Gutter a good place for Haggis
It's no surprise that this reporter had to conduct his interview with Enter the Haggis on the road. With hundreds of gigs each year that include headlining spots at some of the nation’s largest Irish and Celtic festivals, the road is their home.
As the tour van rambles through Grand Rapids, singer Brian Buchanan is clearly excited to talk about their new album, "Gutter Anthems."
“We’re in the honeymoon phase where the songs are still fresh to play, which is great,” he says. “Our fans are fantastic and are responding to the material very well. They allow us to experiment, and they don’t really freak out after we try to do something for us.”
For anyone new to the Enter the Haggis scene, prepared to be overwhelmed by a relentless assault of inventive power chord progressions, bagpipes that sound like screams from hell, and thunderous drumming. This is easily one of the greatest Celtic rock bands working the circuit today, and they have deftly captured their live magic in the grooves of "Gutter Anthems."
“The gutter is the place where we make our stand/and with a smile on my face and a bottle in my hand/you’ll find me in the gutter in the morning,” they shout on the boozy anthem “The Litter and the Leaves.”
You can tell these rockers are from the Great White North. You can hear elements of great Canadian bands like the prog rock chord sequences of Rush and the sunny harmonies of Great Big Sea in these fresh melodies.
The band draws favorable comparisons to Horslips on the foot stomping “Did You Call Me Albatross” instrumental, with fine fiddling trills bopping around echoed rock drum beats. The strings and bagpipes in modern rock instrumentals like the furious “Murphy’s Ashes” make for a Scotch-Irish vibe that makes the songs on "Gutter Anthems" a winner.
They keep the traditional Irish musical storytelling alive on tracks like “The Death of Johnny Mooring,” a song about a famous Canadian fiddler that met an untimely death after an altercation outside of a bar. “On a day like any other day/pavement turning red/Johnny laid down in an alleyway/died with a song in his head,” sings Buchanan.
“The bagpipes are a bigger part of the arrangement and we were definitely influenced by more traditional Irish and Scottish folk music,” he says of the song. “We are telling stories, which is exactly what Celtic music is all about. It is a huge part of folk tradition: passing stories on.”
You are likely to found plenty of garbage in the gutter, but there is not a bad song on "Gutter Anthems." I spoke with Buchanan about life on the road, recovering from throat surgery and how the economy is impacting their road party. Here’s how it went:
I read about your throat surgery online. You sound okay. Are you feeling well, and how did this affect the recording process?
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