Rush is a progressive metal band
Prog metal band hookRhythmically tricky, trapped in the niche
In 2004 three school friends got together in London and formed a band: Haken, that's the name of singer Ross Jennings and the two guitarists Richard Henshall and Matthew Marshall. They wanted to play modern sounding Prog Rock. Then, of course, the seriousness of life began; the three separated to study. In 2007, three years later, they got together a second time with three other musicians - including drummer Ray Hearne. This time they were serious, and yet the cast was fragile: In the same year they recorded their now legendary demo "Enter the 5th Dimension". Still, before guitarist Matthew Marshall and keyboardist Peter Jones left the instruments on the nail.
Charlie Griffiths: "The band had been together for a couple of years and had just done the demo at the time. We lived pretty close together in South London, so they were just a local band that I happened to see one night. And I was totally overwhelmed. "It was just the perfect mix of styles, exactly what I wanted to do as a musician and what I was looking for. And then, completely by chance, I met Tom, the former bass player, at Waterloo Station in London. We started talking, including about the band, and he said "actually everything is fine, except that our guitarist has left us - he lives in Sydney now and is a lawyer, so something completely different. So I auditioned and was accepted. "
With Griffiths and keyboardist Diego Tejeida the line-up was complete, and a little later, Haken recorded their first album. The ambitious concept album "Aquarius" was playful, complex and combined a multitude of influences: Dream Theater, Yes, Rush, Opeth, even Alice in Chains.
Music: "Drowning in the Flood"
Singer Ross Jennings: "After the demo songs we were very aware that we were a prog rock band, a prog metal band, and I thought we just had to make a clear statement with the album, a concept album that doesn't take any prisoners. So I worked closely with Richard, who wrote the music, and I came up with the story and the lyrics, and it started with the story, it was about water, and it turned into a story about global warming, about floods. And then characters came along. It just developed naturally. "
"With Prog you can do anything"
Charlie Griffiths: "Maybe it was because it was our first collaboration. As a band you try to find your sound and when you write music ... with prog you can do anything, so it's a blank canvas, and it can become a problem. Sometimes you have a lot of parts that don't fit together. Lately I've been very careful that the music is from a single source, that a song is coherent, but there were a lot of abrupt changes on Aquarius. When we would record it again now, then I would try to break it down into shorter songs instead of long suites. But that's the way it is, you live and learn. "
Music: "Celestial Elixir"
Ross Jennings: "We wanted to be absolutely sure that the songs would fit together. There were, of course, circus music moments, but they are all part of the story. So if you sat down and analyzed the album thoroughly, you could crack this puzzle. That is so the story of Aquarius. "
Charlie Griffiths: "'Celestial Elixir: The mixture of moods and influences is sometimes a little undisciplined; many songs are sprawling suites, collections of good ideas that are not consistently developed. At the same time, Haken play virtuously, show a lot of feeling for melodies and arrangements, and sound not a bit like a band just recording their first album. On the second album, which the band recorded a year later, the songs get to the point more quickly, but the sound is the same. And "Visions" is just like that "Aquarius", a concept album. "
Ross Jennings: "It wasn't planned that way at first, but as it is, the music grew back together and suddenly there was this idea. So we had two concept albums. But on this one we wanted to focus more on the prog metal side stick to the hook sound, but don't mix styles quite so erratically, that's the difference to the first album. But - it's still a concept album, and if I'm supposed to explain the story. God help me ... it's based on a dream I had. Premonition is about a premonition, about seeing one's own death. I was wondering what if that really happened? Could I influence my fate? "
Charlie Griffiths: "For a band like us it's sometimes harder to write songs that aren't that technical, with one riff or solo at a time. In that case, we wanted to simplify it, a simple chord change and a nice melody. And I think it worked on "Deathless", I like the song. "
Ross Jennings: "It's a ballad, but I can assure you it's not a love song. It's pretty sad, but very nice to play, and a song that fans want to hear a lot."
Hooks were now an insider tip among Prog fans, were considered one of the best live bands on the scene, and had played together with King's X, Anathema, IQ and Dream Theater. The expectations for the third album "The Mountain" in 2013 were correspondingly high. On the first two albums Jennings was responsible for the lyrics and Henshall for the music - this time the creative process is more democratic. All band members write lyrics. And although "The Mountain" is clearly progressive rock with strong references to the music of the 70s, Haken are increasingly working with elements from other genres such as ambient, soul, jazz and electronic music. There was a lot at stake for the band this time around, says guitarist Charlie Griffiths.
