Arjen Luccasen interview
By Steph Perry
July 7, 2009
Arjen Luccasen’s latest project is a new band called Guilt Machine, an atmospheric rock group including Jasper Steverlinck (vocals), Lori Linstruth (lead guitars), Chris Maitland (drums), and Arjen (other instruments and vocals). Their debut album On This Perfect Day was released in August 2009 on Mascot Records.
Hello dear Arjen!
== Hi again, Steph!
Congratulations on the Guilt Machine album. It is a progressive rock masterpiece!
== Thanks for the compliment, glad you like it that much.
You must be very proud of your work and your bandmates contributions.
== Indeed I am 🙂
What did you use as inspiration for writing the musical pieces?
== After I overcame my deep depression I felt very inspired, just because I felt good again after this dark period. I guess I needed some closure and exorcise my demons. And the same goes for Lori. The writing and recording process were very relaxed this time.
How did you come up with the idea to use voice recordings from fans?
== We wanted to do something to make the fans feel like part of the project, and thought that having them submit some kind of cathartic personal message would be a meaningful way to do that. We considered several formats (text, drawings, photos, etc.) but they all seemed logistically impractical. We wanted to use some kind of spoken-word samples in the songs anyway (a la Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”) and suggested having people submit their messages as audio files that we could use as samples on the album. That instantly felt right, and was actually do-able! After some more discussion, we decided that it would be most authentic to have people speak their own native languages.
What was the most prolific or interesting voice recording?
== I still get goosebumps when I hear the very last (Italian) message on the album. It’s beautiful, very real and very touching. But then all 19 messages (that we chose out of the 200 we got) were a great addition to the overall atmosphere of the album.
Lori worked with you on Ayreon and Stream of Passion, but this is the first time you truly co-wrote together. Did you have any input into the lyrical themes or did Lori handle it on her own?
== Lori completely handled the lyrical themes on her own, this controlfreak here managed to shut up for once 🙂 She only changed little things here and there when I felt that they didn’t feel right rythmically or phonetically.
Was it liberating to let someone else write the lyrics?
== Not specifically. Once I’m on a roll I actually enjoy writing lyrics. Just getting the ideas in the beginning is never easy. But I have to say that I could never have written these cryptic and emotional lyrics as well as Lori did though. So yeah, in that way I guess it was liberating.
Her guitar work is outstanding, and it blends so well with your keys and acoustic guitar and the various string arrangements.
== I fully agree!
Can you talk a little about Lori’s strengths as a guitarist?
== Her choice of notes and her touch. Every note she plays has a purpose and sounds great. She tells a story with her solos, they are little compositions on their own. It’s not just about technique and speed, although she masters them both perfectly.
Is this the first time you’ve worked with Jasper? How did you hook up?
== I first worked with Jasper on the extra track (The Memory Remains) on the last Ayreon compilation album Timeline. A Belgian fan suggested I listen to Jasper from the Belgian alternative band Arid, comparing him to the likes of Freddie Mercury, Muse and Radiohead. I checked out his myspace and went to a live show. I was completely convinced. It was harder to convince him though!
What about Chris?
== I’ve been a Porcupine Tree fan from the very beginning, especially the period when Chris was playing the drums. Especially at live shows Chris was very convincing, mixing technique, power and groove. Steven Wilson introduced us to each other. Back in 2000 Chris almost played on an Ayreon album (The Dream Sequencer).
Please tell me about the bonus material on the special edition release.
== Firstly, there are 7 audio tracks. A cover of Leonard Cohen, a cover of an obscure 60’s track (with me on vocals), an electronic track which features about a 100 messages that weren’t chosen for the CD, the track Perfection? with my guide vocals and 3 radio edits, some with different instruments and mixes. On the video side there is the trailer (a compilation of all tracks filmed in an old factory), the making of the trailer (with all the usual silliness) and a 40-minute interview with Jasper, Lori and me in my backyard.
What are you working on now?
== As always a reaction to the previous album. I’d like to do an all heavy album now, possible a Star One. A solo album is also in the pipe-line.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.
== You’re very welcome.
This is our 3rd interview together since 2001.
== I know, unfortunately not by phone this time! Talk to you next time 🙂