Interview: Haken Reflect On A Decade Of Existence Ahead Of UK Tour
Ten years since their formation, Britain's fastest rising prog metal export are only just beginning. Charlie Griffiths reflects on their career so far.
Interview: Phil Weller
So you're about to embark on an 10 year anniversary tour across the UK, can you believe it's been that long?
I can’t believe it! On one hand it’s very humbling to look back on all those years of hard slog and actually have a career to show for it. But on the other hand it feels like we’re just beginning and feel that we have a lot more music to make and a lot more places to visit.
Obviously across the years your fanbase and your notoriety in the prog scene has sky rocketed, but how do you feel you as a band and as individuals have changed and developed since the band began?
It’s amazing to have such passionate support from all over the world. Unfortunately, so many musicians out there never get to fulfil that dream of having music you’ve written embraced by an audience. We’re all dedicated practisers, so we’ve have 10 years of personal development on our instruments, but also the live performance and writing as a band and unit feels a lot stronger. It’s hard to tell from our perspective, but luckily (or in some cases unlucky) our fans have documented our live career on Youtube, so the difference between now and the early years is night and day. We definitely put a lot more thought into our live show nowadays.
You've won plenty of big name fans along the way, played a prog rock cruise, had Mike Portnoy play gong on one of your tracks and supported/toured with some killer bands. How do you reflect on the last ten years and, if you can pick just a few, what have been some of the stand out moments that made you really pinch yourself?
Yeah it’s definitely an amazing feeling to have had some of our favourite musicians and heroes of ours mention us. We have Mike to thank for so many things and he’s been so, so supportive. He actually got us into the cruise scene and we’ve ended up doing three of them now. The first time playing a gig on the pool deck, with blue ocean as far as you can see is definitely a memory I cherish! Another one was at a festival in Italy and Gentle Giant guitarist Gary Green was there with his new band. For me he’s one of the great unsung guitar heroes and my favourite prog guitarist of all time, so it was a real honour to meet him. During our show I turned round to see him by the side of the stage rocking out to our music! For me that was an unbelievable moment.
You've just remastered and reissued ‘Aquarius’ & ‘Visions’, how has it been re-visiting those records?
Those albums seem like a lifetime ago, even though it’s only been 6 or 7 years. We recently had the opportunity to re-release both albums on our current label ‘Inside Out’. Rather than just put out the same thing again we wanted the re-release to have a purpose, so we were lucky enough to have Jens Bogren freshen up the mixes a bit and remaster them. Jens has mixed our latest three releases, so he knows the sound we like and it was a real pleasure to hear those old songs with a facelift. Over the years we’ve had countless emails and requests to release the albums on vinyl, so we did that too!
In that respect, can we expect you guys to be digging deep into your arsenal of songs, dust off some old tracks and play them live for the first time in a while during this tour?
We’re going to be representing all of our albums on the tour, so we will be dusting off some Aquarius and Visions tracks for sure! It has indeed been a while since we’ve played some of those songs, so we’re currently having to relearn them and refresh our memories. There’ll also be a good chunk of music from The Mountain and Affinity too, so hopefully everybody will have a good time!
Stepping away from Haken for a moment, what can we expect from the support bands on this tour?
We have The Algorithm, who are actually a duo, but somehow manage to make a huge, heavy sound. I first saw them at the ‘Be Prog’ festival in Barcelona, when I seem to remember them going on after Meshuggah, who are obviously impossible to follow, but The Algorithm still pulled a crowd and kept everybody entertained well into the early hours; we’re looking forward to getting to hanging out and getting to know them.
We also have Next to None on the bill, who we actually toured with in the US before. They’re a really tight and passionate band who live and breathe what they do. I hope they’re going to play some of the new music they’re working on, because the early mixes I’ve heard are really, really cool!
And finally, what else can we expect from the tour to help entice those indecisive folk?
We’re approaching this tour as the biggest and best one we’ve ever done, so if you’ve never seen us before, now would be the perfect time to give it a go. I fully appreciate how much of an effort and expense a night out can be these days, especially since everybody seems to be working longer hours these days, so we really, really appreciate each and every person who takes the time out of their lives to come and spend the evening with us.
The band hit Manchester Academy 3 on 24th March. For more info head to: