w/Kinski, the Delusions
The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave, 441-5611, Fri Sept 15, 9 pm, $7.
THERE'S MORE than a week to go until payday, so half of Voyager One are splitting a Coke. Somehow, the maneuver goes a long way toward explaining this local shoegazer sensation: There's a shared sense of camaraderie, ingenuity, and purpose that enabled this talented foursome to construct a temple, the foundation of which consists of bands like My Bloody Valentine and Spiritualized, at a time when others were worshipping at the feet of the MC5. If the band's luck prevails, there's no reason to predict anything other than a happy ending to this temporary setback. Fate has been kind to Voyager One.
For the time being, the band's visceral, hallucinatory take on pop music might lead one to believe that those precious pennies are more likely to be handed over to the local marijuana dealer than the gregarious bar staff at the Family Affair, where we meet for an interview. Drummer John Hollis Fleischman is absent, due to a monstrous hangover--the result of an ill-advised attempt at going head-to-(Motör)head on a drinking binge with the legendary Lemmy Kilmister. Guzzling quadruple Jack and Cokes is probably better left to the Stooges-like Murder City Devils than a band intent on transporting its audience into a different dimension.
Jimi Hendrix's legacy has cast a long shadow over the Emerald City. While the region has gone down in the books as the birthplace of grunge, bands like Sky Cries Mary, Jessamine, and Hovercraft have carried the psychedelic torch in the Northwest for years. So while Voyager One are certainly not the first local band to attempt to kiss the sky, it's entirely possible that by rooting their druggy, drony tendencies in genuine pop hooks, they're poised to reach an audience that their spiritual(ized) forebearers only dreamed of.
However, imminent material success seems to be the last thing on the minds of Voyager One's un-hungover members. Founders Jeramy Koepping and Peter Marchese and bassist Dayna Loeffler seem much more concerned about their upcoming show with fellow stratospheric denizens Kinski or working out a late fall tour down the West Coast than about headlining arenas or surviving until the next paycheck clears. After a brief rundown of the band's history, it appears as if that kind of laissez-faire approach actually works.
The seeds of Voyager One were planted by Koepping and longtime friend Michael Shilling, who placed an ad soliciting like-minded musicians. After a couple rehearsals with Marchese, both opted to join a fledgling version of Western State Hurricanes. Shilling stayed, but Koeppling quickly bailed to start Voyager One.
Much rhythm-section auditioning ensued, culminating in the discovery of Loeffler and the hiring of a drummer by the name of Sneaky Pete. After six months, Sneaky Pete (apparently more a fan of Creedence and Pioneer Square blues bands than artists like Spacemen 3) was given the boot. The band was introduced to current drummer Fleischman the very same night. (Oddly, Fleischman and future producer of the band William Bernhard used to play together in Gerald Collier's band.)
"We took a four-song EP and mailed it to KCMU," explains Koepping. "Then I called up [morning DJ] John Richards and went, 'Hey, will you play that Voyager One CD?' 'I've never even heard of Voyager One,' he said. 'Oh, you've gotta play it,' I said, 'you've gotta put a song on.' And he's going, 'You wouldn't happen to be in the band, would you?'"
After the laughter from his bandmates subsides, Koepping explains that the phone call ended with the busy morning DJ hanging up on them. "Little did I know that it'd be his checks I'd be cashing to make the next record," laughs Koepping, referring to the fact that Voyager One is currently signed to Richards' Loveless Records.
Thankfully, Cheryl Waters (another DJ at KCMU) championed the band heavily. Bernhard, who was playing guitar in Sky Cries Mary at the time, happened to hear a track and e-mailed Waters, who e-mailed Koepping. Before they knew it, the band had an invitation to open for Sky Cries Mary.
"We thought that meant that we'd made the big time," chuckles Koepping. Jokes aside, that exposure gave Voyager One an instant fan base, and the early demos morphed into a self-released mini-album, which led to this year's sublime From the Nation of Long Shadows, as well as V1's position as local psychedelic pop vanguards.
Which leads us back to Friday's show with Kinski. In addition to sure-to-be-stellar sets from each band, the evening will include one big monster Kinski/ Voyager One jam.
"We've rehearsed with them once and it was amazing," says Koepping.
"Earplugs necessary," warns Loeffler.
"Yeah, we overdrove the minidisk we recorded the rehearsal on," Marchese explains.
Is this the start of a whole new incestuous collaboration, then?
"We had such big smiles on our faces [after the rehearsal] that I'd be surprised if we didn't do it again," Koepping retorts. "It could be the start of a big space-rock circus."