A new AYREON Album is there… for every Fan this comes as a if it was an message from God. Time and time again came the information. The Story was announced, and with that the guest musicians. With every new guest singer the tension rose: Tom Englund, Steve Lee, Hansi Kürsch, Anneke van Giersbergen (was already guest a few times earlier), Jonas Renske, Daniel Gildenlöw, Floor Jansen, Jorn Lande, etc… beside those on Solo-Guitar Lori Linstruth and Michael Romeo, on Keyboards Derek Sherinian, Thomas Bodin and Joost van den Broek. The List goes longer and longer, in the end they counted 26 Guests in total. Only for the level of the album this asks for in interview with Arjen!
With the flow of time rose in me the thought to invite through MySpace one or the other guest musician also to answer some questions. The best thing you can do, now you decided to read, here on this spot, the very extended interview about "01001101"... do is to cancel every appointment for the next 2 or 3 hours... and instead listen to "01001101", hehehe.
Hallo Arjen, SasH speaking, I hope, every thing is OK?!
Hey SasH, I am stressed, but that is always the case, hahaha. But every thing else is ok, thanks for asking.
Is something changed in AYREON? How are the reactions about your new album „01011001“?
Ah yes, it is not so that all listeners are immediately touched by the album. A lot of people has to become used to the new Album, but after listening to it a few times it became their favourite album. The reactions are until now very heart warming!
Congratulations with your new album “01011001”. To my opinion it sounds in the base colder than
„The human Equation“, what had a warmer mood. Is this also your opinion?
Yes, it is! I think, it is as well as in musical sense as in the texts significant darker than the earlier albums. Yes but probably not really colder, beside some Industrial Parts, like e.g. the Machines. Even when it is sometimes difficult to be heard, I think it is rather the opposite and showing just a warmer Sound, my best Sound until now, at least to my opinion.
Where “The Human Equation” tells about a comatose man, “01011001” goes more in a Science Fiction direction and tells about the extinction of alien civilization and later mankind. Is the Atmosphere there for so cold and dark?
Oh yes definitively. Actually the dark music inspired me, as a result the concept story became so dark. In fact in the beginning I had no idea of the direction everything would go. There was only the basic idea about the picture how planet „Y“ the „Forever“ would have looked like. But in time the gap was filled and song after song the story developed it self until the result we know.
How did you come to the story of “01011001”, with the planet “Y”, the race “Forever” and so on?
In the time I wrote “Into the Electric Castle”, I already was interested in how planet Y of the Forever would have looked like and I wanted to discover how and why they lost their emotions. You can say this album is a quasi continuation of „Into the Electric Castle“, where Planet „Y“ already turned up on „The Universal Migrator“. The Forevers were a race that lived in the water and made themselves, by their development, totally dependent of machines. This brought me more and more to the story about the loss of their emotions, the idea to let their race live on on Earth, where history would repeat itself.
Songs as “Age of Shadows” or “Unnatural Selection” sound, in some parts, a bit like RAMMSTEIN, very simple, but very effective…
Hahaha, I exactly know what you mean! And yes you are right, the Riffs in those parts are indeed turned out to be relatively simple. I love RAMMSTEIN and they absolutely have influenced me. „Rosenrot“ and „Reise Reise“ are definitely part of my favourite albums.
By the way: you seem to find pleasure in destroying mankind, like you did on “The Final Experiment“ or “The Universal Migrator”? ;o)
Yes, I have nothing else to do except now and then destroying complete Planets, hahaha. But beside the joke, you are right, I actually started it with „The final Experiment“. There it was made clear mankind would destroy itself in the year 2084, in a way I could not ignore anymore later, hehehe.
Since we came talking about the story: for me the story to „01011001“ is very interesting. It is somehow more realistic than many probably would think, the themes are above everything else very topical like climate change, political differences, illnesses, the absurd growth of Industry and technoligy. Do you want to show this also to the people?
Hm, ah yes… somehow at first I try to entertain people instead of turning to a kind of preaching. But anyhow, this message sneaks again and again into my story, hahaha. I can´t do anything about it, hehehe. To get back to your question: I always try to ask questions like e.g. is the technology your friend or your enemy? Lately I think both, but in my view we should stop technology.
There you are absolutely right, it´s just somewhat like a paradox, we let a lot of work do by computers and doing that we made ourselves dependent of them.
Right, if only I look at myself. As soon as I am out of bed, I walk to my computer. In my studio I work with my computer. The society has developed itself in that direction. Most communication is done by computer. On one hand the computer is a very helpful thing, making it possible to do things faster than in the past, on the other hand not everything has developed in a positive direction.
