Soeterboek, Robert (Wicked Sensation) (March 2002)

Reflections Of A Wicked Vocalist - An Interview With Robert Soeterboek

Wicked Sensation (© Wicked Sensation)Funny and easy going like few others, it was a pleasure to talk to Robert Soeterboek, the man behind the microphone of new melodic act Wicked Sensation, but also one of the main vocalists featured on the Ayreon masterpieces. Well, considering all of the above characteristics, it's not hard to see why he is such a good companion of prog-authority Arjen Lucassen.

II: Hi Robert. Can we begin from the creation of Wicked Sensation? How you started and how you came in contact with MTM Music, the excellent label that released your debut?

RS: Well, the story regarding me is that I joined Wicked Sensation in April of last year, and then I went with Michael, the guitar player, to MTM Music, because a friend of us had sent them a tape. They came in contact with us and they invited us to Munich. We obviously decided to go and after a brief talk they made all the arrangements and signed us to a good deal. So that's the story so far.

II: The backing vocals on your first album are recorded by two great musicians - Arjen Lucassen and Damien Wilson. How was it to work with them?

RS: Well, actually Arjen is not singing all the backing vocals, his voice is only on one song, "Get Down To Business." We tried something else but we left it off the album. However, Arjen is the one who supervised the recording of all the vocals. Talking about Damian, he sings on a few songs, and it was great, because I know Damian very well and I know that he is a great singer. Nevertheless you have to consider that on quite a few choruses I do everything by myself, and that's something I'm really proud of.

II: You also have a deeper bond with Arjen, 'cause you participated in almost all the Ayreon albums. Do you like working on big operas like these and will you take part in the next Lucassen' project?

RS: Yeah, that's right. We are working on the next Ayreon album ... well, it will not be released under the name Ayreon, but it's an album still in the vein of Ayreon back projects. The album will be called Star One and will be a little bit heavier than the stuff Arjen usually does with Ayreon, but believe me if I say that this will be a great, great album. I started to work on it because Arjen asked me to sing all the vocal parts, so the other singers would know what to play when it was their turn. I can tell you that the album will come out in April, so be prepared. [laughs] - you should know that I started to work with Arjen nearly from the very beginning, because I'm a very good friend of his, we are almost like brothers, and we played together way before Ayreon in other bands. So he called me up for his first project, The Final ExperimentActual Fantasy, and then he said: "OK, let's take some risks. Let's ask more people to play on my next album." And next thing you know, he is surrounded by Fish, Anneke [Van Giersbergen], etc., in The Electric Castle, and then tons of others for The Flight Of The Migrator. [The Universal Migrator double album, of which Flight is the 2nd album - ed.] Wow!

Wicked Sensation - ReflectedII: I really like the production and sounds of the CD are you satisfied with the results, and do you think you'll follow the same path for your second album?

RS: Yeah, I like it very much this way. When we started they sent me the rough mixes and I worked with Arjen together, and we made the lyrics, and the vocal lines, and everything, then we sent the tapes back. After we finished the songs I was impressed with the way Dennis Ward handled the production, he made a really good sound. Well, I think that for the next album we will probably stick with him, because we were so pleased with the final results.

II: But are you already working on some new songs?

RS: Yeah, we are working on some new songs. That's what I'll do in Germany, because I live in Holland, and the guys in Germany are working on some new songs, so, when we'll meet up before the start of the tour we will probably work even harder on the new ideas. But don't think I don't do anything at home, me and Arjen are already thinking about something for the second Wicked Sensation record, too.

II: Robert, I know you'll soon be on tour with Dare [beginning March 20]. Will you touch also Italy?

RS: Yeah, we will play in Milan. I don't know actually which place we're gonna play, 'cause I've heard that the venue has changed, but I guarantee you we will be there.

[The website quotes the date of March 24 at Indian's Saloon - ed.]

II: But have you ever been to Italy or not?

RS: No, never, but I'd like to go there, because I like Italian food and everything, you know. I like to go there and especially Milan, as I also hope to see one football game there, ah, ah, ah.

II: But what's the first thing that comes to your mind when someone mentions to you Italy?

RS: Football; ehm, maybe football and food; but it's almost in the same word, F-O-O-T or F-O-O-D, ah, ah, ah.

II: I think that the album is very good, yet one of my favourite tracks is "Highspeed Chase," maybe the most unusual track of the record. Can you tell me something else about it?

