Saskatoon rockers grace cover of Rolling Stone

The Sheepdogs have had one hell of a year. Since the release of The Sheepdogs’ debut album, Trying To Grow, in 2007, the group has released four studio albums without attracting much attention from the media.

The visibility of the band on the music scene has exploded in recent months, reaching its height when the Saskatoon rockers became the first unsigned band in history to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

In early 2011, the group heard that Atlantic Records was looking for unsigned bands to be involved in their “Chose The Cover” contest and a friend since turned manager, made sure to get The Sheepdogs album into the right hands.

With a sound reminiscent of the soulful rock of the 70s, the Sheepdogs can be described as old school rock-and-revival.

Just prior to learning that they had earned one of the most highly coveted pieces of real estate in the business, the Sheepdogs appeared on the stage of Bonnaroo, the legendary Tennessee music festival.

Listening to the band, one can’t help but hear the gritty Southern influence in their brand of rock and roll, and songs such as the upbeat, Zeppelin-like “Southern Dreaming” suggest a fondness for the South.

“We have a love of the South that goes beyond music, a fascination with the culture and the atmosphere

We definitely have plans to spend more time there,” Sheepdogs frontman Ewan Currie told The Cord.

It has been said that good things happen in threes and The Sheepdogs aren’t likely to disagree; in addition to their appearances at Bonnaroo and on the cover of Rolling Stone, the group is scheduled to open for Kings of Leon on the Canadian leg of their international tour.

Sheepdogs frontman and guitarist Ewan Currie recounted the events which led the two bands to connect. “Kings of Leon heard our music at a party and had their manager contact us about opening for their tour,” said Currie.

Although sold out stadium shows are surely a fixture in The Sheepdogs near future, they aren’t a staple of the band’s past.

The band has spent the last several years embarking on Canadian tours, playing at festivals and events such as Canadian Music Week, Osheaga, NXNE and Junofest.

Locally, the group appeared at Hillside Festival in Guelph this summer, about which Currie said, “Hillside was awesome — very cool, getting into that kind of island set up. We played an acoustic set and the crowd was fantastic.”

When asked what makes for a great performance for the band, Currie’s passion is “playing anywhere where the crowd is right in front of you, right there so you can feel their energy”.

The Sheepdogs have been musically involved with a number of up and coming Canadian bands, such as the Arkells and more recently, the folk-rock group the Sadies.

Currie also praised fellow Saskatoon band Deep Dark Woods with a vehemence that suggests their current obscurity is a shame. In response to an inquiry about other musicians the band would like to perform with in the future, Currie’s picks were My Morning Jacket, and the Black Keys.

As for his idea of success in the music industry, Currie stated simply that The Sheepdogs collective goal has always been ”to stop working regular jobs and just be making a living off of our music.”

“You can determine success in terms of album sales or accolades but we just want to be able to play our music, which is what we’re lucky enough to be doing now,” he concluded.

Showing no signs of running out of steam (or luck), The Sheepdogs continue to gain popularity and take the industry by storm.

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