There are also theories based on the Egyptian Mythology, saying there were extraterrestrial life forms, who have brought all knowledge and their civilization to Earth…
Right… there are also the Erich von Däniken stories, that the Gods were astronauts and above that there is the star gate legend. In that respect, there are enough theories. But I won´t go that far with “01011001”. I say on the other hand only that probably our DNA comes from another planet, which is, under circumstances, very well possible, keeping in mind that the Earth until now is hit by many comets. Only… in my story our DNA was, as mentioned, planted in a comet, resulting in new life.
The album is divided in “Planet Y” and “Planet Earth”… evidently the actions on Earth were again inserted in the mutual story line e.g. in „Connect the Dots“…
“Connect the Dots” takes place on Earth and tells about the dependent of technology, the global warming, Downloads, air pollution. In this it draws the parallel to what has happened on Y in their past.
Most of the songs are situated on planet Y, only 4 are on Earth: „Connect the Dots“, „Web of Lies“, „The Truth is in here“ and „E=MC²“.
Here it also shows some parallels to your previous albums...
While „Web of Lies“ is about impersonal Internet-acquaintances, is „The Truth is here“ about my previous incarnation as Hippie in „Into the Electric Castle“ and Ayreon the blind Minstrel in the Middle Ages.
There you tried to warn people for the coming disasters...
Yes. The man Mr.L. is unmistakable me. I tell the people what I have seen in my dreams, but no-one believes me.
„E=MC²“ too has connection with your previous work.
Right, this song is about the last experiment, as on the identical album („The Final Experiment“ – SasH). A scientist discovered a method to sent messages through time, to warn mankind.
There are indeed many prophesies about the destruction of the world like e.g. Nostradamus (foretold the end would come in July 1999), Pope Sylvester II (31.12.999), Jehovah's Witnesses (more than ones), and even the Mayan calendar says the world will come to its end on 22.12.2012. Is it possible that mankind is fascinated by its destruction and even yearns for it?
Obviously, it might be the case hahaha. But if you ask me, will the end of mankind come from one day on the other. No the end will take many years, or may be even much longer. Although to my opinion, the sixth extinction has begun already.
In the inlay is writen “Dedicated to mankind, to help them to stretch their physical boundaries and mental limitations, the Forever accelerate the evolution”. The song „River of Time" has taken on this theme…
The theme in “River of Time” is about manipulating time. Like you already said does the Forever teach Man the secrets of time, this they use in the Song “E=MC²”, as they send back in time visions of the extinction of Mankind – the final Experiment!
Do you really believe that Mankind received help in their development?
Hm, no… I think, we find our way on Earth without anyone helping us, hehehe.
Not only the story, but also the musical distinctions are very preeminent. I like, above all, the work of Ben Mathot. His violin solo in „Comatose“ is absolutely exalted…
Oh yes, you are absolutely right. It is certainly fantastic. The most astonishing is, that he completely improvised it, he hadn´t even listened to the song before recording! He is absolutely a big talent!
Jorn Lande sounds in “Newborn Race - The Procedure” just like Phil Lynott (THIN LIZZY)… was this anyhow intentional?
Yes, that was absolutely no coincident, you recognized that well. It was intentional that the guitar chords could have been written by Phil Lynott. Jorn Lande has managed this part fabulously.
The abbreviation “PX” in “Web of Lies” stands for Phideaux Xavier… but what is“OL”?
With “OL” is meant Oliver Palotai, the friend of Simone, who by the way plays the keyboard in KAMELOT. I idea to me felt wittily, hehehe.
Until now you have worked with the most important singers from the Metal scene, this probably will make you very proud. Was it every time simple for you to make contact with them?
No, not really. With every album it was a battle. Okay, ever since AYREON became widely known, it was a bit easier, but overall it is with every singer different.
With many of them you needed a lot of persuasion to talk them into a cooperation. From the beginning Daniel Gildenlöw wasn't passionate about the idea. Many have before a fundamentally wrong idea of my music. With Simone on the other hand it was very simple, while she for long was a fan of AYREON. She didn't hesitate long and immediately agreed. Something like that is certainly joyful, hehehe.
Did you know:
Can you imagine to work with the following singers?
Rob Halford (JUDAS PRIEST):
Oh yes, I would love to do that! JUDAS PRIEST had an unbelievable large influence on me, especially their early albums as „Sad Wings of Destiny“ and „Killing Machine“. Undoubtedly I would let them give a real high scream, but also a few more serene parts, not expected from them.
Tarja Turunen (Ex-NIGHTWISH):
I already have written her, but until now she didn't make a guest appearance. But hopefully later?
