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The Sheepdogs at the Magic Stick, 3 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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It’s never too cold for the Sheepdogs.

The quintet from Saskatoon has been touring across its native Canada in the middle of winter, wearing longjohns on the bus and “busting out the parkas,” according to bassist Ryan Gullen. Clearly this is a hardworking breed of band.

Since 2006 Gullen and company have released six studio albums, including “Changing Colours” earlier this month, and won four Juno Awards. As the title indicates the set finds the group exploring a broader range of styles, though it’s still rooted in the loose-limbed but tightly played brand of rock it started out playing since its early days at the University of Saskatoon.

Gullen, 33, clues us in to where the band’s at now -- with, he promises, no shaggy dog stories...

• The biggest difference for the Sheepdogs in making “Changing Colours” was taking more time than usual in the studio. “A lot of our albums we’ve done in the past have been kind of over a couple of weeks and then putting out the record and note spending a...ton of time on it,” Gullen explains. “We started working on this record right after coming off the road and feeling pretty sharp after playing a ton of shows. But we decided that maybe we’ll chill a little bit, sit on some of the songs and see what direction they take. As a result we were able to figure out a system where we’d work on a song a bit, then let it sit for awhile and come back to it. We were able to flesh them out a little more and be a little more mental, which is totally different than we’ve done with albums past. As a result, some of the songs took a totally different turn, which we liked.”

• Gullen adds that the Sheepdogs’ fans have seemed to embrace the group’s changes as well. “I don’t think there’s anything coming from a dishonest place,” he says. “There’s nothing on this record so outside the realm it’s a dishonest representation of the band. We listen to a lot of different music. We love albums with diversity, different kind of vibes to them. It’s not like we intentionally set out to, ‘Let’s have an album that has a whole bunch of different things.’ We’re just letting some of those other influences bleed in and try a few new elements. I think we have the kind of audience that likes that, too.”

• As proud Canadians, the Sheepdogs paid as close attention as possible to the Winter Olympics, mostly on the tour bus. “Usually I wake up in the morning and check out all my apps for what’s going on,” Gullen says. “We’re really into curling and definitely try to watch that. It’s a good, low-key, on-the-road watch, just hanging out in the hotel room watching some curling. It’s one of those sports you feel Canada is always going to be in the finals for, so when the men lost in the quarter final it was like, ‘Come on, guys, you’ve got to be better! This is our thing!’ But I think people around the world are catching up to us and catching on to curling.”

If You Go

• The Sheepdogs and Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs

• Wednesday, Feb. 28. Doors open at 7 p.m.

• The Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit.

• Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door.

• Call 313-833-9700 or visit majesticdetroit.com.

Web Site: www.majesticdetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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