Interview: The Download Tapes – Haken

After originally being on the bill for their Download debut in 2020 Haken finally managed to tick it off their bucket list and grace the Donnington Park event three years later. Since their formation sixteen years ago, the prog metallers have grown and evolved with each album telling a part of the story of their evolution. Having recently released ‘Fawna’ the band are eager to show the world their new music, playing to old and new fans along the way. Aggy Gillon sat down to speak to vocalist Ross Jennings ahead of their long awaited set. 

You were originally supposed to play in 2020 but of course unfortunately that fell through with the pandemic

“Yeah we were. We were meant to play a similar slot on the dogtooth stage. So this is our first year playing Download. We are obviously hungry to play that big stage one day *laughs*. The Dogtooth stage is really cool. It’s a nice intimate setting. It’s a bit like our club, gig and theatre shows that we tend to do. I think it lends itself perfectly to our music anyway.”

Haken formed officially sixteen years ago but you were in the making of it for quite some time before?

“Yeah. Technically 2007 is our official formation date. Our first record came out in 2010. As were getting old I tend to class that as our first year *laughs*”

You look very young for someone who has been in a band so long *laughs*

“There is a few grey hairs coming through *laughs*” 

Same! *laughs* How does it feel for you guys to finally be playing Download?

“Download is a legendary festival in our minds. We have been hungry to play here for many years. Actually when we got that 2020 booking we were over the moon. I’m glad they kept us in the books for this one. We have been making a steady ascent as a band. Not major league players just yet but we’re playing the long game. It’s really cool to be invited and we’re just going to show them what it’s all about.”

You have a new album out ‘Fawna?’ can you tell me about that?

“It came out March 3rd. It’s been received really well by our fans. This festival season is our chance to put our music in front of a few new faces, a few new ears and make some new fans. We are really happy with how it has been received, it’s been awesome.” 

With seven studio albums already out, how would you describe the band’s progression over the years?

“We started off as I guess an overly bombastic prog rock band with hints of metal. I think that over the years we have become more focused on the metal side with our sound. With never losing that creativity that is in our albums and every album is different. There is always a different angle with how we are approaching the prog metal. There’s always a lot of notes. There’s always a lot of some really catchy riffs and memorable choruses and things like that. Those things are really important to us.” 

How would you describe your feelings towards your very first album and Fawna?

“Every album is very special to us and they tell us different things about where we were at at the time. Speaking personally I was very heavily into my prog rock concept albums when we came onto the scene and that is what the first two albums were. They were telling stories, you know, a bit more fantasy based. Over the years we become more focused and we have written songs that are a bit more personal. I feel that is the big change really. As well as focusing on our more metal sound and making songs that are accessible.”


Where do you find your inspiration? Whether it be in life or other artists?

“It’s all around us! A lot of our inspiration comes from pop culture and science fiction movies, films and stuff like that. These tend to be good jumping off points when we are trying to come up with ideas for lyrics. They always relate to something human and personal.” 

What kind of science fiction are you guys into?

“We are all big movie buffs. We did a whole concept album about the 80’s and there were references to Transformers and also 80’s horror movies. We did a piece that was loosely based on Blade Runner. We love movies like Aliens, Event Horizon and stuff in space.”

Event Horizon absolutely amazing

“Mad film.”

You are still yet to grace the stage here. How do you guys prepare for your shows? 

“I feel like we are all pretty casual about it *laughs*”

Just take it as it comes?

“I think we are just too excited to be here. We will do a little warm up beforehand and then just show people what it’s all about, you know. It’s a short set for us. We are used to doing two hour sets. We are on for about half an hour and normally for a prog metal band that is about two songs *laughs* We managed to squeeze in four songs into our setlist today.” 

Have you guys got any shows coming up after this?

“We are in festival season now. We are doing Graspop in Belgium which is another bucket list festival to play. We are coming back to the UK after doing some more festivals in Europe. We are doing the ArcTanGent Festival In Bristol. Also Radar Festival up North. Sleep Token are headlining the night we are playing and we are big fans.”

It must be amazing to be a part of these things and also play along side bands that you love as well

“We do like to check out the other bands on the day even if we aren’t aware of them.” 

Like a Rock n Roll supportive family

“Pretty much.”

Are you guys here all weekend or just for today?

“We are flying to Spain tomorrow so just here for today. We will be able to catch a bit of Metallica.” 

Your latest single was ‘Love Bite’ . Could you tell me a little bit about that?

“All the songs on Fawna, the name gives it away. They reference an animal. For ‘Love Bite’ it was a black widow spider. The idea of it was we took the mating ritual which is where after the love making the female devours the male. We thought that was a fun thing to write about and relate it to a human relationship or a break up. It’s a tongue in cheek song really. There’s plenty of that kind of stuff on the album collating animals and humans.”

Do you have a song that is your favourite to perform?

“There is a track on Affinity called ‘The Architect’ which always hits hard live and that’s one we are playing tonight at Download. It’s a great live track and one of my favourites. I get to scream a bit and use all the range of my voice so it’s great.” 

Haken – Facebook

Interview and photos by Aggy Gillon