The Sheepdogs

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The Sheepdogs
The Sheepdogs performing at The Roundhouse, London, 2019
The Sheepdogs performing at The Roundhouse, London, 2019
Background information
OriginSaskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Years active2004–present
MembersEwan Currie
Ryan Gullen
Sam Corbett
Jimmy Bowskill
Shamus Currie
Past membersLeot Hanson
Rusty Matyas

The Sheepdogs are a Canadian rock and roll band formed in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 2004. The Sheepdogs were the first unsigned band to make the cover of Rolling Stone and have gone on to a career featuring multi-platinum album sales and four Juno Awards.[1]

Frontman Ewan Currie, the band's primary songwriter, has described the band's guitar-driven blues-rock style as "pure, simple, good-time music"; he's said that the band aims to land in the sweet spot in between Led Zeppelin and Crosby, Stills & Nash.[2] Currie has further credited Creedence Clearwater Revival, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, and The Allman Brothers Band as influences on the band's style.[3]

One critic has praised the band's "infectiously catchy, soulful, retro sound with beautiful harmonies and a pinch of southern rock."[4]

The Sheepdogs are on the road frequently between recordings.[5] They have headlined tours across Canada and the USA, UK, Eastern and Western Europe, and Australia, and have performed at a number of large festivals including South by Southwest, Coachella, Glastonbury, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza.


Early History & Formation: The Breaks EP, Trying to Grow, The Big Stand, Learn & Burn (2004 - 2010)[edit]

The band formed in Saskatoon, SK in the summer of 2004, while Ewan Currie, Ryan Gullen, and Sam Corbett were all studying at the University of Saskatchewan. Corbett had an old bass guitar and a gift certificate to a local music store, so they rented a drum kit and started playing in Corbett's parents’ basement with Corbett on drums, Gullen playing the bass, and Currie playing a recently purchased electric guitar. The band began with a repertoire of 1970's blues-rock songs as well as newer material, including covers of the early Black Keys and Kings of Leon, while also writing their own music. Currie, Gullen, and Corbett called their trio The Breaks and released an EP in 2006.[6]

In the summer of 2006, Currie, Gullen, and Corbett met Leot Hanson, who was playing acoustic guitar at a party. Hanson was playing a Kings of Leon song from Youth & Young Manhood, and the trio joined in. The next day, Hanson joined the band and they changed their name to The Sheepdogs.[6]

In 2006, The Sheepdogs independently released their first album Trying to Grow, which they recorded at Cosmic Pad Studios in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Two years later, after almost constant touring, The Sheepdogs returned to Cosmic Pad Studios to record their second full-length album, Big Stand. The first two records were small affairs, including artwork by friends and family, and were mixed by the band.[5][7]

The band released its third studio album, Learn & Burn, in 2010. The band recorded the album on their own, with their own equipment, a circumstance which they appreciated for giving them freedom to explore new sounds and techniques, including a nod to the psychedelic rock of the 1960s. [8]

Rolling Stone Cover Contest: Learn & Burn Deluxe, Five Easy Pieces EP (2011)[edit]

In Early 2011, a music manager that the band had met in Toronto submitted a demo tape to Atlantic Records which resulted in them being one of 16 bands chosen to be part of the Rolling Stone “Choose the Cover” competition”[9] With the new international spotlight on the band and while the band was waiting to find out the results of the contest, Learn & Burn was given a re-release, in May. That summer, the Sheepdogs beat fifteen other bands to win the contest, and were featured on the August 18, 2011 cover of Rolling Stone--the first unsigned act to do so. During the competition, the band made appearances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and performed at the Bonnaroo Music Festival as well The Osheaga Festival in Montreal, Quebec.[10][11]

The Rolling Stone cover arrived on the heels of the band's Five Easy Pieces EP, which debuted at No. 7 on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 3,300 copies.[12] Following the contest win, the band signed with Atlantic Records.

In April 2012, the re-released Learn & Burn garnered three Juno Awards--for Rock Album of the Year, Best New Group, and Single of the Year. The band was touring in Australia with John Fogerty at the time and were unable to attend the ceremony.[13]

International Touring & Personnel Changes: Self-Titled (The Sheepdogs) (2012 - 2014)[edit]

In early 2012 the Sheepdogs began work on a new album which was produced by The Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, recorded during an intensive two-week session at Haptown Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.[14] Released on Sept 4, 2012 the band's self-titled major-label debut garnered them their second platinum sales certification. The album generated international interest, and led to a long stretch of touring, both in Canada and overseas, from 2012 into 2013 including performances at Coachella Music Festival, Lollapalooza, Bonaroo, Edgefest, Glastonbury, Ottawa Bluesfest.[15][16][17][18]

