HI! HOW ARE YOU? WHERE ARE YOU? I’m doing fine. I’m at my home in Holland near Amsterdam working on songs for a 4th solo album. Did the C III album materialise entirely the way you wanted it to? Where there any original plans which could not be realised due to factors such as time or money? Actually apart from some musicians not be available this time, the C 3 album turned out better than I could have hoped for. Terra Incognita (the undiscovered world) is the third part of a Trilogy concept story. It’s set in the future after the species (as written in the concept story of C 2) is split into 2 seperate entities by women who save the planet from self-destruction. In the new world the new generation uncover ancient writings written in stone and conclude they have to venture on a journey to discover Terra Incognita where it is written lives the monomales (men). My aim was to finish the Trilogy with a happy ending and as with C 2, I started with the title for the album „Terra Incognita“ in Latin meaning the undiscovered world and compiled the last part of the trilogy from there. YOU STATED THAT IT WAS RELEATIVELY UNCOMPLICATED TO GET THE MUSICIANS YOU WANTED FOR THE FIRST CONSORTIUM PROJECT TOGETHER AND RECORD THE ALBUM. HOW DID THINGS GO THIS TIME? I started working on C 3 back in May 2002, working at home on Pro-tools writing a few songs, then working together with Joshua Dutrieux (Elegy Keyboard Player). Joshua had written 5 tracks in a more Symfo style and we sat down in his studio and using the basic concept story, searching to see which songs suited the atmosphere throughout the different parts of the concept story. Alot of emphasis was put on finding analogue synthesizer sounds. I took the basic guide drums,vocals and keyboard track with guide guitar played by Joshua on a back up hard drive in Dec ’02, to Tampa Florida. There together with Casey Grillo and his colleague Robert Finan, we started recording drum and bass tracks at Casey’s studio „Above the C“. I then spend a number of months working on close harmony parts with different female singers and recorded a duet with the Dutch actrice Ingeborg Wieten. The final stage was to record the main body of guitars with Stephan Lill and mix at the Bazement studios near Frankfurt with Marcus Teske (where Vanden Plas recorded their last 2 albums). Having 88 tracks to mix we used the Digial Performer music program and moto interfaces. Obviously we had a lot of software plug-ins at our disposal,but I always like to use some analogue equipment such as Summit dual compressor /limitor DCL 200, to create some kind of „warmer“ vocals. The result this time is a great production, great songs and a believable concept taking us on a mystical journey. DO THE MUSICIANS INVOLVED JUST HAVE TO BE SKILLED OR FRIENDS AS WELL? It’s always lots of fun working on a Consortium album. I only work with my buddies and good people. There’s no room for ego trippers. So I guess because everyone is so flexible it’s makes Consortium Project work better and as I produce Consortium myself I can coordinate everything and this seems to work easier. IS IT A PROBLEM WITH BAND MEMBERS SPREAD OUT ALL OVER THE WORLD THAT YOU CAN NOT GO BACK AND RE-RECORD CERTAIN PARTS? On Consortium I we had some complication, and I had to ask Stephan Lill & Patrick Rondat to travel back to the studio in Germany to re-record some rhythm guitar parts, but I do a lot of pre-production to ensure there’s no repeats from the past and everything went smoothly on C3. ON THE ONE HAND YOU GIVE EACH COMBINATION OF MUSICIANS FOR THE CONSORTIUM PROJECT A DIFFERENT NUMBER, WHICH INDICATES THAT THE WAY THE BAND IS FORMED CHANGES ITS NATURE. ON THE OTHER HAND IT IS ALWAYS YOU WHO IS ENTIRELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COMPOSITIONS (OR AM I MISTAKEN?). HOW MUCH OF EACH ALBUM DEPENDS ON THE MUSICIANS INVOLVED AND HOW MUCH ON YOU? On Consortium 1. I wrote all the songs as a challenge being a singer, but on C 2 and C 3 we share the songwriting. The concept however I wrote myself, and took care of the production duties. This was the best way