W.Axl Rose (GUNS N ROSES) ;o) :
Hahaha, why not. That would be very funny. I don't have the least to oppose to it. „Appetite for Destruction“ was a very important album!
Andy B.Franck (BRAINSTORM, SYMPHORCE):
I already have had contact with him in the past. A great guy and even so a great singer, so who can tell what the future will bring?
Roy Khan (KAMELOT):
The same story. Actually he would have performed on this album, but in the end it didn't come together as we planned. But definitely, in the future we will work together.!
Michael Kiske (Ex-HELLOWEEN):
Also an important singer. He was also there with the AVANTASIA Album. Tobias and I have shared a few singers between us, hehehe.
Mats Leven (Ex-THERION, Ex-AT VANCE):
Oh yes, he is already on my list! He is absolutely a very powerful singer with an almost unbelievable voice. I'm very keen to work with him one day!
Phil Collins (GENESIS):
Sorry, no. I'really not a fan of his voice. I would rather prefer Peter Gabriel. However, If Phil would call me up, I don't think a really would say no, hehehe.
I could mention a few other singers like Matthew Barlow (ICED EARTH) or Tom Malicoat (LETHAL), but I'm afraid that would blow the roof of, hehehe.
Hahaha, I know, I know. I can imagine. The list with remarkable singers is certainly endless… It also has something good in it, hahaha. There will always be new talents popping up from out of the blue, with whom I can work.
Do you also have some musicians on your list with whom you would be eager to work with, but didn´t work out until now?
Oh yes, continuously. Especial the singer from the bands I grew up with like PINK FLOYD, DEEP PURPLE or BLACK SABBATH. I am eager to work with Robert Plant. It almost worked with Ian Gillan, but in the last moment sadly enough it didn´t work out. I also have asked Steve Wilson of PORCUPINE TREE already, but he declined. He says, althogh he likes the music, it is to progressive for him.
Dis you know:
Can you imagine to write something like a Death Metal song with mainly grunts and even more aggressive riffing and drums? Or is this too much for your musical concept?
Ah yes, the concept of AYREON is a mix of dark and light. Sometimes I divided both schemes, that was with „The Universal Migrator“ and that wasn´t a very good idea! I like it to mix Death Growls with other qualities and voices, just like mixing strong powerful guitar riffs with sweet acoustic folk sounds…
For the drums you made use Ed Warby again, the only permanent member with AYREON. You seem to understand each other well, or?
Ed and I understand each other very well. Beside we like the same kind of music, I don't need to explain him how to play. He plays something for me and I like it, With another drummer I first have to explain my idea, with Ed that isn't necessary. I wouldn't want any one else.
The album has a total length of 102 minutes, a bit like the length of a movie. Have you ever had the thought with a previous album, to show a theme like this on large screen? A cinema movie is certainly very interesting, just like ONE large video clip? Of course it would mean a lot of work…
Oh yes, and that's not really my branch of work. But when a producer would like the thought and finds it interesting, to take up this theme, Then I would absolutely be in seventh heaven. A dream would come true.
Making a good Film will cost at least millions to translate it accurate. The problem is simple, the story very large and has a lot of angle of view, and because of that it's almost a utopian dream to only think about it.
I presume there is also a connection from the artwork to the story… the artworks for the CD „Y“ is completely digital made by von Simon van Vegten from DPI Animation House, while the Artworks for the CD „Planet Earth“ was drawn by Felipe Machado. Should this also show the difference between the „Forever“ and Man?
Yes, that's right. That should be illustrated by it. The pictures from planet Y are, by the way, all from the CGI Film „Beneath the Waves“, which can be found on the bonus-DVD. This took us almost a year to produce. It tells about water planets and how the machines were build. Only there isn't a clear story line, but in stead it is very atmospherically and reflects the mood very well.
Was it intentionally that the artwork of “01011001” resembles the artworks of “The Dream Sequencer” and „Into the electric Castle“ ?
All the covers you mentioned were made by the same artist. His name is Jef Bartels from Belgium, and this is definitely his stile. His strong point in it is that he paint all his artwork with oil paint! Meanwhile he became very important for AYREON. We have some similarities. He becomes one with my music. We sat together, so I could explain my concept to him. I had a dark water planet with empowering machines before my eyes. On to that he sent me some sketches, asking me what I thought about them. the end result was truly fabulous. The original, anyway, hangs in my house, hahaha.
Im Artwork zu dem Song “The Truth is in Here”, sind ja die Albumcover deiner vorigen Alben eingebaut…
In dem Song geht es ja um meine früheren Charaktere von den vorigen Alben, wie ich vorhin schon mal erklärt hatte. Ich singe hier über meine früheren Leben, weswegen die Artworks der betreffenden Alben dies somit noch mehr verdeutlichen sollen.