This tour saw Shamus Currie, younger brother of lead singer Ewan Currie, become a touring member of the Sheepdogs, after having previously played trombone on The Big Stand and Learn & Burn. [19]

The Sheepdogs earned three Juno nominations for Single of the Year, Rock album of the year and Group of the year in addition to performing "Feeling Good" live on the broadcast the 2013 Juno awards in Regina, Saskatchewan.[20]

On November 24, 2013 The Sheepdogs performed at the 101st Grey Cup live on television. The game saw their home province Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Hamilton Tiger Cats.[21][22]

In March 2014, director Matt Barnes and the Sheepdogs won the Juno Award for Video of the Year for "Feeling Good."[23] That same year the band played tribute to and inducted Bachman Turner Overdrive into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, performing "Let it Ride" and "Taking Care of Business" with BTO live on the Juno Award broadcast.[24]

In July 2014, Leot Hanson left the band. Following his departure, Winnipeg guitarist Rusty Matyas, a friend of the band, stepped in as guitarist for the tour promoting The Sheepdogs.[25] This led to Matyas joining the band as a full-time touring and recording member until the fall of 2015.[26][27]

Addition of Jimmy Bowskill: Future Nostalgia (2015 - 2016)[edit]

On July 3, 2015, the band released "Downtown," the first single from what would be their fifth studio album Future Nostalgia. The album itself was released on October 2, 2015 via Warner Music Canada and Dine Alone Records. The 18-track record was well received by reviewers and fans, nearing the top of the iTunes Canadian charts. Future Nostalgia was recorded in a rented cottage in Stony Lake, Ontario, engineered by Matt Ross-Spang, and produced by lead singer and songwriter Ewan Currie.[28][29] Currie explained the choice, saying: "We wanted to cut out all the noise and get back to a place where we could just fully immerse ourselves in music." The band worked on the album full-time in Stony Lake, seeking some middle ground between the informal garage sound of the Learn & Burn and the whirlwind sessions in Nashville with Carney which produced The Sheepdogs. [29]

In November 2015, award-winning blues guitarist Jimmy Bowskill from Bailieboro, Ontario, joined the band in advance of the European leg of their Future Nostalgia Tour, playing guitar and pedal steel.[30][31]

Future Nostalgia garnered the Sheepdogs another Juno nomination for Rock Album of the year in 2016.[32]

When they were finished recording Future Nostalgia, brothers Ewan and Shamus Currie started working on a side project they called BROS. Their debut LP, titled Vol.1, was released on October 14, 2016 via Dine Alone Records.[33]

International Expansion: Changing Colours (2017 - Present)[edit]

When it came time to record again, instead of being produced in a concentrated burst, the band's next album, Changing Colours was recorded over an unusually extended period in 2017. The 17-track album was engineered, co-produced, and mixed by Thomas D'Arcy at Taurus Recording in Toronto, with Ewan Currie again in the producer role, and was released in February 2018.[34][35] "Most of the records we've made have been under a short time constraint," drummer Sam Corbett is quoted as saying. "This one was done over six months, with some songs sitting around for two months. Then we'd come back and try different things, so I think that as a result, some of the songs took a different shape."[36]

The Changing Colours sessions also marked the recording debut of guitarist Jimmy Bowskill, performing not only guitar but mandolin, banjo, viola, fiddle, and pedal steel.[37][35] "He joined us on tour, learned our whole set basically in one rehearsal and has been with us ever since," says bass player Ryan Gullen.[36]

The promotion of the album again saw the Sheepdogs embarking on multiple national and international tours, playing over 200 shows in Canada, Europe and the United States.[38][39][40][41]

Corbett announced in October 2018 that he wouldn't tour with the band in the United States and Europe after being diagnosed with cancer. He underwent surgery in the summer of that year and began further treatment in the fall. Corbett resumed his post in the band on New Year's Eve for a show in Niagara Falls, Ontario that was broadcast live on CBC Television. Corbett announced his return in a December 22, 2018 Facebook post in which he also announced the birth of his first child.[42]

In early 2019, the band continued their promotion and touring of Changing Colours by joining Rival Sons on tour first in Europe and then in the US, including dates at The Bataclan, Paris and The Sheepdogs first Scandinavian shows in Sweden, Denmark and Oslo.