without creating a logistical nightmare. YOUR WEBSITE MENTIONS THAT IT WAS REVOLUTIONARY FOR YOU TO WORK WITH FEMALE (OR SHOULD I SAY FEMININE?) SINGERS. WAS THERE A GENERAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORKING WITH WOMEN AND MEN IN THE STUDIO? Basically I recorded most of the female vocal parts at home using Pro-tools, so this helped create a more relaxed atmosphere. The vocal parts from Brenda Davies (the female singer from Casey Grillo’s band) were recorded at Casey’s „Above the C“ studio in Tampa Florida but the whole process of recording the ladies was fine! TALKING ABOUT THE CONCEPT, DID YOU LAY OUT THE COMPLETE STORY BEFOREHAND OR DID YOU ALLOW FOR THINGS TO HAPPEN WHILE WRITING THE PIECES? I was browsing through the pages of the oxford english dictionary and realised that apart from the word feminine there wasn’t many references to females without the masculine connection. So I decided to create a story of a world going out of control and used topics of the present like the issues of human cloning and global warning. This together with a little fantasy is how the idea was formulated. It incorporates fact and fiction and references to scriptures being true predictions. This idea is of course based on the writings of Nostradamus, although I don’t read books so much , I take note of any historical aspect or whenever people mention great literature. IS THE ORDER OF THE TRACKS ON THE ALBUM THE ORDER IN WHICH THEY WERE WRITTEN? No, I first had the songtitles, then selected the music as it was set to me by my colleagues or written myself. Then once I had the opening story for the concept, I finalized the lyrics. ON THE ALBUM, A NEW SPECIES, THE NOEFEMS RULES THE WORLD PEACEFULLY. DOES THIS MEAN THAT YOU SEE THE GENDER CONFLICT AS THE MOST BASIC REASON FOR THE PROBLEMS OF THIS WORLD? Not really, I just feel when there is agression or trouble, more often than not it is a man causing the problems. CONSIDERING THAT THE STORY IS VERY DETAILED I WAS WONDERING IF YOU HAD A VISUAL MAP OR IMAGES IN YOUR HEAD AS WELL WHILE WRITING AND DEVELOPING THE TRACKS? I always see images and let my imagination drift into a surreal scenario, which helps to develop a great result. THERE IS A CERTAIN ELEMENT OF ESCAPISM IN YOUR ALBUM AND ITS CONCEPT. HOW DO YOU SEE ESCAPISM IN GENERAL – IS IT A FOUR-LETTER WORD TO YOU OR IS IT A NATURAL HUMAN WISH? I feel human beings are always searching for the unknown, something to believe in. I am also one of those in search for a different existence. WHILE LISTENING TO “CALIFORNIA LIGHTHOUSE” I THOUGHT THIS SONG HAD A VERY DREAMLIKE QUALITY AND WAS SURPRISED TO SEE THAT IT IN FACT IS A SORT OF DREAM. AS MUSIC AND LYRICS GO TOGETHER SO WELL – IS THERE A REAL LIGHTHOUSE THAT INSPIRED THIS PIECE? I filmed a video clip of „Principles of Pain“ the title track of the last Elegy CD. back in 2002. My friends explained a story of the original indian people of Aruba who used to live in caves on the northern coast near an area called „California Lightlight“. They all disappeared except for their language, so I thought it would be great to write a song about Aruba and its beautiful „White Sands“ which I was able to incorporate in the C 3 concept. YOU HAVE EXPRESSED ADMIRATION FOR FREDDY MERCURY IN THE PAST – IS “SPIRIT OF KINDNESS” YOUR QUEEN-TRIBUTE? All the song titles of C 3 are directly connected to each part of the story, but I have admiration for Freddy Mercury and Queen, they were and always will be a great band. I HAD THE IMPRESSION THAT C III, EVEN THOUGH AT FIRST GLANCE VERY HEAVY, WAS CONCEIVED AS AND WORKS AS A VERY SUBTLE ALBUM. YOU DID NOT TRY TO DISPLAY A WILD ARRAY OF STYLES BUT RATHER KEEP THINGS INTERESTING BY CAREFUL CHANGES IN RYTHMIC AND INSTRUMENTAL STRUCTURES – SUCH AS IN “ACROSS THE SEVEN SEAS”, WHICH CONSTANTLY EVOLVES MOODWISE BY DECENT CHANGES. WOULD YOU AGREE? Terra Incognita (the undiscovered world) is far more symphonic than the other 2 consortium albums and includes more choirs and harmony vocals from great female singers. The prog and metal elements combined with a great production