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Arjen 'Ayreon' Lucassen – Writer, composer, musician for Ayreon, Star One, & Stream of Passion

Date: 04/22/08
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. Tell us about the new album "01011001" and what the number signifies?

ARJEN: The album is somewhat darker than my other albums. Lyrically it links my six previous Ayreon albums and completes the circle of the big Ayreon universe saga. 01011001 is binary code for the letter Y, as in Planet Y, home of the Forever race introduced on my 3rd album “Into the Electric Castle”.

2. Who are some of the guest vocalists and players on the album?

ARJEN: There are no less than 25 guest musicians on this album; Hansi Kürsch,(Blind Guardian) Michael Romeo (Symphony X), Daniel Gildenlow (Pain of Salvation), Jorn Lande, Bob Catley (Magnum), Derek Sherinian, Ty Tabor (Kings X), Simone Simons (Epica), Jonas Renkse and many others.

3. What is this new collaborative Ayreon EP “Elected” about?

ARJEN: On January 25th 2008 both rock operas of me and Tobias Sammet, respectively Ayreon’s ‘01011001’ and Avantasia’s ‘Scarecrow’, were released simultaneously. The press called this event the ‘Clash of the Titans’, and Tobias and me were pictured everywhere as bitter rivals. In the many interviews we both did they had to answer a lot of questions about each other, without even having heard each others albums. Upon release both albums immediately entered CD charts in various countries all over the world. When I heard that Tobias had managed to get my all-time favorite artist Alice Cooper to guest on the Avantasia album, I completely freaked out and sent a funny hate-mail to Tobias’ MySpace, which Tobias unfortunately never received. Later on Tobias decided to send a mail to me just to get acquainted, because we had to talk about each other all the time without even knowing each other. We started corresponding quite a lot by mail and as it turned out Tobias in his turn was equally jealous of me getting Bruce Dickinson to guest on an Ayreon album! The idea rose to rise to the challenge set up by the press, put some coal on the fire and record something together. The result is a hilarious cover version of Elected. ‘Elected’ is a cover version of the big hit that – ironically - Alice Cooper had back in 1973, taken from his album “Billion Dollar Babies”.

4. How are you able to tap into so many talented people for these Ayreon albums?

ARJEN: Ayreon is becoming more and more known in the world, the last album has charted in 13 countries: #2 in Holland and #18 in Germany. Therefore it becomes easier to get great talented and well known musicians, in fact I'm in the luxurious position now where musicians are actually offering their services to me. It's a huge honor for me to be able to work with some of the best musicians on the planet.

5. What are some of the different sounds and compositions you like to create with Ayreon?

ARJEN: There are no limits in Ayreon, anything is possible as long as it lies within my personal taste. That means prog, metal, folk, classical, rock, electronic etc. I like music to be adventurous, and the storylines add an extra dimension to the music. My albums do need a couple of listens in order to sink in though, there are many layers that need to be discovered with each listen. It's not stuff you listen to while doing the dishes!

6. What type of audience does Ayreon have and do you ever to perform the music live?

ARJEN: The Ayreon audience ranges from very young to very old. People who have an open mind about music. It could be metalheads, proggies or even folkies. This may sound cheesy, but I really feel that I have the best and most loyal fans one could wish for. It's not possible to play live with Ayreon, it would be impossible with (or without) the many guest musicians. Ayreon was never set up to be played live. Having to play it live would limit me in the recording process.

7. Are American hard rock listeners aware of your works?

ARJEN: f you regard the US as one country, it's my biggest market, but then of course it's huge. I get a lot of great mails from America. But because I don't play live it's harder to get really well known all over America.

8. How many instruments are you skilled in?

ARJEN: I don't think I'm really skilled in any of them, but I do know how to make them sound good, which is more important in my opinion. So I play a little of everything, enough to portray my emotions.

9. Do you play the majority of the music on the Ayreon albums?

ARJEN: Yes indeed, I play all the keyboards, guitars and bass guitars and I sing as well. The guest musicians are mostly singers and some keyboard- and guitar players who play solos.

10. What is your involvement with the band Stream of Passion?

ARJEN: I founded the band, but I've never been a permanent member. They are continuing without me pulling the strings now. In fact I will see them live for the first time this week.

11. What makes Ayreon different from Star One and Stream of Passion?

ARJEN: Ayreon is a rock opera project, Star One and Stream of Passion are bands. Star One is the metal side of Ayreon and Stream of Passion is the gothic and more ambient side of Ayreon. As I said before, there are no limits in Ayreon, but with my side-projects I like to limit myself. It's a challenge.

12. What are you working on in the future?

ARJEN: Basically I never plan ahead because it never works out anyway! So I will just let my inspiration guide me into the next project, whatever it will be. I just know it won't be an Ayreon, I need a couple of years of breathing space between Ayreon albums to recharge my batteries!

Thanks for your interest in my music!


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