2019 also saw two Juno Award nominations for the band, this time for "Group of the Year"[43] and for "Rock Album of the Year".[44]

Frontman Ewan Currie recorded his debut solo album, Out of My Mind, in San Francisco, California. The album was released via Warner Music Canada on March 29, 2019.[45]

In November 2019, the Sheepdogs performed two songs live on television as part of the NHL Heritage Classic at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan.[46]

Band members[edit]

Current members[edit]

  • Ewan Currie - lead vocals, guitars, keys, primary songwriter (2004 - present)
  • Ryan Gullen - bass, backing vocals (2004 - present)
  • Sam Corbett- drums, percussion, backing vocals (2004 - present)
  • Shamus Currie- keys, trombone, guitars, backing vocals (2012 - present )
  • Jimmy Bowskill - guitars, pedal steel guitar, violin, mandolin, backing vocals (2015 - present)

Former members[edit]

  • Leot Hanson- guitar, backing vocals (2006 - 2014)
  • Rusty Matyas- guitar, backing vocals (2014 - 2015)


Side projects[edit]

  • Brothers Ewan and Shamus Currie have recorded an album together in a project called BROS. The debut LP, Vol.1, was released in October 2016.
  • Front man Ewan Currie released his debut solo album, Out of My Mind, in March 2019.


Studio albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions Certifications

Trying to Grow
The Sheepdogs' Big Stand
Learn & Burn 14
The Sheepdogs 1 23
Future Nostalgia 11
Changing Colours 5
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Title Details Peak chart positions

The Breaks EP
  • Released: 2006
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: CD
Five Easy Pieces 7 18
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

7-inch vinyl releases[edit]

Title Year
"Slim Pickens" / "Birthday" 2011
"Downtown" / "Rosalie" 2015
"Be Your Man" / "Really Wanna Be Your Man" (split 7-inch with Yukon Blonde) 2016


Title Year Chart peak Certifications Album


"I Don't Know" 2010 48 2 Learn and Burn
"Who?" 2011 5 10 Five Easy Pieces
"The Way It Is" 2012 59 1 1 The Sheepdogs
"Feeling Good" 70 1 1
"How Late, How Long" 2013 1 21
"Downtown" 2015 4 12 Future Nostalgia
"I'm Gonna Be Myself" 4 26
"Bad Lieutenant" 2016 12 20
"Back Down" 20
"I've Got a Hole Where My Heart Should Be" 2017 1 10 Changing Colours
"Nobody" 2018 5 28
"Saturday Night" 2019 16
"—"denotes a release that did not chart.

Music videos[edit]

Year Video Director
2010 "I Don't Know" Frank Guidoccio
2011 "I Don't Know" Davin Black
2012 "The Way It Is" Randy and Jason Sklar
2013 "Feeling Good" Matt Barnes
"How Late How Long" The Sheepdogs
2015 "Downtown" Matt Barnes
2016 "I'm Gonna Be Myself" Sean L.T. Cartwright
"Bad Lieutenant" Michael Maxxis
2017 "I've Got A Hole Where My Heart Should Be" Ryan Gullen and Mat Dunlap
"Let It Roll" (live session) Ryan Gullen and Mat Dunlap
2018 "Nobody" Ryan Gullen and Mat Dunlap
"Cool Down"/"Kiss the Brass Ring" (live session) Ryan Gullen and Mat Dunlap
"Up in Canada" (live session) Ryan Gullen and Mat Dunlap
"Born a Restless Man" (live session) Ryan Gullen
2019 "Saturday Night" Ryan Gullen and Mat Dunlap



Year Title Role
2012 The Sheepdogs Have At It Themselves


Year Title Role Notes
2011 Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Themselves June 15, 2011 (season 2, episode 459)
August 2, 2011 (season 2, episode 483)
Project Runway Themselves "Image Is Everything" (season 9, episode 9)[51]
the neighbors dog Themselves "The Sheepdogs" (season 2, episode 1)[52]
2012 MTV Live (Canada) Themselves September 22, 2012, season 7

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominated work Event Award Result
2011 Themselves CASBY Awards Favourite New Artist Won
Learn & Burn Favourite Indie Album Won
Favourite New Album Won
Western Canadian Music Awards[53] Rock Recording of the Year Won
Themselves CBC Radio 3 Bucky Awards Best Live Act Nominated
2012 "I Don't Know" Juno Awards Single of the Year Won
Learn & Burn Rock Album of the Year Won
Themselves New Group of the Year Won
Learn & Burn High Times Doobie Award Alternative Album of the Year Won
"I Don't Know" Much Music Video Award Rock Video of the Year Won
2013 "The Way It Is" Juno Awards Single of the Year Nominated
The Sheepdogs Album of the Year Nominated
Themselves Group of the Year Nominated
"Feeling Good" Much Music Video Award Rock Video of the Year Nominated
Post Production of the Year Nominated
2014 "Feeling Good" Juno Awards Video of the Year Won
2016 Future Nostalgia Juno Awards Rock Album of the Year Nominated
"Gonna Be Myself" Much Music Video Award Rock Video of the Year Nominated
2019 "Changing Colours" Juno Awards Rock album of the year Nominated
Themselves Group of the Year Nominated

[44] [43]


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External links[edit]