On Monday, their lives would forever change when they won a contest that landed them on the highly sought-after cover of a little magazine called Rolling Stone. They beat out 15 other contenders for a recording contract with the legendary Atlantic Records and bragging rights as the first unsigned band (and one of the shaggiest in recent memory) to grace the same space as rock luminaries like John Lennon, Neil Young and Bob Dylan.
Featuring Ewan Currie on lead vocals and guitar, Leot Hanson on guitar, Ryan Gullen on bass and Sam Corbett on drums, the Sheepdogs bonded over a love of good music with real soul and swagger. With diverse influences ranging from Sly and the Family Stone to Sloan, these Saskatoon boys have been playing together for about six years, starting off as so many other bands do, by jamming and playing shows in one of the member’s parents’ basement.
Since then, they’ve toured across the continent many times and released four independent albums including 2010’s Learn & Burn, developing and perfecting the boogie rock revival vibe. In the wake of the Rolling Stone victory, their latest EP has shot to the top of the iTunes chart in Canada. After years of being told their sound wasn’t marketable, their persistence and hard work finally paid off and they couldn’t be happier.
Not only are they talented musicians, their sense of humour is also apparent in their off-the-cuff interviews guided by their down-home Saskatchewan charm. They made a faux attack ad during the Rolling Stone voting, where they attempt to use their beards as leverage in bring on the counterculture magazine’s cover, pointing out that fellow contestant Leila Broussard couldn’t even grow a beard if she tried.
Their Twitter feed currently features a picture tagged “Last thing before leaving Montreal” that contains a photo of a smoked meat poutine. So yes, not only do they know how to rock out, they also know how to eat!
The Sheepdogs insist they won’t let this new-found fame go to their heads. They intend on remaining humble and staying true to the roots that won them so many fans in the first place. As Currie recently told me, first and foremost he makes music for himself that he enjoys. Up next for the boys is an opening slot with fellow Southern and bluesy rockers Kings of Leon on the Canadian leg of their autumn tour, then they’ll head back to the studio to record their major label debut.
Here’s my exclusive interview with Currie just after their Sunday afternoon set at Osheaga:
Photo and Video by Chris Zacchia
For more Photos of the Sheepdogs check out ForgetTheBox on Facebook