For me the artwork with “The fifth Extincton” is very good… it has something sad, like a helpless Dinosaur seeing its end coming and not able to do something against it-
Yes, this picture is indeed sad. The Dinosaurs have certainly got everything better than we now do.I am sure, that they would have lived longer than we would do.
What do you think about bands as THERION, AVANTASIA or the Rock Opera GENIUS? Can it at all still interest you?
Of course I listen to those albums, they are great. However I listen to them with musical ears. Unluckily for me it isn´t possible anymore to listen from the point of view of a fan.
They ask me often, what I think of e.g. the albums von AVANTASIA. To my opinion you can't compare our music, while the music of AYREON and AVANTASIA are musically totally different! However in the past we shared some singers between each other e.g. Jorn Lande, hahaha.
Okay, that was it. I hope I haven't asked to much of you. Many thanks for your time and patience. may be you have some last words to say?
No problem. Many thanks for this interview and your interest in my music. I wish you all the best and many warm regards for you and your readers!
Those musicians were also interviewed:
Hey Phideaux, you are featured the first time for an album of AYREON. Is it a honour to be asked by Arjen to contribute your vocals to this project?
It is quite exciting to be included in the new Ayreon album. I have been a fan of Arjen's music since I first heard "Electric Castle".
How did you came in contact? Have you contacted him or he you?
It is funny how we came in contact because a friend of mine, who I introduced to the music of Ayreon, sent some of my albums to Arjen. Naturally they ended up in the pile of all the albums that people send to Arjen. One day I received a very nice email from Mr. Lucassen telling me that he enjoyed my albums. It was quite thrilling, but I thought it was a joke, until I got a reply assuring me that it was the real Arjen Lucassen. Since then I have wanted to work with Arjen on something and we hopefully will be able to do some more work together in the future.
Have you heard "01011001" yet? What do you think about it?
I do not yet have my copy of the album, but I have heard the samples online. The album is in the mail as we speak so I am eager to hear the full thing. From what I've heard it's going to be a well loved Ayreon album.
How is it to work with Arjen? What kind of person is Arjen personally?
When Arjen told me that he had a song he'd like me to sing on, I was quite happy. He sent me an mp3 demo with himself singing the vocals as well as an instrumental track. It took a few weeks for me to get myself together enough to tackle the singing, which I did here in Los Angeles at my studio.
You are featured on the Song "Web of Lies" together with Simone Simons. Have you met her in the studio? Or did you sang only your vocal parts without her attendance?
I did not have the opportunity to meet Simone Simons! That is QUITE sad, but hopefully I will be able to when Epica tours USA this year. I have yet to meet Arjen in person either, although we have traded many emails.
Although your part in this song isn't that big, can you tell us maybe something about your role / character in this song?
In the song "Web of Lies", our characters are trying to find contact/love and choose to do it over the internet, which is quite impersonal. She is pledging her love to my character, PX, but at the same time pledging the same love to OL (who wins out in the end!)...
So, I guess my character in the song is as the man who loses Simone Simons... Aww that is sad! hahaha. But at least she sings to me for a little while! How many people can say that? hahaha.
Do you have maybe one or two funny stories about the recording session? Have you had much fun or was it stressful?
Because my part was small there was no need to go to the Netherlands. Any changes Arjen wanted would be easy enough to redo. As it happens, I sang the song in two registers because I liked having it be low and breathy as well as the higher register. Arjen's music is written for men who can sing pretty high (I'm not that great in the upper register and this song was just at my edge).
I sent Arjen all the tracks and he decided he liked a mixture of both, which was great because I wasn't even going to send him all the tracks figuring I would just do it exactly like the guide he sent me.
Hey Simone, with “01011001” it is your first time you're part of AYREON. Was it an honour for you when Arjen asked you to participate?
When I'm honest, I was hoping for it for some while to work with Arjen, hihihi. I love all of his albums and are a fan of AYREON ever since his debut album „The final Experiment“. His manager made contact with me through Myspace and even visited one of my concerts, so when he asked me, I didn't need to think for very long, and said immediately yes. Of course it is a great honour for me, no question about that!
Where you so far able to listen to "01011001"? What do you think about the album?
I am the proud owner of a promo copy. I even already have some favourite songs on „01011001“. But beside the many marvellous pieces, there are also many wonderful voices on the new album. A lake of sounds! Simply fantastic!
How is it to work with Arjen together?
Oh, he is really quiet, sweet, cheerful and patient. We had a lot of fun during the recording of the song. I was amazed, how quick we recorded my song. He has his own studio in his house. It is absolutely a lovely home There was also a cat, all the time walking around the house, although he didn't belong there. The cat just had attached himself to Arjen and decided to stay with him, hehehe.
