Arjen Lucassen is jittery. Highly nervous. It is the beginning of February, and the slag from the Dutch town of Oudenbosch is currently preparing for some acoustic concerts that will soon take him across Europe together with singer Anneke van Giersbergen. Over eight years have passed since his last gigs with Stream Of Passion, and those who know Lucassen know how unpleasant, almost painful such undertakings are for him. And so it is hardly surprising that the 54-year-old is not part of the recently started tour of the new band The Gentle Storm, put together around front woman Anneke van Giersbergen. Also the performance at the "Night Of The Prog"-Festival will take place without Lucassen.
eclipsed: Although you are known to be reluctant to tour, you are now playing live again. How's that?
Arjen Lucassen: If Anneke asks you for something, you can't just say no. So out of respect for her, I'll at least do the acoustic shows. But a complete tour together with a band would lead me far too far out of my comfort zone.
eclipsed: On "The Diary" you recorded every song in two wonderfully contrasting versions. As heavy instrumented "Storm"- and as folkloristic-acoustic "Gentle"-version.
Lucassen: I'm always looking for new approaches, don't want to repeat myself. Therefore, even after the last Ayreon album, I fell into my notorious black hole again. I felt empty and uninspired. Then I started a survey on my website, according to the motto: "What do you want to hear from me next?" Of course most fans wanted something hard and progressive again, but to my great surprise a big percentage voted for a folk album. I found it a great challenge to combine both styles on one album. But not in the usual way, but as two completely self-sufficient song versions.