Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Ayreon, Ambeon, Star One…) interview – part 2

One Man.

One Legend.

One Story.

Captain`s Log – Over And Out!

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51. The records concept (on Human Equasion) is quite different from the others. It has a strong psychological note and confrontations with different aspects of one’s self are in its first plan, all told through a story about a man who experiences a state of deep coma…How did you come up with an idea for this story?

I wanted to create a story where actual emotions (personified) would play the main characters, because my music has always been about emotions. And I have always been wondering if someone in a coma has any thoughts at all. So I combined these two ideas. As I started to write the story, I had no idea what was going to happen next! I wrote a lyrics every day, so it took me 20 days in total.

52. Can that comatose state be translated to a state of spiritual coma that the majority of the Earth’s population is in?

No, I didn’t go that deep. The track Comatose of 01011001 is about that though.

Can we regard characters like Love, Fear, Passion, Pride as individual entities, real in some planes of existence outside of our psyche?

To quote myself: they are as real as you want them to be!

53. Which songs from the “Human Equasion” album would you say are your favourites?

I like Isolation, because it has so many different moods. I love the melody in Childhood. Trauma is a very dark song. Of course Loser is the stand-out song here…quite crazy, especially Devin’s wild screams at the end! I love Eric’s deep voice in Accident.

54. Arjen, I have always regarded you as a person of vast life experience, listening to your music for years, reading through texts and interviews. Do you think regard life experience as important, maybe even critical, for deeper aspects of music(those aspects that in order for a man to know, one must “peer deep in one’s soul and pull something out”)?

The weird thing is that I’ve been a total recluse for about 20 years. I don’t socialize and I’m completely cut off from society. I like it that way, no outside influences. And therefore maybe easier to ‘peer deep into my soul and pull something out”, as you state it.

55. Could we consider Ayreon’s style, together with Ambeon’s, space / progressive rock / hard rock, and Star One’s more like space / progressive metal?

Ayreon has all those styles combined. Ambeon focuses on the more ambient side of Ayreon and Star One more on the heavy side of Ayreon.

56. On the first Star One album, “Space Metal” there are names like Dave Brock, Jens Johansson, Floor Jansen, Dan Swano, Damian Wilson, Erik Norlander, Gary Wehrkamp, Peter Vink, Robert Soeterboek, Ed Warby and Russell Allen…Some of them perform live with the project/supergroup. What was the “selection” process like for the ones that would do live performances? Was it subject to their time and personal responsibilities or your own selection or a mix of both?

Russell, Damian, Floor and Dan were the main singers, so they were the first choice. Only Dan wasn’t available (he doesn’t see himself as a lead singer/performer) so I chose Robert Soeterboek to sing his part. The band had to be from Holland, because we had to rehearse for a couple of months. Flying everyone in from abroad and putting them in hotels would have been too expensive for such a long period.

57. The records concept is quite different from the others. It has a strong psychological note and confrontations with different aspects of one’s self are in its first plan, all told through a story about a man who experiences a state of deep coma…How did you come up with an idea for this story? I have to ask you a question of a more personal note: is the story based on a personal background(at least metaphorically)?

No, it’s not auto-biographical at all, I’m happy to say! I’ve had a pretty happy childhood and my father was a nice guy 🙂 No, it’s more based on stories that some of my friends, who were less fortunate than me, told me.

58. How did you come up with the idea of forming the band Stream Of Passion?

I had a few un-used songs left over from the Human Equation sessions, and because Marcela did such a great job on Human Equation, I wanted her to write lyrics and melodies to these songs and sing them. So originally it was planned as a sort of Marcela solo album, but at some point I think she suggested to form a band around her.

59. Do you still consider the band yours, since you’re not in it anymore?

No. I was never planned to be in the band. I would only help them out in the beginning. They knew that I would start working on a new Ayreon album any time.

60. What are your views on the album “Embrace The Storm” and what on the later albums? Do you plan on returning one day to it?

Oh no, they are on their own now and they’re doing a great job without me! No, my band days are definitely over.

