Cologne, Eigelstein. The Hotel Savoy is only five minutes' walk away from the former headquarters of the legendary Eigelstein Musikproduktion GmbH on Hansaring. It's the beginning of March. Arjen Lucassen sits in a cosy corner of the lobby and gives entertaining interviews. It is still almost two months until the release of "The Source". But the mechanisms of the music industry have long been running at full speed behind the scenes. This also includes the usual discussion marathon, which, after stops in Paris, London and Milan, now also takes the two-metre slag to three German cities. In the evening we take the train to Munich, from there we fly to Berlin. Nothing unusual for a musician on a PR tour, but if you know that the 57-year-old Dutchman, who likes to describe himself as a hermit, is reluctant to leave his home environment, you may ask.
eclipsed: It seems like a new era has dawned for you. You've given acoustic concerts with The Gentle Storm, you've appeared on stage several times during the performances of "The Human Equation" and are now on a PR tour all over Europe for "The Source". Like kommtʼs?
Arjen Lucassen: I see "The Source" once again as a kind of new beginning. My new label Mascot is doing a great job for me, and I think I have to jump over my shadow. I also like to give interviews and enjoy situations like this. It's the travel that just doesn't suit me.
eclipsed: I've come to know you as a very loyal person and a creature of habit. So how did the label change happen?
Lucassen: Ed van Zijl, the head of Mascot, wanted to sign me as early as 1994, but his company was too small to handle the job. Nevertheless, he helped me a lot back then, for which I am very grateful to him. The change was really not easy for me, and the decision took almost half a year.
eclipsed: How do you like "The Source"?
Lucassen: (laughs) Right now, I'm still in a phase of uncertainty. It always starts shortly after I've given an album to the record company. Then it's usually a few months before the album is finally released, and during that time my opinion changes radically from "the best album I've ever recorded" to "Oh, my God, how could I release something like that". (laughs)
eclipsed: Three concerts under the motto "Ayreon Universe" have been announced for the end of September in Tilburg, Holland. All 9,000 tickets were gone in one day. Will they see you on stage there, too?
Lucassen: I'm already having nightmares when I think about it. My stage fright is really enormous.