By the fans, collected by "Taz" for ArjenLucassen.com
Uh...your time? ;-)
With Ayreon, who was the first "guest artist" you approached (who you didn't know
That must have been Lenny Wolf of Kingdom Come fame. I was really surprised when he said yes. And when he asked me to join Kingdom Come afterwards!
and how did you hit upon the idea of long distance collaboration?
Because some musicians live far away...
Because I am also a rather big Golden Earring fan I would like to know how Arjen experienced the collaboration between him and Barry Hay for TFE.Why Barry for Sail Away,how did that go about?
I knew Barry from the old Vengeance days back in the 80's. He helped us out with lyrics and we performed Back Home with him live in his (and my) hometown The Hague. When I asked him for Ayreon he said: Sure, just give me a bottle of whiskey! I was so nervous when he came to the studio…it was such a kick hearing the voice I grew up listening to as a kid, singing MY song! I still feel that Avalon was the perfect song for him.
And how was it to play with Golden Earring for "Vrienden van Amstel Live"
I was asked to play my favourite intro of a famous Dutch song, and of course I chose an Earring track. I didn't actually play with the Earring, unfortunately.
What do you say to Amateurs (I mean the ones who really suck) who send you stuff and hope to be envolved in one of your Projects?
In the beginning I answered all the stuff that was sent to me. When it really sucked I was having a hard time finding something positive to tell them (sure hope you weren't one of them!). But the last years I really don't have the time anymore to answer everything, or even to listen to it. I try to though, of course there could be an Astrid or Marcela among them.
This might be a contentious question,
Wow, I had to look that word up in the dictionary ;-)
but have you ever gotten back a contribution from someone that you scratched your head about and wondered, "Did they even listen to the song they were playing on?" In that case, do you just say "Thanks" and hit the erase button?
Yes, I got back some recordings that I really didn't like. Sometimes they were able to improve it, sometimes they weren't. It's VERY hard to tell a musician that it just isn't good enough and I'm not going to use it, especially when you know they can't do any better. I really prefer to record singers in my own studio, that way I can guide them if necessary.
Who was originally supposed to sing the best friend's part on THE?
I seem to remember the first choice was Gary Hughes of 'Ten', but he had some personal problems at the time. After that there were about 3 singers that didn't work out for various reasons, I won't mention their names obviously. I'm sure Paul McCartney wouldn't like that.
When you pick up your guitar, which chord do you play first?
Mostly an E chord, because it's the lowest and fattest. So that would be a B on my 7 string. When I want to check if it's in tune I play an open G. The F# is one of my fave chords, because you can easily go down to the E or up to the A. I also often play a G#maj7sus4augm5 when I feel bold. Anyone still reading this?
Is the musical duel between Gary W and Jens J in "Master of Darkness" supposed to be a duel between Luke and Darth? And if so, who represents who?
Haha, I remember asking them the same thing at the time! Well, in my opinion the fight between these two virtuosos was undecided, so I guess we'll never know. I just can't imagine one being the other's daddy anyway... I'm sure Gary would look great in a black helmet though.
How much of your characterisically manly guitar sound is due to technical wizardry (i.e., equipment and processing), and how much do you think is in your hands (i.e., the way you play)?
There is not much wizardry going on soundwise, because I simply use the presets of the line 6 POD, and lots of people tell me they can't get a good sound out of it. So I guess a lot of it has to do with the chords and riffs I come up with, and the way it fits in the whole production/mix. Having said that, I don't like my own guitarsound, I always think it can be better. Especially when I listen to old Van Halen or new RAMMSTEIN.
If you could pick a band to work with as producer, which band would it be? That is, who do you hear as a "diamond in the rough" that you are just itching to get your hands on?
Okay, guess that leaves out Pink Floyd ;-) Hmm…I guess that goes for a lot of the singers I work with. I often think they can do much more, or different things than in their own bands. The reason I'm not producing other bands is because I'm afraid I would give them all the typical Ayreon sound so they'd lose their own identity.
