Welcome to the Prognaut.com! Thank you for taking the time to do an interview.
It has been a very busy past year for you and the band. This interview will focus mostly on the Guilt Machine project, since many people have documented the success of the Ayreon and other projects you have created.
Prognaut.com – First of all, you know I am a big fan. Thanks for doing the interview.
== You're very welcome, Mark, my pleasure.
Prognaut.com – Where does Guilt Machine fit within the pantheon of prog-metal or music in general?
== When I think of prog metal I think of complicated heavy music, bands like Dream Theater and Opeth. Although the Guilt Machine album definitely contains elements of both prog and metal I wouldn't classify it as a prog metal album. I also think the music of Guilt Machine isn't as retro-progressive (interesting paradox!) as Ayreon or Star One. I wouldn't know how to classify it really... Anything that helps sell the album I'd say!
Prognaut.com – Your DVD documents well the influence and your desire to try to make a Wish You Were Here level album with all its subtleties and power. Do you think you have accomplished that mission? (By the way I do).
== Thanks Mark, that's a big compliment! But no, personally I don't think I achieved that. Because I couldn't restrain myself and had to throw in some bombastic heavy guitar parts again :-) But I'm not giving up, I will make an all-quiet and atmospheric album one fine day!
Prognaut.com – Lately you have been filling two CDs with music each time out. It is a trademark. Were you deliberately trying to make this a one disc album?
== Yes, definitely. The last Ayreon 01011001 was too much of everything, this album is definitely a reaction to that. I was curious if I could 'say' everything I wanted to say within 60 minutes. Many classic prog and rock giants in the 70's did it within 40 minutes.
Prognaut.com – The work ethic and craftsmanship you put into each effort is something that fans don’t always recognize or appreciate. (They need to buy the digi packs to hear the details). I wanted to point out that you and the band remind me of those classic craftspeople who really wanted to make sure that what they were producing was something they’d feel proud of putting their name on. Where did you learn that work ethic?
== I'm a born perfectionist. I am however not a genius, I really have to work hard for it. But I enjoy the work, so I wouldn't even call it work. So I'd say I didn't learn it, it just comes natural. The strange thing is that the music I listen to doesn't have to be perfect at all. I love the psychedelic 60's for instance. I like the Piper at the Gates of Dawn as much as I like Dark Side of the Moon, maybe even more.
Prognaut.com – Everyone needs a mentor, did you have a mentor?
== Yes, at the moment that would be Lori. Before that is was Yvette, my former manager. I need to bounce my ideas off someone who's opinion I value.
Prognaut.com – If you had to pick a favorite song from On This Perfect Day, which one is your favorite and why?
== I can't be objective about the album yet. I can't even listen to it yet, it's all too fresh! Maybe in a couple of months. Right now I would say Perfection, because the inspiration flowed when I was writing/recording that one. I like parts of other songs, like the middle part of Season of Denial and the beginnings of Leland Street and Green and Cream. 'Over' is my least favorite song, it was the problem child of the album. Maybe because it has major chords among the many minor chords on this album.
Prognaut.com – The use of real machines on this album and allot of the cover art and video really bring home the grittiness of the battle working with guilt. Since Lori did most of the writing is there a central guilt which you would describe that influenced the concept?
== Lori will answer this question: LL: No, it's not guilt about a particular situation or action. If I had to narrow it down to something specific, I'd say that it's about feeling guilty for not being strong enough to be the kind of person you think you should be, and for letting fear stand in the way of ever changing that.
Prognaut.com – I grew up with an acquired appreciation for the sound of heavy machinery during my Midwest childhood. What were some of the types of machines you used on this album? (Sounds like there is a steel press in there somewhere).
== Most of them were recorded in a Magnesium Oxide factory / construction industries. I wouldn't know what each machine does exactly! I just remember that there was a LOT of dust. You can see some of the machines in the video clip/trailer.
Prognaut.com – Twisted Coil was an excellent way to kick off the album, highlighting everyone’s incredible talents. What are some of the secrets you can share from the development and special sounds generated during this powerhouse?
== Twisted Coil was the first song I wrote and recorded and the first song that Jasper sang. Indeed it highlights everybody's talents, that's why we started the album with that song. As often I only used my trusted old analog keyboards like the Hammond, Prophet 5 synthesizer and lost of mellotrons.
Prognaut.com – Leland Street is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. The nice slowdown after Twisted Coil was perfect. Jasper really makes it his own. How much input was he given to put his signature on this and each of the songs on the album? (After all its sounds like much had been planned out during your long search for a singer).
== I sang the guide vocals for all the songs and sent them to Jasper. I specifically told Jasper that he should sing the songs in his own special way. The DVD features one of the tracks with my guide vocals (Perfection) so you can compare it with the final version. Jasper can sing a lot higher than I can and of course all the ad-libs are his.
