Good evening Marcel,how is everything?
Marcel Coenen: Hello, I am fine, thank you, I hope you are fine too !
I would like to thank you for bringing back some light in the progressive metal genre with your band?s amazing album, Sun Caged is in my opinion the album Dream Theater should?ve made after "Images and words" instead of "Awake" that is too dark and heavy!
Marcel Coenen: Thanks for the compliments, though I don?t hear a lot of Dream Theater in our songs to be honest, we sound a lot heavier in some parts then DT I think, especially in songs like Soil and Secrets Of Flight, but ofcourse people will always compare us to Dream Theater since they are the biggest band in this style.
I read that the band was formed in 99 but the current line up has played together since last year,tell us a little about the core of the band and where everybody came from!
Marcel Coenen: The band started as a project back in 1999. I met the drummer Dennis at the internet, he told me he used to play in Within Temptation, and I was at the time looking for a drummer for a Pantera tribute gig, so I asked him if he would have the time to do that show, so he did. That went very well so we decided to start up a project, I knew bassplayer Rob since he gave me a demo of his own band ?Soulcatcher? back in 1997, on which I really liked the bassplaying, so I decided to ask him too. With the three of us we started writing some songs, the first two songs were written in about the first 4 rehearsals, the songs are actually also on the album (?Sun Caged? which was originally called ?Scar Winter? and ?Soil? which was originally called ?Zombie Resurrection?). When we had some songs written we asked some people to help us out with recording a demo, we had about three guest singers, which were Gregoor Van Der Loo (ex-Lemur Voice), Nick Hameury (ex-Form) and Laura Van Driel (ex-Forever Times). We also asked keyboardplayer Thijs Cuppen (at the time playing in the band Arabesque) to help us out. With that line up we recorded the first demo CD ?Scar Winter?, that was a very experimental thing since we used grunt vocals, high pitched male vocals (Gregoor) and female vocals all at once. Then Lemur Voice decided to disband in 2000 so we made Sun Caged a full operating band, so we had to search for a singer and keyboardplayer who would be able to also perform live with us. After some auditions we then found singer Sascha Burchardt and keyboardplayer Joost Van Den Broek. With that line up we recorded the second demoCD ?Dominion? in 2001. The demo got some good reviews, but after a while Sascha Burchardt told us that he did not want to continue being the singer for Sun Caged, so we had to look for another singer. Andre Vuurboom we knew from a gig we did together with his previous band Jera so we called him up. With that line up we made the third demo CD ?Promo 2002? which lead into the recorddeal with Lion Music.
Usually in a band,the members has a different taste in music and that?s often the reason why it becomes a unique sound,is it so with your band too?
Marcel Coenen: Absolutely ! Andre and I kinda share the same influences since we are in the same age group, though there are some differences also, as a singer he listenes a lot to people like Buddy Lackey (Devon Graves, ex Psychotic Waltz, now Dead Soul Tribe), Geoff Tate (Queensryche) and Tim Hutton, while I listen a lot of heavier stuff, like Meshuggah, Fear Factory (older stuff ofcourse) and Cynic, but I also love bands like Freak Kitchen, Bumblefoot, Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, Testament and Fates Warning, lately I am also addicted to fusion, like Allan Holdsworth and Tribal Tech. Andre and I share a lot of 80?s style metal bands though . Our drummer listens to bands like Iron Maiden and Megadeth, though he also likes Frank Zappa, Z and Bumblefoot (since he also is the band?s tour drummer). Rob comes originally from a Death metal source but lately he listens a lot of fusion music with obviously great bassplayers. Joost gets his influences mainly from people like Devin Townsend, Steve Vai, Derek Sherinian and Arjen Lucassen.
I am huge fan of progressive rock but for some time I was tired of the genre because of all the virtuoso?s showing off who was the most technical and complex band,the melodies and the songs were lost on the way and that was/is the most important thing for classic prog bands like Genesis,Rush and Yes to name a few,the magic in the melody is what makes a song and you seem to understand that, it feels like it?s priority when you compose !
Marcel Coenen: I agree, I am happy you can hear that ! In other reviews and comments we are sometimes accused for showing our techniques and playing abilities, but it is not fair, since the main thing for us is a good song with melody, instead of showing off. Ofcourse we have some instrumental parts in songs which show our skills, but it is not the main issue for us. By the way I totally dig Rush, Yes and Genesis too, being an old symfolover myself
Arjen Lucassen is a mighty impressive musician and composer with all his Ayreon albums and he has also mixed your album,was it an honor to have him in the engineering room?!
