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Arena

Al meer dan twintig jaar staat Arena bekend als progressieve rock band die toch wel kwalitatieve muziek maakt. Om eerlijk te zijn denk ik dat er weinig progressieve rock liefhebbers zijn die de band niet kennen, een grotere naam dus in het genre. Toch was het voor mij voornamelijk het laatste album van de band, ‘The Unquiet Sky', die ervoor zorgde dat ik serieus naar deze band ging luisteren, daarvoor had ik slechts flarden van hun muziek gehoord. Ik was dan ook blij dat de opvolger, ‘Double Vision’, ten minste even goed was als de voorganger en kreeg dan ook een zeer verdiende hoge score van mij. Ook vierde Arena dit jaar het twintig jarige bestaan van hun album ‘The Visitor’ en vierden dit door het album integraal uit te voeren tijdens de tour. Genoeg dus om over te praten met bandleider Clive Nolan.

Door: Leon | Archiveer onder prog / sympho metal

Congratulations with the release of the new album, I thought that ‘Double Vision’ sounded fantastic, maybe even better than ‘The Unquiet Sky’, which I loved too! Are you happy with the reviews so far?
Extremely happy. The comments have been terrific so far! We were really proud of this album once it was recorded, so the reaction is very welcome.

What’s the secret to keep making music at the quality you’ve been producing for so long?
I think we do what feels right to us. We try not to force anything. The essence of the songs has to come from the heart.

One of my favorite songs on the album is ‘The Legend Of Elijah Shade’, your longest song till date if I’m not mistaken. Can you tell us what the song is about?
Since we were very aware of the ‘Visitor’ anniversary, I wanted to put a song on the new album that looked back on that album, that’s why we called the album ‘Double Vision’ (A track title from ‘The Visitor’). Elijah Shade attempts to answer some of the many questions I have been asked about ‘The Visitor’ over the last 20 years. It also raises some new ones. “Elijah Shade’ is ‘A Visitor’ if you like, he exists on the earth to save souls. The rest I will let you discover!

What inspires you when writing lyrics?
Films, books, people and experiences. Visual stimulus is important to me, once I can ‘visualise’ a song, then I am ready to write.

You’ve recently toured throughout Europe, supporting the new album but also celebrating the twentieth anniversary of ‘The Visitor’. What an incredible milestone, twenty years! How was it to play the full album?
I really enjoyed the experience. Last time we performed ‘The Visitor’ I had nine keyboards, a set of bass pedals and two 12U rack units full of samplers and modules. This time I had two keyboards and a rotating stand. Much more fun! I had a great time tracking down the original sounds and rebuilding all the keyboard parts, it was a challenge, but well worth it!

I also noticed that besides the European dates, you’ve played a single concert in Canada. Usually it’s not worth traveling such a long way for one single gig, what made you decide to play there?
We have often played in Canada, so it only seemed right to return during this tour. It may have just been the one gig in Quebec, and it was a long, long journey (we had several changes on the way), but it was worth every second, it was the best gig of the tour, what a reaction!

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Twenty years between ‘The Visitor’ and ‘Double Vision’, obviously a lot has changed in the meantime. From your perspective, in what ways has the band and the music changed in the meantime?
I actually think the band has grown into itself, we seem more comfortable than ever before. It has in the past been quite a volatile group, but this tour was a please, and we played well. The music I guess has developed organically, based on the things that influence and inspire us, however, I think it still sounds like Arena, we have maintained our identity.

What’s next in your agenda?
We are playing the Loreley Festival in July. I believe we are also filming a promotional video (our first one!). We will release a DVD from this tour later in the year or at the start of next year, and there will hopefully be another short tour in April next year.

A question that I ask in all interviews is about streaming services, such as Spotify. It's not a secret that the revenue stream for the artist, through Spotify, is nearly inexistent and it begs the question if it makes sense to put your music on Spotify. There's no incentive for people to buy music when they can listen to the music for free. On the other hand, music has never been so accessible, it's much easier to get your music out there and find new fans. What do you think?
I’m not a fan, but I believe we are on there. It’s promotion I guess, but I think it rips the bands and artists off terribly.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, anything you’d like to say to our readers?
No problem! To all your readers: Hi! If you don’t know Arena, then please give us a try with the new album ‘Double Vision’, if you do, then please keep supporting us, and we will keep making music!

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