Prognaut.com – Green and Cream is another of the real standouts from amongst an almost perfect album. Those ‘all instruments unleashed’ moments on this and some of the other songs are incredible! Can you share with us what goes into the planning of those moments?
== When I came up with that riff I really didn't understand the time -signature myself! But when I started to program the guide-drums it appeared to be a normal 4/4 time signature. Luckily Chris had no problems with it, he got it immediately and even added his own typical drumming style. The mixing of the heavy part was very difficult, there's a lot going on at the same time and it's all important. That part is not transparant at all but maybe that's the beauty of it.
Prognaut.com – With the song Perfection? you knew this one was coming. What is your measure of perfection, or is it really achievable on Earth?
== Haha, yes, I expected that question! As I am my own boss in my own studio I have no time limits so I just keep working until I'm a 100% satisfied. So when I decide that I'm finished it's pretty close to perfection for me. But ask me again in about a year and I'll probably tell you all that's wrong with it!
Prognaut.com – Do we just make peace with our guilt or can we really learn from its control over our lives and lower the future risk?
== One more for Lori: LL: It's not possible to answer that question in any generalizable way, because everyone is different and moves through life in their own unique ways. But in recent years I've come to believe that most people -- once set in their ways -- are likely to repeat whatever patterns they've established earlier on. Not to say that change or improvement is impossible, it's just unlikely and requires a massive effort.
Prognaut.com – Jasper Steverlinck. The story of how you found him was interesting. He really does give this album and the band a unique voice, just as Marcela did with Stream of Passion. You recognize talent very well. Is there anyone else out there we should know about?
== If there was I wouldn't tell you, others might 'steal' them, hehe... You'd just have to wait for my next album, ha!
Prognaut.com – This has been my first year reviewing CDs and I have reviewed allot of the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. It was refreshing to hear on your DVD that you listen to allot of music daily. How would you describe the progressive or metal music scene today? Do you see a resurgence in the genre?
== Oh yes, absolutely. It's very alive again. Well, I think it always was, because it's timeless music for me. But at least now we are allowed to come out of the closet and admit that we are prog! In the end it's all about the compositions for me, not the heaviness or the complexity.
Prognaut.com – Name five (or more) of the top bands you are listening to regularly?
== Prog? All time? Obviously Floyd. And I have a weak spot for Hawkwind, it's so genuine. I listened to Camel again lately, excellent music, especially the first 4 or 5 albums. Triumvirat's Spartacus and Illusions on a Double Dimple are still the most unterrated albums ever. Let me top it off with Jethro Tull. Mr Anderson is out of this world, as a composer, flutist and singer.
Prognaut.com – I think you are one of innovators within this genre and music in general. Who else in the industry would you describe as an innovator today, and why?
== Definitely Devin Townsend, I have never heard anything like his music!
Prognaut.com – Is there any chance of working with Stream of Passion in the future? Maybe touring with them, or a guest appearance, since you expressed your disinterest in organizing your own tour?
== No, they are on their own now. And doing an excellent job without me, I have to admit reluctantly :-)
Prognaut.com – With the solo album you have discussed making would you bring in guest artists or would it be strictly your project?
== I would definitely sing everything and play all guitars, bass and keyboards. I would need a good drummer though, I'm not good enough myself. And possibly classical musicians like a violinist, cellist or flute player.
Prognaut.com – I know you are constantly busy thinking of what’s next. Will it be Star One part II, the Arjen solo project, will you begin working on the follow up to the Guilt Machine debut, or is there something else not mentioned in your last interview?
== I actually just started working on a heavy project. Short songs that come straight to the point. Obviously, as always, a reaction to my previous album. It will probably become a Star One album. After that I would finally like to do the solo album! But then I will probably come across a better singer again...
Prognaut.com – Are there any plans to re - release the Ambeon projects? They are hard to find over here in the USA. Do you have any plans to create a follow up album?
== I would love to do another Ambeon! However unfortunately Astrid has gone though a very difficult phase, but I'm happy to say that she's recovering. Anytime she's up for it, I'm in. That is something that could seriously endanger my solo album plans!
Prognaut.com – Are there any things I might have missed that you would like to say to the fans here on the Prognaut.com?
== Your questions were indeed quite different from all the questions I've had so far, so I think all is pretty well covered now!
Prognaut.com – Thanks for all your time. I appreciate all your efforts on all the projects you have completed. I look forward to what’s next and you know I’ll be getting the digi pack every time, without hesitation!
== Thanks for the confidence...I won't let you down!
Interviewed by Prof on Novemeber 11th, 2009