The Source is the latest album from the long-running progressive project Ayreon. The concept record written by Arjen Lucassen features numerous guest musicians ranging from James LaBrie (Dream Theater) to Tommy Giles (BTBAM) to Simone Simons (Epica) to Russell Allen (Symphony X). Lucassen fills us in on the record, some rare live performances, his other projects and more.
Chad Bowar: Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for The Source compared to previous albums?
Arjen Lucassen: Yes! Usually I look for the artwork once the album is almost finished. This time I decided to start with the artwork to get inspired.
What inspired you to revisit the Forever/Planet Y saga from 01011001?
It was the lady underwater with the tubes attached that connected this album to the Forever/Planet Y saga. It made me think, what if the Forever race was once human?
How has the band’s sound progressed/evolved on this one?
I think this album is more guitar oriented and therefore heavier than my previous Ayreon release.
You’ve worked with many of the guest musicians on past albums. One of the new additions is Tommy Rogers from Between The Buried And Me. What drew you to ask him to participate?
I heard and loved the song “Hypoxia” off Tommy’s solo album Pulse under the name of Thomas Giles. I approached him on Twitter, and luckily he was interested straight away.
What led to Russell Allen’s return after not being on an Ayreon album since 2000?
That’s simple, he’s one of the best singers in the world!
How did you come to sign with the Mascot Label Group for this album?
Mascot approached me because the contract with Inside Out was finished. I accepted because I see it as a new start, a new challenge.
Tell us about the shows that are coming up, and if you will be a part of them.
It’s called the Ayreon Universe and there will be three sold-out shows for 9000 people in the Netherlands in September. There will be 16 singers. I will not be a part of the band, but I will make an appearance.
What was the response to last year’s DVD The Theater Equation?
The DVD sold really well, even entering charts in various countries. Many people told me that the band and the singers were truly amazing, but the camera work was not so good. We will definitely correct this when we film the Ayreon Universe shows.
Let’s talk about some of your other projects. Will there be another The Gentle Storm album?
I never plan ahead, but that’s definitely an option. Anneke (van Giersbergen) is the best!
You mentioned that you originally thought this album might be a Star One record. Does that mean you’re planning on one?
As I said in my previous answer, I never plan ahead! I just start working on music and see where it takes me. So yeah, a Star One album is also always an option.
Is there anything else you’re currently working on?
Right now I’m preparing the Ayreon live shows in September. It’s two years of hard work to set this up.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Mainly all the great ’70s stuff that I grew up on, like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
I hope you guys will enjoy The Source. Let me know what you think!
(interview published April 28, 2017)