By Chris Illich
After the release of their fifth album, Future Nostalgia on October 2, 2015, The Sheepdogs are getting ready to head back on tour,with a stop in St. Catharines. I had the chance to chat with the lead singer and guitarist Ewan Currie on the phone.
So to kind of get things going, I remember one time when you were supposed to come play in St. Catharines but had to cancel that show because of everything that was going on with the Cover of the Rolling Stone contest. That must have been a whirlwind of a time going through all that. What was that like?
It was a huge platform for us to get some publicity and get our name out, because that’s the toughest thing. How do you make people aware of your band whether it’s a band or a product or your business or a movie or a website. It’s all about getting people to know about you and then hopefully they like what you’re doing. It was a massive shot in the arm for us, but we’re just trying to keep our own. I guess it was four or five years ago now and it was a huge help for us.
And since then you’ve been busy touring, you released your self titled record in 2012, then near the end of last year you released Future Nostalgia. I saw that you recorded that in Stony Lake. Did you want to add that romantic notion of recording a record in a cabin in the woods?
I guess it was kind of a two-fold inspiration: One, we were sick of being around a lot of people all the time. There’s always constant distractions and all that kind of stuff, so we decided to do it somewhere isolated, quiet and peaceful – which it absolutely was. Two, we love classic era rock ‘n’ roll. Look at Led Zeppelin IV, they recorded it in Jimmy Page’s crazy-ass house in the country. For Rolling Stone’s Exile on Main Street they went and got a house in the French Riviera and just set up gear. The Band made Music From the Big Pink in a house in upstate New York. We just thought that these were all such great stories and that it seemed like a good way to do it because there are no parties, there are no women and there is no commuting. We were all right there and we focused on that all-day everyday.
One of the really fascinating things for me when listening to Future Nostalgia were the song titles “Jim Sullivan” and “Jim Gordon”. I immediately looked them up, and then there’s “Darryl & Dwight” about Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Goodman – was there a conscious decision to write about these lost heroes, maybe to give them another voice?
I like the idea that people will think ‘who is this guy?’ and then they’ll Google them and find out about them. I do like that aspect. One interviewer asked me why I wrote about so many guys and not about girls, so that was kind of a funny way to look at it. These are people that I find interesting and maybe I haven’t seen written up in song before and I don’t think it was a conscious decision to shed light on them, but maybe the “Daryl & Dwight” song was, because I always thought that they were sympathetic characters and they were always scolded by the media but they were really exciting and fun to watch.
Joel Carriere from St. Catharines and Founder of Dine Alone Records is your manager. He had a big impact on my life when I was younger. How did your relationship with him come about?
We met Joel in 2011 or end of 2010 and he’s actually the one who passed our record to the people putting on the Rolling Stone competition and we got selected for it. That’s when we started working with Joel. We played a lot down there and we’d get to a lot of these smaller southern Ontario towns and St. Catharines always seemed to be one of the leaders when it came to people, whether it’s putting on festivals, running labels, or putting together a ‘zine, or trying new things. It seems like people are really stoked on trying to make things happen down there.
You have a very distinct rock ‘n’ roll sound that will always be noticed as nothing but The Sheepdogs, do you think you’ll ever change course with your music, or is it a case of ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it’?
We were never trying to sound like what the hot bands at the time were. I’ve always felt like a bit of an outsider in that regard. In high school I was listening to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Chicago while people were listening to Sugar Ray or some shit. We’re guys who listen to records and we’re into the vintage sounds. When we got into playing music we just wanted to make those sounds and we never really strayed away from that. Pop is just something we’re not interested in. We totally understand that pop is king. but I like to think that there are a lot of people that listen to us that like listening to records, and they want to rock. They want to see a band play guitars and play solos and sing harmonies. Those are the people that we are trying to play for.
I’ve seen so many shows where the band looks like they are playing but it’s just tracks or the drummer is hitting triggers and you’re not hearing the drums because they are all just samples – indie bands where it’s a laptop that’s providing most of the noise. We’re actually playing music and trying to play in time with each other. I think there’s a lot of people who really get off on seeing that.
The Sheepdogs perform at Isaac’s Bar & Grill at Brock University on March 6. Tickets are available at Mindbomb Records or on ticketfly.com