Do you plan on working with Edward Reekers again in the future?His solo cd isn't too bad but he sings so much better on Ayreon.
The list of people I want to work with is endless. But Edward will always be on this list, he fits very well in my music.
Do you like Celine Dion? Or what is your opinion about her music? (my gf wants to know)
Haha, I think I know who you are! Sorry, that's not for me... but then again there's not much music I do like. Maybe just two or three albums a year. Various styles, not just metal or prog.
Would you like to have Till Lindemann (Rammstein) on future Ayreon album?
Definitely, that would be so cool!
What role he could have?
That would be very hard. Obviously he would have to sing German and sound evil, because that's what we all like about him. So it would be hard not to 'mention the war', to quote mr Cleese. But if he would do it, I would certainly find a way.
Do you have a favorite album/song from your own career?
That changes all the time. At the risk of sounding arrogant, when I listen to one of my albums I always feel that it's my favourite. At the moment I would say Electric Castle. And I always think that Isis and Osiris is a good introduction to my music; it has acoustic, folky, gothic, electronic, metal and proggy parts.
Will Arjen be doing more with Stream of Passion?
I would love to. We had a great tour, we've become very good friends and I think all musicians are very talented. Anything is possible.
Is there a great album you wish you had made?
I wish I had written Stargazer by Rainbow. And I wouldn't mind having made Dark Side of the Moon. And receiving the royalties on my back- account ;-)
What are Arjen's feelings/thoughts about the SOP tour?
It was simply magic. There were no bad shows.
Was it different than expected?
Yes, I didn't expect the band to be so professional.
Were there a lot of (technical/logistical) problems to overcome?
I invested a lot of time and money in this tour, so everything went fairly smooth in the end. But of course the fact that this band hails from different corners of the world doesn't make things easy logistically speaking.
I wanted to know if there is a fausse modestie (kinda wrong modesty / inacurate modesty...notadmitted pride... you see what it means ?)
Oui oui, monsieur. :-)
that makes you sing on your albums. You always like 'oh i'm not a great singer but i wanted X to do it but due to problems he could not make it so i had to do the vocals myself' on all your albums.... Come on, you like to sing a bit on your own stuff.
Indeed I love singing! But I'm really not a great singer technically speaking. In plain terms: I sing out of tune and my voice is very thin and fragile. Anyone who has heard me live can affirm that! But with some studiotricks like doubling my voice I do sound okay I guess. But when X can do a better job than me, I'd go for X anytime.
It's like when you say you don't like touring... but man do you look like happy when i saw you on stage in Paris...
You bet I was.
How do you explain that big fella ?
Well, the 2 hours on stage are great. However, the other 22 hours of the day consist of waiting, travelling, waiting, not being able to sleep well and…waiting. And most of all, not being able to be creative. And having to play the same songs night after night with the danger of routine creeping in. I had that feeling with Vengeance, we've been touring for 9 years, playing a couple of times every week.
Oh and thanks for the show, all the people that went to see SOP said it was one of their best concert EVER (and I'll second that).
Merci beaucoup, mon chere ami, you're welcome!
Do you plan to make a movie soundtrack?
I don't think I can write music on comission. I wish they would make a movie to my music though...
How many hours you can loop the same riff in order to find the right sound?
For hours and hours! Especially synthesiser sequences, endlessly twiddling all the knobs. Drives everyone crazy I can tell you...
How much is your guitar sound due to Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier or POD?
I just use the Mesa as a monitor on stage, so most of the sound you hear in the venue comes from the POD, which went straight into the PA. The left line out of the POD to the mixer and the other line out to the Mesa (effects return, so no pre-amp, clean).
I wonder what's with his brother Gjalt...'cause in the SoP booklet it says 'no synthezisers, no samples, no thanks to Gjalt'...and at the end of the THE DVD he says 'Well I had this brother...'. Is it just joking between the two of them, or is it a serious problem or does Arjen prefer to leave this question unanswered?
