The Sheepdogs are a rock band from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The band both, musically and aesthetically could have supported CCR when they toured Willy and the Poor Boys in 1969. This isn’t nostalgia or throwback. It’s almost like the past 40 years never happened and they are just the next logical step. Having their big break through a Rolling Stone cover contest last year; the band has just released their fourth full length album since 2007 with critical support across the continent.
The Sheepdogs will be performing at Showplace theatre on George street on Thursday November 1. The band will be supported by longtime east coast rockers Sloan in celebration of The Wolf 101.5’s 20th anniversary.
Arthur caught up with Sheepdogs frontman Ewan Currie on tour in New Orleans for a brief chat about librarians, psychology, and football.
There is a lot of throwback to the 70’s that you get attention for in your music and your aesthetics. North American culture is particularly nostalgic about this decade, like there was some sort of innocence or freedom in terms of culture or political organizing that we no longer have. What are your thoughts concerning the 70’s and your particularly homage to this period?
Uh, I don’t really care about that. For us it’s just the sound of music we like and it just happens that the sounds and tunes that we like come from that era.
Ok. Your mom is the head of the Music and Education Library at the University of Saskatchewan is that right?
That is correct
I read a paper that your mom wrote in 2002 in regard to difficult library patrons. She said something that I thought was interesting and I will quote her here “what is needed is a paradigm shift, not only change in procedures and methods but also the reconstruction of reality and beliefs, especially our beliefs about how our patrons should conduct their information research”. This is pretty revolutionizing stuff coming from a librarian. It is a librarian’s admittance that her field needs to be turned over in order to be relevant. So how much influence did your mom have on your creative development?
Wow, that is definitely from her territory. I dunno. You know, my mom is a smart lady and she taught me a lot but I don’t know anything about libraries.
You did work at the library did you not?
I did, but I just put books on shelves while listening to my headphones
Was she a big influence on your music? Was she supportive?
She was real supportive man. She was always supportive of me pursuing my dream. The things I learned from my mom are things like hard work and toughness. My mom is very tough.
Moving into that, being tough, Mark Denning from AllMusic.com wrote [about the sheepdogs] “If there was ever music made to accompany a few cold ones on a Saturday night out with the guys this is it”. There is this sort of “dude band” thing surrounding you guys that is interesting right now in our present climate of hyper or ambiguously sexualized men or women. Why do you feel most comfortable as a “big, old, hairy man”?
That’s what I am man. I can’t be androgynous like David Bowie, Steven Tyler or Mick Jagger. I am a large, burly man so I am going to be myself.
Speaking of burly, you were a defensive lineman with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies from 2002-04. When I was going through the old records the only citation I could find on you was a fumble recovery you made in 03. Do you remember that fumble recovery? How has the idea of competitiveness influenced your movement through the arts culture?
No, I don’t remember that fumble recovery. I definitely have more stats than that. I wouldn’t know where to find that stuff. Music is not really competitive, at least it shouldn’t be. For me music is about creativity and entertaining. I think that one thing that I could have learned from football was sticking to something, seeing something through, and hard work. Music is sticking to something and riding it out through opposing experiences to get to your goals, which is similar to football.
You graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a B.A. last year?
I think officially, yeah.
You began your degree in 2002?
That’s a long haul. What did you graduate with?
A psychology degree
You spent a long time getting your degree. With so much pessimism surrounding liberal arts education right now in Canada and considering your music career, what compelled you to push on and finish?
It looks like I went to school for a long time but really there was a huge break in there when I was just playing in a band and working. I actually share that pessimism. But again, you start something and you should finish it which is another attitude I learned from my mom. I think I was one course shy of getting my degree for three or four years and so at some point I needed to finish it. If you don’t finish your degree then your credits will spoil and then you just wasted all that time you spent at school. I am not big on the liberal arts education, but I was almost done I might as well have finished it.
When you were starting your degree you were balancing a job at the library, full-time University classes, playing football and a serious rock n’ roll band. That’s a lot to handle for a young person just figuring out how to organize their life. What kind of advice would you give to perspective undergraduate rockstars?
Well, um, that’s a very specific group of people – the undergraduate rockstar. I would say focus in on what you think is the most important. Try not to do too many things at once. I mean I think when you’re young it’s good to have diverse tastes and interests and pursuits but eventually you have to streamline and focus on what’s important