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17th April 2024

Q: Your first shows in Japan coming up.


RJ: It is, yes! I’m really excited to set foot on Japanese soil as it’s the first time I’ll be visiting there, even as a tourist let alone to do shows with Haken which has been a long time coming. It’s been on our bucket list for years – since the start really – as if you look back through Rock history, Japan was always a bucket list place for touring musicians. Famously the Budokan which has hosted many a legendary show.


Q: What expectations do you have?


RJ: I don’t know really. Just soaking up all the culture will be the first shock for me and seeing how the audiences are at shows as well. I’ve heard stories about people being quite reserved at Rock shows, polite in a way and then you hear the uproar at the end of a song so I’m really excited to see the kind of reaction we get to the music we do.


Q: Don’t tell me the set list but with seven albums, two EPs and ten years under your belts, it must be a tad challenging to figure out what to play the first time in a country.


RJ: It’s incredibly tough. We have a set list which is going to cover some new territory and on this tour, we are returning to Australia so we are trying to cater for that as well. This is why we started to do the ‘An Evening With’ tour in North America because it was becoming increasingly difficult to figure out what to play in an hour and half, especially with longer format songs. We are not doing a full three hour show in Japan unfortunately, it will be a two hour show or something like that.


Q: You did two 100% different sets on Cruise to the Edge in March of which you are veterans. It’s terrific as a journalist and music fan, how is it as a performer?


RJ: Oh it’s fantastic and they keep inviting us back so we must be doing something right. We tend to pull a good crowd there and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to decide a set list for that because we’ve pretty much played ever song now (laughs). What has been special abought this year is when we did the latest record in full and with Cruise to the Edge, we tend to add it at the beginning or the end of a tour and especially when it’s at the end, it’s a nice reprieve from the grind of touring - sort of like a lovely free holiday. Another aspect is how close you get to your fans. You sitting eating meals with them and on the one hand, that’s a bit of an ego shower as you are receiving compliments and everything but you also get to know your fan base and their opinions and stories and it’s great to connect in that way. That helps us grow as well.


Two questions about Fauna


Q: On Cruise to the Edge, you performed the entire Fauna album. Each song relates to a different animal and characteristic of that animal and how that relates to the human world. I would imagine there are a lot of animal characteristics you could have written about; did you have ideas for any others that didn’t make it this time around? Might there be a part II a la Vector and Virus?


RJ: (laughs) I can’t imagine there would be a part II but there were certainly a whole list of ideas and what was quite important to us was that these songs were relatable on a human level. Really, the song content could be about anything but in some way, we created this link about how it could relate back to an animal or an animal characteristic. It was a bit of a challenge puzzling that together but in the end, it worked pretty well for us. We didn’t necessarily start with an animal idea, it was just this organic thing of merging two concepts.


Q: Lyrically, you did capture some extraordinary stuff in there.


RJ: One of my favourites is Sempiternal Beings. I’m quite fascinated with jellyfish as a specie and it was interesting do the research on them and their connections to the human personality. Are there any that stuck out for you?


Q: Suffering from arachnophobia, as I do, Lovebites. The whole eating of the mother after mating and all that scared the hell out of me and of course as humans, how a mother will do anything to protect and nurture her children. 


RJ: We wanted that one to be more tongue-in-cheek, about human relationships and how challenging those can be sometimes. I’m glad it resonated with you though. Interestingly, the character played by Jeff Daniels in the movie, Arachnophobia, is called Dr. Jennings so there is a tentative link there as well.


Q: That’s one of the few spider films I can watch although I’m still squeamish when watching it. My second question about Fauna is this: The Last Lullaby is the bonus track on the Japanese release which you later put out as a single in Europe. Was written as the bonus track, specifically for Japan or did it come out of somewhere else?