No problem at all! In fact my brother Gjalt and me are the best of friends nowadays. But things were different when we were young...hmm...did you ever have an older brother who was stronger and more intelligent than you? :-) This is my way of getting back at him!
Your long-time Idol finally agrees to guest on your album.
That would be Alice Cooper.
There is only one small thing:He (or she) doesn't feel the hippie-like vibe and is afraid it might ruin his or her reputation.The requirement is that you cut your hair in order to have this person on your album.
Alice wouldn't ask that! Though he hates hippies...
Would you do that?
NO WAY! I would look silly with short hair ;-) And remember what happened to Samson...
Hi Arjen, I would love to know if you where have been ever inspired from the music of the American Melodic Metal Band "Kamelot"?
Excellent band indeed. But they haven't inspired me. Bands that I grew up listening to in the 60's and 70's inspired me most. Guess the music you hear in your teens is most influential and generally shapes your taste in music.
Why does Arjen uses a stuiver for a pick, and not a regular pick?
When I started playing acoustic guitar, I used a huge floppy pick. But when I started playing electric guitar I started using smaller picks all the time. At one point I couldn't find a pick and used a coin. It was very hard to play, but the sound was great! And because all those amazing guitar wizards like Yngwie came along, I just gave up trying to be fast and concentrated more on the sound. And besides that, the coin is much cheaper than a pick ;-)
And: how many stuivers are left? And does he have any kind of storage for them?
I still have hundreds of stuivers (old Dutch coins). When the euro was introduced everybody gave me all their stuivers! They are lying around all over the house and studio.
Why don't you like Saxophones?
I can't explain, just really hate the sound of it. No matter how well it's played. Sometimes I can 'tolerate' it, like on the Floyd albums. But a sax is even a reason for me not to like a band or album. I don't like trumpets either. Sure hope you're not a brass player!
Apart frp, "One Small Step"are there any more songs autobiographical?
On my Anthony solo album there are some autobiographical songs, especially Not Over You. On Ayreon most of it is fantasy, but if you search well some personal views are hidden between the lines. I've never been lost in an Electric Castle though, I haven't been in a coma and never travelled back in time in a Dream Sequencer ;-)
Any thoughts on ever playing any shows in the USA?
That would be great, but the US is so damned huge… The distances between the cities are just way too big. It can be done when you have thousands of people coming to the shows and you can fly from one city/state to another, but unfortunatly I haven't reached that status. Yet ;- )
Ok, so here's my question: I'd like to know how he and Marcela worked together on writing songs: music first and then lyrics, or lyrics first, or both at the same time, and the melody? I don't know how he usually does that, also with other singer/songwriters?
I always start with the (instrumental) music myself. Then the melody, and then the lyrics. I'm sure every composer works differently though.
Could Erik Norlander do a synth solo without a double band?
What is a double band? Anyway, he programs all his solos in the computer. Also when he plays live a lot of his keyboards are sequenced by that Apple computer. The big modular synth behind him is just for show. The flashing lights are kinda amusing though!
Do you think that this is the right way to dance listening "Losing you"?
Absolutely, that's the only way. Do the bananaboogie, baby, give it to me!
How do you come up with titles for songs or albums? Example please!
Simple, I steal them from SF movies! I heard Jean-Luc Picard talk about the Human Equation to Data, so there you go ;-)
What are Arjen's ten desert island discs (only one per band)?
This changes all the time. Right now I would say:
Pink Floyd – Meddle
Rainbow – Rising
Led Zeppelin – 3
Alice Cooper – Love it to Death
Queen – 2
Webber/Rice – JC Superstar
Xavier Phideaux – Ghost Story
Remy Zero – Villa Elaine
Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick
Camel – Moonmadness
Beatles – Anthology 2
(mine goes to eleven)
What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you during a concert? In General?
Being played off the stage by a beautiful and talented female guitarplayer with lots of hair.
What was the most embarrassing thing YOU ever did on stage?
Besides the countless mistakes I've made during the shows, that must be the time when we all came back on stage after a power failure in just our underwear in the Vengeance days. We thought it would be a nice joke, but we didn't realize we still had to play for an hour!
