By Keith Sharp
When you are a rock band whose virtual existence is based on constant touring and recording, it comes as a major shock to your system when those options are taken away from you.
This was the reality, Saskatoon-based rockers, The Sheepdogs faced when the COVID-19 epidemic reared its ugly head last year and eradicated all present and future touring activities.
“March 20th last year we were all set to tour with The Black Keys and then we planned to go to Portland (Oregon) to record a new album and then all of that stuff got washed away by the epidemic,” explained lead vocalist Ewan Currie on the phone from his Toronto residence. “So we kinda shifted gears, we ended up being together for a couple of months until we taped a live stream concert in Montreal for Canada Day.”
The result of that gathering prompted Currie, bassist Ryan Gullen, drummer Sam Corbett, keyboardist Shamus Currie and guitarist Jimmy Bowskill to regroup at Frank Marino’s Montreal’s Mixart Studios to record a six-track EP, `No Simple Thing’ which has just been released.
“We had the band all together so we thought, why not try to record some songs while we are here,” Currie informed. “Touring and recording are how we pay our bills, that is how our business is run so we gathered everyone together in one room in Montreal and cut six songs live to tape which is a good way to capture a great live band.”
Certainly, the word you could apply to The Sheepdog’s latest six tracks is unpretentious. “Rock And Roll” and the debut single “Keep On Loving You” are pure, unadulterated rockers, “Talk Is Over” boasts a strong R&B vibe, tracks like “Singing In The Band” and “Jesse Phone” reveal the band’s strong slide guitar, country-rock feel and “Are You A Good Man” delivers a positive lyrical statement.
“It’s like comparing rock ‘n roll to good food,” noted Currie. “People like to analyze music but to me when you eat something, you know if it’s good or not. When it hits your tongue and you say, hey that’s delicious or that sucks! You know right away what your reaction is. So when some things hit my ears, I know if it’s good or not.”
Currie noted that previously he had gotten a little tired of touring but his enforced layoff has forced him to reassess his priorities. “At times I would picture myself on tour and I’d think to myself, I don’t want to do this again. Oh really! Here I am in this world where touring is not possible. I have been touring virtually all of my adult life – it’s hard, it’s a drain, it wears you down,” he noted. “But having not been able to do this for over a year, I really miss it, man! I really miss gearing up for a show at night, that feels really awesome. I love turning people on to my music and gauging their reaction to what we are playing.”
Literally, ever since impacting the global music scene with their infamous Rolling Stone magazine cover August 18th, 2011 (having beat 15 other bands to win a best new band contest) and being rewarded with a self-titled release on Atlantic Records (having previously released three independent domestic releases), The Sheepdogs have seemingly been a constant touring force, releasing three more albums and a string of hit singles like “I Don’t Know”, “The Way It Is” and “Feeling Good”
So when the epidemic forced The Sheepdogs to clear their calendars, Currie acknowledged that the band was allowed to reset themselves. “Now we had more time off than we’ve ever had before it was like, Oh yeah, we do have personal lives,” he laughed. “It has allowed us to take a break and refocus ourselves but having said that, I am dying to get back on the road again. I am sure that after a week on the road, I’ll be bitching about playing again, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
For further Sheepdogs information please link to www.thesheepdogs.com