Van Haaren, Rene and Sylvester Vogelenzang (Ulysses) (April 2002)

Ulysses' Odyssey In The Digital Dimension

Ulysses (photo: Kees van Haaren)Making a good impression in the blink of an eye ... well, sort of, as Ulysses were definitely able to raise my eyebrows with Eclectic, their first demo, recorded with only two days (!) of studio at hand. So now let time stand still a little longer ... and take advantage of this interview to trace down the roots of this new and interesting Dutch combo.

II: Hi René and Sylvester, first thing I would like to know is how you started as a band...

Rene Van Haaren: Well, I'll leave this question to Sylvester, 'cause he has been in the band from the beginning...

Sylvester Vogelenzang: OK. Ron and Raymond Mozer initiated the band. They had plans to start a band in the symphonic/progressive genre. Ron played the keyboards and his brother played drums. Ron knew me from my previous band and soon they contacted me with the question [asking] if I was interested in joining [with] them to form a band. So in December 1998 the three of us got together and the base for Ulysses was formed. In the first months of existence we looked for a suitable bass player and singer. Marcel became our first bass player and Raymond [Jansen] joined us as the vocalist. The only changes in the line up were made when Raymond Mozer left the band, replaced by René, and also when Marcel left the lineup to be substituted by René Schippers. Since René Schippers joined no changes have been made and the line up has been as solid as a rock.

Ulysses - Eclectic (2001)II: Eclectic is your demo. How were the first reactions to this record?

RVH: When we first heard the recordings ourselves we were astonished by how it sounded. For the recording of the CD we actually had just one day (plus one day mixing everything) and therefore we did not know what to expect. The engineer, Danny Kok, had really put his [full] effort into it. The reactions from the outside world are very diverse at the moment, but mostly very good. With the help of our internet site ( we've gotten reactions from all over the world as well as a lot of requests to send CDs to different locations and reviewers, like yourself. [See Igor's review here -ed] So in short ... the first reactions to our CD were pretty good...

II: But what's your biggest dream from a musical point of view?

RVH: The biggest dream for a musician is to make the big break ... but knowing that, in Holland anyway, it is very hard to get some publicity. So I guess we would be satisfied with being an opening act for some major band and maybe get a record deal to record a real full length album.

II: You are from the Netherlands ... can you tell us what's the situation for prog in your country?

RVH: In Holland the music scene is quite dynamic ... prog rock has been in the underground scene for a lot of years, but it is making a nice comeback.

II: Are you already working on some new songs?

RVH: As a matter of fact we have recently finished a new song. It's called "Unspoken Words." We are pretty proud of this 15 minute "epic." We like to think that this song represents everything that Ulysses stands for at this stage of our "career." There is some real heavy stuff and the next moment the piano takes over the ambience and turns it into a ballad-like song. Some real progressive breaks and a killer guitar solo with an extreme climax make the song complete. I hope that in the near future we can put some live recordings on our site. Furthermore we have tons of ideas and material that need to be worked out and molded into useable parts for new songs. So ... be patient :-)

II: To me it seems that you are very inspired by early Dream Theater, but always in a positive way. Do you think that these are the real Ulysses' influences or there are others?

RVH: I speak for myself when I say that Dream Theater is my biggest influence. Particularly Mike Portnoy has been a big influence on my playing. The rest of the members listen to all kinds of music. We all come from a slightly different angle and we try to integrate everyone's style in our music.

SV: Yes, some of the band members are seriously into Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment, but some others are more into Queensrÿche and Fates Warning and some are into Nevermore and Psychotic Waltz. Also don't forget that bands such as IQ, Camel and Symphony X have molded our experience, too...

II: Suppose that you could pick up to three bands with whom you'd like to play live ... whom do you choose and why?

RVH: I think that all of us would like to play with a great band like Dream Theater ... that would be awesome. You know, to be honest it's very hard to select only three bands that we would like to play with; we all have so many different bands that we like...

II: Now René can you tell me what's the first place you would like to visit (playing with the band) and why?

RVH: Italy, of course ... 'cause we have great fans over there ... [chuckles] But seriously ... we would like to play at some bigger summer festivals ... Roskilde in Denmark or Lowlands or Dynamo Open Air here in Holland ... you never know ... of course, it would be great to play in some other countries, but we still lack the fame.

II: Why did you call yourselves Ulysses?

SV: After the formation of the band in early '99 we rehearsed and jammed for a couple of months. After a while we needed a name and we all came up with different ideas. Someone thought Ulysses to be a good name, something which would nicely reflect the music we were making. For example, Ulysses, on one hand, is one of the first satellites that was launched; on the other hand he's also a mythological figure. So in one name we combine the technical and intellectual sides. The name doesn't limit the music we are playing or going to play. A lot of band names give an immediate expectation of the style. Instead Ulysses leaves room for some imagination.

II: Your next projects?

RVH: Next projects? Well, we intend to acquire as many gigs as possible. At the moment we are offering a "double pack" with another Dutch symphonic rock band: For Absent Friends. We offer an entire evening of music for the price of one band [seems like a great deal -II] ... We hope that we can do some gigs together after the summer. Besides doing gigs, we are working very hard on new material for perhaps a full-length album. But we've got a long way to go...

II: Well, so good luck. OK boys, is there anything you want to say before goodbye?

RVH & SV: We hereby would like to thank you and all progressive fans in the world who supported us so far. Also the people who bought (or are going to buy) our CD demo Eclectic. Thank you to all of you!

II: Thanks to you members of Ulysses ... it was a pleasure. Hope to see your band somewhere in the future. Goodbye from Italy.

RVH: Just give us some time, we are sure you (and the rest of the progressive fans in Italy) will hear, and hopefully see, more of us in the future ... Ciao!


Eclectic (2001)
Symbioses (2003)
The Gift Of Tears (2008)
#eMotion (2015)

Added: April 6th 2002
Interviewer: Igor Italiani

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Language: english

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