Where you able to imagine how “01011001” would be, after you recorded your song?
I only had the recording of my song. Of course Arjen had send me “Web of Lies”, where he had sung the pilot track, so I could practice a lot. This way I could prepare myself to the utmost on this piece of music. I have to say that his version also had become a very good piece of work!
Did you have a lot of time to prepare yourself for this song?
Only after listening to “Web of Lies” once, the melody was immediately stuck in my head. It fits very well to my voice, that's the reason why it was very simple to practice. The recording too went very successful!
As you just mentioned is your song “Web of Lies” – a Ballad, whose background, special with our present times, is very actual:
Oh yes, the song is about a young girl, who again and again falls in love with many man, although she doesn't really know who they are. She meets them on the internet. It's nothing more than a superficial amorousness.
You are featured the first time for an album of AYREON. Is it a honor to be asked by Arjen to contribute your vocals to this project?
Offcourse it is! I've been a fan since "almost" the beginning! Now I'm a part of his new project.. what an honor!
Have you heard “01011001” yet? What do you think about it?
Yes I have and again what a masterpiece! I love the way he pulls you into an new adventure. It's like watching a movie, but only then inside your head!
I heard that AYREON is on eof your big influences, so I assume that you know his previous albums... :o) Where do you classify "01011001" between the other albums?
Give me a few week cause „01011001“ keeps getting better and better!! every time I listen. But maybe it is unfair to give judgement right now! because for me this record already demands great respect!
How is it to work with Arjen? What kind of man is Arjen personally?
Very relax or shall I say chill! (smile) I was very nervous, I didn't know what to expect.. but he is a very easy going laidback person and very funny also!
Have you imagined what “01011001” will be, when you have recorded the vocals or have you only heard the music to the songs where you had to sing?
I only heard the song until then.. when I visit the Electric Castle for my parts he played me some amazing add-lips from Hansi Kürsch. The first time I heard some 01011001 stuff was on his myspace page. I probably wasn't the first one hahaha!
You are featured on the Song "E=MC²" together with Marjan Welman. Have you met her in the studio? Or did you sang only your vocal parts without her attendance?
I was the first one to bless the track. Arjen really like to focus on the singer and to take the time to get the best out of them. In my opinion also that is the best thing to do. Marjan recorded her part a week later I believe. Really funny to meet your duet partner on the release party. Like... so you are.. her! hahaha!
Do you have maybe one or two funny stories about the recording session? Have you had much fun or was it stressful?
hmmm something funny hey.. does that includes getting lost on the way back home? It was an 1,5 hour drive back but it cost me 3 hours in the end hahaha.
We had a few laughs about my "James Labrie vibrato" imitation I kept repeating his "I can't move" line (Human Equation) the whole day couldn't get it out of my head!
Any last Words?
It has been a great honor working with mr. Lucassen and very inspiring also!
You were already there with “The Human Migrator”. Was it obvious, Arjen inverted you again this time??
Oh no, absolutely not, for me it was again a big honour to be part of a project of such a high quality and prestigious as AYREON is. When Arjen would ask me again, I will absolutely participate again, because I know, everything he does will be huge.
Have you already heard “01011001”? What pleases you the most on it?
Yes! Again it has become really, really good. The fact I like is that it has become a bit stronger and the song too is even better. He really out done himself this time. Also the sound has become better, with that Arjen rose above himself.
How is it to work with Arjen?
He is really cool! He just rang me and told me what he wanted from me and if I was interested. As soon as I could I recorded my parts and sent them to him… It seems he generally likes what I do, hahaha. From this you could conclude that our cooperation seems quite simple, hehehe.
For me it is very inspiring to work together with him, because he knows how to make the most of every kind of music.
Could you in advance picture for yourself to what “01011001” would grow, after you recorded your material?
I was already with producer Gordon Groothedde involved in the recording of the drums, with a result I could hear the raw tapes in an early stage. The next time I heard them a large part of the vocals were sung and later Arjen has send me the promo copy.
Have you given Arjen different solos or did you have complete freedom?
No, it was the first idea I taped and Arjen liked it from the first moment… He has given me all freedom. He gave me the direction for piano, he wanted it to be virtuoso. With the synthesizer didn't even do that and gave me complete freedom, because he knows from the past what to expect from me.
Hey Derek, how did Arjen and you meet each other?
Arjen as well as I are both with insideOut Records, so it was through our record firm I draw his attention. Although I had heard of the name AYREON I never have heard some of his music.
How did the cooperation took place?
