The Gentle Storm: Anneke and Arjen are in the same boat

It had to happen sooner or later. Anneke Van Giersbergen and Arjen Lucassen are two of the most established and talented Dutch artists in the larger rock and metal scene, and they’ve already crossed paths in Ayreon’s ambitious, progressive works (Into The Electric Castle, 01011001), with a success that we need not describe. Anneke has made countless appearances on stage and in the studio alongside other artists – among which Devin Townsend, of course, but also extremely varied bands like Pain Of Salvation, Within Temptation, Moonspell, or Napalm Death. Arjen, for his part, is known for using dozens of talented vocalists on his albums. Everything pointed at a common project between these two – and this project now has a name: The Gentle Storm. On March 23rd, Inside Music will release their first record, The Diary, which comes in two different versions for the price of one: the “Gentle” version, softer and more acoustic, and the “Storm” version, more epic and very much plugged.

We talked to the two musicians to know more about this collaboration, the idea of making two versions of the songs within a double album, and the theme said album is built around, the voyage of a Dutch sailor in the 17th century, aka the Dutch Golden Age. We also took this opportunity to talk about another highly creative mind, Devin Townsend, the theatrical project The Theater Equation, and The Gathering’s 25th-anniversary show, which Anneke was a part of alongside her former bandmates.

« That’s what we’re trying to do with this, you know, trying to open their minds because there’s so much to discover »

Radio Metal: You two have been collaborating since 1998. When did you first start to form the idea of making a complete album together?

Arjen Lucassen (guitar): As I started working on this album I didn’t have any [plan yet]… I never plan ahead. So when I start something, I have no idea what it’s gonna turn into. It could turn into Ayreon, a new project, a solo project… Anything can happen. So I just started working on it, and then somehow it developed itself and at some point, I realized: “Okay, what I have would be cool if I would do folky arrangements of it and metal arrangements of it”, which means that I need a very good singer who can do both, which is hard. So I made a list. It was a very short list [laughs], it just had Anneke’s name on it, but I did not approach her yet. I remember I talked about her with the record company, “You think she would fit, you think she would like it?” “Yeah of course!” Thomas said, “Of course she’d like it!” And I was like: “Yeah but I wanna wait a little bit, I don’t know how it’s gonna develop.” And exactly at that time, Anneke approached me, and we just talked a little bit, and she was like: “Hey, let’s sit down and write a few songs together!” So I said: “Actually, I’ve got this project but I don’t know if you’re gonna like it. It’s gonna be two versions, one folky and the other one is gonna be huge and bombastic, it’s not gonna be a careful album…” and I kept warning her: “Really, really, it’s gonna be bombastic and folky and I hope you’ll like it!” So she said: “Well, send me some stuff and let me listen to it.” And…

The rest is history [laughs].

Anneke Van Giersbergen (vocals): Anneke: Yeah! I loved it of course. Although all of Arjen’s albums are different, in atmosphere and in approach, I knew of course what he’s all about, so I thought: “He can’t make something I don’t like, but is it something I can sing to?” And of course I loved it. The demos were classical oriented, with violins and so on, so it could go either way, it could go in any form after that. But it was so open and melodically so beautiful that I thought it was going to be easy for me to sing on it, in a way it was going to be easy to find the inspiration for it. So we hit if off there and then we came up with the concept and the story. It was really nice to come up with it, talk about it and see that whole story grow.

Arjen: I never clashed, I always added. When she had an idea, I was like: “Yeah of course!” Which gave me another idea. Then I said: “Yeah, so if we do that, why not…” And it kept going like that. It kept growing and it all came together.

You both did some pretty different stuff in your careers. So does this album truly represent what you have in common in your personalities, both musical and otherwise?

Arjen: I think it could have gone many different ways. I don’t think there isn’t specifically something… No, we could have made like a very electronic album, and still be on the same wave length. I think it could have been turning into anything. I don’t think this is the thing we have in common, it just grew that way.

Anneke: I feel the same way.