Did you ever fall off Stage?
Oh I must have, in m my wild days! So wild that I don't even remember it... or maybe I don't want to… I did fall off stage at the last SOP show, but that was just to scare some crazy fans in front of me ;-)
OK, after extensive discussion with my mother we have decided that we want to know if Arjen practices his guitar faces in the bathroom mirror on a morning And my dad wants to know if there's a course you can go on to learn how to do it properly
Haha! Well, I don't even realize I'm doing that. I'm always shocked when I see those silly photos or videos! Believe me, you don't want to learn that. Come to think of it…is there a course where I can unlearn that?
What does a normal Arjen Lucassen day look like? Describe 24 hours briefly.
I wake up (usually after a pretty bad night's sleep) at about 7. I get up at 8 and feed the cats. I spend a looong time on the toilet reading the latest music magazine and at 8:30 I start answering emails. At 9:30 I have breakfast and at 10 I go back to my emails and make some phonecalls. Between 11 and 12 I go into the studio and 'work' there until about 4:30. Then I feed the cats again and go shopping. I cook at 5:30 and eat at 6. After dinner at 7:30 I go back to my office, make some more phonecalls and do some more emails until 10. From 10 till 11 I listen to music, mostly new stuff, something different everyday. At 11 I turn on the TV and grab my guitar in the hope that some new ideas might surface while watching tv. Depending on my inspiration I go to bed at about 1. Hmm…a regular day at the office ;- )
What do you think about the fanart that is being sent or given to you (such as the arjen-banana drawing I gave you in Rijssen) and what do you do with them?
It's such an honour for me, thanks all! I have a big box for all the letters I get. Some of the fan-art gets a nice place on my office desk and it stays there for months until there's no more room because of my business papers piling up. The banana drawing is lying here in front of me together with a fluffy lion and a lovely ladybird. The blow-up banana that was given to me on tour is in my studio. And some of the paintings that I got from fans are in my sitting room. Come to think of it, there's no more room…stop giving me stuff! ;-)
First reactions that come to mind please:
Keith Emerson, Ken Hensley, Jon Lord. One of the greatest instruments ever made, provided it's cranked up LOUD!
A very special woman, a good friend and an extremely multi-talented and beautiful lady.
~ Electric Castle
One of the best albums I made, and a little studio that doesn't resemble a castle at all! ;-)
Thickly spread with lost of butter! And for some dark reason a favourite subject on the Ayreon mailinglist...
The biggest talent I ever worked with. She will be in my heart always.
I have the best and most loyal fans in the world. Maybe every musician thinks the same, but I know I'm right. VERY important for me, the main reason I'm doing what I do. I'd do anything for them, and I believe they'd do anything for me. I love to spoil them rotten! Whatever happens, it's good to know that I will never be alone in this world.
~ Behind-the-scenes DVD's
Yvette, my personal manager who films and edits them, rules big time! Despite the fact that she knows I hate to be filmed, she gets the job done each time. And the fans love these special features, I get so many positive reactions.
~ Lori's wah-wah pedal
Haha, you're referring to her 'phonecall' to me! Just ask Lori if that was for real ;-) As everybody knows by now I love Lori's playing, and the wah is part of her style and sound.
My favourite project. I will keep making Ayreon albums until I lose my love for music. Which will probably be the day I die.
Thanks for not finishing that word, let the G word remain unspoken.
My future is today, not next year. I don't really know what will happen after today. I have some ideas, but they never turn out the way I planned.
If you could go back in time and change something you've done in life (you only get one chance), what would you change?
If I would change anything, I wouldn't be where I am now. So I wouldn't change a thing. Not even the golden spandex pants I wore in the 80's ;-)
Did you ever come to Canada? If no, would you like to?
Yes, I visited Canada when I was in my teens. Had a great time there, broke a lot of hearts, amongst other things ;-) I'd love to go there again. Many great musicians hail from Canada, like Devin Townsend, James Labrie and of course the mighty Rush.
