Power of Metal.dk Interview

Interview with Arjen Anthony Lucassen, May 2012

First of, congratulations on the new album. It’s a different album, a happy one and I’ve enjoyed it quite a lot.

Thanks, glad you enjoy it! Yes, it’s definitely a more optimistic album than my last dark releases.

For the first time you’re doing most of the vocals on your own. Was it a new learning experience for you? What have you discovered about your voice in making “Lost in the New Real”?

Hmm... hard to say if I can still learn anything at 52, haha! But yeah, I think I definitely got better and more versatile. At least I learned my own limitations. And I wrote the songs especially on my voice. I couldn’t sing metal like for instance Russell Allen does.

You’ve always openly claimed that Blade Runner is one of your favorite Sci-fi movies of all time. How was it like getting actor Rutger Hauer to play the psychological advisor? I understand he also put his own creativity into it - piecing his own ideas together to create the narration. How did you manage for him to narrate the album?

It was truly a dream come true because I really dreamt about it! I’ve been a fan of Rutger ever since I was 10 years old. And yes, Blade Runner is my fave sci-fi movie of all time. I just sent a mail to his website and he answered me that he was interested and wanted to hear the musc and read the lyrics. Rutger wrote about 80% of his own narration. We’ve been skyping for weeks! This makes it really special for me. And very real, he’s not just reading other people’s words. He really dived into the story and music to make the narration his own.

How different would the album be had he gone with the script, the one you’ve originally written for him?

Much more boring, haha! He really made it come alive. In CD2 you can see the little intros as we wrote them. They are more informative but not nearly as much fun as Rutger’s words!

The album is a big contrast to your last two albums; On this Perfect day and 01. It’s dystopian with a merrier approach instead of the usual darker and heavier sounds… So, other than the obvious incorporation of your earlier influences of the 60’s and 70’s, are there any other reasons behind the change of mood in this, if any?

No real reason, I never plan ahead. It just developed this way. I had so much fun making this album just for myself without any expectations, and I think the music reflects that. This kind of music also fits my hippie voice better I guess J

There have been talks of putting your concepts onto the big screen and so far you’ve explained that it might not be doable at this time, unless Mr. Lucas or Spielberg takes notice of course… How about publishing your ideas as books instead?

Unfortunately I don’t know anything about the book/publishing world either. I do know books have been written about my stories, mostly by amateurs. If they ask me, I always give them permission because I see it as a compliment. Myself I couldn’t write a book... I can’t even READ a book, really! I’m not really sure if my stories would hold up without the accompanying music either.

The album mentions Darwin (ism?) and perhaps it even loosely implies that there is no grand design. What is the conclusion to the story is there a god or a creator in the story? I’m not sure I fully understand.

Oh, I definitely did not want to draw any conclusions on this album. I’m more posing questions than answering them. I’m just a musician, I wouldn’t want to force my personal opinion upon the people, it’s not my place. I’m merely an entertainer, and I hope people don’t take me too serious! So all I can say is that I'm attracted to science. Actually science shows us how much we still don't know or understand about the (origin of) the universe. At this time we can only make educated guesses based upon what we *do* know.

Is this concept changing Mr. L or has it already happened in the Ayreon Universe? Is it at all connected to him in the Ayreon Universe or is it a completely different story taking place in another one of the multiverses, if you will?

Ah yes, that’s a good explanation, in the parallel universe where pigs fly! No, this story is not related to the Ayreon universe. But since Mr. L is of course short for Mr. Lucassen and this is a solo album I opted for this name. Please know that it’s not an auto-biographical story either, I’m glad to say that in excellent health :)

Some have argued that “The New Real” is clearly an Ayreon album, but you insist on saying that it is a solo album! Could you tell us once and for all why this is a solo album instead of an Ayreon album?!

The main reason is of course the fact that I sing all the vocals myself. Ayreon is primarily known for its many guest singers and instrumentalists. And as you stated in the beginning, this is a more happy sounding album and much less bombastic and heavy than the Ayreon albums. Calling this an Ayreon album would have raised wrong expectations which could have led to disappointments.

I believe the reviews and responses for “Lost in the New Real” have been overall, positive. Will you be doing anything like this again?

The reactions and sales are WAY above expectations, I really didn’t expect that from this eclectic album! Oh yes, I’d love to do another one. It’s also much easier and (not to forget cheaper) not to have to arrange all those guest musicians, haha! But first I will face some other challenges, wherever my inspiration will lead me.

When do you plan to continue on with Ayreon and what aspects of this album will you bring with you to create it? The constant transitions of melodies, the catchier tunes?

Good question. I’ve been thinking about that, because the reactions are so overwhelmingly positive to this solo album. I think people like the fact that I did exactly what I felt, it’s a very authentic album. If I do another Ayreon it would be slightly darker and more bombastic though, but I do want to keep the transparency and the honesty of this solo album. Also I won’t try to make it as big and epic as I can, like I did on the last Ayreon and Star One releases. More going back to the feel of the Electric Castle if I can do it, because it’s hard to limit yourself.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a non-touring band? Any chance of changing your mind in that regard?

The advantage is that I really hate playing live, it's my biggest nightmare. I see myself as a composer / producer, that's what I prefer doing and that's what I do best. I am a total recluse. I don't like to socialize. I don't like to travel and I hate waiting. Touring is 90% waiting, it's not productive or creative at all. I'd rather be creative and work on new stuff instead of playing the same songs night after night. It's just not my passion anymore. The disadvantage of course is that I can’t promote the new album live and sell loads of merchandise! Luckily I have acquired very loyal fans over the years and I still sell a lot of albums. Even the solo album entered the charts again in Holland and Germany.

A message to the Ayreonauts and our readers at PowerOfMetal.dk?

All I want to say to my loyal Danish fans is that they shouldn’t expect a huge bombastic metal-opera here with loads of guest singers. But if you have an open mind, which I know you have from your lovely e-mails and messages, I’m sure you could enjoy this eclectic and adventurous album, so... try it out...you know you want to :)

Arjen Anthony Lucassen - Lost in the New Real

Label: InsideOut Music.

Link: www.arjenlucassen.com


Arjen Anthony Lucassen: All instruments and vocals
Rutger Hauer: Narration

Lost in the New Real (2012)



Interviewed by Haydee G.