RJ: Pete Jones is our keyboardist and sound designer who we have welcomed back into the band. He does a lot of this kind of remix work and sonic design privately and we all thought it would be a good idea to remix one of our pieces and put his stamp on it. We were approached by the Japanese label and told we needed something else for the Japanese release and they asked what we could do and that was one of the first things we jumped on. It’s really his sole creation. Obviously, some of us are playing in that and it’s a nice little reference to his solo work as well. We’ve been using it as an intro to our shows.


Q: Philosophical question No. 1: Given the current situation of the world, are we, humans, better than animals?


RJ: (laughs) Oh my God, where do you start there? Well, we are animals aren’t we?


Q: Yes we are.

RJ: We are an evolved species but there are some aspects of that evolution which you could argue is more of a devolution. That’s not necessarily of intelligence but what comes with intelligence and that is the opposite, the yin and the yang. Whatever good we do in the world, there is also that polar opposite.


A very philosophical answer to a philosophical question. I expected no less and we moved on.


Writing Prog songs


Q: The Fauna credits read ‘Music by, Lyrics by, Arranged by, Performed by and Produced by Haken so presumably you are a very diplomatic and co-operative group of musicians. Does that hark back to the days of growing up together?


RJ: Yeah. I know that on the first few records we were outlining specifically who did what and in a way it was unfair as everyone throughout the journey, was contributing bits so even though Richard was doing the music and I was doing the lyrics, there would be a point where someone would jump in and say ‘Have you considered this line?’ or come with an idea of this working with that. We recognised that the whole process, even though some may claim they wrote a song, throughout the process it became a collaborative effort and that includes lyrics as well so it seemed fitting to present ourselves – and pay ourselves as well – as one. We feel very strongly in this band that as long as everyone is making the effort equally that everything should be equal across the board.


Q: The a cappella sections you write, for example Cockroach King or the middle section of Crystallised, how do you decide when to put one in and how long do the arrangements take?  


RJ: It depends on the track really. With Cockroach King, we intentionally went into that with the intention that we would include some sort of Gentle Giant reference. Obviously we were well aware that Spock’s Beard had done things like that as well and Neal Morse’s records are in that style but we wanted to do our own that we could include in a Metal context. The same could be said of Crystallised I suppose but there are no rules with these things; you have to feel these things out when you are writing them. We’ll try something and if it works it works and if it doesn’t it doesn’t. It just so happened that in those cases, we went for the experimentation and it paid off. They can take a while to piece together and especially to rehearse, making sure everyone is on point with their parts. They are great fun when we pull them off.


Q: When do the lyrics start to form in your head? Is it during the writing of the music process or when the music is complete?


RJ: Typically, the music comes first but before that is finished, I’ll start working on phonetics. I’m not event coming up with words at the beginning, I’m just trying to carve out the rhythms and if a vowel shape comes to mind and works in a part, I’ll put that down and then after that, I’ll start to formulate words from those phonetics. The third stage is to then think about what the song is about and start shifting things around.


Q: Incidentally, I sent Cockroach King to a friend of mine, John Gallagher from Raven and he described you as a ‘modern day Gilbert & Sullivan. I thought that was a lovely description.


RJ: I’ll take that! I don’t listen to a lot of Gilbert & Sullivan - I don’t think any of us in the band do actually - so it’s quite fascinating how that has come out. It’s cool to have that comparison.


Q: Philosophical question No. 2: As much as we all love Yes, Genesis and ELP, Progressive Rock by its very nature and name, has to or at least should, progress. Has it?


RJ: I talk about this a lot actually and I think at some point, Progressive Rock and Prog became to very different things. I would say that Progressive Rock should be something that evolves and it’s probably not even something that we do – it could be something electronic for example – but Prog is very much a certain sound and a certain era. There are many bands recreating the sounds today and I think that should be Prog Rock. That’s just my opinion though and feel free to disagree but progressive, it’s a very loose term isn’t it?

Q: It is. Has the development of technology, in instruments, steered that in some way?


RJ: Yes, potentially, I think that’s a big factor and also in styles. You know TikTokj guitarists are getting so much faster and better and they are becoming a different thing as well. That’s truly progressive in that they have taken something that inspired them and made it their own and each generation will do the same. That’s not Prog though, that’s progressive.




Q: Who is Ross Jennings at home?


RJ: I am a father to two toddlers so I’m not getting much sleep and I haven’t shaved in a while (laughs). I am obsessed with music, writing it, listening to it as a fan – I am a fan of many different styles.


Q: If I had a look through your CD shelf, what would surprise me?


RJ: Well for a start, you’d be there for a while. I have in excess of six thousand CDs that take up my living space (laughs). What would surprise you? There’s quite a lot of Pop music that you probably wouldn’t expect me to listen to and it’s not that I listen to it a lot but I do follow it. For example, we have this compilation in the UK called Now That’s What I Call Music that tends to follow the trends of Pop music through the ages and I’ve collected each one; there’s 117 of them now. I just find following Pop culture fascinating. I like to keep an ear on what’s trending and I don’t necessarily like it all but I’m interested in it.


Q: You read a bit as well. You’ve cited Philp K. Dick in other interviews.

RJ: Yeah but in the band I’m not the one that reads the most; Richard is the big sci-fi fanatic. I dabble in it but my passion when it comes to reading is autobiographies which tend to be music or film ones. I’ve just finished the Geddy Lee one which took me a while as it generally takes me longer to read things these days.


Q: Movies. Arachnophobia you’ve mentioned, Bladerunner I know about, anything else tickle your fancy recently?

RJ: Again, having kids now, it’s harder to find the time to watch anything. We went and saw Poor Things at the cinema which has just won all those awards which was really great and it’s nice to see experimental movies still being made and hitting the mainstream. The director is Yorgos Lanthimos and he was responsible for The Favourite and Lobster which was a really fun avant-garde thing.


Q: I shall add that to my ‘must watch’ list then as I loved Lobster. It was so off-the-wall.


RJ: yeah. Being off-the-wall is very much a theme of his style. In general though, my tastes are quite mainstream. One of my favourites is The Trueman show and there’s the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Terry Gillian films as well, Spielberg’s films from my teenage years and he continues to impress me with things like The Fablemans that he put out a couple of years ago.


Q: Ross, thank you very much for doing this interview.


RJ: A pleasure Glenn and I’ll look forward to seeing you in Japan.

ロス・ジェニングス(ヘイケン)Ross Jennings (Haken) インタビュー










RJ:信じられないほど難しかったよ。セットリストには新しい領域も含まれているんだ。今回のツアーでは、オーストラリアに戻るので、それにも対応しようと思っている。だから北米で『An Evening With』ツアーを始めたんだ。1時間半で何を演奏するか、特に長いフォーマットの曲を演奏するのが難しくなってきたからね。残念ながら、日本では3時間のフルショウはやらない。2時間かそこらになるだろう。









Q:クルーズ・トゥ・ザ・エッジでは、アルバム『Fauna』の全曲を演奏しましたね。それぞれの曲は、異なる動物とその動物の特徴、そしてそれが人間の世界とどう関係しているかに関連しています。あなたが書くことができたであろう動物の特徴はたくさんあると想像しますが、今回選ばれなかった他の楽曲のアイデアはありましたか?『Vector and Virus』パートIIのようなものがあるかもしれない?




RJ:僕が気に入っている一つは、「Sempiternal Beings」なんだ。僕はクラゲという種にとても惹かれていて、クラゲと人間の性格との関連について調べたのは興味深かった。君が印象に残っているものはある?





Q:あれは私が観ることができる数少ないクモの映画の一つなんです。とはいえ、まだ観ていても気後れしますが。『Fauna』についての2つ目の質問です: 「The Last Lullaby」は日本盤のボーナストラックで、後にヨーロッパでシングルとしてリリースされましたね。この曲は、ボーナス・トラックとして日本向けに書かれたのですか?それとも、どこか別のところから出てきたのでしょうか?














