2003 has been a pretty good year for progressive metal bands, but one group that stands out from the pack has been the Dutch juggernaut Sun Caged, whose self-titled debut has taken the world by storm. Sea of Tranquility Editor Pete Pardo caught up with guitarist Marcel Coenen recently to discuss the band, the music, and the future of this powerful and hungry new prog-metal force.
The name Marcel Coenen should be somewhat familiar to many fans of progressive music. For the majority of the mid-to-late 1990's Coenen was guitarist for one of Magna Carta's hottest acts, Lemur Voice, a band who, along with Shadow Gallery, Enchant, Altura, Magellan, and Cairo, spearheaded the second wave of progressive metal in the 90's after Dream Theater made their initial impact a few years earlier. Since the break-up of Lemur Voice, Coenen has recorded some instrumental guitar material and formed this hot new group, Sun Caged. Let's hear from the man himself:
Sea of Tranquility: Hi Marcel! How has reaction been so far to the new CD?
Marcel Coenen: Hello! So far so good ! We had a lot of great reviews, which made us very happy!
SoT: Can you talk about the break-up of Lemur Voice, and what led to the
formation of Sun Caged?
M.C.: Lemur Voice made their second record in 1999, called Divided. After the
record was being released nothing really happened, very bad promotion, lots
of people who could not get the album, etc. That made a lot of the band members depressed in the music industry. Besides, we were already writing material for a third CD, but we noticed that we grew apart from each other musically, and everyone wanted to do something else. So it was better to give it
a day. Sun Caged started when I met drummer Dennis Leeflang in a chat session,
and after I played a gig with him. I knew Rob since he gave me a demo of his previous band Soulcatcher which caught my ears because of the crazy basswork. It started out as a project, but when Lemur Voice broke up I decided to make Sun Caged a full time band.
SoT: Can you talk about the current band members, who they are, and their
M.C.: Sure. On drums we have Dennis Leeflang, he used to play in the band Within Temptation in the past. On bass and chapman Stick we have Rob Van Der Loo, he played in several bands who never got really big, but had some cool music
going on. On vocals we have Andre Vuurboom, who used to sing in the band Imperium. He also made a record with that band in 1993 called Too Short A Season, and later he sang in the bands Souls Of InBetween and Jera. On keyboards we
have Joost Van Den Broek, a really young keyboard wizard, who studies at the
conservatory of music. He recently also played for Arjen Lucassen, and went on
tour with Star One, and he plays some stuff on the forthcoming Ayreon CD. My name is Marcel Coenen, I do the guitars in the band, and I used to play in Lemur Voice, and made two records with them. Before that I played with Form and Speedica.
SoT: Who are your main musical influences-players and groups?
M.C.: That varies a lot. For me I listen to a lot of metal stuff, harder extreme
styles, like Meshuggah, Fear Factory and Cynic, but I also love the music of
Mike Oldfield, Steve Morse and Sting, so it is very diverse. The rest of the band listens to a lot of different stuff, that goes from good pop music to jazz, to metal to funk etc.
SoT: You can hear some early Dream Theater in Sun Caged's music, but it is not derivative by any means.
M.C.: Yeah, we are influenced by a lot of different stuff actually, like I mentioned before.
SoT: "The Eighth Day" for me combines the best of what Sun Caged is all about-heavy riffs, technical arrangements, and catchy hooks. What are some of your favorite songs on the CD and why?
M.C.: For me personally I truly dig "Sun Caged" and "Soil" for their heaviness- I just love riffing like that! But I also love "Unchanging" since it has a real beauty going on.
SoT: What direction would you like to go with the band next? A more progressive nature or in a heavier direction? The debut CD has a great variety of both.
M.C.: Time will tell ... we will be progressive all the time, so we will always
try new things in our music.
SoT: Any plans to do a long, epic song on the next album?
M.C.: Not yet, but never say never...
SoT: How about plans to tour, like here in the US at any of the progressive metal festivals?
M.C.: We don't have any concrete plans yet. We played a small tour with a great
swedish band called Amaran and we did a lot of gigs, and we also had a small
tour with Evergrey here in the Netherlands. We are currently looking for a booking agency who can help us setting up tours.
SoT: Are there any current bands that you like?
M.C.: I truly dig Meshuggah- what a great band ! I also like Strapping Young Lad, Amaran, and more, but I mostly listen to older music.
SoT: Are there any plans for you to do a follow-up to your solo album Guitartalk?
M.C.: Yes, I formed a band for my solo work, on drums I have found Roel Van Helden who is a GREAT drummer ! And on bass I have Arnold Rerimassie who is also
great. The music style will be more diverse though.
SoT: Do you have any desire to do a guitar based instrumental album,
perhaps with another star guitar or keyboard player -people like Derek Sherinian, John Petrucci, Michael Romeo, Vitalij Kuprij come to mind-ever think about doing something like that?
M.C.: Never thought of it, but who knows! Sounds like a cool idea though !
SoT: Thanks for your time Marcel!
M.C.: Thank you Pete!
Click here to see Sea Of Tranquility's review of Sun Caged, and click here for the official Sun Caged website