What is the weirdest thing you ever photographed?
The inside of a lens cap.
What is the weirdest thing you ever autographed?
A Lana Lane album.
If you ever were invited to do a travel in space would you do it?
I definitely would!
And what would you bring along?1 item of max. 10 kg
A space suit.
Do you have any phobias?
I am rather afraid of heights. Which is kinda awkward being as tall as I am ;-)
If you could be a character from a fairytale, who would it be and why?
Some wrinkly gnome I guess, I always wanted to know what it's like to be small ;-)
Do you think life gets better as you get older, or do you think that is a crock of shit?
Yes, I do think life gets better, even though I had a happy childhood. I don't mind getting older, I accept life as it is. I wouldn't have it any other way. With all its ups and downs. When there will be no more ups, that's when I will start to worry, and do something about it...
Is the political climat still tolerable or are you planning on moving abroad?
Holland is fine, no plans to emigrate. Unless the music takes me somewhere else.
Whats your favourite colour?
Black and red.
Whats your favourite food?
Mexican, Indonesian and Indian. I don't eat meat, I like animals too much.
Whats your motto on life?
The meaning of life is giving life meaning.
Where do you seek inspiration?
Listening to music, watching a good movie and enjoying nature.
...nah, not really, just lots of drugs and alcohol. ;-)
What kind of comb or hair-brush do you use?
Hmm….now why would you ask that…you're making fun of my outdated hairstyle, aren't you? ;- )
did you watch the recent series of Doctor Who?
Sure I did, great stuff. After Tom Baker, Christopher Eccleston is easily the best doctor imo.
If so, what did you think of the emotional dalek?
He was cute! But... EXTERMINATE!
Is it possible for humans and cyborgs to have empathy for one another?
For me it is possible to have empathy for any living creature. Sometimes even for a fluffy lion or ladybird sitting on my office desk ;-) Guess it's all about fooling yourself. As for a cyborg having empathy for a human, guess you'd have to ask them.
Do you believe in God or other superior Creatures (or Things)?
No. I believe in myself and in the people I care for.
Do you like roller coasters?
I do, but my bad back doesn't. Great question, I've always wanted to be asked that.
Do you prefer coffee or tea?
Tea. With honey. And lemon juice. I bet you can live happily ever having acquired this important piece of knowledge, right? ;- )
Does he like applesauce?
Not particularly, but I don't dislike it. I prefer bananas to apples though ;-) Wow…these questions are becoming deeper and deeper...
Do you believe in UFO's, aliens?
If the universe is infinite, there have to be other species around somewhere. I'm afraid the distances might be too big to ever meet them though :-) But as they say…the truth is out there...
Have you ever used a sock? Or a cucumber? YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!
Yes, I wear socks everyday and I love a slice of cucumber in my salad.
Hmm...guess I didn't know what you mean? ;- )
Are you finding strands of Lori's hair all over your and studio? ;-)
Don't ever mention Lori's hair to me, that makes me VERY jealous.
What was the most stupid Thing you did as a Kid?
That involves spandex pants, a sock and a cucumber.
MacGyver can do a super guitar solo with a broom and an elastic band. Can you do better?
I could never equal the mighty MacGyver, he's the man!
What would you do if you woke up in the Morning and noticed someone shaved off your Hair?
Find that person and shave off his head.
Do you prefer Spock or Data?
I like Spock's ears, but I love Data's eyes.
Have you ever projected to make a son (a successor for the Lucassen's dinasty) instead of a rock opera?
I'm still too much of a kid myself, and I guess I'll always be. And it's not easy for a woman to share her life with this one-dimensional musicaholic, let alone a kid. I realize that it would be a great responsibility.
Have you ever been Electrocuted?
Hey, why do you think my studio is called The Electric Castle? :-)
When can I get an Ayreon bumpersticker for my car?
Actually, stickers should be available on the site shortly! Drive carefully.
And..what is all this I keep hearing about Peanut Butter?!
It's brown stuff, made from peanuts, sugar, lots of fat and vitamin E. Try it!