Who let the Sheepdogs out?

Since being featured on the Aug. 18 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, The Sheepdogs’ popularity has exploded. The band is now on a cross-Canada tour, playing two sold-out shows in Fredericton this week. (Photo by Matt Dunlap)

They’re called The Sheepdogs, and they certainly are shaggy.

Shaggy, and taking the rock and roll music scene by storm. This week, the Canadian band will bring their old-school rock and roll to a sold-out crowd at the Capital Complex – twice.

“This Canadian tour has been kind of sweet – we’ve sold out all over the place,” said the band’s vocalist and gui­tarist Ewan Currie in a phone interview.

The Sheepdogs’ popularity has ex­ploded since being on the Aug. 18 cover of Rolling Stone magazine. The group beat out 15 other bands to win Rolling Stone’s “Choose the Cover” contest, making them the first unsigned band to appear on the cover in the maga­zine’s history.

The band hails from Saskatoon, Sask., and is made up of Currie, Leot Hanson on guitar, Ryan Gullen on bass and Sam Corbett on drums.

In October, Capital Complex booking agent Zach Atkinson told The Aquinian the Sheepdogs sold out their shows in Fredericton, Moncton and Halifax in 24 hours.

But it wasn’t always that way.

“We’ve had a lot of tours where we didn’t have any idea who was going to be there, and you just have to try and win over whoever happens to stumble into the bar that night,” Currie said. “And this year, between all the events and the media attention we’ve gotten, a lot of these shows sell out and we’re thrilled.”

The band toured across Canada for a few years, but found it difficult to break onto the international music scene, and specifically in the United States.

“There’s certainly been a lot of Ca­nadian bands who’ve achieved great success in Canada and then haven’t had that outside,” Currie said. “They’re sort of home grown, and they’re draw­ing huge crowds in Canada, but when they step over the border into the U.S., the crowds are completely different.”

Currie said he wasn’t sure if there’s a stigma attached to Canadian bands or if there’s such a thing as a Canadian sound. He said there is a “cool quotient” that’s familiar in the country’s indie music scene, but one that they don’t particularly identify with.

“We just sort of focus on doing our thing and let it come as it may.”

Currie said the band is also focusing on getting touring opportunities out­side of Canada. Being a part of festi­vals like South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, he said, helps to get your name out.

“We went over to Australia for a whole three days and played at this Bris­bane festival. We got to play in front of a lot of good people there, and [the idea is] that it sets up future tours.

“We’re touring in Canada, but we’re also making sure to get out in the U.S. and also jumping overseas too. And so it’s good that we’re doing that right now instead of, using the term very lightly, making the kind of victory lap in Canada. You don’t want to get too used to just having really good shows in Canada.”

With a Rolling Stone cover, an epi­sode of Project Runway devoted to dressing the band, an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and one of their songs being featured on CSI, The Sheepdogs have had a year full of media attention. Currie said returning to their hometown, though, will always be special.

“People find it interesting that we’re from this part of Canada that they don’t really know about – “Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, that’s kind of a funny name.””

The Sheepdogs play Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at The Capital Complex. Both shows are sold out.