Brian Buchanan: Vocals, Fiddle, Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
Craig Downie: Vocals, Highland Bagpipes, Trumpet, Harmonica, Whistle,
Acoustic Guitar, Bells
Trevor Lewington: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Octave Mandolin, Keyboards
Mark Abraham: Bass Guitar, Vocals
Bruce McCarthy: Drums, Percussion
This interview happened in the middle of the Enter the Haggis tour. Anita Daly became our go between because she has direct contact with the band and it made the communication easier between us. I made a review of their new album in my past edition and the band was pleased hahaha. So it was Trevor Lewington who answered all these questions. Let us welcome them as our band of the week! Also check out the cool videos at the end of this interview.
Hi guys, my name is Baxter. I write for The Celtic Music Fan online magazine. I listened to your album in its entirety and have been meaning to conduct an interview with you since 2009. I am glad for this opportunity…. With the release of The Modest revolution, what do you think has changed in the musical aspect of the band?
Our last album, Whitelake, was recorded at a cottage and the overall vibe was pretty folky. We went down to a studio in Kentucky to record TMR and cranked the amps back up again. Songwriting remains our first priority but the arrangement approach was to bring the songs to new highs and lows dynamically-speaking. Brian (fiddle/keyboards) played basically ALL the electric guitar parts, which changed the sound of the band rather dramatically. Craig (bagpipes/harmonica) picked up the trumpet on our last album and his playing is really solid on this record.
What are the technical aspects you have learned in terms of recording and playing live?
The experience of recording a new album always challenges us in different ways. Thanks to the success of our kickstarter campaign, we had more time than usual in the studio such that we didn’t feel rushed and were able to experiment with unusual sounds, parts or arrangement ideas. Sometimes it worked out and sometimes not, which is the exciting thing about experimenting!
In terms of the technical aspects of live performance, I don’t think anyone learned more than Brian. He’s always been a gear head but now that he’s playing electric guitar live he’s done a lot of research to get the right tones for all the new songs. Craig has added electric bagpipes to the live mix, which frees us up to play songs in more keys (the traditional highland pipes have a very limited range.) The highland pipes are still his instrument of choice but it’s nice to have the option of electric pipes.
How’s the tour going so far?
Great! We had a crazy March run where we played some amazing venues, including a sold-out show at Turning Stone casino. We’re now in the middle of a Canadian run and will be heading over to Ireland soon. The new music really seems to be connecting with people, which makes performing It all the more enjoyable for us.
Why the title The Modest Revolution?
It’s a quote from the front page of the newspaper that inspired the album: “Harper’s Modest Revolution.” The gist of the article is that our prime minister is trying to sway Canada’s collective psyche to the right, but we’ve taken it to mean that “even a small gesture can be the beginning of positive change.”
What can you say about each of your band member in terms of being together through the years, playing and recording together?
Well it’s certainly been quite the ride. I feel like we’ve always just kept our heads down, writing the best songs we can and traveling around playing shows. Only recently have we noticed that we have an actual history! College kids are coming up to us and saying they started listening to us when they were kids. It makes us feel old until we realize that most if us were pretty young when we started making music together.
Personally, the longer we do this for, the more I appreciate the other guys in the band. Not only are they amazing musicians, but that there’s a respect for each other as people. Musically I think the growth as individuals and as an organism has been substantial. I feel like with this album we’ve only now come to understand what this band is – but don’t ask me what that is as I probably won’t have an answer.
What’s your marketing goal for the album now that it’s release?
Being an independent band, we don’t Have a “marketing department” as such. I think the idea is to connect with as many people as possible who might enjoy what we do. This isn’t dumbed down pop music so it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but that’s the way we like it. We’ve got an amazing group of dedicated fans and we feel like as long as we can make music that resonates with them they’ll want to share it with their friends. We’ve hired two publicists, a radio tracker and pay for online advertising but there’s no better advertising than getting up in front of a crowd and playing our asses off.
ETH has a kind of Celtic rock that is easily accessible. It is also radio friendly and universal. How are tracks conceived. What’s the science behind the songwriting?
Haha… Seriously? Celtic rock is about as radio-friendly as… well, bagpipes. Being radio-friendly definitely isn’t our intention, although there are so many great specialty online stations these days that any style of music can find a home. I could go on for hours about songwriting but suffice it to say that I try to remain a student of it. There’s so much incredible music out there so it’s important to keep listening to as much of it as possible. As a band I think we’ve learned how to take on the roll of a producer by focusing on the best parts of a potential song and losing the parts that distract from that.
Do you think you have reached the part in your musical career where you can breathe? For those aspiring Celtic rockers, what’s your top 5 list of things that they should remember when they want to make music as a career?
Can we breath? Absolutely not! I feel like we’re being chased by the Minotaur and are barely staying one corner ahead. We’re having a spark of success but with that comes the pressure to stoke the fire.
1.) don’t do it unless you must
2.) get regular servicing done on the van
3.) eat fresh vegetables
4.) book your hotels through Priceline
5.) don’t room with a band member who snores
Where can fans buy your albums?
Come to a show! Or get them through our website, iTunes, Amazon and just about anywhere else online.
What’s your marketing advise to all bands trying to court online and offline listeners?
Don’t call it marketing! Just try to connect with your fans as often as you can and don’t put out music just to put it out – make sure it’s something you’ll proudly play for your grand kids.
I hope that works! Thanks Baxter.
Ok there you go. I hope it gets to them, Trevor
AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE MARCH 30TH.
Thanks to Zach McNees for cutting this together, and Daniel Roher for some of the footage. 🙂
Welcome to our artist of the week edition featuring the band Enter the Haggis. For the whole week I will be putting updates in my Huzzah! column so that you will be informed about what’s going on with the band.
Now on a sad note I was shocked upon hearing the Boston Marathon explosion this Monday and the whole blogosphere mourns for the victims and their families. Actually I posted an essay on another site and I am glad to be able to talk about situations that belong to a particular venue and not just mix things up.
An Air For Boston – April 15, 2013
Here is a video that piper Patrick D’Arcy performed on the wake of the tragedy and I think this is very appropriate because Boston is one of the most Irish places in America. The Celtic Music Fan, being spiritually attached to Ireland mourns and condemns any violence inflicted upon the Irish and the rest of humanity.
My heart goes out to those affected by today’s bombings. May God help you all. This air came to me, The Wild Geese- Patrick D’Arcy
This is not just an American tragedy but a global one because people of all races were victims. And we are all human beings. We are not fighting people from another planet but our own kind. Very sad.