Well, if you haven’t already heard, Arjen Lucassen has done it again with his latest release, The Source! In honor of the new album, we thought we’d get a few questions in with the mastermind himself, and here are his answers!
To start, I just learned about your new album a week ago, essentially because I hadn’t been aware that you had changed labels. You had been with InsideOut Music before, so what prompted this move over to Mascot?
My Ayreon license contract with InsideOut was over. I had no intention of going to another company because I was perfectly happy with InsideOut, but Mascot offered me a great deal and everything about this label felt really good. I felt it was time for a new start.
You’ve mentioned in a couple of interviews that you’re thrilled about the freedom you’ve been getting with your music under the new label. Were there any restrictions under your former label?
Oh no, not at all!
You’ve said that you had no idea this concept/universe would grow so vast when you started it – when you wrote Into the Electric Castle, did you already intend it to be part of the same story as The Final Experiment, or did that connection come later on?
I never planned any of it! Reference just started cropping up; it’s almost like the Ayreon Universe slowly uncovered itself to me 🙂
At the time of writing, I haven’t listened to the album yet, but the story in The Source relates to AIs trying to destroy mankind on Alpha…
Oh no, the computer mainframe is simply trying to save the planet as instructed by the President. Unfortunately that meant shutting down the life-support systems…
Glad to clarify! Yet, presumably based on “The Star of Sirrah”, this would be when our human ancestors moved to the water planet that the Forever lived on in 01011001. If The Source is about AIs destroying the world and 01011001 is about the Forever having grown too reliant on technology and losing their emotions, I’m curious how the Forever were able to trust technology to that point after it destroyed their original planet?
Good question. They didn’t trust it at all, in fact they escaped from it and aimed to start a natural life without technology on the virgin water planet, Y. You’ll have to listen to the ending of the album for the answer to your question!
Is there any connection between the Astronomer played by Hansi Kürsch and the Biologist played by Floor Jansen in The Source and the Forever they play in 01011001? Could they be the same people or is the choice of vocalists coincidental?
Yes, they are the same people.
To my knowledge, you haven’t reused vocalists on albums very much in the past, but the cast of The Source is, in some ways, a best-of of Ayreon guests. How come you have so many recurring voices this time around?
The rule of ‘only-new-singers’ just applied to The Human Equation and The Theory of Everything. However, this time I wanted no rules and no limitations… I wanted the best singers in the world and I got them!
Do you consider all of Ayreon’s albums to take place within the same universe? The two in question are of course Actual Fantasy and The Theory of Everything – are they separate one-off albums or is there any connection between them and the rest of the universe, however minuscule?
All Ayreon albums take place in the same universe, which is our universe (I believe in a mulitverse). However, Actual Fantasy and Theory of Everything are story-wise not connected to the other albums. At least… not yet!
Has anyone ever had any conspiracy theories about this concept? By that I mean that, for example, as you played the Hippie in Into the Electric Castle and Mr. L on 01011001, has anyone ever accused you of being that hippie and that these albums are your way of warning the world?
Oh yes, there are even special websites for that! I enjoy it so much 🙂 Yeah, some are as nerdy as I am, love it! And the cool thing is, they have far better explanations than I could come up with myself 🙂
You’ve mentioned at least once that you’re a big fan of Alice Cooper; you and Tobias Sammet covered his song, “Elected”, and in that song there is a little joke about Alice Cooper mentioned there as well – have you ever tried to recruit him for an album, and if so, what prevented it from happening?
Yes, at some point I was very close. But then his personal assistant Brain Nelson, who I was in contact with, unfortunately died…
If you were to choose which song you would be remembered for (if it exists), which would it be and why?
I would choose the track, “Lost in the New Real”, from my solo album. That track is totally me, both musically and lyrically.
If you were to immortalize an existing story in music (in the same vein as Tuomas Holopainen with The Life and Times of Scrooge), what story would you choose and why? Or, would it feel too strange to put music to someone else’s story?
Right, I mainly want to come up with my own stories, especially for Ayreon! But at gunpoint I would say some good horror story like The Omen.
Lastly, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Fermi’s Paradox, but if not, it’s based on the following concept: there are billions of stars in the galaxy that are similar to our sun, which means that these stars could theoretically have Earth-like planets orbiting them and thus are capable of evolving intelligent life; since the universe is countless years old, these planets may be in various stages of evolution, which means many of them could be millions of years ahead of us and thus capable of interstellar travel; if that’s the case – where is everyone? (For readers, please find more info here). My question is, do you have any thoughts or ideas about where everyone might be?
At first we would have to determine what life is, and how it starts. I personally believe our universe is only a tiny part of an infinite multiverse. I think the chances of life in just one universe are astronomically small, even in a vast universe like ours. And especially existing in the same time-period. But in the infinite multiverse there is no such thing as coincidence and fate. There is no beginning and no end. In eternity everything will happen and will have happened ad infinitum. But definitely not at the same time. So this may sound strange coming from me, but I don’t think we’ll even detect or encounter alien life. So hey… I’ll just have to fantasize about it on my albums!