Charlie Griffiths: "I think our mentality back then was: We really have to give everything with the album. After Aquarius and Visions, things went well with the band, but there was no real progress, no development. That's why we said to each other, now or never."
Ross Jennings: "We worked more together on writing, but the basics of The Mountain were still from Richard's piano sketches that he played for the band. The Path is such an example, and the theme is then developed in other songs. For us, feel an album becomes even more rounded when topics come up more often, so they become a unit. "
Music: "The Path"
Ross Jennings: "It should just be a comment on the state of humanity, it is about problems of everyday life, poverty, social injustice. They are songs that describe what life was like in 2012 and 2013 when we were Album, and that's still relevant today - and it will probably stay that way. It's the album that got the greatest response, so we obviously hit the right nerve at the right time. "
Music: "Atlas Stone"
Charlie Griffiths: "Atlas Stone, yeah. As the lyrics say, we have to rise to the challenge, we're going to do this. We just wanted to go out of our way to make this album the best we can, and that's what Atlas Stone is about. And it actually worked, the album was our breakthrough. "
Hook's "Smoke On The Water"
A highlight of the album is the Queen-inspired, brute hymn "The Cockroach King", a catchy tune despite its bulky, jazzed-up interlude. The song is in a way Hakens "Smoke on the Waters" - it is an indispensable part of the band's set lists.
Ross Jennings: "Well, songs like this are always a blessing and a curse at the same time, but to be honest, playing them is always fun. Diego and Connor, our new bass player, improvise in the middle of the jazz parts. The song is always well received, and it has a deeper meaning too. We're seeing a Donald Trump come to power, and the song is about the dangers of capitalism, so it's very relevant. "
Music: "The Cockroach King"
The EP "Restoration" followed directly on "The Mountain". Hook then put a new coat of paint on three songs of their demo. The first track is streamlined from eleven minutes to six, and "Snow" became the 20-minute epic "Crystallized" - including a spectacular Gentle Giant-like vocal arrangement in the middle of the song.
Shortly after the release of The Mountain, great bassist Thomas McLean left the band, and Restoration was the start of his successor, US bassist Connor Green.
"He lives for the bass"
Charlie Griffiths: "He lives for the bass, for everything that has to do with the bass. He comes from a jazz school, knows his instrument harmoniously and stylistically through and through. There is nothing that he cannot play. And Due to the jazz background he is also extremely creative, can really improvise on everything. You play a chord and he comes up with a cool bass line. He can always play something that goes with everything. And he experiments a lot, finds new sounds with his pedals for the songs. Sometimes a really deep bass or a fat distortion. He can do all of that as, and humanly he's funny and totally relaxed. Just someone you like to be around, with whom you like to spend time. "
Thanks to the internet: Connor Green's auditions were YouTube videos in which he put his personal stamp on two hook tracks.
Music: "Because It's There"
Ross Jennings: "He lives in Indiana, so we benefit a lot from the technology; all band members can live in different corners of the world and still play together, via file sharing, via Skype or just email. So we each write to ourselves and then we meet , try around a bit, add something or take it out again. This is how it works, so completely different from what you imagine a band to be: sleeping on the couch with the others, renting a house somewhere and then an album is created over months of work . We live in a different world today, and that's how we work. "
Brute staccato riffs from the 8-string bass
Connor Green's playful bass is just as important a part of the hook sound as the brutal staccato riffs played on eight-string guitars. Charlie Griffiths:
Charlie Griffiths: "I played eight-strings before I was in the band; that came mainly from Meshuggah, they are the kings of eight-strings. I wanted to make that noise like them when I hit a low note. You have to do on other guitars strike two or three strings for this, you have to play a power chord to get such a fat sound. This unique tone of such a deeply tuned string is simply ... "
After Griffiths brought his eight-string rhythm and solo guitar with him, Richard Henschel had no choice but to join in - since Aquarius he has also been playing an eight-string guitar.
Charlie Griffiths: "It was probably because I wrote and recorded riffs for the eight-string, and of course you have to play them live on an eight-string. On a song like 1985, I play a low E, which is the lowest note The lowest string of a bass, that's a riff, and then later in the solo I play in the 24th fret and pull the string up, make the highest note that you can play on a guitar, so use the entire range of the eight-string. So: we need them. "
On "Affinity", the current album by Haken, the songs have become shorter; this time they come from all band members and not, as in the past, from Richard Henshall alone. What has remained are the gaudy riffs, complex song structures and Ross Jennings singing as clear as a bell. Each hook album has its own personality, and in the case of "Affinity" that's a distinct 80s twist; kind of a mixture of AOR and Retrowave.