RS: Well, this song was written by myself almost 12 years ago. Obviously I'm talking about the lyrics, 'cause I already worked with Arjen and we used this song for the band we had together in the very beginning. The first version was a little bit softer, it was not so fast like the one you find in the album. So, when I entered the band I thought about using some of my past material and "Highspeed Chase" came right back to my mind, and I think we nailed it down perfectly this time. You know, maybe in the next album we'll write some more power songs like this one, even if it's too early to tell.

II: Your influences seem to be rooted in the melodic rock of the eighties, but there is something that you like about the music scene of today?

Robert Soeterboek (© Wicked Sensation)RS: Wow, I really like all kind of music styles. I'm a singer, you know, so I like, for example, a lot of soul music, like The Commodores, Marvin Gaye >[and he starts to sing -II]], an incredible singer, and also Frank Sinatra, Frankie Miller, these are some of the singers with which I practice my voice with. The soul, the blues, I love these styles when the inner soul can be expressed brilliantly throughout the voice.

II: Robert, there are tons of bands today that play good melodic rock. Do you think that Wicked Sensation have the right attributes to emerge from this bunch of musicians?

RS: Oh, that's a difficult question. Well, I hope it will be, because I think this album sounds great, and also because a lot of melodic rock bands have singers who possess a very high voice, instead mine is a little bit lower, so Wicked Sensation are already different from this particular point of view. Well, someone says that here and there we sound similar to Whitesnake, but that's OK. My voice is similar in certain ways to the one of David Coverdale. And it could be worse; suppose that they say my voice is like some grunge' singer, ah, ah, ah.

II: On Wicked Sensation' website there's also a comics section. Can you talk about it?

RS: Oh, that is made by a very good friend of ours who is from Japan. It's a japanese girl, she is a very good friend of the band. I met her last year in Germany, she flew over from Tokyo and met the band, she stayed two days with us. She is a really big fan and made a lot of comics about us, about the story of the band.

II: What's your biggest dream as a musician?

RS: Well, I think my dream already exists now, because I love to play this kind of music and I like to go on tour, and I also want to visit some places like Milan. You know, I think that's the gig I look forward the most from the next tour, I can't wait to have great food and also see a football match in this beautiful Italian city. I also love the ancient buildings, that's another thing I really like, so I can't wait to get over there.

II: Robert, before the end can you tell me how you started singing?

RS: Wooow, that's very long ago. First of all, I've never taken lessons. I remember that the first time I started to sing was with some friends; one guy was playing guitar, one was playing drums - he was Ed Warby, who plays now for Ayreon - another one was playing bass guitar, so they told me: "Hey Robert, you have to sing, 'cause we already play the instruments." So I started to sing, and then we had a concert where we played only two songs, so we thought about playing these songs two times, just to play a decent time. But you know what? After that concert I lost my voice [laughs]. So I really started to practice at home to do a better job the next time. I particularly trained my voice on Joe Lynn Turner's works with Rainbow, I practiced with these records every day.

II: Robert, do you have a final message for the fans of melodic rock spread worldwide?

RS: Yeah, of course!!! We try to put the influences in the melodic rock, and we wanna bring melodic rock up again, like it was in the eighties. Let's hope it happens!!! Melodic rock never went away, so let's hope it rises to the top and remains that way!

II: OK, Robert, that's enough. Thank you very much for the great talk and good luck for the album and tour!

RS: Thank you, Igor. I hope we will meet in Milan. Ciao!!!

Wicked Sensation (l to r: Björn Gref, Bernd Spitzner, Sang Vong, Robert Soeterboek, Martin Mannhardt, Michael Kline
Wicked Sensation (l to r: Björn Gref, Bernd Spitzner,
Sang Vong, Robert Soeterboek, Martin Mannhardt,
Michael Kline)

Wicked Sensation - Wicked Sension (ep) (2001)
Wicked Sensation - Reflected (2002)
Wicked Sensation - Exceptional (2004)
Wicked Sensation - Crystallized (2010)

selected guest spots:

Vulture - Fatal Games (1990)
Ayreon - The Final Experiment (1995)
Ayreon - Actual Fantasy (1996)
Ayreon - The Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight Of The Migrator (2000)
Ayreon- Ayreonauts Only (2001)
Van Ee - Powerplay (2000) Eric Norlander - Into The Sunset (2000) Lana Lane - Secrets Of Astrology (2000) My Brother Jake - In Therapy (1995) My Brother Jake - Gone Tomorrow (?)
Thomsen - Unbroken (2014)

Added: March 8th 2002
Interviewer: Igor Italiani

Artist website:
Hits: 2557
Language: english

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