Arjen had send me a MP3 with the section of which he wanted me to make a solo. Then I made my solo in one or two takes and send all back to him and that's just all, hahaha.
You didn't have any personal contact?
No, sadly enough I haven't met Arjen in person, but this way our cooperation worked very well. He seems to me, as I can recall, a very cool guy. I would work again with him in the future and am very excited to hear the album.
Hi Lilo, You are featured the first time for an album of AYREON. How does that feel for you?
Arjen is worldwide a well known and highly respected artist. Many great singers and musicians have been featuring on the Ayreon albums. As a music journalist I have done interviews with Arjen in the past and I could never ever have imagined I would be part of Ayreon one day. To think of Arjen has been composing a song with my voice in his mind, plus featuring among some of the best rock and metal vocalists on a long awaited Ayreon album, is indeed a real honour. I am really thankful Arjen beliefs in me as a singer and gave me this chance.
Have you heard "01011001" yet? What do you think about it?
Every Ayreon album is impressive in its own way and standing on a high quality level. I absolute like the dark atmosphere of "01011001" and the aggressive tension in several songs. I am especially charmed by the vocal performance of Steve Lee (GOTTHARD), Tom Englund (EVERGREY), Jonas Renkse (KATATONIA) and Anneke van Giersbergen (Ex-THE GATHERING).
How is it to work with Arjen?
Arjen is a very relaxed, creative and fun guy to work with. Maybe for me it has also to do with the fact we know each other for many years. And because he knows exactly what he wants we worked pretty fast. He also made me feel very comfortable and secure about my performance and I really appreciate that.
Have you imagined what "010011001" will be, when you have recorded the vocals or have you only heard the music to the songs where you had to sing?
I only heard "The Truth Is In Here", because it’s the only song I perform, but not even in its final version. Until the teasers were exposed on the Internet I had no clue about how the other singers would sound. It was even more difficult to imagine how the complete album would sound, so actually I didn’t fantasize about it. When I got a promo CD I finally could hear the complete end result. So the whole time to me it was as much as a mystery as it was for you probably.
Your song is "The truth is in here", a more folk orientated piece... are you satisfied with this choice to sing this song, or would you have like to sing another song?
Arjen knows exactly what he wants with a song and what type of voice would fit best. I’m not a real hard rock or metal singer, though I am a metal head. My vocal background is more in the area of singers such as Kate Bush, Dalbello and Siouxie and The Banshees and therefore I feel this song fits me. I like the little theatrical aspect my character as well. I also think my voice and Arjen’s go along very well.
Have you had much time to prepare your vocals for this song?
I received Arjen’s mail just when I got back from vacation. After I said yes (of course J) he mailed me the instrumental track and the lyrics so I could get into the mood of the song. Four day’s later I found myself in his studio for the actual recordings. There he showed me the actual vocal melodies I had to sing. This was a complete new experience for me. I didn’t even get the chance to be nervous, hahaha.
If it would be the real Liselotte who would hear Arjen say that the mankind is in danger, how would you react?
would think he has seen way too many X-File episodes, hahaha.
Hey Magali, for you this was the first time you were part of AYREON. Does it feel to you as an honour to contribute your voice to it.
In every way is is a big honour for me. For me it is a dream coming true, Absolutely heavenly!
How did you make contact with Arjen? Or did he make contact?
Samuel Arkan, the Guitarist of VIRUS IV, had send him the album “Over us Eden”, a Prog Power Metal Band in which we played together for a few years. Later Arjen wrote via email and he told me, he recognized my voice, on a Metal Sampler with BEAUTIFUL SIN, again. Shortly after we spoke each other over the phone and from then on it went very fast and natural.
Have you heard “01011001” already? Do you like it?
Oh, I love it! So many beautiful atmospheres, strong riffs, great melodies, it's fantastic to discover new voices on this album and to enjoy those I already knew, especially those of Jorn or Tom Englund. Both are still very impressive… oh, they are simply unbelievable!
How is it to work with Arjen? Is he really that a perfectionist?
The answer on this question you will only find by listening to his work! It seems to be, that if he found the perfect balance between progression and determination, he exactly knows what he wants to hear. Arjen is one of the coolest musicians I ever worked with. The only stress I experienced was that I wouldn´t disappoint him.
Could you imagine where to “01011001” would develop, after you recorded your song?
While I was the first singer who was recorded, I only heard my part. He didn´t have anything ready at that time. However thereafter I was very eager to hear the complete album.
One of my favoured songs is “Ride the Comet”, special because of your strong forceful voice. Which song you worked on, is your favourite?
I like both, if I´m honest. I don´t really have a song I prefer most, but let me say this± the song „Ride the Comet“ made it possible for me to express myself, looking at my singing techniques, a bit more, hihihi.