help to enhance the concept. This was what I wanted to achieve this time – Making the balance of music and lyrics create a clear and more vivid picture in the minds eye. THERE ARE RATHER FEW MOMENTS OF REST ON THE ALBUM. DON’T YOU LIKE A NICE BALLAD AT TIMES? „White Sands“ is the only ballad on C 3 , but songs like „Lost Empire“ and „Beyond the Gateway of legends“ have cleverly structured open passages giving moments to ponder and reflect. SOLOS NEVER GET TOO LONG ON THE ALBUM – WAS IT A CONSCIOUS EFFORT TO KEEP THINGS “TIGHT”? WAS THERE EVER THE THOUGHT OF MAKING “TERRA INCOGNITA” A DOUBLE ALBUM? Everything including the solo sections was carefully arranged, including the guest solo performances by Mike Chlasciak (Halford guitarist) and Sascha Peath (Heaven’s Gate guitarist and producer of Rhapsody). Everything revolved around the concept like a script of sorts. Being the third part of a Trilogy, I feel if the fans are interested, they can always check out the other Consortium 1 & 2 CDs. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RELEASING SINGLES FROM CONCEPT ALBUMS? DID THE IDEA COME UP FOR THE PRESENT ALBUM? I THOUGHT “THE ARK” WOULD HAVE WORKED ON ITS OWN. Decisions about singles are made by the licensee, in this case Century Media records, so if they feel the need to bring out a single, i’d choose a 3 minute track like „Spirit of Kindness“. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CURRENT SCENE FOR PROGRESSIVE METAL? ANY YET UNKNOWN BAND(S) YOU WOULD LIKE US TO KNOW ABOUT? DOES IT BOTHER YOU THAT THE GENRE AS SUCH IS OFTEN DISSED IN THE MEDIA WITHOUT REGARD OF THE ACTUAL RECORDINGS? I feel sad for new bands nowadays. With the diminishing CD sales due to illegal copying, it must be almost impossible to get a recording deal these days. I finance my own productions , which can be stressful, but this way I am able to get the end result I want without being pressured or influenced. CAN YOU SHORTLY TELL US ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ARJAN LUCCASSEN? YOU SEEM TO BE A CONSTANT SOURCE OF INSPIRATION AND SUPPORT FOR EACH OTHER. I helped out Arjen Lucassen in the past singing and re-writing lyrics from an old concept idea I wrote called „Sleeper Awake“ during our days in the dutch hard rock band Vengeance. Arjen returned the favour by playing bass guitar on Consortium 1. Since then i’ve been touring ,recording and producing Elegy and Consortium albums. HOW DID IT FEEL TO SEE THE HAMMERHEAD ALBUM FINALLY RELEASED AFTER 15 YEARS? HOW DOES THE MUSIC SOUND TO YOU TODAY? It’s great it finally got released, but it’s a little old fashioned nowadays. If it would have been released back in ’84 by EMI Electrola, it may have been a worldwide success, but sadly we’ll never know. IS METAL AND HARD ROCK STILL YOUR MUSIC OF CHOICE AT HOME? OR DO YOU RATHER LISTEN TO CHOPIN WHILE SIPPING RED WINE? I listen a lot to Peter Gabriel these days and some new Symfo metal bands. HOW WILL LIVE SHOWS LOOK LIKE? WILL THERE BE AN INTEGRAL PERFORMANCE OF “TERRA INCOGNITA”? WHO WILL BE IN THE LIVE BAND? If the fans do us the honour by buying the C 3 album, instead of being tempted to copy or download it, then we will be able to cover the rising costs and take the Consortium trilogy on the road. ANY CHANCE OF SEEING YOU IN GERMANY ANY TIME SOON? Hopefully if sales are good Century Media Records will re-release Consortium I which includes the first part of the Concept and 2 bonus tracks and we’ll be playing live date in Germany with the Consortium trilogy band, with guest performances in each country. WHAT’S NEXT? ARE YOU ALREADY WORKING ON AN UPCOMING PROJECT? I’m working on new songs for a possible 4th solo album, more commercial in an atmospheric rock style. ANY FAMOUS LAST WORDS? Terra Incognita (the undiscovered world) incorporates fact and fiction. This CD is full of powerful metal riffs and Symphonic passages, so give C 3 „Terra Incognita“ a listen and join us on this mystical journey and hopefully it will take us back to Germany soon. Have a great Christmas and the best of luck to you and your Readers in 2004. THANK YOU!