61. The guests on the “01011001” album are Tomas Bodin, Michael Romeo, Derek Sherinian, Lori Linstruth, Ben Mathot, Floor Jansen, Hansi Kürsch, Jørn Lande, Bob Catley, Tom S. Englund, Anneke van Giersbergen, Ty Tabor, Simone Simons, Magali Luyten, Jonas Renkse, Daniel GildenlöW, Liselotte Hegt, David Faber, Joost van den Broek, Jeroen Goossens, Ed Warby, Lisolette Hegt, Steve Lee, Marjan Welman, Phideaux Xavier, Wudstik… In your opinion, have the new names from the guest list contributed to the big dynamic variations that are present on the album(from the light and relaxed to completely chaotic and dramatic parts)?

Oh yes, that is the luxury of Ayreon. So many different artists to portray all the different moods and styles! It makes my job so much easier 🙂

62. Is the song “New Born Race” talking about the potential happenings on Earth in close future or the ones that are happening today or is it perhaps just a product of fiction? Is this planet and the human race moving towards a sideway?

In this song the Forever race are planning to put their DNA on a comet and send it to the Earth in order to polulate it. They hope to regain their emotions by developing and studying the Human Race. Yes, there are constant parallels to us as a race.

63. Could the song “Ride The Comet” be talking about breaking the world’s chains? Could the song be looked upon through a metaphysical aspect? Of course this goes for many other songs from the album..

No, Ride the Comet is purely about the comet with Forever’s DNA that crashes into the Earth and extinguishes the dinosaurs to make way for the human race. But other songs definitely have a double meaning, especially the ‘Earth songs’, like Connect the Dots and Web of Lies.

64. Are the songs “Web Of Lies” and “Connect The Dots” talking about the alienation(and fake connectivity) of man in today’s virtual world and of losing ones identity?

Oh yes, definitely! Those songs are an analogy between what happened to the Forever race and what’s bound to happen to the Human Race.

65. How did the cooperation with Chris Maitland, Jasper Steverlinck and Lori Linstruth on your last side project Guilt Machine happen?

A Belgian fan told me about Jasper, and I immediately liked his voice. Then I saw him live and he was even better. Lori is my favorite female guitar player and she also did a great job writing the lyrics. I’ve also always been a fan of Chris’ energetic way of drumming in Porcupine Tree, and I always wanted to work with him.

66. How did it feel to leave the text writing on the album “On This Perfect Day” to Lori Linstruth?

I knew she would do a great job, and she did…much better than I would have done with this material. The lyrics are very deep and they deal with very delicate personal matters, like depression and guilt.

67. Has Lori already had the ideas and texts prepared beforehand, when the Guilt Machine was forming, or were they created in the time of the albums creation?

I needed lyrics for one song (Twisted Coil) really fast, because Jasper was coming over to sing something. So I asked Lori to quickly write something for me. It was awesome, so I therefore asked her to write all the lyrics! So the music was finished first.

68. The album was praised by critics when it came out, what they said about the project was “from all the side projects this is the project that is the closest to Arjen” or “different, but still the same”. How did you manage to create this totally different musical formula while still keeping everything in a unique musical concept with a familiar expression.

By working with different musicians and accepting more input from these musicians than usual, it was slightly different from my other projects. But in the end I still had complete control, as always 🙂

69. I am interested in your views on modern rock and metal operas. A lot of todays european and world musicians are writing metal/rock opera projects and are gathering oher musicians. Is there a project that you are fond of?

I can’t listen to those projects as a fan anymore, I can only listen to them as a musician. Which means I can’t enjoy them the way I did when I was young, with projects like JC Superstar, War of the Worlds and Tommy. Unfortunately…but that’s the way it is.

70. I noticed that the production on Star One’s record “Wictims of the Modern Age” is very aggressive. A lot tougher than on other projects and the first Star One album. How come?

I wanted to make the album different from the first Star One album, with a more modern sound. And I also wanted to make a clear distinction between Ayreon and Star One. And I think some new guitar equipment that I bought also inspired me to do this. I had developed this heavy guitar sound, as you can see in this clip:

71. Is it possible to see You live on stage somewhere near Croatia in the near future?

No. Sorry… I haven’t played live in a long time and I have no plans to do so. I’ve become a producer / composer, I’m not a performing artist anymore.

72. Thank You Arjen so much for this interview!!! And the last one… Have You got some strong message for your fans in Croatia and ex-Yugoslavia region?

Thanks to all of you out there in Croatia and the ex-Yugoslavia region for all your support. I won’t disappoint you guys with the next Ayreon and I look forward to your reactions. Best wishes to all!