Marcel Coenen: Ofcourse we are very happy that Arjen did the mix, I am a big fan of his work with Ayreon and Star One, he actually mixed the album is his own studio (The Electric Castle).
Your keyboardplayer Joost Van Den Broek has done a great job producing the album but was he all alone in the process or did the rest of the band had anything to do with it?
Marcel Coenen: Drums and guitars were recorded at Studio Moskou in Utrecht which had Silvia Vermeulen on engineering. The recordings of those were done analog. Joost helped here with transmitting the tracks into digital format to be able to use it for the further process. Joost recorded the bassguitar tracks of Rob, the vocals of Andre and his own tracks totally by himself at his own student room and made a pretty good pre mix from the album and made sure all tracks were cleaned out and good to mix for Arjen. So Joost basically did a lot of work on the album. The rest of the band only ?played? on the album
I read that Van Den Broek also toured with Ayreon?s Star One project in 2002, did he become a member of Sun Caged after that?
Marcel Coenen: No, Joost already joined Sun Caged in late 2000. When Arjen was looking for a keyboardplayer for his tour he called me to ask if I knew someone and I could only think of one person who was able to do it.
Your former band Lemur Voice broke up in 2000, what was the reason behind the
Marcel Coenen: It will sound like a clich? but it was because of musical differences. Lemur Voice was a very unique band, and the members in that band all liked a lot of different music styles, I guess they just got tired of the whole progressive metal style. Nowadays they play dance music, more like Drum and Bass grooves with a lot of atmosphere, the band is called ?Slow Poke Rodrigo? and the band features Gregoor, Barend and Nathan. It is very good and of high quality but it is not music I would like to play. Franck (the keyboardplayer) nowadays has a cover band in which he plays and regularly does some gigs with.
Magna Carta released "Insights" in 96 with LV, and then your former band did "Divided" in 99 but now when Sun Caged were shopping demos around to labels, weren?t labels like Magna Carta and Inside Out interested because it?s a stunning progressive rock album you have done?
Marcel Coenen: We have sent demo?s out also to these labels, though Magna Carta would not be a very good option for Sun Caged, we are way too heavy for them, besides was the label not interested as well. Same goes for Inside Out, we sent them the demo?s too, but they were just not interested.
How come Lion Music in Aland finally was the label that releases it?
Marcel Coenen: We also sent a demo to Lasse from Lion Music, and he responded very well on the demo, and offered us a contract. The good thing about Lion Music is that Lasse does a very good job on promoting the album, and he totally loves our music, so that is a good thing. We also signed a deal with the Japan label Avalon/Marquee for the japanese market. The album will be released there with an extra bonus track ?Four Guilders?.
Lion Music has become a pretty respectable label in the genre and with strong releases like Cyril Archard?s Morbid Feeling, Section A and Bob Katsionis but I must say that Sun Caged is their best release so far, have you noticed any response around in Europe from E-zines and fans regarding the album?
Marcel Coenen: Yes we are getting extremely great reviews so far, we are really happy about it, and we also have to do a lot of interviews which is a good thing also. We also get good responses from our fans so far so we are very happy !
I know you played on the tribute to Rush called Working Man along with other magnificent musicians like Dean Castronovo, Steve Morse, Billy Sheehan and Robert Berry, you performed on the track "Freewill" that also featured Carl Cadden James ? Bass (Shadow Gallery), Jeff Brockman ? Drums (Cairo), Gregoor Van Der Loo ? Vocals (Lemur Voice) and Trent Gardner ? Keyboards (Magellan). A league of extraordinary gentlemen I might add (I?m not referring to the movie with Sean Connery), great version by the way but what Rush song would you choose to make a cover of Sun Caged would do one?
Marcel Coenen: The Rush tribute was a great experience for me, Lemur Voice just signed the record deal with Magna Carta at that time. When we recorded the track Freewill we did not know yet what musicians would play on it, when we heard that Steve Morse, Devin Townsend, James Murphy, 3 Dream Theater members, Fates Warning, two people from Symphony X and also Billy Sheehan were performing on it I was like ?we?re not worthy?, really awesome line up. I am really happy that I was chosen to be a part of that. If we could do a Rush song with Sun Caged I really have to think of a good song to do, but I think a classic like Tom Sawyer or Spirit Of The Radio would be cool. Yyz would be great also, we already play that song so now and then just for fun during rehearsals.
