Rockmania: First of all, thanks to Mr. Lucassen for dedicating some of his time to answer some questions, as a result of his return to the present after the release of the 3 chapter of Star One «revel in time»
Arjen Lucassen: You’re welcome, my pleasure!
Rockmania: Hello Mr. Lucassen, thanks for listening to us. First of all, how is your health? Is everything okay with the coronavirus?
Arjen Lucassen: Oh yes, thanks! I’m such a recluse… I really don’t meet anyone. Not much chance of catching it! Thanks for asking.
Rockmania: I have to apologize, because until the publication of this Revel in Time, I hadn’t stopped to listen to your music. Is Star One the «darkest» part of your music? I say this because of the density of the guitars and because I see Ayreon’s work as more «recharged» musically.
Arjen Lucassen: I don’t think Revel is a dark album overall. Contrary to the previous Star One album Victims, that was a very dark album! But yeah, Star One is focused on the metal side of Ayreon. No acoustic instruments here.
Rockmania: Talking a bit about this Revel in time. Who has designed the artwork and what do you want to represent? Because for me, every time I see it, it reminds me of the stained glass windows of the temple of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, but passed through the filter of Salvador Dalí (as I commented in my review), with the clocks as deformed and very colorful.
Arjen Lucassen: The painting is made by the Belgian painter Jef Bertels, who also painted most of my Ayreon front covers. Jef himself named the painting ‘The Time Vault’. And well, Dali is my favorite painter of all time, so that’s a good thing!
Rockmania: When you start to write an album, how do you decide which artists are going to collaborate with you?
Arjen Lucassen: When I start to work on an album, I have no idea who will be guesting yet. Only once the album is finsihed, I search for the artists who best fit the style of music and the concept.
Rockmania: And once you have decided on the topic of collaborations, how do you manage the guest artists? How do you balance schedules?
Arjen Lucassen: Usually I fly all the musicians over to my studio, but unfortunately that wasn’t possible this time due to Corona. So this time they all recorded their parts in their own studio or in a studio of their choice. The positive thing was that due to Corona everybody had time for me this time, because they couldn’t tour!
Rockmania: How have you done to include collaborations? Did you send them the parts and they filled them out and sent them back to you? Or did you get them together in a studio?
Arjen Lucassen: See previous answer. Basically I record guide vocals here in my own studio with Dutch singers, and I send this to the singers so they know what to do.
Rockmania: The truth is that my English is fair and I have little time to read the lyrics and translate them into Spanish. What are the lyrics of this work about?
Arjen Lucassen: All the songs are based on movies that deal with the ‘manipulation of time’. Movies like Back to the Future, Terminator, Groundhog Day, Donnie Darko etc.
Rockmania: The truth is that, in terms of the musical line, an evolution is noticeable and, I get the impression, that on this album we intertwine very well the most powerful part of the «victims of the modern age» and the most catchy «space metal». What do you think about it, has it been predetermined or has it come about like that?
Arjen Lucassen: Well heard! Yes, from the beginning I knew I wanted to make a lighter album than Victims, and a bit heavier than Space metal.
Rockmania: What has been the easiest collaboration to manage? And the most complex collaboration?
Arjen Lucassen: I’m proud of all the musicians, really! I couldn’t choose.. On the one side it’s amazing to work with my all time heroes like Stave Vai and Joe Lynn Turner, but it’s also a great feeling to discover new talents like Brittney Slayes and Brandon Yeagley.
Rockmania: With such a long and extensive career, when you start to compose new music, how do you know if it’s for Star One or for Ayreon?
Arjen Lucassen: This time I knew from the beginning I wanted to record a Star One album. Sta One songs are all based on guitar riffs, so it’s a different way of working than Ayreon.
Rockmania: Why have you decided to reissue the two previous works of Star One? I am infinitely grateful, since I have been able to buy them and thus have the entire trilogy in CD format.
Arjen Lucassen: Thanks for buying! That is a decision of the record label. These albums were all sold out, and only available for really high prices. Luckily now the fans can get them for a normal price.
Rockmania: Have you ever considered doing a Star One concert, in the same way that you record with Ayreon and edit it in physical format?
Arjen Lucassen: We played Star One shows back in 2003. One of the live shows was recorded and released on both CD and DVD under the name Live on Earth. I hope the label with re-release them to at some point!
Rockmania: Going back to the topic of collaborations. What would you highlight about each of them?
Arjen Lucassen: As I said earlier, I’m proud of each and everyone of them! Anything that I got from musicians that I didn’t like, I didn’t use it. And yes, unfortunately that happens.
Rockmania: What are the future plans for both Star One and Ayreon?
Arjen Lucassen: I never have future plans, haha! I just see what happens and let inspiration come to me nauturally. Next up is an album with a new band that I recently formed: Arjen Lucassen Federation. More soon!
Rockmania: Well, we are going to end the interview. Thank you very much for attending us and dedicating your time. How would you like to say goodbye to our readers?
Arjen Lucassen: Ayreon fans are the most loyal fans in the world, I truly love them all! And I hope they will like the album. I always want to spoil them 😊 Thanks everyone for your support!
Well, here’s the talk with one of the privileged minds of the world of music, Mr. Arjen Anthony Lucassen. It was a pleasure chatting with him and I hope you enjoy the interview.
Arjen Lucassen: I certainly did, thanks for your interest in my music and the support! Keep up the good work 😊
Photos courtesy of band’s official website and depositphotos