so it kind of just came natural. But it wasn’t until I was in my teens that I got an electric guitar and started actually taking some lessons and trying to learn and write my own music.

What was the local scene in Minnesota like in the beginning, was there a particular band you aspired to be like, favorite local bands back then, favorite local bands now? 

Brian: Well I grew up in Northern, Minnesota, in a small town and there was no local scene. Once in a while on weekend the only club in town would have cover bands from the twin cities area, come up and play. But nothing locally, was there, which is why I moved around trying to find musicians for my own music. Now that I live in the twin cities all these years later it’s a different story. We have a lot of music here. The only local bands still around are few and far between that are very great but there’s a few good locals bands in the tribute/cover scene, and we have our bands that have been our peers like Malice, Dawn of Valor, and others that are still around, but our scene has shrank and a lot of bands we used to play with here are now gone sadly.

Has there been times when drugs and alcohol were beneficial to the band?

Brian: I don’t think that drugs and alcohol benefit any band greatly. We all drink but not much before shows. On tour bands have to pace themselves or u wouldn’t make it. Drugs however have never been apart of this bands history, which is great. Im ok with alcohol as long as it dosn’t affect the band itself. I myself try to cut back and just be high off the music, but its hard you want to let loose after shows. Can’t say we all don’t party a bit, ha ha.

How would you best describe your sound?

Brian: We have a classic power metal sound. It’s heavy melodic power with some thrash influence. I’d say in comparison to bands like Hammerfall, Iced Earth , Blind Guardian and Iron Maiden, ect. There’s a bit more of the European influence in our style that most U.S. bands do to how much the European scene has impacted me, on how I write the songs.

Is doing pre-sales the same thing as pay to play?

Brian: We have done pre-sales before. I’m not a fan of pay to play ,most people aren’t but unfortunately promoters these days thinks it’s the only way to ensure bands work for the shows they are on, and help with the cost, so its give and take but unfortunately not much we can do. I’d like to see better things happen for metal in the states but we simply don’t have the support, that other parts of the world have.

What was the first music you bought and what have you bought more than once?

Brian: I think It may have been Metallica’s – Ride The Lightning or something, hard to remember now, but as far as things I’ve bought more than once, it’s too much to list here. I’ve bought several certain bands in different versions of the albums including box sets and re issues of albums some as much as 3 times,or given away copies and re bought so that a friend who couldn’t get it, so they could have it. I like to have the whole package and the best versions I can get, I’m an avid collector.

DIY forever or signing with a label at first opportunity?

Brian : We have been independently getting music out there but I think a good label would be best and is the current goal. But yes it would have to be the right label for something that works for us. I like Napalm Records, and Nuclear Blast alot. AFM, is pretty good I hear as well.

Whats the biggest show you have played so far and do you still get nervous before a gig?

Brian: We have been doing a string of big shows lately, including UDO, Alestorm, Hammerfall, and Evergrey. Alestorm was big, there was alot of people, just for us being the opening band, it was like 400 plus when the doors opened. And to tell u the truth I don’t get that nervous anymore but sometimes when there’s alot of stress at certain shows u get a bit nervous that u will perform well or not, and everything will go right. It depends really. It’s more for me personally about making sure everything goes well.

Is commercial rock radio dead?

Brian : I wish ha ha, sadly no, but it has gone down in popularity due to online and internet radio now. We no longer have to listen to what the mainstream try to shove down people’s throats. But it’s still out there obviously, I wish there was more variety so people could hear new and diverse bands, but especially here in the states u dont get much. I’d say it’s at least improved some over the last few years.

Favorite songs on the new as yet to be finished album and why?

Brian: Redemption Through Fire and Steel, and Winds of Fire are two of the more favorites for me personally. there are definitely good songs all across the board but those two stand out. I think that they will both be very good hits. The title track Darkend Times is good as well, also Tyrants of Out Land, so I guess there all good in my opinion, hard to have just one favorite. But the reason are the catchiness of the lyrics and melodies, they really get stuck in ur head and are well written, and arranged.

Out of all your songs which one touches you the most when you perform it? 

Brian : That is a tough question to be honest Sands of Time is a very personally important and touching song lyrically cuz it’s a very personal song by nature for me. But we don’t play it live much anymore, but I’d say Eternal Voyager is one that says it all about our sound. There’s too many I like but I think some of the new stuff has grown a lot on me now that we have played it live so we’ll see.

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Are there any political or social issues hidden in Eternal Voyager songs?
Brian: I tend to write in metaphors so many things are hidden, it’s not so much political and social but it’s definitely there you can feel it and understand it that there is a message and I really like for the listener to interpret what they get out of that message from me and maybe totally different from their interpretation but for me it has its own meanings, and I won’t really go into it but there’s definitely some things there you know that are important to my personal beliefs and thinking. Things about this world and what’s going on with it currently , but we try to keep the politics out of it we think and believe that it be best to have songs be interpreted by The Listener so they get their own meanings as well as what I feel.What was the process of putting the songs in order?

Brian: It can be a task, whether it’s live or on the album it can be a challenge. But you definitely know by the feel and the flow the songs which would be the best to be put before the other and they always like to have some kind of a thing for a grand finale type of feeling. I like to start either album or live set with something that gets the The Listener going and give them a taste of what we’re about to do and then slowly break off into songs that naturally feel and fit either the setlist or the album itself. And then of course as I said you know and with a epic or a really important song.

What endorsements do you have and what endorsements do you still want?

Brian: Well it would be nice to have Engl endorsements or definitely as I am a big ESP fan would be nice. But we currently have none.

Bands you would love to tour with and musician or artist you would like to meet and interrogate?

Brian: Obviously I think everybody’s dream would be with Iron Maiden but you know that’s a hard one. Definitely Iced Earth lot of different bands some in Germany there’s too many to that list.

Song to be played at your funeral and 3 albums to take to your grave?

Brian : Oh God I don’t know, definitely would want two: Majesty songs Take Me Home, and My Last Reward, would be on the list maybe Hammerfall’s Glory to the Brave. And as far as album’s go I’d take Iced Earth – Dark Saga, Hammerfall – Glory to the Brave, Dio – Holy Diver, would be hard to pick, but those are some of the most important.

Final thoughts, shout outs, dirty jokes?

Brian: I like to say thanks to all the Eternal Voyager fans that are patiently waiting for our new album and that we will have it out as soon as we possibly can. We won’t dissappoint u with our sound ever, as a fan and musician myself this is what I would expect from a band. We have our first album and all of our merch available on our website at http://www.eternalvoyager.com and u can find any news on there and on our Facebook page as well. I’d like to thank u for the interview, it’s been fun and lots of good questions. Take care, metal on!

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