Hi guys! First of all I'd like to congratulate you on releasing such a fine prog album as "The Mountain". It seems since the release of your first album in 2010 your star is rising with more and more speed: You've received excellent feedback on your albums and played tours and festivals with the big players of art and prog rock. Now the first press reactions regarding "The Mountain" are hailing you as the new "big thing" in prog music. What are your feelings about "The Mountain" now that it is just a few days away from finally being released?
Wow, what an intriduction – thankyou! Yes we’re really, really pleased with how The Mountain turned out. It is definitely the most heartfelt and honest piece of work we’ve done and it seems like the people who have heard it are relating to it on a very personal level, so we feel like we achieved our goal. We hope that many more people will have a similarly positive experience with it.
"The Mountain" is also your first record being released under the banner of Inside Out Music. Do you happen to be fans of some of the bands in the roster of Inside Out? Or was the decision to sign with them merely a logical business decision as they can provide you with (I guess) excellent distribution and promotion infrastructure?
Signing with Inside Out Music was a goal from the beginning as it is like a spiritual home for prog and they have so many great bands under their wing. We’re fans of all those guys like: Devin Townsend, Pain of Salvation, Transatlantic and so on. I’ve bought many Inside Out CDs over the years, so it does feel like a real achievement to see the logo on or CD. Of course they are excellent at what they do and have a very well organized infrastructure, so that was of course a consideration too.
In my review of "The Mountain" I wrote that your music breathes the air of 60ies/70ies prog but combined with a modern approach and a bit of epic art rock atmosphere here and there. Also some bands that clearly must have influenced you could be SPOCK's BEARD, THE FLOWER KINGS or also TRANSATLANTIC... or am I totally wrong here?
You’re completely correct. We all certainly love the 70s bands like Queen, Yes, The Beatles, Gentle Giant, Camel and so on. To me that music is timeless. I also grew up listening to metal bands like Pantera and Megadeth and I play an 8-string guitar, so I think we have a bit more of a metal sound than the three bands you mentioned – although I am a fan of them. The track Cockroach King is a great example of a song that starts off in a Gentle Giant style, but at the end there are 8-string riffs – I like to jokingly call it Djentle Djiant Our epic side really stems from a love of movie scores, particularly the work of John Williams, Howard Shore or Bernard Hermann.
With many new ideas and wild combinations with other musical genres or sub-styles, prog is as big and diverse nowadays as it has never been before. Do you see yourself as some part of a prog scene? Do you like any specific (comtemporary) bands from this wide genre and/or their musical ideas?
I suppose we are part of a prog scene, since we play at a lot of festivals with ‘prog’ in the title and Prog magazine in the UK have been really supportive. As I said, I still listen to the 70s era prog and there’s still so much of it I haven’t heard yet. As for contemporary bands I really like heavier stuff like Headspace, Periphery, Opeth and Textures as well as bands like Elbow or Everything Everything, who have progressive elements, but have more mainstream acceptance.
Some of your songs (e.g. "Cockroach King") left the impression with me that humour is a big part of HAKEN and the music you create? Would you agree? Or did I get a wrong impression?
The intention wasn’t really to make people laugh, so maybe humour isn’t the right word, although that song really shows our fun side in the same way that Queen used to write songs like Killer Queen or Bicycle Race. They are fun songs, but not comedy songs. It’s like an English tradition that isn’t really observed any more, so we’re bringing some of that eccentricity back. Having said that, we made a video for that track that is definitely supposed to make you laugh – making it was certainly a hilarious experience!
What's the background on chosing HAKEN as name of your band? For Germans the name seems a bit odd as "Haken" means "hook" in German and it's a bit confusing why an English band should use a German word as name of their band - but I guess the origin of the name is quite another one, right?
Disappointingly there isn’t really a good reason for the name. It was just a word that seemed to suit the band and music. We weren’t aware that it was a German word until we played in Germany and were met with that very question.
That's it already guys. I'd like to thank you for your time answering my questions - I hope they were not too silly. If there's anything else you'd like to inform our readers about (tour dates...), feel free to add.
Thankyou for the great interview! I hope that you can all check out The Mountain and we’d love to see you at one of our shows soon!
October 03, 2013 DAS RIND Rüsselsheim, Germany
October 04, 2013 ZENTRUM ALTENBERG Oberhausen, Germany
October 05, 2013 PROGPOWER EUROPE Baarlo, Limburg, NL
October 11th 2013 PROGSTAGE FESTIVAL Tiberius, Israel
November 23, 2013 DANFEST 3 The Musician Leicester, UK
November 24, 2013 Borderline, London, UK
February 18-22 Progressive Nation At Sea 2014 (Embarking from Miami USA)