Rocking out with The Sheepdogs

Saskatoon-based rock group hitting the road for cross-Canada tour with stop at Key City Theatre on Feb. 25.

The Sheepdogs are coming to Cranbrook on Feb. 25  to play a sold-out show at the Key City Theatre.

The Sheepdogs are coming to Cranbrook on Feb. 25 to play a sold-out show at the Key City Theatre.

By the early 1970s, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show had achieved some early commercial success in their musical career, however, they had yet to mark a rite of passage that most artists of the time experienced as they became more and more popular.

Taking a song written by Shel Silverstein in 1972, the group recorded a satirical song about the trials and tribulations that artists go through in order to get an opportunity to make it on the cover of the Rolling Stone Magazine.

The song was a smash hit and the band appeared on the cover of the magazine a year later.

While it wasn’t quite the same experience for The Sheepdogs, the Saskatoon-based band went through their own unique journey before appearing on The Rolling Stone cover in August 2011—the first unsigned band ever to make it on the front of the magazine.

Since then, it’s been a wild ride for Ewan Currie, Ryan Gullen and Sam Corbett, along with newcomers Rusty Matyas, Shamus Currie and Jimmy Bowskill, who are currently embarking on a cross-Canada tour with a stop in Cranbrook on Feb. 25 at the Key City Theatre.

Speaking from Regina, Gullen said the Rolling Stone experience, where they won an online voting campaign, was a watershed moment for the group, which had been playing and performing together for seven years beforehand.

“When we eventually won, it was a crazy, crazy time,” Gullen said. “Yeah, it was a very fast climb into the spotlight where we’re on the radio all of the sudden, we’re getting interview requests and playing big festivals and all those things.

“So the trajectory of our band changed incredibly fast in that regard, but the other side of it is once that Rolling Stone cover happened, from then on, it was like, ‘Okay, what do we do now?’”

They even kept their full-time jobs until a month after winning the Rolling Stone competition, until it became clear that they were being given an opportunity that they had to seize.

“To us, people always ask us, ‘How do you define success or what was the defining success moment? Was it the Rolling Stone thing?

“And I say: ‘Well, no, it was a whole bunch of things that the moment of success for us was that moment where we were like, we can quit our jobs and we can do this full time and this can be our gig.’

“That’s what our dream was, at that point, for seven plus years, but we had never had a viable option until those things started rolling, and five years later now, we’ve continued to do this, so it’s great.”

Everything that the band had produced beforehand was self released—from ‘Trying to Grow’, their debut album in 2007, to their following two records, The Sheepdogs’ Big Stand and Learn and Burn.

The latter, recorded in their house in Saskatoon and released in 2010, caught the wave of their Rolling Stone cover campaign and went platinum, selling 100,000 copies and captured three Juno Awards for the band, including Rock Album of the Year, Single of the Year for ‘I Don’t Know’ and New Group of the Year.

“That was five years ago now and the whole thing started on Valentine’s Day—five years ago Sunday—and literally, we have done nothing, essentially, but travel around, play rock ’n roll music and make new records,” continued Gullen.

“That’s what we do and it’s always what we’ve done previous, we’re just doing it on a much larger scale and doing it obviously to greater success where people are aware of our music, but there’s always room to grow, whether that’s growing as musicians and making new records or also growing our fanbase and doing those things in other countries.”

Throw on a Sheepdogs record and you can hear how they turn back time back to a bygone era of the late 1960s and early 1970s as they draw influences from some of the legendary pioneers of rock ’n roll.

With heavy guitar riffs and soaring melodies, both vocally and instrumentally, their versatility is on full display all the while drawing inspiration from groups such as Credence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and the Allman Brothers Band.

“Our music is very much of that era. When we started the band, what brought us together as friends and bandmates was our love of that type of music and that era of music is very much what we listen to and what hits us and affects and what gets us excited,” Gullen said.

“Everyone has their music that they get into and that was kind of unanimously what we we’re all into when we started the band years ago.”

However, while the Sheepdogs draw inspiration from the annals of rock ’n roll’s greatest, they also look to a wide range of influences to give them their own unique sound.

“We try to draw influences from not just a specific song or a specific artist, but to kind of look at things from a broader spectrum,” Gullen said. “Having just targeting one small specific era of music to emulate or to draw your influences from kind of pigeon-holes you a bit so we try to still make it original by bringing in other elements of other music.”

