Arjen : Hi man !
Jean-Christophe : Hello, how are you Arjen ?
Arjen : I’m doing fine thank you very much !
Jean-Christophe : So welcome in France. A new Ayreon is arriving, called The Source, a prequel to 01011001.
Arjen : Right yes.
Jean-Christophe : The story takes place before 01011001, can you tell us, in a few words, what’s happening to the humanity in this album ?
Arjen : Well the story starts on the planet Alpha, a long long time ago, and people have become totally dependent on technology. But it’s going really wrong on this world, there’s ecological problems as the greenhouse effect so they instruct the computer, which is call the Frame, short name for the mainframe, to solve the problems on their world. The mainframe decides to shut down all live supports because he says well, the problem is mankind. So people will be slowly dying, so they have to leave the planet in search of an other world to preserve their race. Basically that’s the start of the story.
Jean-Christophe : Ok. And what is The Source, because in the story, you tell that people need it to survive on the new planet ?
Arjen : It’s a combination of things. The title The Source refers to the source of mandkind, to where do we come from, The Source refers also to the drug Liquid Eternity which as been devised by the chemist in the story. The planet where they go is planet Y and it’s a water planet so they have to adjust to live under water and this drug enables them to live under water and enables them to communicate with each other.
Jean-Christophe : And this drug seems also to extend their live.
Arjen : Yeah, and it gives them longevity, that why they’re called the forever age of course.
Jean-Christophe : Where did you found your inspiration for all these stories ?
Arjen : I don’t where it comes from really but I’ve always been a lover of science fiction ever since I saw Star Trek in the 60’s when I was a little kid, ten years old or something. I saw this guy with pointy ears [Laughs], green women and red skies... I love Star Trek so much that’s why my love for science fiction started and I’ve seen so much science fiction in my life, lot of TV series, lot of movies and I’m sure it has left is mark on me and inspired me but I couldn’t say directly I was inspired by this or by that. I think it’s a combination of a lot of things.
Jean-Christophe : You wanted to talk about the problem of humanity and the greenhouse effect on the world in this album ?
Arjen : I try not to but yes, between the lines you know there is a message but basically I don’t think it’s the task of a musician to educate people, I think it’s my task to entertain people so in the first place I think my music and lyrics are escapetisan but science fiction is of course a great way to refer to things that are happening on earth. I grew up in a time before computers and I see how the expansional wise of computers how fast it goes. Scientists have suggested that, in twenty or thirty years, machines and computers would be more intelligent than people. For me is very interesting to think about what would happen then.
Jean-Christophe : Terrifying future !
Arjen : Yes !
Jean-Christophe : The Theory of Everything was really prog with prog artists, The Source returns to heavy guitars riffs and folk too, why this comeback to old Ayreon sound ?
Arjen : Because I never like to repeat myself, just to keep it fresh for me and the fans, and every album I do is always a contrast to the album before that. So like you said last album was really proggy and very keyboards oriented with Emerson and Rudess so this one, with guitars players like Gilbert, Govan and Coenen is more guitar oriented. I think it’s also a reaction to the album I did directly from this, The Gentle Storm, which was kind of a feminine held hand you know it had only like a scening and it was a love story, and really felt I can do something different now, more masculine and go back to science fiction. I can’t get away from science fiction, I guess I love going back to it.
Jean-Christophe : James Labrie, Russell Allen, Floor Jansen, Mikeal Mills, you’ve been working with familiar voices this time (The Human Equation, The Dream Sequencer, Flight Of The Migrator), is it more comfortable for you to work with people you know well to a human point of view ?
Arjen : No not really. It fact with the two albums The Human Equation and The Theory Of Every Thing I had a rule that I wanna to work with singers I never worked before, again it keeps it fresh for me and it keeps it fresh for the people. I didn’t want to limit myself, I just want the best singers in the world and I started hearing voices on some the parts, like James or Russell then I knew like “Ok, lets not limit myself, lets just ask any musician I want whether I’ve worked with them or whether I haven’t worked with them.”. So on this album it’s about 50 percent. 50 percent people have worked with and 50 percent new people.
Jean-Christophe : Yes, and on this album there’s Myrath’s Singer, Zaher Zorgati, you’ve met him before ?
Arjen : Well I’ve always loved oriental melodies. I think it comes from Kashmir from Led Zepplin (1975) which has this oriental feeling and I’ve always loved Gates Of Babylon from Rainbow and in my own bands in the eighties I had a song called ‘Arabia’ (Vengeance 1989) what had like a [Arjen singing] you know [laughs], that’s stuff, those kind of arabian scales. So I’ve always loved it and people knew that so fans told me if you like that check out Myrath, so I went to Youtube and I saw their stuff, and I say “oh man, this is great, fantastic melodies“ and after that I went to Symphony X gig and they were supporting them and I went to Zaher and I said, listen man, I’m the frontman of Ayreon project and he says “oh I know you, I know you” so I say would you like to guest on it and he says yeah yes cool. So that was how it came into being.
Jean-Christophe : Sure, everybody knows you !
Arjen : Well I wish Paul Mccartney would know me and Robert Plant, David Gilmour too. [Laughs]. Yeah I wish.
Jean-Christophe : John Wetton, who was singing on The Theory Of Everything, has passed away fall of january, what is your feeling about that, did you know him very good ?
Arjen : No I didn’t know him very good. We met through our his management and I went to England, so I been with him like for an afternoon so I didn’t know him really well. So I just know him as a very nice man, a very gentle man, and great sense of humour, and great to work with him, so yes it really sad when I heard it but it think it was a long time coming you know, people knew that he was sick…
Jean-Christophe : If you look back now to your career, what would be your favorite album, your favorite collaboration (except The Source of course) ?