By the way what is your favourite song on the album=
I know, it´s a not done, what I want to answer, but I love them all, but honestly I do… and I don´t want to compare the songs with each other, while are all so different. I really enjoy „River of Time“ while it makes me want to dance. I fell in love with „Liquid Eternity“ because of its large emotional and its passionate part with Jorn und Floor… You can´t stay untouched when their magic does its work.
You have only performed on the first disc, the Planet “Y”… do you think that Mankind in reality have had some kind of help in their development?
Look around you and see how fast Mankind has developed. It´s really unbelievable… so many old facts stays uncleared, asking our self, if their could be another intelligent life form, coming from somewhere bringing their knowledge to us on Earth…
The theme on “01011001” is more actual then before… how do you see the social change in the last years?
It´s really unbelievable how the world changed the last 10 to 15 years. How the world became a slave of the mighty internet. can you in the meantime imagine a world without computers? When man use it wisely, then it will be a unbelievable tool for communication, but it´s important to differentiate between superficiality and truth!
Do you fear that Mankind is too dependent of computers?
No, fear for it I don´t have,… I think it´s part of the human evolution. It´s to us to become less dependent, to make time to enjoy nature and real contacts, that´s what keeps us alive! I am sure of it, that the screen never will replace connection between the audience and a band performing a show.
How is it in your case: Are you dependent on technology or more an inhabitant of planet Y, who wants to warn Mankind?
When I am honest, I am both. I as well enjoy technology for the good things it brings, but also warn to become not too dependent because the internet e.g. seems to be infinite and when you are not drwaing a line there is a big chance that you forever will be caught in the Web.
How is it to work with Arjen Lucassen? What kind of person is he?
Arjen is a very friendly and relaxed guy. And he know exactly what we wants, knows why he asked you so he'll get the best out of you and is very musical. Working with him is very relaxed but fast and always challenging.
Have you heard "01011001" yet completely? If yes, what do you think about it? What is / are your favourite track(s)?
I heard it way before the release (lucky me :-) and loved it straight away. It heavier than the previous one (which I also loved!) and what has been done with all those voices is magical. You can hear he gets the best out of every vocalist! And I am so proud to be in this amazing list of singers!!! My favourite track is the Liquid Eternity. This because of the powerfull melodies and because I do a duet there with one of my favourite singers Jorn Lande.
How do you see the sense of the story of "01011001""? What is the morality in your opinion?
I would like to believe there is a higher power, wheter it's a godlike power or alien, that is there to guide us. That know's more then we do, that has an overview and can help us if neseccary. Help, not interfere. Don't let us make the same mistakes again, etc, etc. But in this story the highre power have the same problems and discussions. The moral behind it is very good. I like the way Arjen writes about every day live in an alien way!!!
Hi Ben, You are featured the first time for an album of AYREON. Is it an honour to be asked by Arjen to contribute your violin playing to this project?
Yes of course! I’ve been an Ayreon-fan for many years now, but I never expected to be a part of it someday. It’s great!
How did you came in contact? Have you contacted him or he you?
I sent Arjen a cd of my band Dis (www. disbrotherhood. com), a symphonic metal band with violin. I knew Arjen worked a lot with string instruments on previous Ayreon albums, so I thought I’d give it a shot. After 2 weeks I got an e-mail from him, he liked the cd and invited me to his studio. I didn’t expect that, it was really cool. So I went to his studio with my violin and we just started recording, he was very happy with my playing. The second time in the studio I finished my parts and I also brought my friend David Faber (cello) for the cello parts. We recorded everything in 2 afternoons.
Have you heard "01011001" yet? What do you think about it?
I absolutely love it! It’s my new favourite Ayreon album, and I’m not saying that because I’m on it! There’s some really great songwriting on it, the production is excellent, the singers and musicians are great, I also like the dark atmosphere. It’s also cool to finally see the big picture, because before I had only heard the short parts in which I play.
As I told also to Arjen I like your playing a lot! Especially in “Comatose”, “Liquid Eternity”, “Web Of Lies” or “River of Time”… I like the warm note of your violin… it has something sad, but also fire and a warm feeling, if you know what I mean…
Thanks a lot! I know what you mean. With a violin (or any string instrument) you can make a lot of different colours in your sound, so depending on the style or on which song you play, you can use that.
But also your duet with David Faber in the refrain of “E=MC²”… such a sad feeling, the harmony in two voices, heartbreaking…
Yes, that’s the power of string instruments, that you can break hearts, hahaha.
How is it to work with Arjen? What kinda person is Arjen personally?