Arjen did all the writing of the music while you, Anneke, were handling the lyrics. But how did you collaborate to make the music consistent with the lyrics? Were you both aware of what the other was doing with his part or was it complete trust on each other?

Anneke: Both, because we trust each other to… We were working towards the concept and story, so that was our guideline for the music and the lyrics, and we collaborated a lot: Arjen helped me with the lyrics of course, he’s got a lot of good ideas for me to continue writing for a certain song or for the story, and also with vocal melodies, I got lots of freedom to sing what feels good for me and so although we had specific tasks on this album, we worked very much together.

Arjen: There was a clear plan, which is something I usually don’t do. We talked about it: “Do we agree on this?” And we inspired each other so there was a clear plan. I think that really helped, this time, and once I heard the music that I had in the beginning, the classical, it already… That’s always the way I work: I never work lyrics first. I always start writing music and the music has to inspire me to come up with the concept. And obviously, it didn’t sound modern, you know, it didn’t sound contemporary, it sounded like centuries ago, it sounded like, how do you call it? Baroque classical music. So I think that’s what fired the idea to have this set in the 17th century. And then she came up with the idea of two people who love each other and live in this century, from there it all started.

As you just said, the album focuses on the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century. Since you two are from Holland, was it important for you to pay tribute to these roots?

Anneke: Important not, because I’m not such a… How do you say that when you love your country?

Arjen: Chauvinistic!

Anneke: Yeah [chuckles]. Not at all, I’m a citizen of the world. I think that our culture, if it is rich, it is rich because of this age, because of our painters, etc. that did a lot for our country in the past, and that’s why it grew and blossomed like it did. So if ever you would write something or do something about celebrating the Dutch culture or whatever, it would be this. But more importantly, it’s such a well of many things you can be inspired by, like the paintings, the music, the way they dressed, the way they lived their lives, the whole sailing thing. We were the firsts to get herbs and spices and colors and fabrics and food from all these beautiful different countries… It’s so rich a well to tap into and make a project like this! But you know, to be honest I couldn’t care less about my country because for all I care I’d live in Paris and be very happy about it so [laughs], you know what I mean? But of course I have roots, and of course I do like to read about it and to learn about it.

Arjen: It’s authentic, you know, we’re not trying to be Americans, we’re not trying to be someone else, so it’s kind of authentic. But I have to say: I’m not proud. I don’t think that’s a Dutch thing [laughs].

Anneke: It’s not like France, you can be proud of cities like Paris that have something, maybe because we are not people from France we think this is fantastic.

That’s always the same thing. I visited Amsterdam once in my life [and thought it was great!]


: But I do agree, though. I love Amsterdam as well, also for all these reasons and so on. But yeah, I suppose… The grass is always greener in other countries, yeah!

« It’s way harder to write a catchy song […] because you have to throw away half of what you do. […] You keep changing choruses and you keep changing melodies until you have it. »

You declared that “the art alone from that period is a rich source of inspiration” and that “you can’t really look at a painting by Rembrandt or Vermeer and not feel inspired.” So did you actually look at Rembrandt or Vermeer’s paintings and were inspired for this record?

Arjen: Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah, Google images! [Laughs] No, especially of course I was looking for an artwork so I went through lots of these paintings. I love Rembrandt, always loved him. I think because this music is so visual… And the first video we’re going to do, a lyrics video, which is gonna be out next week, is gonna be done completely in 17th century style. There were people who heard the music and couldn’t quite place it somewhere, like the guy who was doing our promotion in Holland: but then he saw the lyric video and said: “Oh, it’s all coming together now, I get it now! I get the music now!” So yeah, it is very visual and this whole period is very inspiring, looking at these pictures and looking at this style… For me it’s very inspiring. And inspiration means getting a good feel, that’s what inspiration means for me.

