Arjen's Seventh masterpiece... 01011001!

With his Ayreon project, composer, producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen “conquered” the world and revived the rock opera genre completely. His albums were very successful and now he releases his 7 th Ayreon album called: 01011001. Of course he again uses lots of singers and he also tries to explore new musical frontiers. Maybe the album is a bit too predictable but after listening to it several times it proves again to be a classic rock masterpiece, although I really prefer the second CD over the rather mediocre opening CD. So let’s have a talk with the master himself.

Martien: I am under the impression that this new album could be seen as “Into The Electric Castle” part 2, or am I completely off track here??

Arjen: No, I think that you have a point there, especially if you think of the concept. Of course there are some “hidden” musical elements on this new album which you could also hear on other Ayreon albums and indeed a lot of things also remind me of “Into the electric Castle”. However I have to tell you from the start that this was not an easy album to make as I had several personal problems I had to cope with, which resulted in the fact that my musical inspiration had vanished for a while…… Luckily when I was feeling better after a while that inspiration came back and I had again lots of interesting musical ideas to work on. Conceptually the story is about the race Forever, which on the album “Into The Electric Castle”, were searching for emotions, and on this new CD that concept is further explored. So you were right regarding your link between these those albums.

Martien: The title, a binary code can hardly be pronounced, so why this strange title?

Arjen: The title is indeed a binary code which stands for the eight figures of the letter Y. That is also the name of the planet and if you pronounce the letter Y it sounds like the word Why and that is the most important question on this album, why? Why do we let things happen like they do, what is the meaning of life, why are we on earth, etc. These are topics which every human being struggles with and especially me during my rather difficult period.

Martien: On the album there are again a lot of famous singers, are there still singers on your “wishing list”?

Arjen: Yes, there are. Alice Cooper for example. I have been a great fan of his music since he first started and I was very close to get him to sing on this album, but it turned out differently… Steve Walsh ( Kansas, MK), would also be great and I asked Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree as well, but he found my music too progressive; and he does not like the science fiction stuff, so…. Another vocalist I have been after for a very long time is Ronnie James Dio and Ian Gillan did not respond to my e-mails….

Martien: All the female singers are from The Netherlands, except for M.Luyten, who is from Belgium, is that a coincidence?

Arjen: No, I am a big fan of Anneke and I must say that her excellent voice really “carries” the album; her voice is sheer magic. The duet that Jorn sings with Floor is perfect for her voice and well, Simone is so charismatic, you need her to sing on this album.

Martien: This is your 7 th Ayreon album and in my opinion the music has become rather predictable, does that worry you?

Arjen: I am not quite sure if you are right about that. In fact I am really pleased with all my Ayreon albums so far, although I still find “The Human Equation” a rather dark album. I always say that you have to do the things that you are good at. I know I am not a great singer and I know that I do not play the guitar like Steve Vai. But I am good at organising my projects and getting the best out of my guest singers and musicians. I know that I am good at that, so I should stick to that and seeing how well all my Ayreon albums have sold so far…. I am really proud of all my Ayreon stuff, this in comparison to my other musical escapades. Things like Vengeance, Star One or Stream Of Passion are not really that good. I am not really satisfied with those things. The Star One DVD is great, but the CD lacks something and the Stream Of Passion DVD is also not one of my favourites.

Martien: Will you release a single from the new album? The song “Connect The Dots” would be suitable for that.

Arjen: It is not a must of course because then you will also have to make a video clip and that is very expensive, my friend. It will cost at least something like € 20,000. Furthermore you can only see video clips on MTV and TMF and that is a completely different music world. People that like my music do not watch MTV or TMF, so….

Martien: The new album will be available in three versions, why?

Arjen: Just to make some more money, of course ha ha …… No, art work is very important especially with regards to my music. I know that it sounds rather snobby and maybe pretentious, but I really feel that my Ayreon music is more than just music. I can tell you that I also asked the record company to release this new album on vinyl. So many people ask for the vinyl release and vinyl really seems to be coming back and people really enjoy the artwork with the vinyl product, so….

Martien: The album is available now in the stores, what’s next?

Arjen: Now it is time to fall into that black hole again, ha ha…. No, that will not happen this time, I hope. I never really plan anything; I go with the flow actually. There is however one thing I know for sure and that is that the next album will NOT be a new Ayreon album. Maybe I will finally make my first real solo album, filled with country and western songs, ha ha….

Martien: Thanks for sharing this and good luck in the future.

Arjen: Thanks.

Interview by Martien Koolen

(c) 2008 RockUnited.Com [ 27 Jan 08 ]

"01011001" Artwork
by Felipe Machado