The magic of classic rock and roll is alive and well.
We had the pleasure of covering their recent Basement East show in Nashville, and we can certifiably say this Canadian powerhouse band delivers all the feels of good old fashioned rock and roll.
From the rollicking guitar riffs, gritty resonating vocals, and the bearded long-haired look to match, the quintet is a reminder you can still hear some quality, original rock and roll in 2022.
The group grew their roots in Saskatoon, emerging in 2010 when they found mainstream success with their third LP, Learn & Burn, that left them topping the Canadian charts. Comprised of Ewan Currie (vocals, guitar), Ricky Paquette (guitar), Ryan Gullen (bass), Sam Corbett (drums), and Shamus Currie (brass and keys), the group is an absolute powerhouse of impressive rock harmonies and musical excellence.
As the first unsigned group to score a cover page of Rolling Stone, they have accumulated an extensive fan base and played venues and festivals all over North America.
While in the thick of their jam-packed fall tour, Ewan took the time to chat with us about their new album, life on the road in 2022, and much more.
So how has 2022 treated The Sheepdogs?
It’s a year of getting back to work. We went to the UK in February, Europe in May/June. We put out a new record in June also. Now we’re in the middle of a massive Canadian/USA tour that goes all the way into the new year.
What has the band’s musical journey been like since its inception in 2004 through all the industry changes including things like the emergence of streaming, surviving the pandemic, etc.?
The industry keeps changing, and we try to learn and adapt with it. At the same time, sticking with what we do well: making records and playing live shows has really served us well. You can really get caught up in all the streamings and Tik Toks and forget that your job is mostly to create and perform music. I’m not saying we can totally ignore those avenues. We do try and service them, but first and foremost is the music.
Of course I know y’all are on the road right now. How has touring gone thus far in the “post-pandemic” landscape for you?
It’s relatively back to normal. Still a few masks, maybe some folks are hesitating to come out and be part of a crowd. But overwhelmingly the reaction is one of “it’s good to be back.” It’s clear that concert goers have really missed going to shows, and Lord knows we have also.
So as you mentioned, you dropped your newest album, Outta Sight, this summer. Can you talk about the writing and recording process behind it? Any overarching themes or motifs?
The record is pretty straight forward. We were in very uncertain times with plans and rules changing all the time. Felt like the most sane thing we could do was go into the studio and just try cutting some songs. We set up in a circle and I started throwing ideas out there. Theme-wise we tried to avoid the trap of writing a “Pandemic Record” but naturally some of those vibes snuck in there.
How does Outta Sight compare to some of your previous projects like Changing Colours or Future Nostalgia?
I think it’s more concise and straight up rock n’ roll than our last album, Changing Colours. That album was sprawling, long, and took forever to make. This one we just banged out in about 15 studio days. It was liberating to put down the magnifying scope and just not overthink things. It’s rock n’ roll, not classical music.
Do you find determining the order of songs on an album like this to be a challenge, and how important is that to you?
A little bit. We play around with different orders and find what works. Usually there are some contenders for opening tracks and we often think about the 1-2-3 positions almost like a baseball manager setting their lineup.
Does the band have any pre-show rituals or things you do to prepare before a gig, or is it just business as usual at this point?
We are very low key. Drink a couple beers, maybe a shot of whiskey, usually listening to something on the blue tooth speaker to get into the mood. There’s usually a song of the moment that gets us pumped up to hit the stage. In the past it was Legend – Cross Country or Motherlode – When I Die. This tour it’s Climax Blues Band’s – Couldn’t Get It Right.
Are there any upcoming venues or tour dates that you are especially looking forward to? If so, why?
I’m looking forward to getting back to our hometown of Saskatoon, but also the West Coast swing of Seattle/Portland/SF. For whatever reason our music really resonates there.
What are one or two pinnacle moments for the band?
Quitting my job because we started to make money enough to do this full-time is my number one moment. We toured as the opener for John Fogerty in Australia, truly great because Fogerty is an idol of mine, and Australia was the country I was born in.
Are there any plans in place after tour ends, and what might fans expect for 2023?
At some point we will make a new record- we have to formulate the plan for that… or not. Winging it sure worked for this record. Sam and Shamus both have solo records coming up that I think people will really dig too. I’d like to make another solo record myself.
*Jordan Paterson contributed to this article.