The story is about a sailor who embarks on a two-year voyage and the music does feel sometimes very exotic, with the use of many exotic instruments. What is your relationship with world music and traditional music? For example, in your latest solo album Anneke, you had the song “Mental Jungle” with a strong Turkish, oriental feeling…

Anneke: I think like we said before, if you only focus on your own background, that’s great, but there’s so much in the world we can be inspired by. For instance for this song “Mental Jungle” I used to work with a Turkish singer, and their way of singing…

Arjen: That was my favorite song, it sounds familiar now!

Anneke: …The way they sing, the way they use their voice… I asked him also: “I’d love to have you singing on this song. Can you do with your voice like they do in church before prayer?” And he did something like that and it’s just so fantastic, because that’s not something I could do, it’s not in my background. It’s so genuine; it’s such a strong atmosphere… Why not tap into that, why not use that? So yeah, for this also we made a song about India. It’s great to play around with those sounds and these instruments.

Arjen: For me I think it comes from the 60s’ and 70s’ when I grew up, like the sitar in “Norwegian Woods” by The Beatles and Led Zeppelin with “Battle Of Evermore” with the mandolin, Thin Lizzy with all these Irish folk things, so that’s definitely where it comes from on my side.

Anneke I’m gonna ask you this one because you Arjen don’t tour that much: the concept being about this sailor who leaves his wife at home, communicating with her via letters, would you somehow compare it to the life on the road and the long distance relationship that it implies with family and friends?

Arjen: Good question!

Anneke: A very, very good question! Because nobody ever did this comparison but it is something like that. Only is those days, things were vaster: the travels were vaster, you couldn’t hop all over Europe or whatever. The sailors went away for like two and a half years. The letters they sent took like six months at least to reach the other person. So that’s the interesting thing about this whole story. But it is the same. The other day, we were cleaning up my garage and I found faxes that my husband sent to me when I was on tour. He faxed to the venue: “Give this to Anneke!”.

Arjen: [With a moved tone] Aww!

Anneke: It was little love letters and I thought: “Oh it’s so old fashioned!” Like it was all yellow…

Arjen: It feels so modern, you know! “You have a fax machine?!” “Yes!” [Laughs]

Anneke: …Because I had my own fax machine, indeed! Not everybody had a fax at home. And now it’s like what I just mentioned earlier, sending a SMS or an email, you are in contact within seconds. It is all the same, but the way it worked was just so different! I feel love and maintaining a relationship for this sailor with his wife at home with maybe kids was just so different from what it is for traveling partners nowadays, which is gigantically interesting, because with this story, we really delve into these characters and how it must feel when she is ill or when she is pregnant… You want to share this and you’ll send a letter you’ll never know if it’s gonna arrive, you never know where he is when it does and all these things. You don’t even know if your partner is still alive or if he’s eaten by sharks!

Arjen: She wants to tell him but she doesn’t want to worry him either because he has his own troubles, so how you do it?

Anneke: And much more with family life, people were relying on their parents, on their family to take care of kids, to take care of a sick person. Life in general was just so different… But very pure, in a way. There wasn’t much around to astray from this life. That was that, your life. Ordinary life, your everyday life…

So do you miss the faxes, or is it better to send an email?

Anneke: I love the second thing, especially on tour. And I have a kid at home, for instance now my kid has the flu so I can be like “Are you alright?” “Yes I’m fine”, so that’s cool [laughs].

« I’m really a recluse, which means I really never go out. All my days look exactly the same up to the minute. »

There are two versions of the songs: a folk/acoustic one and a metal one. What pushed you to do that? Do you think that there is more than just one way to apprehend this record, this story?

Arjen: It’s funny, the interview before was with a guy who liked the Storm version. He didn’t like the Gentle version at first, but then he listened to the Storm version and then the Gentle version again and he was like: “Yeah, wait a minute! Now it clicks!” And the guy before that was like: “Yeah I love the Gentle version!” So at some point, it was actually the first time I thought about that, and the last guy I saw, I said to him: “Well you don’t have to like the Gentle version, you know. If you don’t like it, throw it away, give it to your mother! [Laughs] Just play the Storm version!” People don’t have to like both! I hope people see it like that. Not like: “Ugh I don’t like it, it’s soft shit so I’m not gonna buy it.” No, it’s just… We did something for both. And it’s in one package!

