Lucassen & Soeterboek's Plan Nine - Biography

It was the early nineties, and musical polymath Arjen Lucassen had begun working on several projects: a solo album, a progressive-rock opera and a rock album. Around this time, he watched singer Robert Soeterboek perform live with Bodine, his former early-eighties heavy metal band. "His vocals truly impressed me, a rarity!" Lucassen recalls. "He had the charisma and power of singers like David Coverdale and Robert Plant. Discovering that we really got along personally, we decided to collaborate on some songs, just for fun."

"We started writing songs together and found a natural flow, leading to a wealth of ideas," remembers Soeterboek. "Our friendship grew as we spent more time together, and I remember that there were lots of shenanigans and laughter."

They would meet daily in Lucassen's small ‘studio’ - a bedroom with a mattress and an old 8-track tape recorder. There, they recorded around 20 basic ideas. They brought in Peter Vink on bass, Cleem Determeijer on Hammond, and Rob van der List on drums, who has since passed away, and attracted interest from producers and labels. In the early-nineties Grunge landscape, landing a record deal was challenging. Some labels were interested but hesitated due to fears about being able to sell albums in the era dominated by bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Eventually, the repeated rejections wore them down. "I decided to start working on my rock opera project, expecting it to be the last musical thing I would ever do. My Final Experiment, so to speak!" Lucassen adds.

Soeterboek joined the German band Wicked Sensation and worked with Lucassen on the first Ayreon album and throughout the years in the studio and live, as well as being the frontman for The Cotton Soeterboek Band. Talking about reconnecting, Soeterboek says, "I was thinking about recording a new album. I had some songs ready and was talking to labels. Recording "Annie Moore" had been a dream of mine for ages. Although Arjen was busy with various projects, he agreed to work on it. Collaborating on this track has rekindled our enjoyment, like a trip down memory lane."

Fast forward to 2022, and they revisited those recordings. "For the song Annie Moore we involved Peter and Cleem on bass and Hammond, and Peter's wife Mirjam van Doorn on backing vocals, with my current go-to drummer, Koen Herfst, adding his magic," Lucassen explains. "Everyone involved was excited by the result, and I found it so inspiring that I re-wrote and re-recorded several other Songs. Soon, I couldn't stop! Robert and I spent weeks digging through our old cassettes and DAT tapes, discovering many potential gems we hadn't yet developed. Before we knew it, we had enough songs for a full album and more."

The album encapsulates a glorious treasure trove of 11 original songs with a loving 70s and 80s nod. It's a blistering romp through the good time rolling rocker of "Let It Ride", the Beatles-esque "Doctor Robert's Medicine Show," the bluesy groove of "Annie Moore," the chugging glam stomp of "High-Speed Chase" to the 80s metal of "Ice on Fire”, whilst "The Preacher" would fit on a number of Arjen's back catalogue records. The bonus disc features all the demos and some more newly recorded tracks.

Lucassen continues, "We wanted the best and most suitable musicians for this album who could tour with Robert. Koen handled the powerful drums. Rob van der Loo (Epica) laid down a solid bass foundation. The talented Irene Jansen delivered amazing backing vocals, as always. And, one of the world's best guitarists, Marcel Singor, played the virtuoso solos with his immediately recognizable style."

"I'm particularly thankful to Arjen," Soeterboek says. "Amidst preparing for the Ayreon shows, he went above and beyond to record this album with me. Inspiring each other and enjoying the process again has meant a lot. We're returning to a time when life was very different, and we barely had a penny to spare."

The Long-Lost Songs are lost no more. Plan Nine is reborn, giving the long-lost songs a second life!