Do you listen to any of today?s biggest progressive rock bands such as Enchant, Threshold, Arena and Magellan?
Marcel Coenen: To be honest I don?t, I don?t listen a lot to progressive music anyways. If I do listen that music it will be Yes or Rush or maybe some Fates Warning.
I?m gonna put up some hard decisions for you to make,what concert would you choose to see if you only had ticket to one of these:
a)U.K - Night by night tour or
Kansas - Two for the show tour
Marcel Coenen: UK I guess though this is a tough one !
b)Rush - Exit stage left tour or
Genesis - Seconds out tour
Marcel Coenen: Rush definitely !
c)Pink Floyd - The Wall in London or
Yes - 90125 tour
Marcel Coenen: Pink Floyd ! Their show is amazing !
About touring,will Sun Caged go out on tour this fall?
Marcel Coenen: We are still looking for a booking agency who will help us with getting shows and set up a tour. We have some gigs planned though, but most of them are in The Netherlands, since that is the land we also come from. We hope to be invited by a bigger band to go on tour with them.
I noticed on your album cover that you salute Tim Christensen among others,that is real interesting because he is also one of my favorite artists, a really talented musician and songwriter, who?s the one in the band that enjoys his works?
Marcel Coenen: That is definitely me, I love Dizzy Mizz Lizzy for some years already, and I also addicted Dennis to it, he is now addicted that much that he also does Tim?s website as well as the Dizzy Mizz Lizzy website. We met Tim when we played in Copenhagen, he is a great guy !
If we talk about Dream Theater that has become one of the biggest prog.metal bands in modern times, I gotta be honest but they don?t impress me that much anymore with their latest releases,"Falling into infinity" is good but "Scenes from a memory" and "Six degrees of inner turbulence" has too many downs in my opinion so I don?t have any expectations on the upcoming "Train of thought",what?s your reflection?
Marcel Coenen: I actually only love the Images and Words album and Awake era DT. The first one is also very good. I don?t really care for them since Falling Into Infinity, I just like more heavier stuff
Most songs on your album are awesome but a song that stands out and also is one of this years best progressive rock songs is "The Eighth day", totally outstanding from the first second to the last.....I was blown away by it so thank you for writing it! Is the whole band involved in the songwriting?
Marcel Coenen: Almost, most songs are written by Rob, Joost, Andre and Me. The Eight Day is a song I composed musicwise with my drummachine at first. I sent those basic ideas to the band and we started working on it in the rehearsal room. We mostly write this way. All of us have an internet connection and a drummachine so we can compose a lot of stuff at home and send that to the rest of the band using Internet.
What 5 albums are spinning in your CD player these days?
Marcel Coenen: In no particular order:
Sting ? Ten Summoners Tales
Allan Holdsworth - Metal Fatigue
Meshuggah ? Destroy Erase Improve
Cacophony ? Go Off !
Pantera ? Vulgar Display Of Power
Lion Music also releases your solo album "Guitar talk" from 99 but with 3 new recorded extra tracks, also available is a 2-CD set (strictly limited to 300 copies on VCD format) with you performing the entire album in your home, that is some kinda guitar clinic aint it?
Marcel Coenen: No, actually it is just a home video with me performing the songs it self, I don?t explain guitar techniques or something like that on that video, it is just me performing all the songs before the camera, and it has some funny stuff in between.
I read that Allan Holdsworth, Joe Satriani and Steve Morse are guitarplayers that has inspired and influenced you but also that you like to listen to new age music,very cool indeed. Can you be more specific what type of New Age you like?
Marcel Coenen: I like a lot of atmospheric music, I love marty Friedman?s Scenes album for instance where he worked with producer ?Kitaro?, I also like a lot of movie themes, I am a big fan of horror movies also because of the dramatic and evil music in them. And I also love Ozric Tentacles who also use some atmospheric parts in their music (a lot even)
I?d like to thank you for taking the time doing this interview,and keep being progressive!
Marcel Coenen: Well thank you for the interview too ! And if people want to know more about us they can visit www.suncaged.com