Entertainment

Ewan Currie of The Sheepdogs talks about a number of the inspiration for brand spanking new album ‘Outta Sight’


Ever for the reason that boogie rockers exploded into the mainstream by successful a Rolling Stone cowl competitors 11 years in the past, Sheepdogs Ewan Currie, Ryan Gullen, Sam Corbett, Jimmy Bowskill and Shamus Currie haven’t appeared again.

Ewan Currie mentioned he’s nonetheless a bit of stunned that his band — which launched its seventh studio album, “Outta Sight” on Friday — was victorious, for the reason that three-time Juno Award winners embrace a guitar-driven, basic ’70s rock esthetic that was out of line with the alt-rock sound of the occasions.

“It shone a light on us back in 2011 and I didn’t know how available that spotlight was going to be for a band of our style, you know?” mentioned Currie over the cellphone from Hondarribia, Spain, the place the band kicked off its European tour.

“We’re pretty firmly living in the past musically and we like that. We just did what we do and despite rock ’n’ roll not being the big, dominant art form that it once was in the music world nowadays, there are tons of people out there that love listening to guitar-driven rock with melody and harmony.”

Case in level, the brand new album, a different 10-song tackle a vein beforehand mined by the likes of ZZ Top, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd, however freshened as solely the Sheepdogs can do it: meaty double guitar leads, blasts of organ and electrical piano; a refrain of sturdy harmonies and hook-filled songs which have lyrical substance underneath what appears to be a lighter-hearted exterior. There’s the brilliant sonorous rock ode “Here I Am”; the anthemic “Find the Truth,” a robust blue-collar Southern rock-influenced plea for extra “God Damn Money” and the album-ending “Roughride ’89,” which throws a bit of two-step nation music accelerant into its finale.

There are additionally some comfortable moments: the reflective “Mama Was a Gardener” and “So Far Gone,” a shuffle powered by a drum machine that Currie admits is a direct homage to the late singer-songwriter J.J. Cale and his laid-back Oklahoma model.

The Sheepdogs have a brand new album, "Outta Sight" have pencilled in an October date for Massey Hall.

“I’m a big J.J. fan,” mentioned Currie. “He was one of my go-to guys to listen to for any occasion and he always used those drum machines a lot. About halfway through the pandemic I bought the same drum machine that he had, a bass-tone rhythm ace that I bought off a lady in Toronto.

“I was doing a lot of recording and writing by myself, as we were all doing the isolation thing. It was a good way to have a drummer with you. Just having a beat. But it’s weird, because these drum machines, they’re not unlike — remember those organs that your grandmother had, where there’s a little drum pre-sets and you can get a bossa nova or cha cha cha beat?

“The J.J. thing was very much like ‘Call Me the Breeze’ but I figured we could kind of like do a half-homage, half-take it in a new direction. But it’s pretty obvious: that drum beat, that same tempo, that sort of shuffling guitar stuff, there’s no really escaping the sonic territory that we’re dabbling in there.”

A transfer to a spot within the east finish — Currie’s been dwelling in Toronto for eight years, and keyboard enjoying brother Shamus and bassist Ryan Gullen are additionally residents — prompted the music “Scarborough Street Fight,” although he admits the music’s lyrics are extra from creativeness than actuality.

“I was just lying in my bed one night after I moved across town,” Currie defined. “I’m not in Scarborough, but I live closer to it, so I took a little artistic licence.

“I heard people yelling — it was like an altercation — probably just people coming out of a bar, but in my half-awake state I sort of envisioned this street brawl and that was the lyrical content.

Official visualizer for “Scarborough Street Fight” by The Sheepdogs from the upcoming album “Outta Sight” out June 3rd

“And then that riff of the song; our sound tech, Mark, he couldn’t find work during the pandemic so he started building amps. He brought me one to the studio, and I started playing it and the first riff I started improvising was ‘Scarborough Street Fight.’ I thought it reminded me of Faces, kind of a real Ronnie Wood muscular riff, and I like the hijinx and street-fighting kind of vibe.

“When my axe spat out this riff, all of a sudden I stopped caring about the amp, took my phone out and recorded the riff. That’s when I knew it was good. I thought, ‘I gotta record this or I’ll forget it.’”

The album additionally reveals off the super six-string and multi-instrumental expertise of Jimmy Bowskill who, Currie mentioned, since becoming a member of the band for the “Future Nostalgia” tour, has added a wanted dimension to the general Sheepdog sound, not solely together with his fretwork, however with mandolin and violin.

“First and foremost, he was the badass lead guitar player we never had,” Currie mentioned of Bowskill.

“He can play all the styles of the bands that we love. He always had that, you know, be it Joe Walsh or Jimmy Page or Duane (Allman) or Dickey (Betts) you’ve got to have that guy who can really play that lead.

“I know he was a blues prodigy when he was a kid, but he knows all types of music, too. He’s so smart when it comes to country and bluegrass music and traditional and roots. He can do it all and then, to top it off, he’s just like the best dude.”

As with each different musician, the Sheepdogs are glad to be again enjoying in entrance of audiences — though they did handle to squeeze in 4 nights at Lee’s Palace in between lockdowns.

Currie mentioned life through the pandemic wasn’t essentially horrible.

“To be perfectly honest, for the first couple weeks I was a little relieved,” Currie admitted. “I’m totally good to stay home a little while and have a forced vacation. I think it’s in my psyche that when we get done our regular 18 months of touring following a record release and it’s time to relax, I always feel guilty that we’re not on the road.”

During the lockdown in addition they carried out the occasional drive-in present.

“I hate ’em, they’re terrible,” he mentioned. “It was better than nothing, but people sitting in their cars listening to you play through the radio, while outside the car they can hear a really bad stage mix and then the (sonic) delay, it’s terrible. And no one’s making any money out of it either because of crazy overhead.

“People ask us all the time what the best style venue is and it’s any venue that’s slightly overfilled with people. That rock experience and that kind of crazy energy of just being in a room where everyone’s just ready to burst,” he mentioned.

The boys are experiencing loads of that loopy power on their present European jaunt, and Currie famous there’s a distinct distinction between North American crowds and people throughout the Atlantic.

“We ended our last European tour here in Hondarribia and it was the last show of the tour, we were really tired and the show wasn’t until 12:30 a.m.

“We were trying to get the energy up and the crowd was so passionate. We were playing our song ‘Nobody,’ which has a memorable riff to it, and the crowd was chanting it almost like a soccer crowd. It was such a lift and it was really putting a smile on our faces because it’s the type of thing that North American crowds don’t typically do.”

Currie reported that regardless of misplaced time on the street, the Sheepdogs have misplaced none of their momentum as crowds are turning out in droves to see them.

“Before the pandemic, we had started to make some gains,” he mentioned. “We were very slowly building things up in the U.K. and Europe. Now we have sold-out shows and just seeing that after a two-year gap, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, who are you guys again?’ We still have that momentum.”

Nick Krewen is a Toronto-based freelance contributor for the Star. Reach him by way of e-mail: octopus@rogers.com

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