So you think you know Arjen Lucassen, huh? Towering Dutch prog rock polymath? The man behind the super successful prog rock conceptualists Ayreon? Not to mention his prog metal offshoots Star One and Guilt Machine? Enormous overarching concept albums about space and time, packed to the hilt with special guests that read like a who’s who of modern day progressive rock? Records that take as long to conceive as they do to record? That Arjen Lucassen? Well, think again...
‘Golden Age Of Music’, the latest album to feature Lucassen’s not inconsiderable talents, may also feature stellar musicianship and killer tunes, but there is no storyline that takes place far into the future in the far flung depths of space. Nor do the album’s 11 tracks come courtesy of an unending list of guest artists.
Supersonic Revolution, the band behind ‘Golden Age Of Music’, are simply five men; Arjen on bass, long-standing keyboard player Joost van den Broek, guitarist Timo Somers, drummer Koen Herfst and singer Jaycee Cuijpers. Five men rocking out and having one hell of a time doing it.
“It’s the same word that comes up all the time and that’s fun,” Lucassen exclaims, grinning ear to ear. “Making this album was just fun, and each time one of the guys would send me their recorded parts, I loved it and it was better than I could have imagined myself. It was all so easy.”
The whole project grew from a simple request to provide a track for a cover CD for the German music magazine Eclipsed.
“They asked if I had any cover versions lying around,” he recalls. “I said, ‘No but I’ll happily record one for you.’ So they gave me a list of bands and I saw a ZZ Top song ‘I Heard It On The X’ that I really like. I said I could record it for them, but then they told me it had to be ready in one week...”
Hang on! One week? This is the self-confessed ‘control freak’ Arjen Lucassen we’re talking about here. One week?
“I know,” Lucassen laughs. “I was like ‘Oh my god!’. So I contacted my favourite musicians in Holland via WhatsApp and literally within 30 minutes I had assembled five people. A band basically. I recorded a demo version for them and within a few days I got all their recorded files back from them.”
From there the seed was sown in Lucassen’s mind. ‘I want to form a band. And I want to simply have fun!’.
“I’m a perfectionist as you know, so I’m always sending musicians their parts back and asking them to change stuff,” he acknowledges. “But this was all brilliant. We were having fun, calling and WhatsApping all the time, and within a week we had a complete product. As well as a massive WhatsApp group thread of non-stop jokes and insults! It was so much fun because working on Ayreon or Star One, getting all those musicians together is a real hassle. The last Star One album (2022’s ‘Revel In Time’) had like 20 guest musicians, and it’s hell arranging all that. This time I just wanted to have fun again. And I sure did! “Also I wanted to have an up-beat, positive project. Ayreon can be pretty dark, but if you see interviews with me I am always laughing and having fun. I wanted a band that reflects that, basically five guys having a great time and enjoying themselves.”
ZZ Top’s ‘I Heard It On The X’ may have been the catalyst for Supersonic Revolution, but it was memories of music from the same decade that truly fired Lucassen’s imagination.
“I was like, let’s form a band and let’s write songs in the style of the 70s, and have the lyrics be a celebration of all the memorable things from that time, because those were my formative years,” he enthuses. “But I didn’t want it to sound like the 70s because that’s already been done and I can’t do it any better than ‘Stargazer’ or ‘Kashmir’.”
“The guys are all younger than me – around 30 – so they weren’t even alive yet in the 70s. So it was a great way for me to make 70s music with lots of Hammond and blistering guitars, but to update it to this time.”
The end result is 11 tracks of high energy, progressively inclined heavy rock that swings with the kind of groove Deep Purple rocked with in the early to mid 1970s. “This album is not a typical prog album. It’s not Yes or Genesis. But it’s not a metal album either. There’s a track called ‘Burn it Down’,” Lucassen notes, “it’s totally based on ‘Smoke On The Water’ but written from the perspective of the ‘stupid with a flare gun’ mentioned in the original lyrics.
“I’m not a great live player but I do know how to make stuff sound good, and the only way to make it sound good is to use the real stuff. Use a real Hammond. A real guitar and bass, a real amp, real speakers, no drum samples, etc...”
With Supersonic Revolution’s ‘Golden Age Of Music’ Arjen Lucassen has added another feather of excellence on to a very well stocked hat. And this time with a huge smile on his and everyone else’s faces.
“I love challenges,” he beams. “I need challenges and that’s also why I don’t do just Ayreon. I know people are going to like the next Ayreon, people have so much confidence in it. But it’s a challenge to do a new thing. Can I win them over with something different again? That’s really why I do all these side projects, to keep it interesting for me and for the fans.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the real Arjen Lucassen. Job done. Having fun.
Choosing a selection results in a full page refresh.