Arjen Anthony Lucassen (new Ayreon interview)

On Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s new album “The Theory Of Everything”, many names from the world of metal, rock and progressive rock are gathered – JB (Grand Magus), Sara Squadrani (Ancient Bards), Michael Mills (Toehider), Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot, Seventh Wonder), Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil), John Wetton (Asia, UK, ex-King Crimson, ex-Family, ex-Roxy Music), Wilmer Waarbroek, Ed Warby, Rick Wakeman (ex-Yes), Keith Emerson (ex-Emerson, Lake & Palmer), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater, ex-Liquid Tension Experiment), Steve Hackett (ex-Genesis), Troy Donockley (Nightwish), Ben Mathot, Maaike Peterse (Kingfisher Sky), Jeroen Goossens Siddharta Barnhoorn, Michael Mills (Toehider), Ed Warby and, of course, the mastermind behind the project – Arjen Anthony Lucassen. The ones responsible for the production and mastering are Arjen Anthony Lucassen and Brett Caldas-Lima.
On the subject of his new masterpiece we talked with Arjen, adding it to our big interview which Arjen gave to Vision Rock Metal for his solo album “Lost In The New Real”.

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1. Greetings Arjen. First, I have to ask you, how did you manage to conceive the whole concept of the Ayreon album “The Theory Of Everything”, compose it all, arrange the songs, gather such great guest names and put another masterpiece out on the market all in only a year and a half’s time after the release of your solo album “Lost In The New Real”?

The thing is, I’ve got plenty of time! I don’t have a family, don’t have a regular job, no holidays, no social life whatsoever and most of all, I don’t play live anymore. People often think I’m a workaholic, but I’m really quite lazy. I just love to create new stuff, when I’m not watching movies and TV series :-)

2. Do you consider “The Theory Of Everything” to be conceptually more similar to your solo album “Lost In The New Real” or to the Ayreon album “01011001″?

I think it’s something completely new, something I’ve never done before lyrically that can’t be compared to any other albums I did. New Real and 01011001 are both sci-fi stories, but Theory of Everything is not. But yeah, there will always be recognizable pattern in my lyrics, whatever I write about.

3. On “The Theory Of Everything” appear many new names with whom you’ve never worked before. There also appear many progressive rock icons like Steve Hackett, Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, John Wetton, Jordan Rudess…Also there are famous names from the world of metal, names like Marco Hietala and Cristina Scabbia. Was it hard to ‘set the clocks’ and commitments of all the guest musicians and vocalists on the album or did it all just fall into place?

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It’s always hard to organize the musicians, it’s a logistical nightmare! One the one side it’s a shitty job, because it takes a lot of time and most of all… patience, which I don’t have :-) But on the other side it’s very rewarding when it works out in the end. So no, it never just falls into place. It’s always a big puzzle.

4. Since most renown names from the world of progressive rock and heavy metal generally appeared on your albums , is there someone with whom you would like to work with but weren’t able to? Or does it simply depend on the new material and the inspiration of the moment (when based on the recorded material you connect the music with the name best suited to perform that music)?

Oh yes, I have a list of about 200 singers I’d still like to work with… really! But yeah you’re right, whom I chose in the end depends on the music and the story of the project.

5. Whenever I would read the lyrics of “The Theory Of Everything” I couldn’t resist the feeling of being in one of the novels of H.G. Wells like “The Time Machine”. Was the concept in your head similar during the writing process or is it simply just my association?

Simply just your association I’m afraid! No, Time Machine is a sci-fi story and Theory of Everything is not. It’s a story about science but most of all it’s about human relations and emotions. And for once this story is not set in another time, but here and now… and even on planet Earth :-)

6. What do you think, could we look at a part of Ayreon’s textual opus as something like an expanded vision of steam-punk?

It depends on the album I guess. Most of my stories are sci-fi. I like to take reality or science and turn it into fiction. But in the end it’s always about human emotions.

7. You recorded a solo album and an Ayreon album in a very short time span. What do you plan on recording next? Star One? Or perhaps a new solo album?

I never plan ahead, because it only limits me. I just start something and see where my inspiration takes me. Even once I’ve started I keep changing my mind! But I started a new project and it’s going very well indeed. Looks like it will be something entirely new.

8. Rival is one of the more important characters in your story on the “The Theory Of Everything” album. Can we consider that character (“The Rival”) as all those obstacles that hinder us in accomplishing our goals in life? Or does he remind us of all those people that consciously or subconsciously sabotage the work of others (most of the time because of jealousy and an inability to admit to themselves that someone else is doing something better then them)? Or can we perhaps look at Rival as being the complete modern society that hinders people?

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I think that most characters in this story are auto-biographical, aspects of my own personality. I am a very competitive man, a perfectionist and therefore a total control freak. That’s why I work alone, it’s impossible and quite annoying to work with me for an extended time. I guess that’s where the character ‘the Rival’ comes from. It’s not just about talent, I think perseverance and being creative is often more important. In the end the Rival is more successful than the Prodigy.

9. Do you think that the story on the “The Theory Of Everything” album is applicable in everyday life? Can Prodigy present all those creative individuals that make the world a better place and move it forward with their creations?

Oh yes, it’s very realistic and based on real life and also real science. I love science. Actually science shows us how much we still don’t know or understand about the (origin of) the universe. At this time we can only make educated guesses based upon what we *do* know. And in my stories I like to make un-educated guesses :-)


10. Is there a chance that you’ll be using modern synthesizer sounds or can we expect to continue to hear the good old “vintage” sound in the future?

I don’t like many of the modern sounds. Only the modern sounds that remind me of the vintage sounds! But in the end I will use any sound I like, whether it’s old or new. I’m not a man of principals.

11. In the last interview you said you don’t have any intentions of playing live anymore. Is that still true? Do you miss live shows?

Yes, it’s true that I won’t play live anymore, and no… I don’t miss it. I see myself as a producer/composer, not as a performer. I live a very recluse life, and I love it :-)

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12.Arjen, thank you very much for the interview. Do you have a message for your Croatian fans or should we just organize ourselves and come visit you and sit for a cup of coffee (don’t be surprised if one day a group of tourists, speaking a strange tongue, knocks on your door and asks for an autograph :) ) ? :)

Ha ha! I will probably be locked up in my studio with my headphones on, so you won’t even be able to reach me I guess :-) So sorry Croatian fans, I love you guys but I’m just a weird recluse, he he… I’m a social recluse though, so you can always reach me virtually on Facebook or email!

Cheers,
Arjen.

Dalibor Mladenović