Arjen : I think my favorite is my solo album Lost In The New Real because it’s 100% me, it’s totally me, lyrics are me, music is me, the playing, the singing. Especially the track ‘Lost In The New Real’, I love that one. So I think that’s the album I’m must proud of. And besides that I love all Ayreon stuff really, maybe, it changes, Into The Electric Castle my breakthrough album so that has a very special place too.
Jean-Christophe : You were talking about Lost In The New Real, will there be one day a new Arjen Lucassen solo album ?
Arjen : I hope so, because I try each time, this time too should be solo. Because it’s cool to do solo, you don’t have to arrange with singers, I can do everything on my own, but it never works out that way, because I come out with part that I cannot sing myself or the music is a bit too heavy and can’t sing heavy music. So yeah, I definitely want to do and other one, it just I have to stick to the plan or one [Laughs].
Jean-Christophe : In september there will be an amazing event, three Ayreon’s gigs in Tilburg.
Arjen : Right.
Jean-Christophe : Could you imagine this enormous success ?
Arjen : NOT AT ALL, NOT A ALL ! Of course we did the Theory Equation which was king the catalyst to do this, cause you know it was a big success, people loved it and were so happy that I that point I decided ok let's do it, like a sort of best of Ayreon show. I did it together with the keyboard player Joost van den Broek and we went to 013, the place where we are going to play, I said ‘you know we can fill the 013 cause it’s 3000 people ?’ and he said “of course you can fill it twice and we have an option for a third one”, we put it on Facebook and in the presales the first two show were gone were gone within hours. You got a ticket ?
Jean-Christophe : No too late, no way…
Arjen : Oh sorry man, sorry… And yeah we had the third show and was gone later that day. No never expect that really.
Jean-Christophe : Really amazing and you can measure your celebrity with that event.
Arjen : Oh yeah, well, but not really, because I never played live before, it’d just three shows, so you can’t really compare with other bands or with other projects. It’s been twenty years now that people have been waiting for that, but yeah it’s fantastic of course.
Jean-Christophe : You told me that you do like to play live, but in Tilburg, will you appear during the show ?
Arjen : Yes I will appear, but I don’t like it at all [Laughs], as I told you last time, it’s really not my thing, I’m not a good performer, I’m a composer, a producer, I’ve terrible stage fright, already thinking now you know, but I gonna have to do it, I can’t get away with it now, not showing myself of just waving to the people, I gonna have to play a little bit so, yeah, I have to get ready for that [Laughs].
Jean-Christophe : I saw you with Stream of Passion in Strasbourg, and you were great.
Arjen : Oh thank you man, thank you. [Laughs] Well yeah, when you do a all tour you can get into the groove, but you know to go on stage for twenty years without playing it’s a little scary, but it will be fun.
Jean-Christophe : Will you play tracks of The Source in Tilburg ?
Arjen : Yes, we will play a minimum of two tracks of each albums, some albums will have a little bit more songs but at least two tracks.
Jean-Christophe : To talk again on The Source, what exotic instruments have you brought this time on the album ?
Arjen : It’s not really new exotic instruments, nothing I didn’t use before, which is gonna be hard because I’ve already used everything you know [Laughs]. I used didjeridoos, horns, of course violons, all kinds of flutes and stuff on Gentle Storm I use the dulcimer. No there’s no new exotic instrument on this one, just the regular ones just like violins, flutes, piano and stuff like that.
Jean-Christophe : Micheal Mills brings a very special influence in the Source, was his choice ?
Arjen : No, no, it was strange. I didn’t plan him on this album. He didn’t had a part on this album. I then I got stuck with one of the songs, it’s the song ‘Run! Apocalypse! Run!’ and I can’t going back to a Rainbow song, a part of Gate Of Babylon and I couldn’t get away from it so I contacted Mike and I say “Hey Mike, you’re my hero, can you come up with vocal melody here ?” and he did you know, he sent me back his all symphony of voices, and it was like hoo !!! this is cool, “Man, I want all of the ideas on my album”, I really start to find a spot for him, even creating spot for him, sending to him and just giving to him little instructions like in the first song ‘The Day That The World Break Down’, ok in this part I just want binary letters, that’s all, I said “Do you think you can do something with that ?” and he said “oh definitively, don’t worry with this”.
Jean-Christophe : There’s a message in this binary message, at the end is TH1.
Arjen : Yes, the binary message says “Trust TH1” and in the end of the album we will find out if we can really trust him [Laughs].
Jean-Christophe : Very dark, no future.
Arjen : Yes, pretty dark and a direct intro for the album 01011001.
Jean-Christophe : Last question if you’re ok. You started a contest to make the video clip of ‘The Source Will Flow’, my favorite one was Ortega's version. What was yours ?
Arjen : I COULD NOT choose really, I COULD NOT choose. Cause, it was the idea that I would choose one, so that four I love too more. We decided, ok, let not choose ourself, let’s have the fans vote for favorite one. So I glad we did that so, I glad we did not to have to do it ? [Laughs]
Jean-Christophe : A few words for french people ?
Arjen : I have always loved France you know. I had all my holidays there as a kid in St Tropez, St Raphaël, every year with the same group of friends. Now, on the promotions tour we did interfusing in France and it was amazing, I had like twenty two interviews I think in one day. Cause people are so nice you know, so warm, I just love french. And I’m sorry I’m not touring anymore otherwise I would be there all the time you know. I just hope you guys, you’ll like the album and just let me know what you think of it, I easy to reach.
Jean-Christophe : Thanks a lot Arjen.
Arjen : De rien. Ok Jean-Christophe, à la prochaine.
Rédigé par Jean-Christophe le 25/04/2017