Anneke: And the funny thing is like the other guy said: “I love the metal because I’m a metal fan, I love the more heavy stuff”, so he skipped the first and then came back to it! And then, you can get into it and it makes sense! So even though people like one or the other from nature, they can dive into the other one and it makes sense, it can broaden their horizon…

Arjen: And that’s so important. So many people… I hate it! When I put that update for The Gentle Storm, one guy was like: “Fuck the acoustic version! Can I also just buy the Storm version?” I was so angry! Because that’s what we’re trying to do with this, you know, trying to open their minds because there’s so much to discover. I hate it when people just limit themselves. I know because it was the same in the 80s’: you were supposed to like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, and you were not supposed to like bands with keyboards. There were all these rules in the 80s’, the 80s’ were terrible. And then in the 90s’ with Nirvana, people started opening up and shit… But yeah, it’s a good thing that you mentioned that because that’s something we’re trying to do, just open people’s mind. Like this metal guy will be playing the Gentle version and be like: “Hey, I kinda like it!”, or maybe “My girlfriend likes it so I play it – hey, I kinda like it too myself!” Let’s dive into that.

: And also what people forget, is that you think: “Oh, this is the acoustic version of the album, ok, so acoustic is soft”, but the acoustic album in this regard is very intense. It speaks to you, it cracks your brain and it cracks your heart! Because lyrically, all the instruments, all the layers, the story, the whole thing is super intense.

Arjen: It’s even more confronting maybe. Like if you take “Endless Sea”, the first song, it’s really, really heavy with horns and orchestra, but in the other one, it’s just piano, and this version is way more confronting. “Oh, what’s happening?” [laughs]

Anneke: It’s true! So you have to give it a listen with an open mind. And you’d be surprised. A lot of people like the journalists who already heard the album are surprised. I know this really metal guy from England, he said: “I might sound silly, but I like the acoustic version better!” And I’m like “Don’t be ashamed! I know why! I know why you do like it!”

Arjen: That’s also what the record company said! They’re all surprised that they like the acoustic version!

How were both versions of the songs conceived? Did you start with the softer version and added guitars, did you start with the heavy version and then take off the guitars or did you actually have a basis that you used to build both upon it?

Arjen: We started with the classical version. A very baroque… What’s the other classical period? Anyway, it’s just the basic, double bass, violin, and cello. That’s the original. So that’s what [Anneke] got the first time. Like “This is it, we can go anywhere you want!” [Laughs] So that’s where it started.

You declared that, while writing the album, you really wanted the focus to be on Anneke’s voice. Did you have somehow to frustrate yourself to avoid putting too much of your progressive influences? Is it harder for you to write songs like that?

Arjen: It’s way harder to write a catchy song. It’s way harder, because you have to throw away half of what you do. A good example is the last Ayreon album. It has no structure. It has no choruses, no verses. I just went into the studio and started recording. That’s how I did it. So there I didn’t have to choose, there was no shifting of the song. I just kept going. And it was easy. The songs are 20 minutes long, it took a couple of days, we just went in, did one part and then another part, but this time I wanted strong choruses. I didn’t do that on the last Ayreon, so I wanted strong choruses. That’s not easy, because you keep changing choruses and you keep changing melodies until you have it… I forgot the question! [Laughs]

You did answer the question! I was asking if it was easier to write without being all progressive…

Arjen: Yeah, being progressive is much easier. Really, because you just fiddle around.

Most people wouldn’t say that!

Arjen: I know they wouldn’t!

I would think it’s easier when you have a structure…

Anneke: For me, that would be the case. I write way more poppy stuff than he does.

Arjen: Yeah, because you put yourself limits, and to work within limits is harder for me. In prog have no limits, that’s one of the definitions of prog for me: there are no limits so you can just go for it !