Diego hates it
Charlie Griffiths: "Yeah, we deliberately wanted to do something different, a lot of prog bands have that retro seventies vibe. I was born in the seventies, but I don't really remember it. I do remember the eighties, and that's why I was related to. And Diego ...
Diego Tejeda: "It took some getting used to. I didn't like that before; when we were on tour and then there was always 80s music on the bus. I hated it."
Keyboardist Diego Tejeda: "I always thought the drums sounded so reverberant, and the vocals were recorded like they were in a factory floor, and then the synth solos ... and now I love that. They brainwashed me ... But As Charlie said, a lot of bands use the 70s, which was a great time, the golden era of Prog. Everything was new back then, people played Mellotron, Hammond and Moog, and the boundaries of music kept pushing; it was a good time to do prog. But the 80s had something lovely, a vision of what the future would look like, like in Disney's Epcot Park ... of course they were wrong about almost everything, but still they had an idea and that whole vibe is phenomenal and really interesting. It's hard to describe. "
Charlie Griffiths: "I remember when Ray built the electric pads into his drum kit. Actually, they were only there to trigger samples, but then all of a sudden he had this sound like. He then played around with them in sound checks; it did Started as a joke, but that's how we got the idea to put it in, we thought, hey, maybe someone else will find it funny. "
Diego Tejeda: "In the end, not everyone got it, but I think most of them did; it should sound bombastic and at the same time a bit ridiculous ... the Toms have a lot of energy and power and sound bad and silly and phenomenal at the same time. The first The time I heard the mix I had to laugh. Oh my god, it really happens, it sounds so huge and so ... cheesy. Just great! "
Ross Jennings: "I know some of the guys, especially Diego and Charlie, are totally into an artist named Vince DiCola. He's a cinema composer who wrote the music for Rocky IV and is best known for the Transformers cartoon, and the Influence is pretty clear, no doubt about it, in the 1985 song. There is a chronological timeline on "Affinity", it starts in the 80s and sounds a bit like "90125" by Yes, and Toto and King Crimson in the 80s, but as the album progresses it develops. There is no story, but a timeline, and gradually the music starts to sound more modern. "
The music this time comes mainly from Charlie Griffiths and drummer Ray Hearne; therefore the melodies often take a back seat and the songs are more riff-oriented, like the driving, rhythmically complex track "The Endless Knot". "
Music: "The Endless Knot"
Charlie Griffiths: "Ray wrote most of the song, and since he's a drummer ... the rhythm is pretty much in the foreground, and it's really hard to play. It took a lot of practice, but we've played it enough times, and now does it work."
On their current tour, Haken are celebrating their tenth anniversary, playing songs from all four albums before performing as "The Shattered Fortress" with ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy and guitarist Eric Gilette - minus Ray Hearne - in the summer. For Haken this is a dream come true, because without Dream Theater, according to Charlie Griffiths, there would be no more hooks than the prog metal genre.
Charlie Griffiths: "We must remember that they created our genre, they popularized it and made it possible to make money, and we owe them eternal thanks for that. There are so much more now, so many bands, Opeth or Karnivool or Leprous, one of my favorite bands. They all sound so different but come from the same mindset. "
Ross Jennings: "I think the internet has done the genre a huge favor, music is now reaching parts of the world that were closed in the 80s and early 90s when Dream Theater paved the way. You had to work really hard back then, and I think the genre still has a long way to go. Most people listen to fast-paced music, especially pop and rap, and there is nothing against that, I like that too. But of course we don't sell as many tickets as Rihanna, Beyoncé or Ed Sheeran. The only quasi-prog band in this league are Muse, and they actually fill stadiums. Of course, it would be great if bands like us also had this success one day. "
A thriving, modern prog scene
Nobody knows whether Prog will ever be able to build on the mainstream success of the 70s. After all, thanks to pioneers such as Dream Theater, Fates Warning and Steven Wilson, a flourishing, modern prog scene has formed around bands such as Leprous, Opeth, Between the Buried & Me, Agent Fresco and, last but not least, Haken. One question remains:
Ross Jennings: "The band name, the age-old question that everyone wants an answer to. Usually we avoid it, simply because it's so awkward to tell. Originally the band was spelled with two" a "and pronounced hooks. The name came from a fictional character from some Norse mythology.We then changed the name and changed the pronunciation to hooks, but that has often created confusion. Later we heard of course that it is a German word, Haken like "Hook", and in some country it is called knitting or crocheting ... which is not quite as rock'n'roll. I usually just say it's the German word for hook - and that sounds good. Rock'n'Roll, but I usually just say to people: Yeah, it's the German word for hook - and that sounds good. "
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