Michael Carney Canadian beardsmen the Sheepdogs are riding high again. Their…
- Posted on Sep 5th 2012 1:30PM by Lonny Knapp
"He was asking about the next record and he seemed genuinely interested, so we asked him to produce it," Sheepdogs frontman Ewan Currie tells Spinner.
The Sheepdogs met Carney last year, when the retro rockers played Petty Fest, a Tom Petty tribute held annually in New York.
Carney is a fan of The Sheepdogs, and he offered the young band a few suggestion for their next album.
"He seemed strangely passionate about it," Currie says.
Still, he didn't agree to produce the album immediately, but after a few weeks of ping-ponging text messages, he gave in.
Clearing a two-week window in his busy schedule, Carney invited The Sheepdogs, who hail from the prairie town of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to Nashville Tennessee's Haptown studio. There the band cut the entire self-titled album in a marathon 14-day recording session.
Currie says having Carney at the helm helped the band stay focused.
"He's an informed guy, and he knows what's tasty and what's cheesy," he says. "I know that's a lame way to put it, but it's that simple. He helped us hone in on the songs and stopped us when we veered off in the wrong direction."
While Carney didn't contribute to the songwriting, his influence is undeniable.
The catchy-lead off single "The Way it Is" with its syncopated guitar lick, driving drums, and howling refrain might be mistaken for a Black Keys outtake.
It wouldn't be the first time that The Sheepdogs have shouldered comparison to another band.
Critics point out the band's sonic similarities to The Guess Who, the classic rockers responsible for staples such as "These Eyes" and "American Woman."
These things are unavoidable in rock 'n' roll and Currie doesn't let these comparisons bother him.
"It's never a conscious decision to make a track that sounds like the Guess Who or the Black Keys. It's a natural thing, and I think about it like this -- you emulate your idols, you fall short, and that's what your music sounds like," he says with a grin.
So, if The Sheepdogs learned a trick or two from The Black Keys, they ought to thank The White Stripes, and anyone that plays rock guitar should stop what they're doing right now and buy Chuck Berry a drink.
One year ago, The Sheepdogs won a Rolling Stone competition to become the first unsigned act to grace the storied rock rag's cover. That win transformed the hard-working bar band into bona fide Canadian rock stars pretty much overnight.
Recently, The Sheepdogs picked up three 2012 Juno Awards -- the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy -- and received a gold record award for their self-funded disc Learn & Burn.
In America, however, they cast a smaller shadow.
With the release of their major label debut, The Sheepdogs hope to connect with audiences in the US and beyond. Having Carney on board will open a few doors, and the band will get better acquainted with American audiences this fall when it embarks on its first headlining tour of the U.S.A.
This disc is the band's fourth full-length release, but the first released outside Canada. So in some ways, the band is starting from scratch, and Currie says that's why they called it, simply, The Sheepdogs.
"I know, it's not wildly creative," he says. "But at the end of the day, this is our introduction to all those places outside Canada."
Hello world, meet The Sheepdogs.