Haken have become established leaders in the heavier progressive scene. Rated favourably alongside the band’s heroes Yes, Rush, Genesis and King Crimson by fans and critics alike, Haken also draw comparisons to more recent giants including Steven Wilson and Dream Theater. Riding the line between prog-rock and progressive metal with deftness and purpose, Haken create for modern lovers of intelligent heavy rock music a sound uniquely theirs. It goes without saying that the standard of musicianship on display is phenomenal. As their first Australian tour nears Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles spoke to Ross Jennings bout the tour/
First tour to Australia, does it feel long overdue?
Definitely long overdue! It is indeed and has been on our bucket list. It was always been our intention, it’s not like things get in the way but it takes time for the profile to raise and for promoters to have the faith to book us. Obviously there is always a financial risk with these things coming from the other side of the world so it is honouring to know that we can finally do that now.
Did you always think it would be this hard to continually build the profile of Haken and take ten years to be in the position you are now?
I haven’t really given it much thought because it always is a hard slog doing this style of music. It’s not pop music, it’s not your conventional heavy metal either, so it was always going to be the road less travelled and we never thought we would be this far in the business when we started in the beginning it was a bit of fun. It is great!
Ten years is a significant achievement for any band these days, is it exciting to be visiting new territories making your mark in those and still celebrating this milestone?
Yeah, there’s still so much of the world that is left to conquer. Our tours have been focused on Europe and the US. The first proper tour of the US was in 2015 so there is still lots to do and we would love to do some shows in Asia at some point and South America we haven’t touched yet either. There’s still at least ten years of work ahead.
Ten years of Haken, how do you squeeze that in to the set list for the Australian tour?
Thankfully, the timing is right that we are also celebrating ten years in the US and our set list covers all the material anyway. Fans won’t be disappointed as they’ll be able to hear their favourite tracks from most of the records. I think it will be a great set list for the first time in Australia.
As a band how did you celebrate that milestone?
To be fair these tours are the celebration party, we didn’t do anything personally really as we wanted to get out there and do a lot of shows to mark this anniversary. We also had the reissues out this year as well with Aquarius and Visions which were remastered and finally reissued which is great.
How important was your career shaping album The Mountain for Haken?
It is hard looking at it from the inside, we just made another record and really didn’t give it much thought. These kind of things are out of our hands, when it is public it is the listener who makes the decision on these things. I think it helped big time that we had a label that could get our music heard a lot further than we had before. That was a big factor but musically we did what came naturally and struck lucky that people caught on to that.
Has much thought been given to the next album and how that might sound?
Um, we have had some discussion but we don’t have enough material written for it yet. I think the focus is to get these shows out the way and spend a lot of time in December and January getting some initial ideas down. We always say that we’ll keep it natural and write music that we would like to listen to and usually that comes across as quite genuine. I think people dig that.
Do you take a lot of inspiration from Dream Theater?
Sure, they are a band I used to listen to a lot growing up and I think we did in the band. There were a lot of comparisons to Dream Theater on the first couple of records. We’re trying to remove ourselves from that comparison but obviously doing the Shattered Fortress shows it is hard to remove completely but definitely a big influence. There are so many influences in the band and we all have different tastes and that seeps in to the song writing for sure.
Keeping good company with Mike Portnoy must be cool as well?
Yeah, we couldn’t have asked for a bigger accolade really and to have his praise in the beginning, he’s been really supportive and our relationship with him has flourished in the last three or four years and to finally play shows with him is amazing.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Don’t miss out on seeing Haken on their run of dates…