Canadian rockers, The Sheepdogs, have had a triumphant rise over the last decade, selling out venues world over and picking up a few awards along the way. Ahead of the release of album number six, RUSHONROCK co-editor Adam Keys sat down with The Sheepdogs guitarist Ewan Currie to discuss Changing Colours.
RUSHONROCK – Hi guys, thanks for joining us at RUSHONROCK! You’re entering into a very busy period, with a full European tour, followed by numerous Canadian dates. How’s the prep going before everything kicks off?
Ewan Currie – We just did 30 plus date across Canada, so we are primed and ready to go. The band is playing very well and the new songs are really coming to life on stage. Nothing like playing 6-7 nights a week to get yourself in tour shape.
RUSHONROCK – Changing Colours has been recorded, mixed, packaged and ready to blow the grills off speakers far and wide. Tell us a bit about the album?
It’s a bit of a sprawling epic with a lot of different sounds, textures and feels. We didn’t have any real goal in mind when we began making it, it just became what it is very naturally. I’m hoping people really enjoy the variety and that the last side of the album really takes them on a journey.
RUSHONROCK – How does album number six differ from your previous work?
Ewan Currie – It features a lot of instruments outside of the usual rock n roll repertoire: clarinet, trombone, mandolin, fiddle, etc. We can play a lot of different instruments other than just guitar, bass and drums, so we made an album that reflects that. We also really strove to showcase the core tenants of our live show: vocal harmonies and guitar harmonies. Lots of harmonising all round.
RUSHONROCK – The last two albums have been extremely successful, with Future Nostalgia gaining rave reviews and your self-titled fourth album winning not one, but four Juno awards. Does this create a certain degree of pressure for this release?
Ewan Currie – Not really. There is a little pressure anytime we make a record, but it’s most self inflicted. You always want to make something great. We are big music history fans and we all know our favourite artists at some point tailed off and either lost interest in making great music, or just kinda lost the ability to keep creating at a high level. We’re quite conscious of that and always strive to do good work.
RUSHONROCK – You’ve talked about expanding your instrumentation in an effort to encompass more styles and hues. Could you tell us a bit more about this?
Ewan Currie – Jim Bowskill plays all the bluegrass instruments as well as violin quite well, Shamus plays trombone and i can get around on the clarinet some, so we figured we’d try and include them into the mix. I think it adds character to our music that makes it unique from other bands. We’re not just striving to sound like the Band or the Stones or Zeppelin. We want to borrow from our heroes but at the same time inject our own personality and make something that is distinctly “Sheepdogs” sounding, whatever that is…
RUSHONROCK – Over the last decade, rock and roll has been ingrained in everything The Sheepdogs have produced, but Changing Colours drifts into many different styles. What was the reason for many so many radical stylist changes between albums?
Ewan Currie – We listen to lots of different music other than just rock n roll. Soul, Country, Latin, Jazz, etc. will play in the tourbus, green room, etc, so we are borrowing little bits of each style. As we get older i guess we are maturing a bit and we love variety. Rock n roll is a tremendous starting place for music and it mixes really well with other styles.
RUSHONROCK – Changing Colours, which has been co-produced by Thomas D’Arcy saw you change your recording process to a more low key affair. Tell us a bit more about this?
Ewan Currie – Typically we’d make a record in a very finite period of time: 2 or 3 weeks, a month, that sort of thing. This time we didn’t put a time limit, just kept working until it was done. It took about 6 months of working off and on, and it afforded us a chance to step away from songs, let our ears have a break, then come back and continue working on them. It’s a very civil way to record and it allowed us to really experiment with different sounds and approaches. Plus it allowed us to not work all and out and exhaust ourselves.
RUSHONROCK – How has the change in recording environment affected the look and feel of the album?
Ewan Currie – It certainly contributed to the wide range of sounds, i needed the extra time to really nail my clarinet parts as i’m quite rusty. Also, recording in the city most of us live in was a nice change. Usually we’d go somewhere special to record, but this time we could finish a long day and then enjoy the comforts of home. Seems like a trivial thing, but it made for a lot more well rested and happy studio sessions.
RUSHONROCK – The work ethic and musical outpouring of The Sheepdogs has been phenomenal over the last 10 years. How to you manage to maintain such a hectic schedule, whilst also releasing studio albums with regularity?
Ewan Currie – Making music is a joy, we relish the chance to get into the studio and make a new record. As i write this i am in Scotland on tour and i’m already chomping at the bit to make another album. All 5 of us are music lovers and really dig playing live as well. I think we’d all be a bit hopeless if we weren’t in a rock n roll band.
RUSHONROCK – With so much experimentation on the album, do you think fans will take much winning over, or do you feel that the soul of The Sheepdogs will shine through, and win their hearts once again?
Ewan Currie – If our Canadian tour was any indication, folks are loving the new sounds. It’s still very rock n roll and even though some of the approaches and sounds are different you can always win over hearts and minds with a strong groove and a good melody.