Interview: Haken

I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot in the last ten years, but in a weird way it still feels like we’re at the beginning of our journey. There’s still a huge amount I want to achieve with Haken and as a musician, so I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years has in store.

Happy birthday to Haken! It’s been quite the journey for the band over the decade: no longer the band playing pubs in London with songs about a mermaid; they have risen from being one of the smallest bands at ProgPower USA 2011 to headlining one of its days in 2017 (playing Visions in full, no less). It’s a journey that has seen tour with some of the biggest names in the prog world, receive plaudits from both the music media and their peers, and collaborate with Mike Portnoy on his Shattered Fortress shows. To celebrate, we asked Richard Henshall some questions about the ten years:

(((o))): Obviously this is a tour celebrating Aquarius and Visions, how does it feel going back to these two albums years later?

Richard: Time has really flown by! It only feels like yesterday that we were jamming in each other’s bedrooms, playing through our favourite tunes. It’s crazy to think that we’re now in a position to be able to play our music to people around the world, especially in the oversaturated state of the music industry these days. We really do owe everything to our loyal fans that buy our music and come to our shows; we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without their support.

I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot in the last ten years, but in a weird way it still feels like we’re at the beginning of our journey. There’s still a huge amount I want to achieve with Haken and as a musician, so I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years has in store.

(((o))): Personally, I’ve been a fan since Aquarius, but didn’t get the chance to see Haken tour in the north until 2014 (after the release of Restoration). The earlier tours weren’t as extensive as nowadays; did that play any part in your decision to revisit the early albums?

Richard: Around the time of the Aquarius release we were pretty much unheard of, and weren’t really in a position to do much touring. Plus, I don’t think our live game was quite up to scratch back then, so I imagine our stage presence left a lot to be desired! Nowadays we have a fair bit of gigging experience under our belt, and have a much better idea of how to present a show. Also, we’re lucky enough to be able to play longer sets these days, so I definitely feel we’re in a much better position to do justice to the music on Aquarius.

 

(((o))): Is there a song from either album that you’re particularly excited to be playing live again?

Richard: Each album is equally important to us, so we decided to come up with a setlist that reflects this. Aquarius is a pretty eclectic record, so we decided to prepare a medley containing all of our favourite parts. It’s been a blast playing this in rehearsals and I can’t wait to take it to the stage. From Visions, I’d have to go with the title track. It pretty much covers the full scope of our sound, and even though it’s a fairly lengthy number it never feels a drag playing it. We’ll probably change things a little from night to night to keep things fresh.

(((o))):: What’s the most interesting/weirdest location the band have played?

Richard: It has to be playing on the open deck of a cruise ship. Back in 2014 Mike Portnoy invited us to his Progression Nation at Sea festival, which was… at sea. Playing a show whilst gazing out at the open ocean was unique experience. We’ve been on a few cruises since, so it seems to be a growing trend.

(((o))): You’ve collaborated before, and this year five of the band will be part of Mike Portnoy’s band for his Shattered Fortress shows. How does it feel to be performing with him?

Richard: It’s a pretty insane feeling. Dream Theater’s music has been a huge part of my growth as a musician, and has been a constant source of inspiration over the years. I’ve grown up watching Mike on the stage for years with Dream Theater, and was always awestruck by his ability to engage with the crowd whilst playing such demanding music! To now be able to share the stage with him and play this amazing music, that he was such a huge part of, is an incredible honour.

(((o))): You’ve come a long way as a band in ten years. What does the future hold for Haken?

Richard: We have some more touring planned for later this year, which we’ll be announcing soon. We’ll also hopefully begin working on our next album this year, which I can’t wait to stuck into!

(((o))): And a couple of slightly off-topic ones: Favourite biscuit?

Richard: Dark chocolate digestive!

(((o))): Bacon. Smoked or unsmoked?

Richard: Is smoked Kevin Bacon an option?

(((o))): If you were to put together your dream lineup for a gig/festival, with you and 4-6 other bands, who would you choose?

Richard: That’s a tough one. Right now I would probably go for Tigran Hamasyan, Volcano Choir, Everything Everything, Karnivool, The Dear Hunter and Agent Fresco. That would be a crazy mix of bands. I would sell a kidney to be at that gig.

Catch Haken in North America with Sithu Aye at one of these dates:

Pin It on Pinterest