There is only one singer on this album, but there are over 40 different instruments played. Was the amount of work comparable to an Ayreon album for that reason?

Arjen: Yeah, the amount of singers… That’s what I thought when I did this: “Oh, just one singer, so I’ll be ready in half a year!” [Laughs] But then: “Damn it! I worked on it for a full year!” The many instruments and the many instrumentalists who have to come over and not just work one day but several days, and of course making all the arrangements for all these instruments, and the processing later on on the computer and putting them together, wow! It was way more work than I expected for this album!

So next time, one singer and like four instruments? [Laughs]

Arjen: Yeah [laughs]… No, no, because I love working! People are sometimes happy when it’s over and I’m like [sad voice]: “Ugh it’s done now!” [Laughs]

« Nostalgia’s terrible. Either it makes you feel: “Oh it was so great back then and now it’s not anymore!” or you see it like: “Oh it was terrible!” So whatever way you look at things it’s awful! [Laughs] »

Anneke these past years you’ve worked with another very creative man: Devin Townsend. How would you compare your work with him to your work with Arjen, and how would you compare their creative minds?

Anneke: Well, the comparison is that they are both musical geniuses…

Arjen: Bah…

Anneke: …I think both don’t like it when I say that! But you know what I mean: they make these massive productions, these massive well-thought songs and big masterpieces. Every album is so layered and so massive that that’s the comparison: they both work super hard and are very focused as well. The big difference is that with Arjen I can be creative as well, he lets me have full space to think about vocal lines and to try out things, and he very much trusts me in my musical melodic judgment. So that’s the big difference: I feel like with this album is really a duo album. Of course it was set up this way. With Devin, he calls me and I do what he wants, which is also in a way very creative, because he gets out the best in me, and I love working and singing for him because he makes these fantastic things, but Arjen’s different because we really work together. Even if he makes an Ayreon album and he needs me for a few songs, even then he lets me do freely what I think would be a good vocal line and we work on it together, so yeah, there’s a big difference in that.

Since both of you have worked with Devin, could we expect someday a collaboration between the three of you?

Anneke: All those things usually come by chance in a very spontaneous way. If we meet him on a festival or whatever and say: “Oh, let’s do something”, that might work.

Arjen: I thought about it of course, because I love Anneke and I love Devin. But I wouldn’t know what we would do!

Anneke: No! Exactly! I was thinking about it!

Arjen: And that’s exactly where it stops. If I would have a plan, I would suggest it. I would record something, send it to Devin, say: “Hey, do you think we could do this?”, but I don’t! And I’m really thinking of it, because I would love to see it happen, but I wouldn’t know what, because I would want to do something different from what Devin does, something different from what we all do! But we already did everything, so what’s left? What can you do?! Something very atmospheric? No! He already did that with Ki. Something very folky, I already did that now. Something very metal, he did it with Strapping Young Lads… So what would we do? If I would ask you, what would you wanna hear if we would do something, the three of us?

I don’t know! Given you’re love of space opera and Devin’s history with Ziltoid I don’t know, but it’s been done already…

Arjen: It’s been done! And if we would do that, I wouldn’t wanna do something that we’ve both already done. So it’s hard. I have no idea. But I would love to. I would be open for it.

Anneke, you’re going to do a tour where you’ll play The Gentle Storm songs but without Arjen. Actually, Arjen, in the press release you’re cited saying that “being somewhat of a recluse, [you] stopped playing live a long time ago for too many reasons to mention.” If it’s not to indiscreet, can you tell us more about these reasons that keep you from the stage?

