Canadian rock band The Sheepdogs are swinging through Buffalo for Cobblestone Live on July 28 (full festival schedule here). We caught up with frontman & guitarist Ewan Currie about the band’s upcoming performance, their killer 70’s vibes and classic rock n’ roll sound. Currie grew up in Australia until age 10 then moved to our nice northern neighbors. Fast forward a bit and The Sheepdogs were formed in Saskatoon, Canada in 2006. The guys have hit Town Ballroom, Canalside and now – the Cobblestone district.
Who are your biggest influencers?
Always starts and ends with the Beatles, they’re the greatest. Also love other rock bands like the Kinks, the Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Thin Lizzy, Crosby Stills Nash & Young etc. We take a lot of cues from soul artists like Sly & The Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles & Curtis Mayfield and we are also trying to sneak bits of old country into our sound, roots music as we like to say.
What music do you find yourself listening?
Music from the past, we’re always discovering some artist or album we hadn’t heard before. Between the internet and digging in record stores on the road we still haven’t run out of artists from the golden age of music 50s-70s. Lately we’ve been listening to a lot of Johnny Paycheck (especially “Fifteen Beers”), Willie Mitchell instrumentals (he produced Al Green’s classic work) and this obscure British pub rock band called Legend that we’ve been particularly obsessed with.
Your latest album Changing Colours took several months to record. Why did you spend more time recording this album vs. your previous ones?
The last two albums were made very much with a finite timeline and you always end up wishing for a bit more time. Our record prior to that was Learn & Burn, and it was recorded leisurely over a summer. People seem to think of it as our best album, so we thought we’d give that approach another go. It just lets you try many things and not rush through anything. It meant that a song like Let It Roll was able to fully mature. It was initially an uptempo guitar heavy number before settling into its laid back, pedal steel drenched state.
The Sheepdogs beat thousands of artists in 2011 to be on the cover of Rolling Stone (the only unsigned band to ever grace the cover). Tell us about that experience.
It was a very intense experience, bringing us a lot of opportunities and publicity. It probably saved our band at the time from a lifetime of slugging it out on futile, profitless tours in the Canadian heartland. We’ve been hustling ever since trying to prove to folks that we’re not just some flash in the pan type of band, and we’ve tried to do that by just doing what we do – putting out records and hitting the road.
It definitely gave us a sense of accomplishment, but I feel much more satisfaction seeing folks singing along to our songs at shows, knowing that our music is a part of their lives. Music has meant so much to me that I get an incredible feeling knowing that our songs could mean something to strangers out there.
Favorite Buffalo memory? (and…did you get any wings?)
I came down with my brother and a friend last year to see the Bills play the Raiders (I’m a Raiders fan). We got to experience the famous Bills tailgating, but it was very rainy and I was severely underdressed, sitting, getting soaked in the freezing rain in my jean jacket. No wings unfortunately, but I did have breakfast at an awesome diner (the kind they only make in America) and I drank many tasty beers.
The idea for Cobblestone Live was born from a collaboration of several local bars & distilleries to revitalize the historic Cobblestone District by bringing a 2-day music festival to downtown Buffalo. What are you looking forward to during your time at the festival next week?
That sounds fantastic. I’ve always been drawn to cities that are maybe a little less glamorous in that obvious sort of way, but have a real spirit and heart to them. My home town of Saskatoon is a bit like that. I’m a big fan of beer and bars in general as well and I love a bit of civic pride. Buffalo folks deserve to celebrate and cut loose in the summer time. It’ll be a pleasure to entertain them.
What would you tell your fans who are on the fence about heading to Cobblestone Live?
Get wise, get your butts out there, enjoy the short season you have to be comfortable outside and get your face melted by our awesomely tasty guitar solos and fall in love with our sweet voices.
Any set list details you can share for Cobblestone Live?
Lots of cuts from the new record, many of the old faves and we may even do an Allman Bros cover.
Things to do: Get those tickets to Cobblestone Live, bring The Sheepdogs some *real* wings, and see them rock out on July 28. See ya’ll at Cobblestone.