When it comes to the creative process, especially with their latest record— ‘Future Nostalgia’ —Ewan Currie—or other band members for that matter—could have anything from an idea to a guitar riff or melody to a fully demo’d song.

From there, things could change significantly, or not, in jam settings.

“You bring it to the band and try it out and we put our own flavour to it and things might evolve or  oftentimes it’ll be exactly the same,” Gullen said.

“It kind of goes from there, once it comes to the band and we start playing it together, it’ll oftentimes evolve into a slightly different song or other times it might be very similar to what the original idea was and that’s kind of how we’ve always done things.”

After skyrocketing to fame following the Rolling Stone cover contest, the Sheepdogs released a self-titled album, which was produced by Patrick Carney of the Black Keys and nominated for Rock Album of the Year at the 2013 Juno Awards.

Their latest— ’Future Nostalgia’ — was recorded out at a cottage in Stoney Lake in Ontario and released under Warner Canada in Oct. 2015. After recording in their home in Saskatoon and self-releasing previous records, to getting label support with their self-titled album, ‘Future Nostalgia’ was a chance to marry both experiences, said Gullen.

“Part of the reason we ended up recording at a cottage is because we wanted to get away from some of the people that we work with—nothing wrong with them—but just kind of get away and remove that influence and make what we felt was a very Sheepdogs record and do that in a way that we’re kind of left to our own vices,” Gullen said.

“…Our previous record before the self-titled—‘Learn and Burn’—which we released independently and sold a lot of copies, it was recorded in our house in Saskatoon on our own because we had no money and no resources to actually record in a studio, so we kind of wanted to do something like that, but have a little more opportunity and money and a label and things like that, so our hope was to make something like that, but make the production better.”

The Sheepdogs will be performing at the Key City Theatre on Feb. 25. with showtime at 7:30 p.m. Hope you got your tickets, because the concert has been sold out.

 

 

Just Posted

Kurt Swanson’s dog Kona takes a break from the heat on the Summer Solstice near Cranbrook, B.C. (Kurt Swanson photo)
Very warm temperatures forecast across the Kootenays this weekend

Nelson, Castlegar forecast to hit 39, Cranbrook 37

The view from the Eager Hill lookout in the Cranbrook Community Forest. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
New ‘Padawan’ trail at Eager Hill now open and ready for use

The 5km green flow trail is suitable for all ages

The City of Cranbrook and the Ktunaxa Nation raised the flag of the Ktunaxa Nation at the arches entrance into the city’s downtown core during a ceremony on Monday, June 21. Photo courtesy City of Cranbrook.
Ktunaxa Nation flag raised at downtown arches entrance

The Ktunaxa Nation flag was raised at the Cranbrook arches — the… Continue reading

Kimberley Search and Rescue were able to quickly respond to a call for service and transport an injured mountain biker to East Kootenay Regional Hospital over the weekend. Kimberley SAR file photo.
Kimberley Search and Rescue respond to injured mountain biker on Bootleg Mountain

Kimberley Search and Rescue responded to a call for service this past… Continue reading

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Pictured is Mrs. O and her grade 4/5 class at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Cranbrook. Mrs. O challenged her class to read 36,000 pages in May and they far surpassed that goal. The students were then allowed to choose her fate. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
WATCH: St. Mary’s Catholic School grade 4/5 class wins reading challenge

Teacher lets students choose fate after reading over 47,000 pages in one month

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pilots say no reason to continue quarantines for vaccinated international travellers

Prime minister says Canada still trying to limit number of incoming tourists

Six United Way chapters around the province are merging into United Way B.C. (News Bulletin file photo)
6 United Way chapters merging around B.C.

Money raised in communities will stay in those communities, agency says

Val Litwin is the latest candidate to declare his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership. (Litwin campaign video)
Political newcomer joins contest for B.C. Liberal leadership

Val Litwin a former B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

Left to right: Doug Ford, Jason Kenney, Brian Pallister (photos via Wikipedia)
Pollster paints a perilous premier picture

As we know, our friends at Angus Reid Polling like to take… Continue reading

The Groundhog (Marmota monax): Day after day, over and over, we ask ourselves the same question: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? (photo courtesy Wikipedia)
Why we’re using “Groundhog Day” incorrectly as a metaphor

“Groundhog Day:” Not just for February 2, but every day

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Most Read