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Haken Interview

With the help of the generous folks from Earsplit, I was able to interview the up and coming Haken via email. The English progressive band just released a stellar debut album (Aquarius) and have a hefty touring schedule ahead of them. Still, they were kind enough to take the time to thoroughly answer my questions.


The Interview:

Would you kindly describe the origins of Haken (how you met, how you were signed, etc.)?

  • Haken was originally formed by Matthew Marshall (ex-guitarist), Ross Jennings and I (Richard Henshall). We put the band on hold until we completed our academic studies, at which point we could then dedicate ourselves fully to the project. In 2007 we went on a hunt for the remaining members to complete the line-up. We found Pete Jones (ex-keyboard player) on an internet forum, which in turn led us to meeting his close friend Raymond Hearne (drummer). At this point we had enough members to record a demo, which is exactly what we did. During the recording of this demo Matthew and I came across the band To-Mera, and were blown away. We decided to contact Tom Maclean, guitarist and songwriter for To-Mera, and subsequently he volunteered his services as our bass player, to which we, of course, said yes. This remained the line-up until 2008, when Pete and Matthew decided to pursue other careers. We then held auditions for new members, and found the acclaimed Linear Sphere/Anchorhead guitarist Charlie Griffiths, shortly followed by the gifted keyboardist, Diego Tejeida. This is the current line-up.
  • Ken Golden (Sensory Records, Laser edge) got hold of our demo and liked what we were doing, things developed from there. We were brought to Ken’s attention through Lee Barrett (founder of Candlelight Records). Tom and I played with Lee in To-mera, and this is how he became aware of Haken. Lee passed our details on to Ken, who then contacted us requesting a demo. – Richard Henshall

Which artists and/or genres have had the greatest influence on your own music? How so?

  • As a band we certainly have a diverse range of influences, and I think the album reflects this. On ‘Aquarius’ we have riffs with Meshuggah heaviness, but we also have a Dixieland section, so I suppose we belong in the common ground between those two. I always loved the idea of blending dramatic film score-esque themes with contemporary heavy styles of music; composers like Alexandre Desplat and Danny Elfman are huge influences. We all have a huge love and respect for the progressive bands back in the sixties and seventies like Pink Floyd, Gentle Giant, Yes and Jethro Tull, without them pioneering the progressive movement bands like us wouldn’t even be here today. We also have a love for some of the bands on the current prog metal scene; Dream Theater are a huge influence on us as a band, they have achieved so much without sacrificing their musical integrity; another amazing band is Pain of Salvation, these guys have written some of the best music out there at the moment; Opeth are another superb band, they have such a distinct sound and the perfect balance of light and dark within their music. – Richard Henshall

What inspired the concept of Aquarius?

  • The ‘Aquarius’ concept was spawned from the idea of tracking the journey of a water particle from its conception on a mountain spring through stream, river, lake and ocean etc… This was a starting point of a story that became more about global warming and the effects of pollution. When the planet is in the shadow of an inevitable flood, a mermaid child is born. The significance of her existence is essential to the survival of the human race but not without sacrifice. The curse of Aquarius is based on the idea of uncontrollable forces of nature provoked by the way human beings mistreat the planet. – Ross Jennings

In what ways has working with Sensory affected your music?

  • We are very lucky to be working with Ken Golden at Sensory Records, he clearly has a love for progressive music. He gave us complete freedom to record what ever music we pleased, and waited patiently for the finished product, luckily he liked what he heard. He also pointed us in the right direction when it came to the artwork and the mixing; Dennis Sibeijn at Damn Engine has done an amazing job with the artwork and Christian ‘Moschus’ Moos at Spacelab Studios did a great job with the mixing.

After the completion of your debut album, how well do you feel you know each other musically? Do you think your future work will be based on learning each other, or discovering music together?

  • I feel that we all have a strong musical bond that will certainly develop in time to come. In the past we haven’t really experimented with group writing, I have always written the music then we play around with the arrangements in the rehearsal room in need be. I should imagine that at some point in the future we shall explore different methods of song writing, and when this happens I’m sure we’ll get a deeper understanding of each others musical character. – Richard Henshall

As a new band entering the music scene, what do you hope to accomplish?

  • I guess our overall long-term aim would be world domination, but realistically speaking that could take a while. Over the past year or so the band has progressed at a steady rate, we’ll try to keep the ball rolling and keep this progression constant. We’ll hopefully be playing some festivals and tours throughout the year to promote Aquarius – this will help us build our fan-base. We’re also aiming to get the next album out by late next year, I’ve written a lot of the initial ideas already so it’s coming along nicely. At some point in the future we would love the opportunity to play on the Progressive Nation tour, to play with the cream of the progressive metal crop would be such a great honor. Mike Portnoy is doing a great job at promoting some of the newer and younger bands within the progressive metal world. – Richard Henshall

What have you learned from touring with Diablo Swing Orchestra? How do you feel about performing in ProgPower? Are there any specific bands you would like to tour with in the future?

  • Playing with Diablo Swing Orchestra was a great deal of fun, it was great meeting them. They were very professional and put on an awesome show for the audience. In our short career we’ve also been lucky enough to play with a few other bands on the circuit; In 2008 we were billed in support of Riverside (InsideOut) at Camdens prestigious Underworld; In 2009 we played UK tours in support of cult prog metal bands King’s X (Insideout), Big Elf (Custard Records) and To-Mera. It was an honor to share the stage with such great bands.
  • We are very excited about playing at ProgPower Europe, it will give us a chance to take our music abroad for the first time. There are some great bands on the bill; I’m most looking forward to seeing Myrath and Xerath. We’re also going to be playing at Summers End Festival in October, it’ll be great to play to a healthy prog audience on our own turf.

And finally, are there any bands that you would personally recommend to your fanbase?

  • I came across a great prog crossAnothover band from Australia called ‘Arcane’ the other day, the song writing is great. Eidetic Blur are another great band that people should check out, they are prog metal with elements of jazz within their sound.

So there’s Haken as presented by The Golden Bird. If you have not listened to them yet, I would highly recommend that you do so. Aquarius received high praise from this site – check it out.

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