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Enter the Haggis


“It all began at a studio in Cornwall, Ontario, where we spent a week in preproduction,” explains Enter the Haggis’ Mark Abraham. “We worked out which songs to record, wrote arrangements, then spent another week there laying down the drums, bass, and some guitar.”

After the initial work on the song’s foundations, the recording process for the Canadian Celtic/folk-rockers’ newest album, Whitelake, moved to a cottage on the shore of – where else? – White Lake, a serene locale about an hour outside of Ottawa, Ontario.

“Over the course of three weeks, almost everything else was recorded, with the exception of cello, which was recorded in Toronto, and some extra vocals that were tracked in Maine,” Abraham says.

But it was White Lake that was the setting for a band moment that would’ve perhaps been a better suspense movie than anything to do with a record album.

“One of the nights at the cottage on White Lake, after finishing recording vocals for the song “The Flood,” my bandmate Brian (Buchanan) decided to take a canoe out on to the lake to finish up writing some other lyrics.  Being the seasoned pro canoeist that he is, he neglected to take along a life jacket,” Abraham recollects.

“I should point out that this was mid-April, and the ice had only disappeared from the lake a couple days earlier. While out in the middle of the lake he somehow managed to flip the canoe. Fully clothed and in water just above the freezing point, he somehow was able to drag himself and the canoe to shore – the opposite shore from where the cottage was. Dripping wet and in freezing temperatures, he hiked the two miles through the woods and around the lake and dragged himself into the cottage.”

Whew.

“Needless to say, he didn’t drown and is still with us,” Abraham chuckles, “and that’s the ‘Brian almost died during the recording of Whitelake‘ story.”

Fortunately, the recording sessions themselves were a little less fraught with potential danger. Engineered by the band’s own touring mix engineer, Glenn Forrester, the bulk of the production duties were shared between Forrester and the band, who put themselves at the helm – something they hadn’t done before. But they quickly found that no life jacket was needed.

“This is the first recording that we’ve produced on our own and the experience was great,” Abraham explains. “Having the time to really get inside the songs, experiment with different sounds and hash out ideas is what enabled us to create this album.”

Many of those ideas are darker and moodier than previous Enter the Haggis sets, and also take a step or two slightly away from the band’s Celtic rock roots. You’ll still hear their trademark harmonies and fiddles, but there are less jigs and bagpipes and more vocally-focused songs than before – “Let Me Go” is the most Haggis-sounding track, but their cover of Stan Rogers’ “White Squall” is far more diverse, and the psychedelic-folk-rock of “The Basket or the Blade.”

Fortunately, Haggis’ fans appreciate and actually embrace their growth as musicians.

“The reception to Whitelake by our fans has been amazing,” Abraham says, “this new album is a bit of a stretch – not so much a departure – from previous recordings.  But the great thing about our fans is that they expect us to diversify and take risks.  This gave us the confidence and freedom to really treat the songs on the record how we felt they needed to be treated and not try to fit them into any specific mold or style.” – Kristi Kates

Find out more about Enter the Haggis at their official website.