A double phone interview is always an exciting thing to participate in. This is especially true when it’s the brilliant and oft-hilarious combo of Ross Jennings and Richard Henshall from Haken. A Progressive Metal band that continues to push the limits of what the genre can be. Initially the interview was supposed to be only lead vocalist Jennings, however, as was revealed at the beginning of the conversation, they were together so that guitarist Henshall could engineer Jenning’s vocals for a separate project. As such they decided to jump on the line as a duo. Interestingly, before stating that they’re working on something separate, Ross did spill the beans that, “We’ve started the creative process for album six.” But more on that later.
At the forefront of everyone’s mind at the moment is there upcoming tour of Australia in June. When asked what they were looking forward to about it this time, Richard chimed in semi-jokingly,“I’m looking forward to not sleeping for five days. That’s gonna be good. Because we’re playing five shows back to back and we’re literally gonna be going from the venue to the hotel and then maybe have two hours at the hotel then fly to the next city. So it’s gonna be really intense. But joking aside, I’m looking forward to going over there and meeting a whole bunch of new fans and playing some of the ‘Vector’ tracks, it’s gonna be good fun!”
At this point Jennings adds that last time, “We were on the back of a US tour so that was even more tiring.” And on that note describes how the rest of the tour so far has been. “It’s been fantastic! We’ve seen audience numbers double in some places. The reception to ‘Vector’ has been phenomenal. So we’ve been really pleased with how all of this is being received.”
Due to ‘Vector’ being the band’s latest release and having garnered such a positive response from fans, will it see a fair representation on the setlist? Jennings and Henshall answer in turn respectively,“Essentially, you know we’re out promoting the new record, so it’ll definitely have a large representation. Also, we’ve ignored other tracks from other albums so we’re definitely gonna pull out our favourites. That’s for sure.”
“We’re very conscious that we’re coming a long way, we don’t get to come to Australia that often. We’ll always try and cater to that. But at the same time we like to leave something for next time as well. With each album it’s getting trickier and trickier because we’re getting a lot more songs to choose from. But there’s always certain songs that stand out that we always kinda gravitate towards. But yeah, playing the new ‘Vector’ stuff has been really fun so far. It’s a lot heavier than our previous stuff. And that always kinda translates well to that live setting.”
Henshall goes on to describe what Aussie fans can expect from the live show. “Since the last time we were there, we’ve actually stepped up our stage-show. We now have a whole programmed light-show with us, so that’s gonna be something new. And I think generally it’s gonna be heavier than our last set, because of the ‘Vector’ stuff.”
Following along that train of thought, Jennings shares the band’s thoughts regarding their latest studio effort now that has been out for a number of months. ”We’ve heard it a lot now. It’s an old record for us and we’re hungry to get on to the next project, you know? We really are.”
The three of us discuss the concept of the album for a short while, touching on the well documented fact that the story is about some sort of psychiatric doctor taking a sinister interest in one particular patient. Based on the final lyrics of the album, I question the two of them to find out if they agree it’s not a happy ending for the patient, despite most of the story being left to interpretation.
“Again left to interpretation.” Jennings muses, “I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this character.”
Does this mean perhaps a Vector 2 on the horizon? A brief silence and then,“We’ll leave that question unanswered.”
Moving the conversation into less ambiguous territories, Henshall shares his thoughts on playing the album in full. “I would love to. Last time we did that was on Cruise to the Edge, we decided to do the whole of ‘Visions’ and the whole of ‘The Mountain.’ Which at the time sounded like a good idea. But it was a lot of work getting it to sound tight just for two shows. I really feel ‘Vector’ will lend itself well to be playing it in its entirety. We could probably do a whole tour based around that.”
On the topic of music that’s lots of work to pull off, we begin to talk about Nil By Mouth, the epic instrumental from the latest record and amidst laughter Jennings reveals, “Well for me I get to go back-stage and have a cup of tea. It’s my favourite part of the set! It’s really not a joke, I actually have chamomile honey tea on the rider and I’ve usually got a warm cup side-stage for whenever I walk off. It just keeps the throat warm and it’s really important. I can’t have freezing cold water like the other guys. That would just ruin me. So yeah it’s just a little breather, cup of tea and a stretch. Then run back on and do my thing.”
As we begin to run short on time, I ask if the two of them have any final words of advice for aspiring musicians, the two have a bit of a back and forth on it to finish the conversation.
Henshall – “Keep doing what you’re doing!
Jennings – “What were your four Ps again?…Practice..?”
Henshall – “Practice, Perseverance, Patience and…Perspiration?”
Jennings – “Prog was it?”
Get your hands on tickets to see Haken live from David Roy Williams HERE!