"We grew up loving classic-era prog rock and that’s the music we decided we wanted to create, and also to make a real impact with it." The story of Haken's debut album Aquarius

(Image credit: Rob Monk)

Ah bless, don't they look young? This is the very first interview with UK prog metallers Haken that ran in Prog Magazine, back in 2010, when they released their debut album Aquarius.

Everyone loves a good success story, and Prog is proud to have played at least just a tiny part in the release of Haken’s debut album Aquarius. So when the South London sextet appeared on the free CD that came with issue two of this very magazine, it added a dash of fuel to a fire that was already burning brightly.

“We were already talking to [Sensory Records],” explains guitarist and keyboard player Richard Henshall, “but I think that when they heard Black Seed on Prognosis 2 [as Prog's then cover CDs were titled] it helped speed the process up.”

Haken formed back in 2007 when Henshall and schoolmates Ross Jennings and Matthew Marshall decided to form a progressively-inclined rock band.

“Our influences are very varied,” continues Henshall, “ but we also grew up loving classic-era prog rock and that’s the music we decided we wanted to create, and also to make a real impact with it.”

This the band certainly have done with Aquarius. Despite suffering the loss of Marshall – replaced by Charles Griffiths – as well as keyboard player Peter Jones – since replaced by Mexican Diego Tejeida, not pictured – Aquarius is a stunning piece of work. In fact sonically it’s almost a different band to the one who recorded Haken’s original two demos in 2007 and 2008 (which initially brought them to the attention of Prog). Epic, grandiose, melodic and packing a serious punch, the band’s talent borders on the precocious, and the execution is jaw-dropping at times.

“We recorded the album separately and brought all the bits together apart from the drums,” explains Griffiths. “Those we recorded at Monster Trax studios in Chiswick. And then we sent it over to be mixed and mastered in Germany.”


(Image credit: Sensory Records)

The end result is one of the most impressive prog debuts from a young UK band you’ll have heard for at least a decade. It sounds good, and it looks good too. “The artwork was done by Dennis Sibeijn at Damnengine,” explains MacLean. “He’s worked with Chimaira and Three. We needed something to tie in with the concept of the album.”

Which is? “It’s two-fold,” explains vocalist Ross Jennings, who writes all the lyrics. “Initially it’s about how water flows, from the start to its ultimate conclusion, which was an idea I got from talking to Richard’s wife. And then that ties in with the more central theme, which is about a man who discovers a mermaid. The only problem is that the minute I’d come up with that storyline and we’d written and recorded the material, we found out there’s a film coming out with Colin Farrell [Ondine] that pretty much has the same story as Aquarius. But I did come up with the idea first, honest [Er, think you’re forgetting Hans Christian Anderson, Splash, etc – mermaid Ed].”

Having already supported the likes of Riverside, King’s X and Bigelf, Haken take their aquatic, prog adventures out on the road later this year. They really are one prog ride you’d be a fool to miss.

Jerry Ewing

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock.