Haken have built a solid reputation as one of progressive metal's rising stars over the past decade, but arriving at their sound didn't happen overnight. In this edition of Loudwire's Gear Factor, multi-instrumentalist Rich Henshall takes us through his history with the guitar, playing some of the riffs that shaped his playing while digging into some of his favorite Haken guitar moments.

The guitarist starts with a classic from Pink Floyd, citing "Wish You Were Here" as one of the first songs he ever fell in love with. "It’s one of my favorite songs still to this day. It’s largely down to my dad really as he was a huge Pink Floyd fan. He would pretty much listen to Pink Floyd exclusively in the house so I had no choice but to be a fan," says the guitarist, then playing a bit of the familiar guitar part of the song. He also cites Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" as one of the first riffs he learned.

Henshall also found an early love for guitar great Jimi Hendrix. "He had a massive impact on me as a guitarist. When I first heard him, I was just knocked right back. There was a roughness and a rawness in his playing. It was amazing. I just loved the way he could fuse this raunchy blues style with rock so seamlessly. Nobody else was really doing that at that time, so I loved it.” Henshall then shares a bit of "Hey Joe."

As a musician, the multi-instrumentalist says he was more self-taught, working his way through VHS and DVD footage watching his favorite musicians play and trying to pick it up. "I just took what I could from these various sources and developed it into my own style,” says the guitarist, also detailing some of the struggles he had picking up the bending technique while adding vibrato.

Other influences of note include Paul Gilbert, Joe Satriani, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine and Metallica, with the latter being described as his "stepping stone" to the music he'd gravitate toward. He also shares high praise for Tom Morello's playing stating, “Just incredible funky stuff, and Tom Morello is just an incredibly player with a good ear for groove, but also just crazy sounds. There’s no one who can create patches like Tom Morello.”

But a big shift for Henshall was when a friend talked up Dream Theater, convincing him to buy an album and check them out. “I went to my local record store and bought Awake. I gave Ross, the Haken singer, a call and Matthew Marshall, who was the original Haken guitarist, and was like, ‘Guys, you’ve gotta come over. I’ve got this insane album and we’ve got to listen to it.’ We sat in my bedroom and listened to it from start to finish and we were just looking at each other through the whole album like this can’t be real," says the guitarist. "It was one of those watershed moments that showed us what could really be achieved in a band setting and it really spurred us on to form Haken, so we owe them quite a bit.” He then serves up some of "Erotomania" from Dream Theater.

Digging into the band's own catalog, he performs "Falling Back to Earth" from the Mountain album. “It’s a real fun one to play live because it literally comes out of nowhere in the first riff or first part of that song," says the guitarist. "We have a click in our ears so we know where it’s coming, but the crowd don’t know where it’s coming so it’s kind of a smack in the face to the crowd.”

He also pulls out a mid section from the song "Aquarium" as a favorite and teases a riff from their latest album Virus showcasing some nods to Tool and Karnivool.

Check out the full Gear Factor episode featuring Haken's Rich Henshall in the player below and be sure to check out the latest Haken album, Virus, available here.

Haken's Rich Henshall Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

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