An interview with Arjen Lucassen

Arjen Lucassen has just released his new solo album ‘Lost In The New Real’ through Inside Out and it is a veritable feast of musical delights. Do try this new album as it has many musical styles and delights in store for the listener.

I was lucky enough to grab an interview with Arjen although sadly not the whole transcript as my recorder gave up the ghost and I had to revert to good old fashioned pen and paper…

Congratulations on your new album ‘Lost In The New Real’ which is our today. How does it feel to finally have it released?

Thanks. I am very pleased it is finally out and the reviews so far have been good. But I hope fans realise this is a solo album and not to expect an Ayreon album full of metal vocals! My vocal style is limited on range and so there won’t be any big metal songs.

How did you get Rutger Haur involved as the narrator?

I have been a fan of Rutger since the TV series ‘Floris’ which I watched when I was growing up. I loved pretending to be his character charging around with my imaginary sword.

I emailed him to see if he would be interested. I was amazed to get a reply and he asked about the music, what the character would be. Once he had the script he asked if he could change it and I said ‘sure’ as he is an actor who totally immerses himself into his character. It was a real privilege to have him involved and to have one of your heroes live up to your expectations.

There are some very commercial songs on here like ‘Pink Beatles In A Purple Zeppelin’ and ‘E-Police’. The latter has a distinct Cheap Trick and ELO feel to it.

Yes a lot of reviews have picked up on the Cheap Trick sound but of course they are heavily influenced by the Beatles. ELO for sure, I really like ELO. Their ‘Time’ album is very underrated a great album.

How did you choose the covers that appear on the second disc?

Well they all had to be related to the future and I asked my fans to nominate interesting possible covers via Facebook. They came back with some interesting choices like the Alan Parsons Project who I would never thought of.

Would you like to produce this album as a film, given that there is strong story behind it?

I think it would cost way too much but if someone came along with the money then for sure. I would love to put my music into a film.

If you were approached to record a soundtrack for a film would that interest you?

No not really as I couldn’t sit through a movie reel composing the music. But as I said before if it meant putting my music into a film then yes definitely.

Given this is a solo album and only you sing on it would there be any plans to tour at all?

No I have pretty much given up on touring. This is why I started Ayreon so I could remain in the studio as I don’t like all the hassle of touring.

This is true as many fans think touring is glamorous but in reality it is hotels, tour buses and waiting around.

That is why I don’t like touring, it is 90% waiting around be it hotel rooms, tour buses. Plus I am too big for the hotel beds (laughs).

You have a very interactive website and answer fans comments honestly and quickly. How important has this side of the internet been to you?

I spend around four hours a day on social media and the website as it is important to see what the fans thinks and what is happening out there, especially as I don’t get out much. Of course the downside of the internet is how quickly music gets out there. This new album is already online, the b******s.

I don’t know how they get these albums online so quickly as journalist copies like mine are watermarked downloads.

That’s true and if they were uploaded they should be soon be tracked down. But it appears it is between the artist and production that it takes only one person to copy and upload it. Something needs to be done as it is affecting music a lot. I was lucky enough to make a lot of money from the Ayreon albums in the 90’s plus I don’t go out much means I can carry on making music.

How long do you spend in the studio on an average day?

I am not in the studio all the time. I usually do three hours a day, which added to my time on social media with the fans works out as a seven hour day. Plus I work seven days a week, I don’t have weekends or go on holidays.

With your studio set-up have you ever been asked or wanted to produce other bands?

I get asked all the time by bands ‘can you produce our new album as we really like Ayreon’. But I couldn’t do it as I would become too involved. If they had a bad guitarist I’d be saying ‘Hey guys you need to change your guitar player’. I would interfere too much and they would all end up sounding like Ayreon albums.

Were you pleased with how the last Star One album ‘Victims Of The Modern Age’ was received by fans?

The last Star One album didn’t sell that well. I think it maybe because I was trying to write an album for the fans rather than writing music for me and then releasing it to the fans.

I have read in other interviews that once you have an album completed you often move onto a new project. What have you planned next?

Well I have a lot of promotion to do for this album, interviews and so on. I call this my ‘black hole’ time as I am often drained of any musical ideas. I could try and force myself but I want it to occur naturally, not case of ‘come on you play new music!’ (laughs) But I think it is time for another Ayreon album as it has been nearly five years since the last one.

Do you plan your music out like some artists, who have set plans for the next few years?

No I prefer to take each day as it comes. I am not one who has it all mapped out.

Message for you fans…

Just to say thank you for buying the album and remember this is a solo album, I don’t want people expecting an Ayreon album. Thank you for all your support it means a lot to me.

Album review

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