Heritage Hump Day: Haggis, "Turpentine"

The early '00s were a rough time for band photos and names. Just look at this picture of Haggis.
The early '00s were a rough time for band photos and names. Just look at this picture of Haggis.
Courtesy of Haggis

Every Wednesday is Heritage Hump Day! That's because every Wednesday from now to the end of the year or before someone really big stops us, Heritage Hump Records (a temporary subsidiary of Onus Records) and New Times will be bringing you a limited edition collector's item of a much beloved Phoenix band that walked the scorched earth of Arizona before the year 2000 A.D. We will honor that band with a commemorative digital single that you, the digital public, will have only seven days to download to your computers and smart phones before this single gets marked up to an exorbitant price as determined by the mp3 collector community. When that happens, a new Heritage Hump subject will be chosen and the free-for-a-limited-time-only cycle begins anew.

This week we turn our attention to the practical rockers and journeyman jokers known as Haggis.

See also: 25 Best Super Bowl Week Parties

Song: "Turpentine," recorded in 2002, written by Brian Talenti for Ill Gotten Booty Music, ASCAP

Heritage Hump Day: Haggis, "Turpentine"
Courtesy of Onus Records

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Haggis personnel: Brian Talenti - vocals & rhythm guitar Tony Burns - lead & rhythm guitar, backing vocals Moon - bass Jack Obregon - drums

By the time this 2002 feature on Haggis titled "Bhagavad Guitars" appeared, the band had accrued two Best Modern Pop Band honors at the New Times Music Showcase and had just released their third and last album, Karma Suits Ya!, from which this week's Heritage Hump single "Turpentine," hails from. I'll never forget the CD release party Haggis held at some English pub in Arcadia, at which they served actual haggis to their guests with no fear of alienating them.

In describing the band's humor factor, which made their shows so much fun to be at, I wrote:

"The band makes more overt gestures to jocularity in its stage patter, choice of album titles, its trademark mannequin head totem pole (which doubles as a mike stand) and its traditional Halloween shows, when the boys get in touch with the inner tramp and perform as Draggis. None of this stops either your local yokel or Ph.D. from pounding back MGDs at the bar and yelling out after every song.

"I know they get the rock end of it. I don't know if they get the humor," says Talenti. . . .Largely, the Haggis name and the Piper Downs EP were derived from So I Married an Axe Murderer, Mike Myers. The wearing of the tartan and the shaggy mane on some of the mannequins has led others to believe Haggis is some secret Bay City Rollers preservation society.

Until writing the article, I'd always thought the totem heads were some sort of Braveheart affectation but the fact that singer-songwriter Brian Talenti just came into a lot of dummyheads from a beautician friend and didn't know what to do with them works just as well.

Since 2006, Talenti has split his time between San Diego and Austin with his job being his main focus. He still loves writing and recording songs in his home studio, though, and he released a solo album in 2010 which features the song "Falling," which was licensed by Showtime for use in an episode of Shameless," season three.

The haggis table at the Haggis release show
The haggis table at the Haggis release show

Remembering back to this track, nothing specific about that track rings a bell for Talenti except "fond memories of recording with this band. We recorded each of the three discs we released at home. Our first CD, What's Up Haircut, was recorded and mixed in two days at Tony's house on Ash. We had no big agenda for that session and had a blast. The tracks were raw and a bit muddy, but the disc was exactly what we needed to get us going. The process got more involved with each release as we tried to improve on the sonics. "Turpentine" was featured on our second release Piper Down and then re-recorded for our final disc Karma Suits Ya!. While the recording quality got better on each disc, I'll always remember our first session as being the most fun. There's a lesson to be learned there for sure."

Drummer Jack Obregon, who plays in Saints of Van Buren these days and is the timekeeper for this latter version of "Turpentine," says the song "in the most bittersweet of ways, tugged at my '80s-kid heart strings. I've always been a sucker for that mixture of melancholy and bratty, with a generous helping of fuck you attitude."

Saints of Van Buren will be playing at Lost Leaf, Friday, February 13.

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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