Arjen: The only reason that I’ve said it’s too many reasons to mention is [that there is] too many reasons to mention [laughs]. It doesn’t stop. Basically, I’m really a recluse, which means I really never go out. All my days look exactly the same up to the minute, and the evening, like now, we first watch Prison Break, all the seasons, and then we watch Lost and it starts at an exact time… All my days are planned! That’s my life and that’s the way I love it. And in the meantime I’m thinking about songs and creating shit. A couple of hours every day I go to the studio and I work on songs, and I wanna be creative. I’m a producer and a composer but I’m not a performer, also because I’m not very good at it. I hate traveling, I have stage fright, I hate sitting, as you may have noticed I’ve tried all positions and everything hurts! That’s just the beginning. I absolutely swear! If I have something important the next day, I don’t sleep which means I have to take sleeping pills and I hate to take aspirin even… So I have to take sleeping pills to sleep and then the next day it gives you a headache and… Yeah. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg, so! [Laughs]

So I’m very happy to have you here today to talk face to face, that’s very nice! [Chuckles]

Arjen: The reason I’m here is because I want this project to succeed and I know it can, I know it’s good and one of the best things I’ve done in a long time. And I see so many possibilities with this.

Anneke, won’t it feel weird for you to play these songs without Arjen?

Anneke: To be honest, no, because from the first moment we got together for this project, we knew that Arjen is not touring, so yeah, I didn’t think about it. I just actually asked him: “Is it alright if I tour with it?”, and then I formed the band around it. So it’s also a natural progression. We did the album and then I will tour and that’s not a problem. I respect his decision – I don’t wanna push him into something he doesn’t wanna do. That would be horrible! All the other things and all the other aspects of this project were just spontaneous and felt very natural. Why would I say he should tour for I don’t know what reason! There’s lot of people who only work in the studio and prefer not to tour like that. Arjen is one of those people who work best in an environment that they are comfortable in…

Arjen: Alone!

Anneke: Alone, yeah [laughs]. He loves creating and I love recreating, so it’s just fine!

« I always think like whatever I did yesterday, if I did it today I could do it better. »

Can you give us an update on The Theater Equation? What is your implication in this project and what can we expect?

Arjen: Basically I was sitting in the car with my former manager and she said: “I need a change!” And she was in the theater world, so I was joking like: “Make a theater play of The Human Equation!” That was just one funny remark in the car. And then every week she would call me: “So, how would you see that, who’d be in it?” And then I would say like: “Well, do it with some friends.” “Well but what if the original cast could do it?” “Well, I can try for you, I can try the original cast starting with James La Brie.” James was like: “Yes of course! Cool!” And everyone was like “Yeah, sure!” So suddenly this stupid little idea started going into this big thing, and I never knew she would go ahead with it. I told her from the beginning: I don’t wanna be involved in it because I don’t know nothing about the theater world. I am a recluse so I don’t wanna go to rehearsals, so you’re really gonna have to do it yourself. I would pick the singers and the musicians for you, and I’ll help with anything you want, but it’s all up to you to do this. And then she set it up. She asked: “How will you do promotion?” So I put it on Facebook and within a week all 15.000 seats were sold out! Without any promotion whatsoever! [Laughs]

Anneke: That’s so amazing!

Arjen: So I’m not involved.

But you Anneke are involved!

Anneke: Yeah, I was asked to have the honor to replace Mike Åkerfeldt. He can’t make it or whatever and they thought of me! I think it’s amazing. It’s such a great idea and people really love the concept of this album being at the theater, so there are high expectations. But we didn’t rehearse anything yet. It’s all still in early stages, so I’ve no idea what I’m getting into! [Laughs] But I love the songs and I’ve heard of course what I am about to sing. Apart from the growling voices, I can do it. So yeah, that’s gonna be brilliant I think!

Arjen: We waited for Mikael for a long time because he did wanna do it, “I really wanna do it, but you have to wait a little longer because I have Opeth…” But at some point you have to put your foot down and take the decision. But then, the horrible thing: how do you replace Mikael Åkerfeldt? Anyone you take is gonna be compared to Mikael, and he’s gonna lose.

So you took a woman…

Arjen: That’s it! Let’s take something completely different, that people won’t be like: “Ugh, it’s not Mikael!” Let’s do something very different. And then of course I thought of Anneke…

Anneke: It’s smart to do that I think.

How do you feel about replacing a man?