Q:『Fauna』のクレジットには「Music by, Lyrics by, Arranged by, Performed by and Produced by Haken」とあるので、おそらくあなたたちは非常に外交的で協力的なミュージシャン集団なのだろうと思います。一緒に育ってきた日々を思い起こしますか?



Q:例えば、「Coackroach King」や「Crystallised」の中間部など、あなたが書くアカペラのセクションがありますが、いつ入れるか、アレンジにどれくらい時間がかかるか、どうやって決めるのですか?

RJ:本当にその曲次第だね。「Coackroach King」では、ある種のジェントル・ジャイアントとの関連を匂わせるつもりで意図的に臨んだ。もちろん、スポック・ビアードがそのようなことをやっていたことはよく知っていたし、ニール・モースのレコードもそのようなスタイルだけど、メタルの文脈に含めることができる自分たちのものを作りたかったんだ。「Crystallised」にも同じことが言えると思うけど、こういうことにルールはない。書いている時に感じ取るしかないんだ。何かを試してみて、うまくいくならうまくいくし、うまくいかないならうまくいかない。たまたま、そのような場合には、僕たちは実験に取り組み、それが功を奏した。パーツをきちんと組み立てること、特にリハーサルには時間がかかる。全員が自分のパートを的確にこなすには、ね。それを成功させるのはとても楽しいことなんだよ。





Q:因みに、私の友人であるレイヴンのジョン・ギャラガーに「Cockroach King」を送ったところ、彼はあなたのことを『現代のギルバート&サリバン』だと評しましたよ。











RJ:二人の幼児の父親なので、睡眠不足だし、髭もしばらく剃らない(笑)。僕は音楽に夢中で、作曲もするし、ファンとして聴くこともある。- 僕はさまざまなスタイルの音楽のファンなんだ。



RJ:まず、君はしばらくそこにいることになるよ。CDは6000枚以上あって、生活スペースを占領しているから(笑)。何が君を驚かせるかな?僕が聴くとは思わないようなポップミュージックもたくさんあるよ。たくさん聴いているわけではないけど、フォローはしている。例えば、イギリスには『Now That's What I Call Music』というコンピレーションがあって、ポップミュージックの時代を追った傾向の作品があるんだ。僕はずっとそれを収集してて、今は117枚あるよ。僕はポップカルチャーを追いかけるのが好きなんだ。トレンドに耳を傾けるのは好きだし、必ずしも全部が好きというわけではないけれど、興味はある。



RJ:ああ、でもバンドで一番本を読むのは僕じゃないんだ; リチャードは大のSFマニアなんだ。読書に関しては、音楽か映画関連の人の自伝を読むことに情熱を注いでいる。ゲディ・リーの本を読み終えたところだ。最近は読むのに時間がかかるんだ。



RJ:重ねて言うけど、今は子供がいるから、何かを観る時間を見つけるのが難しいんだ。映画館で『Poor Things』を観たんだ。すべての賞を総なめにしているし、本当に素晴らしかった。実験的な映画がまだ作られていて、メインストリームでヒットしているのを見るのはいいことだよ。監督はヨルゴス・ランティモスで、『The Favourite(女王陛下のお気に入り)』や『Lobster』の製作総指揮者だけど、実に楽しく前衛的な作品だった。


Q: 『Lobster』が大好きだったので、『必見』リストに加えますよ。とても常軌を逸していましたね。

RJ:ああ。常軌を逸していることが彼のスタイルのテーマなんだ。でも、一般的に僕の好みはかなり主流なものだよ。僕の気に入りの一つは『The Trueman show』だ。『ロード・オブ・ザ・リング』3部作、『Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (ラスベガスをやっつけろ)』、テリー・ギリアンの映画もそうだし、10代の頃に見たスピルバーグの映画もそうだし、数年前に公開された『The Fablemans(フェイブルマンズ)』など、彼は今でも僕に感動を与え続けている。


Q: ロス、インタビューに答えてくれてありがとう。


Ross Jennings 2024.jpeg
Anchor 1

Photo by Jake Ten

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