Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Enter the Haggis

Whitelake4Enter the Haggis has embarked upon a modest revolution.

Such is the title of their latest fan fundraising campaign. It’s the second time the Canadian folk-rockers have solicited funding from fans, a continued departure from their more traditional label-backed financing in years past.

For its latest album, 2011’s Whitelake, the band took to the web and asked supporters to chip in so they could put out an album. Through selling sponsorship packages with perks from the conventional (advance copies of the album) to the downright peculiar (giving one fan the opportunity to pick the tattoo and get matching ink with a member of the band), the band raised $40,000.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do Whitelake without it,” ETH bassist and singer Mark Abraham said. “Our fans really rallied behind us and what we were going for, being independent. They helped us make it happen.”

They’ve been making good on their package promises from the Whitelake fundraiser at tour stops around the globe in the months that have followed that first campaign, and in July they launched a second campaign to drum up funds for their next album. This time, the band signed up with Kickstarter, a global web platform designed to help those with creative projects find funding, and brought their album funding campaign to an even wider audience.

They sought $20,000, but anticipated that it would cost $40,000 to make the record. They hit $20,000 twelve hours after launching their “Modest Revolution” Kickstarter campaign. In about a week, they had the full $40,000 they needed to make the album. Two months and 900 backers later, the campaign ended and Enter the Haggis had made more than $65,000.

Abraham attributes the outpouring of financial support to the strength of the ETH fan base and the more-friend-than-fan relationship the band members foster with listeners. Sticking around to chat with audience members after a show or grabbing brunch after a festival gig is common for the band, Abraham says, and they even coordinate “fan trips” to various tour locales – in April, the band invited its “Haggis Heads” to join them on a tour of Ireland.

Fond fan feelings aside, Abraham says the concept behind this ever-experimenting band’s upcoming album has also piqued the kind of interest that makes backers want to see it come to fruition.

The entire album will draw its inspiration from the March 30, 2012 edition of Toronto’s The Globe and Mail newspaper. The band bought copies of that day’s paper, and began poring through its contents. Not only stories, but advertisements, obituaries, and anything that found its way onto the newsprint that day is up for ETH interpretation, to be incorporated into the eclectic world-music stylings of the band.

Songs are now taking shape, and the band is still flipping through the pages of the paper waiting for inspiration to take hold. Stories on the phasing out of the Canadian penny and the life and death of a famed bluegrass musician may yet become the stuff of lyrics and melodies, but already – and fittingly – one striking headline has impacted the coming album.

“Harper’s Modest Revolution” was the lead story that day, an account of the Canadian federal budget under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. That meaning-laden phrase, “modest revolution,” became the name of the album fundraising campaign. It may well be, Abraham says, the name of the forthcoming album. And in a strangely serendipitous way, it’s the perfect phrase to describe a band’s exploration of a brand new way of getting their music out to the masses.

• Enter the Haggis will perform at The Birchmere Friday at 7:30 p.m. For more information about Enter the Haggis, visit