Anneke: Actually the lyrics and the way he sings these parts, I can relate to it. It’s a non-sex thing.

Arjen: It’s an emotion.

Anneke: I can relate totally. Apart from that, I think Mikael is a very good singer, so in that respect, I feel obligated to do a very good job on the technical side. But the emotion could be the same for me as for a man.

Arjen: People often make mistake and say: “Yeah, but it’s fear…

Anneke: …It should be heavy!”

Arjen: But it’s not about being heavy, it’s about being afraid! [Laughs]

Anneke: It doesn’t have to be heavy, it can be soft and…

Arjen: The grunting he does, it’s because he’s scared. It’s not aggression, it’s not aggressive like to induce fear, it’s feeling fear.

Anneke, you did a reunion show with the Gathering at the end of last year. How was it?

Anneke: That was wonderful! Actually that was so nice to be on one stage with everybody who has ever been in the Gathering. And I think the guys in The Gathering thought the same thing. It’s like a really wonderful way to celebrate the 20 years – 25 years for them – of this band, this music. I feel very proud and blessed to have been in the Gathering and to have been able to recreate this in such a beautiful venue with all these lovely people who came from all over the world to see it. It was an epic celebration of the band, of this music, so yeah, I was very happy with it.

Didn’t it make you feel nostalgic about your days with the Gathering?

Anneke: No, I’m not nostalgic by nature, and I do feel proud, I feel very blessed to be friends with the guys. That was my biggest thing, that we are alright together. I have more of a feeling of celebration. I love singing the old songs and I love everybody singing along and to be able to do this together. But nostalgic? I never think back – I don’t even watch YouTube videos of myself from yesterday or whatever because I don’t like looking back, I love here and now and I love the future.

Arjen: Nostalgia’s terrible. Either it makes you feel: “Oh it was so great back then and now it’s not anymore!” or you see it like: “Oh it was terrible!” So whatever way you look at things it’s awful! [Laughs]

Anneke: I always think like whatever I did yesterday, if I did it today I could do it better. When I listen to the albums that I made or when I did a show in a club yesterday, when I look back I’m like: “I would do this differently, I can sing differently, I can perform differently, I can do my hair better [chuckles], I can do everything better!” So I don’t like looking at myself anyway and I don’t like looking back. But I love the songs from the Gathering, I love playing them and I love the guys, so that was perfect.

So let’s look to the future! Can you give us an update on your next projects? Do you have other projects in the making? You always do, Arjen!

Arjen: [Laughs] No, not really! I can only concentrate on one thing and this is not over yet, so my concentration’s still on this. We have to do the acoustic shows. We’re gonna do some more acoustic recordings and stuff like that. And then a lot will depend on the success of The Gentle Storm. If it’s successful, of course, I would have to make a follow up at some point. But no, I’ll probably hopefully… There’s always a black hole after such a busy period for me. Nothing comes and it’s terrible, but then slowly the ideas will be coming again and it will lead me into something.

Anneke: I do have a project but it’s still very much in the beginning stages, but I have a project for 2016 which is more classical oriented. I’m working on that, just a little bit, and the main focus is playing the songs of The Gentle Storm live. The whole of 2015 there’s already tours and festivals, and I think I will play well into 2016 because it’s gonna be a success, so… [Laughs] I have a good feeling about it and I think the live part of this whole thing is gonna be equally fun and equally good. I think I will be doing it for a while.

I have one last question for you Arjen: on almost every interview you did for Radio Metal, you concluded with a punchline. The first one was: “Don’t buy my albums, listen to Pink Floyd.” And the second one was: “Pink Floyd are dead now, so now is the time to buy my albums!” What is your punchline for this interview?

Arjen: If you don’t like The Endless River, buy The Gentle Storm!

Interview conducted 19th, january 2015 by Tiphaine Lombardelli.
Retranscription and traduction: Chloé Perrin.
Introduction: Nicolas Gricourt.
Questions: Nicolas Gricourt and Philippe Sliwa.

The Gentle Storm official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheGentleStorm.

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