Arjen Anthony Lucassen – The HBIH Interview

I’ve made it more than clear that I’m an avid fan of Arjen Lucassen’s various music project, with several of them being in my all time top ten list. His most recent outing, Lost in the New Real was no exception, as I gave it a glowing review back in April. Shortly after that review the opportunity arose for an over the phone interview between the man himself, and I was beyond stoked to be a part of that.

However, Arjen lives in the Netherlands and I reside in the States and due to both of our busy schedules and the rather large time difference we never could arrange a perfect time for this conversation to take place. Luckily for me though, Arjen is a very accommodating man and never one to disappoint his audience. To remedy the situation as best he could, Arjen had me send a few of my questions to him via email and he was kind enough to give some short answers.

With the completion of Lost in the New Real, and the final realization of a decade long wait for an album entirely sung by you, what is the next big hurdle you plan to overcome? Will you continue exploring new projects, or is it finally time to come home to Ayreon?

Ha, I expected this question as the last, not the first! Well, I’ve started working on a new project and I must say it all sounds very familiar :-) I never plan ahead, because that would limit me creatively speaking. So I can’t say to much about it because I keep changing my mind as always!

Over the past three years, since the release of the last Ayreon album, 01011001, your albums (On this Perfect Day, Victims of the Modern Age, Lost in the New Real) have all been significantly shorter than the one that came before them. What has sparked this mindset for 45 minute to hour long length releases, as opposed to the epic double disc concepts you used to release?

For Ayreon I often need the double disc format to tell the whole story. For the solo album, Guilt Machine and Star One this wasn’t necessary.

You’ve been pretty adamant about not touring, but I can’t help but try and coax you into a tour anyway. It’s becoming increasingly popular for bands to put on big one-off stage production of their albums. Would you ever be willing to perform one of your albums in their entirety as a one off production for a live DVD release or something of a similar sort?

It will be very difficult and expensive. It’s not the show itself, it’s all the preparations and rehearsals with musicians from all over the world. Don’t forget that I am all alone, so I have to hire everyone. It would take a couple of months of (paid) rehearsals, flying everyone in (at least 10 musicians), feeding them and putting them up in hotels etc. And of course all these musicians have to be available at the same time. I would at least need to play about 20 shows to earn the invested money back. So sorry…

Even though your music is always something new and progressive, do you ever feel like delving into a genre completely new to you? I think your musical ideas would translate pretty well into a black metal area of sound, or something significantly heavier than what you usually put out. What do you think?

I would never create music that I’m not a 100% behind. I wouldn’t be true to my self and I’m sure the fans would feel that. Even though I have a very open mind, my wide taste in music does have its limits!

I’ve heard you mention numerous times that you don’t keep up with modern music, yet somehow through the entire course of your career you’ve been album to enlist the help of countless big name singers in the modern metal world. If your mind is so stuck in the past as you say, how do you explain this phenomenon?

I don’t keep up with modern music? Oh no…where did you read that? Not true at all! I listen to new music every day for at least an hour, preferably while I’m jogging. I really like to keep updated about what’s happening. Wether I like it or not is a different matter :-)

As an extension of the last question, has there been any singer or musician in the past couple of years that you would love to have record vocals on one of your future albums?

Yes, many. The wish list is endless! Now I’m hoping that they want to work with me :-)

As a whole, how would you say this album came together, in terms of difficulty and effort put into it? Was it an easy experience or was it challenging compared to your previous efforts?

It all went very easy. I just went back to my roots this time. This was a very enjoyable ride. No expectations, so I could do whatever I wanted, very liberating. I felt that I was trying to please the fans more than myself on my last couple of releases.

In my review for Lost in the New Real I mentioned that the music, despite having a similar dark edge to it as your previous albums, sounded much happier than on your last few releases. What do you attribute to this change in tone? Was it a conscious decision or did it just come out of you as you were writing/recording?

Musically I never make conscious decisions, again…that would limit me. So yeah, it just develops. I also think the happier feel suits my voice better. And it was time for something a bit more positive after my last dark releases!

One last question before I let you go…Will you ever make an album without using your mini-moog? (I hope not)

I tried… but I just can’t do it, haha! Expect LOTS of Minimoog on the next album :-)

Anyways, it was great talking to you, and I want to thank you for this opportunity!

You’re welcome, thanks for the support!

Arjen is currently working on an as of yet unnamed new project. To buy his latest release, Lost in the New Real, visit his website here.

– EC

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