We had the chance to catch up with Ross Jennings, lead singer and founding member of Haken for a brief video interview. Unfortunately, we were relocated from our studio-lit sound-tested side room and forced to shoot on the busiest street in Manchester with no time to set up again! In order to help you through those difficult passages we’ve included a transcription of the interview below, but here is the video:
…and here’s the transcription!
You are on tour with Between The Buried And Me at the moment and it’s pretty early days, isn’t it? But how’s it been so far, touring with these guys?
Yeah, third show in tonight. So far, so good, we’ve brushed off the cobwebs; we haven’t really played together for about a month so it’s good to be back together and get things working again.
Yeah, getting the momentum’s probably key really, isn’t it?
You’re on tour now but say you could choose one country to play, where would that be and why?
I think Japan. It’s one country I’ve always wanted to visit, personally, for personal reasons anyway. Yeah when we—when Mike Portnoy joined us on tour in the US he said to us
“There are five places you have to play to really make it as a band:”
1) London – obviously we’re from London so we’ve done that
2) Paris was one
3) L.A – we haven’t done that, we still need to play there
I’ve forgotten the fifth one! But one of them was to play in Japan. Oh! New York which is where we were when he told us. So those are the five, Japan is definitely the one we want to do.
Was the anything in particular that drew you to Japan out of the choice?
Just a totally different culture, a fresh fan base that we haven’t really connected with at all, yeah, so it’s a market we’d like to be able break.
If you are breaking into a market with people who haven’t actually heard of you before or heard your music, how would you roughly describe the band?
We’re a progressive metal band but you say that to a lot of people and they’re like “what?” so it’s tricky to explain but it’s a love of all genres of music, putting them in a melting pot and coming out with something unique and special and not necessarily mainstream. It touches on a lot of genres that we love to listen to.
You’ve got a lot of different influences there, did you actually intend to put all these together or is it just a natural process?
Absolutely – from the very beginning! Why confine yourself to one genre? When you can find a way to blend your rock music, your metal, your jazz, your classical.
Everything you love in one place.
Yeah, create something unique.
So your band name, Haken, that comes from a character you thought up when you were younger, can you tell us about that?
Yeah, it’s an inventive charac– name basically. It actually started off with two ‘A’s, we used to called ourselves Haaken (pron. “harken”) but we preferred the way it sounded, ‘Haken’, phonetically. We just thought that would work better actually. But the name Haken comes from– actually means ‘chosen son’ and it’s kinda where it came from.
Was it just a character you created or were you doing it for stories in particular at that time?
Yeah, we were quite into our fantasy. The guitarist who used to be in the band was very into novel writing all the time so he was inventing characters; he was a large part of coming up with the name actually. It just kinda stuck.
So it’s just really satisfying then,,,
It’s a weird one, it’s different, to a lot of people it’s meaningless but, hey.
But it means something to you, that’s what’s important.
Well it’s a talking point!
Now you– earlier this year, played the Rambling Man Festival
Yeah we did, yep.
And that included Marillion, Riverside, Ian Anderson, a lot of big names, how did that go for you?
It was great for us because we hadn’t really properly done a major UK festival so that was a great experience for us. Also, y’know, you mentioned some of the legends as well so…
Did you get to hang out with any of them or anything like that? Did you get the chance?
A couple of us got to hang out with members of Dream Theater… and, yeah, they’ve been very supportive of our band. Well, it’s an awesome name, big influences on us from the beginning so, y’know, that’s awesome.
That’s really promising then!
Ok and last of all, I know you’ve all been teasing about this on Facebook – and you might not be able to tell us that much about it now – but you guys are working on a fourth album, a fourth studio album, is there anything you can or would like to say to our viewers?
Ha ha, what about the 80s reference?
Yeah, what is that about?
Well yeah, no, it’s part of a joke really, we um–Diego likes to kind of invent sounds from scratch and a lot of them were coming up kinda 80s sounding but not, like, cheesy 80s, y’know, like cinematic 80s..
…the gritty kind of 80’s…
… yeah, we put a joke post up on Facebook and I think a lot of people got the wrong impression that we were making a kinda power metal album or something! Um, we’re, we– this is the way we work, we just grab things we like and we want to mix it in there so, yeah, you might here some influences from 80s ‘Yes’ or something like that and, yeah, I lo– love those kind of albums from “Drama” onwards.
Do you have a full concept for it or is it just developing?
It’s– it’s developing, a bit like The Mountain, we have a theme that we’re working– that kinda keeps it tied together at the back of our minds but we’re not, kinda, tying ourselves down to, like, a storyline, it’s like each song will be a fresh project.
Excellent! Well that sounds really interesting, I’m really looking forward to it and hearing more about it and, when it does come out, hearing it and I’m looking forward to hearing you guys play tonight. So, thank you very much for your time.
You’re welcome – it’s very nice to meet you.
…and we’ll let you carry on with your preparations.