Canada’s hard working rockers The Sheepdogs are well into their current 29-date cross-Canada tour, promoting their sixth studio album, Changing Colours, released earlier this month. Heading east, they will arrive at Ottawa’s Bronson Centre Theatre on Saturday March 3. Much of their success after 14 years together has been attributed to their continued passion, drive, work ethic, touring schedule, stage performance, and just plain great songwriting as a result of their musical chemistry. Apt613 interviewed Ryan Gullen, bassist for The Sheepdogs, after 7 back-to-back shows in a row thus far:
“Being on the road is as much our home as it is being at home… it’s become a way of life. When you’ve been in a band for 14 years, and touring for 12 of them, it’s almost been half of my life and it’s really become a second home for me. No matter whether you’re on or off the road, you’re always kind of working on the clock, because it’s your life and your job. When you have some downtime, it’s important to be spending it getting ready for the next thing whether it’s working on your record, or creating content… there’s always a constant hustle for sure.”
Changing Colours picks up where their fifth album, Future Nostalgia, left off, complete with the band’s signature elements of guitar and vocal harmonies, great piano and organ work, song medleys, tucked-in trombone solos, and always that retro rock sound… but there’s something more. This time around, the band took themselves off the clock at Taurus Studios in Toronto, hired the owner Thomas D’Arcy as co-producer, and gave themselves space to experiment with different rhythms, instruments, musical flavours, and layering techniques.
The band’s now permanent fifth member, guitarist Jimmy Bowskill, debuted his multi-instrumental skills in the studio which added further dimension. The result is an album aptly named for the music’s constantly moving instrumental hues through strong influential elements of seventies rock and its many offshoots. From the infectious retro rock grooves of their single “I’ve Got A Hole Where My Heart Should Be,” the percussive laden Crowbar sound of “The Big Nowhere,” the steady-rhythm Santana-driven “Cool Down,” or the distinct Allman Brothers-meets-CSN sound of “Run Baby Run,” the album’s 18 tracks deliver a delicious sonic bombardment that takes you on a non-stop rock ride.
“It’s funny you say that, because when we were working on “Run Baby Run,” we wanted to make it sound like it was a CSN song produced by Duane and Gregg Allman. Then on another song, we said we wanted to make it an Allman Brothers song produced by CSN… it was kind of an ongoing joke in the studio.
We’re all about harmonies in general – even when we started out, we learned to sing together.
Bands like Queen, the Beatles, and even more modern bands like Sloan who all play and sing together… there’s something so powerful about that. It’s a pretty amazing thing when you can create interplay between voices and instruments. It’s the kind of stuff that really makes rock ‘n roll for us, and it’s what we try to do each time.”
In other news, The Sheepdogs have become the first band to be named Record Store Day Champions of Canada and April 21 will see the debut vinyl release of their first and second albums, Trying To Grow (2007) and Big Stand (2008), as well as a 7″ single release of “There‘s A Hole Where My Heart Should Be“ and “Nobody“ from their current album.
“A big part of what we like to do when we have some time in a city is to go to the independent record stores and vintage stores to shop for vinyl. You can have a conversation with somebody about music and discover another newer or older band. The more you discover about different types of music, the more it influences you as a musician. So being named Record Store Day Champions of Canada is an honour because we are big collectors of vinyl and love the experience that comes with that.”
Joining The Sheepdogs tour are openers Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs who will warm up the stage with their high energy brand of rock. For more information on The Sheepdogs’ show at Bronson Centre Theatre on Saturday March 3 please visit www.thesheepdogs.com. Tickets can be purchased online from $35.