THE Sheepdogs, via a massive 1.5 million public votes, were declared the winners of a contest that found them as the first unsigned band to grace the cover of iconic rock rag Rolling Stone and, subsequently, landed them a deal with Atlantic Records.
To the many that first caught wind of this decade-defying musical force surrounding that swirl of media attention, they may seem like something of an overnight success, though in reality, The Sheepdogs are anything but.
Marked out as ones to watch this year on Hotpress’ ‘Hot For 2013’ the Canadian quartet make their Belfast debut this spring, taking to the Stiff Kitten stage on Thursday April 4. Tickets are on sale now.
“Being from a small town, we were all looking to get out there – maybe try some new things,” says bassist Ryan Gullen about how he, Currie, drummer Sam Corbett, and guitarist Leot Hanson first came together to make music. All fans of the same kind of meat-and-potatoes rock and roll from the past, as well as its resurgence in the music of acts like The White Stripes or Kings Of Leon, it was their mutual musical mindsets that made for an undeniable chemistry. “It came from a very honest place,” continues the bassist. “We weren’t trying to be anything specific,” and with time, the band would only grow tighter and more comfortable with their sharpening sound.
Over the years, The Sheepdogs have trekked across Canada in their beaten-down van playing as many new cities as possible. The shows themselves were usually smokin’; the circumstances surrounding them often weren’t. “It was such a challenge pushing through roadblock after roadblock,” recounts Gullen, recalling the trying times of indifference from the industry. “We could rock any crowd we played to,” he says, but seemingly couldn’t shake the stereotypical struggles of the touring rock band. Those struggles often emerge in Currie’s lyrical content, along with musings from ladies, love, and loneliness through to isolation, drugs, and other demons.
Since having their unshaven mugs showcased in Rolling Stone and onstage at Bonnaroo, though, it seems the band has finally found their break and are ready to capitalize on the opportunity. “It used to be that we wanted to quit our day jobs and just make music,” says Currie of the band’s aspirations. “Now, it’s about hitting the road, playing some kick-ass shows, and getting ready to impress people with a new record.”
That full-length, expected in 2012, will surely cement the fact that, though they’ve had a bit of luck on their side, the only thing responsible for The Sheepdogs’ recent slew of success is the sweat they’ve left onstage and the sweet, sticky throwback tunes that share their infectious grooves with anyone taking them in.
Tickets for the Sheepdogs live at The Stiff Kitten are priced at £10.50 excluding booking fee. Tickets are on sale now from ticketmaster outlets and nationwide from www.ticketmaster.ie