Interviews Music

Heavy Metal Opera Thundering!

{mosimage}Holland: the cradle of tulips, a source of tales about crazy adventures in coffee shops… and the native country of Arjen Lucassen, a versatile artist who has been able to gather and compose music for an incredible list of the best heavy metal musicians around the world in his Ayreon´s albums . He answered (with excellent doses of good humor) the questions shot at him.


Arjen, in your biography says that when youngster, you were a trouble-maker in class. Do you have any particular anecdote of those times?

Well, for one I was always chasing (amongst other things) girls, instead of learning! I also remember I once filled a condom with 20 liters of water in the principal’s personal toilet. I also once hit a teacher, because he tried to push me down the stairs. That’s when they kicked me out of school. Hmm… I’d better stop here! 

You are always immersed in many different musical projects. Do you consider yourself a work-alcoholic or it just does not feel like work for you?

Oh yes, I’m a workaholic at heart. I feel best when I’m being creative. But you’re right; it certainly doesn’t feel like work for me. {mosimage}

Please, tell us a bit more about the new Ayreon album: 01011001. Do you give a lot of importance to the new technological era? How is it possible than living in a world so interconnected, people seem to search for an own identity more than ever?

I’m very much a recluse, so I don’t really live in this world. Luckily my profession enables me to live in another dimension. I try to make technology work for me, instead of the other way around. It’s easy to be sucked into the computer and become a part of the game. I devise the game.

How is the normal process of recording an Ayreon album? Do all the musicians record their parts separately?

Yes, I fly them all in separately. 

Do you meet them all personally before recording to discuss about their performances?

No, we start recording very spontaneously in the studio.

We publish from Finland, a land with many talented heavy metal bands. Are there any Finnish singers that you would like to see participating in future Ayreon´s projects?

Oh yes. Marco Hietala, for instance, is a great singer.

Do you like the voice of Tarja Turunen, ex-singer of Nightwish?

Who doesn’t? I approached her once, but her husband/record company director didn’t want her to do it.  He was doing a project with her at the time. So maybe one day…


"Marco Hietala is a great singer" -Arjen Lucassen, musician and composer-.


Any dreamt names of musicians that you would like to see in your projects and still not had the chance?

The list is endless. Obviously the musicians I grew up listening to, but also new talents.

I have recently interviewed Johan  Edlund of Tiamat, who collaborated in previous Ayreon´s album, but he is not included this time. What was the reason?

I like to work with new musicians every album to keep things spontaneously.  I’ve worked with over a hundred singers now. Johan is great by the way; I love his voice and music.

What do you think of other metal-opera projects like Avantasia , and his creator Tobias Sammet (both latest albums from him and yours were released with a few days of difference and as appears in your website, there was some crossing of declarations between both of you) 

Although we both do rock operas our music is very different from each other. I think he’s doing a great job.

Now it is recently announced that you are releasing an EP together Avantasia and Ayreon. Could you tell us more about it? So it was that “hate” between you two a creation of the press more than reality, or you really have something against Tobias…?


Of course not, we are just fooling around! We have become the best of friends and I’m glad we’ve been able to record this track together. I’m sure we will make people laugh when they hear it!

Are you afraid that people could pay more attention to the album just because of the list of participants than because of the quality of the music itself?

No. I hope people enjoy the album, for whatever reason. My sales are still increasing and the last album has charted in 13 countries, so I must be doing something right!

What are your future plans? Would there be any chance to see Ayreon´s compositions ever played on live?

Ayreon is not a live project, it would be impossible with (or without) the many guest musicians.

Anything else you want to add or say to our readers? 

If you are in for an adventure and you have an open mind for different musical styles, check out my music! But you are warned …  


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