Michael Carney Canadian beardsmen the Sheepdogs are riding high again. Their…
- Posted on Feb 28th 2011 4:00PM by Jenny Charlesworth
Courtesy of Rolling Stone
Not that the classic rock-inspired quartet hasn't pushed it to the limit since joining forces in their hometown of Saskatoon, SK., back in 2006. But seeing their mugs splashed across a magazine cover typically reserved for rock'n'roll elite wasn't part of the master plan (at least not yet).
Spinner tracked down singer-guitarist Ewan Currie to learn more about these potential poster boys and discovered that being from the "middle of nowhere" has its career advantages, as does breaking up with your girlfriend.
How does it feel knowing the Sheepdogs could land on the cover of Rolling Stone?
It feels pretty damn good; we're pretty excited about it. Whether we win or not, it's a lot of good publicity for us.
I used to take Rolling Stone out of the library, and then I had a subscription for a long time, and then I got out of it. But, obviously, now I'm back. I was always a sucker for the issues that had the lists, like the greatest albums or songs or blah blah. I always grew up loving lists of any kind. I am a sucker for lists.
You're the only Canadian band in the running, do you feel like you need to represent your country?
I don't think there's a feeling of needing to because it's just about music and about being a band. But at the same time, I don't mind representing Canada. We are the only Canadian band, which means a lot of Canadians might get behind us. And we're a Canadian band through and through, you know, we've drove across the country time and time again.
What is Saskatoon like? Is it a musical city?
Saskatoon is a small prairie city that is very modest in size but it's got a lot of character. It's a beautiful city. It's freezing cold, but people here call it the Paris of the Prairies, which is kind of silly. But there's a lot of music and a lot of people that love art here, although it has the reputation of being in the middle the country, in the middle of nowhere, just flat land. It's to the north of North Dakota and Montana so it's probably a lot like the Midwest of the United States, as well.
Do you think there's something about where you're from that has contributed to the band coming together or perhaps your sound?
We've never felt like we've been caught up in a scene that defined our sound, maybe some of the isolation helped with that. We were free to just follow the sounds that we naturally gravitated towards. So there was just the records and music we listened to that dictated what we became instead of maybe playing in some city where there was an established punk scene or metal scene or whatever.
I know that one thing that we couldn't do in a bigger city is just the ease of getting around and being able to practice in the basement. If we were living in Toronto or New York City it wouldn't be like that.
Can you describe your latest record 'Learn and Burn'?
If you really had to fixate on an era, I'd say we love the late '60s, early '70s stuff -- I think we're pretty reminiscent of that. Just a lot of the rock groups, especially the ones that had elements of blues and soul in them: the Allman Brothers, the Rolling Stones, of course, the Kinks. Music that has harmony and nice instrumental work, kind of all those elements that were really important back then. Oh, another group, the Band, another great four-fifths Canadian group. Melody, rhythm, groove and harmony -- those are the things we love.
How did the Sheepdogs form?
It kind of came out of there being a vacuum in our lives. I know that three of us -- who were the initial founders -- some of us were in school, some of us weren't, there were some break-ups going on, and losing jobs. We were all just in this situation where we wanted to try something new.
We were all super serious about starting a band; we're all big music fans. And even though we had no experience -- I had barely played guitar and the other guys were playing bass and drums the first time -- we just had this really committed attitude. The first month we practiced every single day, even when just two guys were available. And I think the crazy commitment we had from the get-go, I think that's the reason we are where we are six-and-a-half years later.
While you've obviously worked hard, some might consider being selected for this contest rather fortuitous. Do you guys generally have lady luck on your side?
Considering we were once joking about making our album cover be a cartoon depiction of us riding in our van with a black storm cloud and lightning striking the van, no, we're not lucky.
We certainly have had some luck, especially with this competition, but we've had our van's windows smashed out three times within six months, and we're on our third van now -- there's been lots of van troubles. We've even showed up in town before to play a gig, and we get to the bar and the doors are shut and nobody is around, and we have no idea what happened. We've definitely had our share of lumps, but that's how it goes.
Check out the Sheepdogs' music at RollingStone.com and take a look at the other nominated bands. You can vote for the Sheepdogs below.