Interview with Haken

Leprous

Hey guys. I think the last time we spoke to you was at HRH Prog in 2013 – possibly the coldest UK festival that’s ever happened! Things seem to have been going completely from strength to strength for you since then – are you happy with where you’re at at the moment?

Who’d have thought an old steel mill would be that freezing! Definitely the coldest gig we’ve ever played. After a couple of minutes playing you warm up a bit though, but I remember feeling bad for the audience having to stand there wearing hats and scarves indoors. We were really grateful they stuck around to see us – and it was an incredible looking space for a gig. 

I feel like we’ve been progressing slowly and surely and a lot more people seem to be aware of us now. I’m sure having Mike Portnoy invite us to play on Progressive Nation at Sea was the biggest factor in our increased reputation. Incidentally the show we played on the pool deck under the Bahaman midday sun was the hottest gig we’ve ever played – not that we were complaining. 

Haken1The Mountain is, quite simply, stunning. How happy are you both with the way it finally turned out, and with the response you’ve had to it?

Thank you! I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. It was the culmination of a lot of time and effort on behalf of everyone in the band, so it’s great to have affirmation from the listeners that it was all worth it. To have people are actually enjoying and connecting with your creations is a real privilege; let’s hope it continues for a while longer!

Haken-300x300Tell us more about the new EP!

We decided to do an EP for two reasons really: firstly because we have an amazing new bass player and we wanted to do something creative with him as soon as possible and secondly because our long standing fans have been asking us to release the songs on our 2007 demo in a better quality format. Just re-recording the songs would have been too easy, so we really went to town on them and re-imagined them completely. We knew it would be a bit risky because people who know the songs in their original forms might not like what we’ve done to them, but we have to be true to ourselves and challenging expectations is one of the things that makes us tick.

In fact we released the first track ‘Darkest Light’ a few weeks back and sure enough some people who know the original song ‘Blind’ are saying ‘where’s this or that section gone?’. That’s an insight into song writing process which is not often experienced by people outside of the band; so they’re getting a little glimpse into our world.. Most of our songs start out in completely different forms which we demo, then later decide certain sections often don’t fit the message we’re trying to convey, or just don’t feel right when we play them. There’s a lot of stuff that gets consigned to the recycle bin which will never be heard; in this case, people get to hear those original demos. The third track ‘Crystallised’ just kept growing and growing and finished up being a 19 minute epic, which is one of my favourite songs we’ve ever written.

The video for ‘Cockroach King’ was rather fantastic – are there any more plans to do more videos in the same style? It’s always so refreshing to see something different out there.

Thanks again! One thing we get asked a lot about that video is ‘did you get to keep the puppets?’, which is a great compliment because it means they think they were made professionally or something. They weren’t – I made them all using bits of foam footballs, pink fleece material and various joke shop wigs. To answer the question, they’re currently residing in a cardboard box in the garage.

The idea was born out of complete necessity as this was our first release on Inside Out which was a big deal to us and we definitely wanted to do a music video for Cockroach King. The problem was we only had a limited time frame to do it and everyone in the band was either holiday or working abroad at different times. The only way I could get everyone in the same room was to physically make puppets of them. We probably wouldn’t do it again though as puppeteering is incredibly difficult and physically demanding; it took a week for my arms to recover. I watch the Muppet Show now and I can’t believe how natural and effortless they make it look.

You’re going to be touring in a few weeks with Leprous and Maschine – have you worked together much before?

We’ve played a couple of gigs with Maschine before and their all incredibly nice people and cool musicians. I’ve never met or even seen Leprous live before though which is strange because I’m a total Leprous fanboy and I really really love their latest album ‘Coal’. I’m looking forward to the tour immensely.

What kind of a setlist can we expect from these shows?

We’ll play quite a bit from The Mountain and one or two from the first two albums. With three bands on the bill we’ve only got 90 minutes so it’s quite hard to fit in everything we know the fans will want to hear.

Will we be hearing anything from Restoration?

Yes, we’ll be playing two tracks from Restoration. You’ll have to wait and see which two! The EP comes out mid way through the tour so we’ll probably stream the songs beforehand so people can get familiar with them, so look out for that on our website hakenmusic.com.

We really can’t wait to see you on the road!

We’re really looking forward to it as we’re getting to places in the UK we’ve never been before and two new countries Haken has never visited: Ireland and Scotland. It’s always a thrill to play to new people and meeting the fans face to face is a real pleasure.

Interview: Felicity Hall


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