Canada’s finest Celtic music export, Enter the Haggis, will return to the Putnam Den this Saturday, December 9, with Albany’s Black Mountain Symphony kicking the night off. Haggis Heads will unite for an energetic night of Celtic rock as part of the group’s “Broken Arms” Tour. Trevor Lewington (guitar, mandolin, keyboard, vocals for Enter the Haggis) spoke with NYS Music this week to discuss their New York fans, the Irish connection found at shows around the state, and how their studio work remains fresh after more than 20 years.
Pete Mason: Given New York’s large Irish community spread out around the state, do you find the crowds to be different when you play in New York, or are Haggis Heads a universal fanbase?
Trevor Lewington: There’s a strong connection between the US and Ireland so just about anywhere you go in this country you’ll find people with Irish roots. That said, obviously New York has one of the largest expat Irish populations so when you play in a band with pipes and fiddle, there’s big support. Our music also blurs the lines between a number of styles and many Haggis Heads across the country have little or no connection to Ireland, which is cool too. There really is something about Irish and Celtic music in general that draws the listener in and tends to get people dancing and having a good time.
PM: How was your recent show at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse? And you’ve got shows in February in Buffalo and Rochester coming up?
TL: We’ve definitely been busy recently! Besides the Upstate shows, the last couple months have taken us to California, Texas and Ireland. The Westcott show was awesome as usual – we play a wide range of venues from seated theaters to standing rock clubs and the Westcott (and Putnam Den) are two of the most rockin’.
PM: How do you feel your music has evolved over the past few years?
TL: We started as very much a Celtic/Irish Rock band and over about 10 albums have gone in all sorts of directions. Leading up to our last couple of releases we were getting further from the Celtic sound and then had a furious swing right back to our roots as a band. I think we needed a little time away from it to get excited about Celtic Rock again. We’ve also come to realize that for whatever reason this band plays Celtic Rock music in a very natural and authentic way – it helps having a Scottish piper and a fiddle player who grew up competing on the Canadian fiddle circuit.
PM: Given that 2012’s The Modest Revolution was written based on stories found in a 2012 edition of Toronto’s The Globe and Mail, and another album was written based on letters from fans, how does giving your albums themes keep the studio experience fresh?
TL: Not only did it keep things fresh but it was a great way to engage listeners. Plus, it’s usually our songs that are based on specific stories that seem to connect with our fans. That said, we’re embarking on a new record and this time I mostly just pulled lyrics from the depths of my heart and brain… and my liver… this is starting to sound a bit like haggis.