He’s really professional and experienced, he knows what he wants and he works fast. I liked working with him, he can make you feel relaxed but at the same time get the best performance out of you. Personally he’s a really friendly guy, a lot of humour, and very passionate about his music.
Has he used also some ideas from you or have you had to play the songs like Arjen wanted?
Most parts were written by Arjen, I sometimes added some minor little details like little ornaments in the Web of Lies melody. Or sometimes we tried out different things. On 2 songs it was different: on Comatose Arjen let me freestyle a bit with harmonics and tremolos and gave some suggestions. It sounds really cool in the end I think! And on River of Time he gave me a solo. So I wrote a solo at home, went to the studio, we made a few changes and added a second voice
you have maybe one or two funny stories about the recording session? Have you had much fun or was it stressful?
Arjen has a really cool tuning device in his studio with a moving light. It kinda reminded me of the light of the car on Knight Rider, so we were all the time like “Michael, that’s out of tune” with the voice of the car. hahaha.
And also, David and I were drinking coffee at the station when Arjen came to pick us up by car, so we got in the car and half an hour later we realized we forgot to pay for the coffee! We didn’t go back though, hihihi. But the sessions were not stressful whatsoever, it was fun!
Have you had much time to prepare your stuff for the songs?
The first session I didn’t. I just came in the studio and Arjen let me hear the melodies a few times and then we recorded it. For the second session he send me some mp3 files so I could prepare.
Hello Ed, everything okr?
Hello SasH, for now its alright, hahaha. thanks for asking.
You are one of the few permanent musicians with AYREON. Do you have much musical influences resp. can you introduce you own ideas or does everything comes from Arjen?
Normally Arjen designs the basic drum parts, to give a certain layout of how the song should sound. We come together in the studio and there we make the actual arrangements. Most of the time he let me do my thing and I know I'm on the right track, when he jumps up and down in the control room or he laughs when I play a mad Fill In, hahaha.
Did you already have the chance to hear the completed “01011001”? Did you like it?
Oh yes, I have received the Promo-CD a few weeks ago and when you ask me, I think that it again has become a master piece. I am very satisfied with the great sound of the percussions and happy and it really fills me with great respect to work with people like Jorn Lande, Bob Catley, Jonas Renske and Tom Englund on one album.
We have heard a lot about Arjen and working with him, is he really that a perfectionist?
Oooooh yeeees! He is a complete perfectionist, but that's also alright, because I'm also one, hahaha. That's the reason why we fit so well together and why we understand each other so well. In fact it even so, that he in general is satisfied with a drum take but I then say: „Let's do another take to see if I can do even better“, hahaha!
Can you imagine during recordings how the final album will sound like when you only hear the music without you heard the singing and other stuff?
At that time I wasn't aware of the total concept, while I, as you mentioned, only had the music during recording. But taking it in total, when I'm honest, I wouldn't matter, hehehe.
What is your favourite song on the new album?
I love the opening song, mainly because of “We are forever”, while it is so unbelievable dreamlike. Especial because I like the combination of Jonas Renske and Anneke van Giersbergen very much. Another favourite song on this new album is also „Beneath the Waves“, it is so… majestic! And „Waking Dreams“ is another favourit, because it is again another wonderful Anneke / Jonas moment. Yeah, in fact there are too many beautiful moments to pinpoint yourself to only one, hahaha!
Interview & Layout: SasH
Vocals - Forever:
Hansi Kursch [BLIND GUARDIAN, DEMONS & WIZARDS]
Daniel Gildenlow [PAIN OF SALVATION]
Thomas Englund [EVERGREY]
Jonas Renkse [KATATONIA]
Jorn Lande [JORN, ex-MASTERPLAN, ex-ARK]
Anneke van Giersbergen [ex-THE GATHERING, AGUA DE ANNIQUE]
Steve Lee [GOTTHARD]
Bob Catley [MAGNUM]
Floor Jansen [AFTER FOREVER, STAR ONE]
Magali Luyten [BEAUTIFUL SIN, VIRUS IV]
Arjen Lucassen – Guitars, Bass, Vocals, Keyboards, Hammond, Mandoline
Jeroen Goossens (FLAIRCK) - Flute
Ben Mathot (DIS) - Violin
David Faber - Cello
Lori Linstruth [Ex-STREAM OF PASSION]
Michael Romeo [SYMPHONY X]
Vocals - Man:
Simone Simons [EPICA]
Marjan Welman [ELISTER]
Liselotte Hegt [DIAL]
Arjen Anthony Lucassen
Ty Tabor [KING'S X]
The Dream Sequencer
Flight of the Migrator
The Human Equation
Into the Electric Castle
All Contentse (c) Ancient-Spirit-Magazine