Meet the Rolling Stone Cover Contest Finalists, The Sheepdogs

You would think a band called The Sheepdogs would have super-shaggy beards and nearly-shoulder-length ‘dos. And you would be right. Except that their name has nothing to do with their hair. They also preface their answers with “I hate to say we’re stylish guys,” and admit that they still are practicing in their parents’ basements. But The Sheepdogs are no amateurs, and despite their super-laid-back approach to fashion and haircare, we're impressed how they pull it all together. In case you haven’t been following, The Sheepdogs, whose members include Ewan Currie, Leot Hanson, Ryan Gullen, and Sam Corbett, are one of two finalists in the Rolling Stone Cover Contest presented by Garnier Fructis. To recap, the old-school Canadian rock band is going head to head with the L.A. indie-popster Lelia Broussard (stay tuned for more on her) to be the first unsigned act to ever appear on the cover of the magazine, and sign a contract with Atlantic Records. We were thrilled to catch up with The Sheepdogs to talk music, the Canada-only second-hand shop they love, and their no-fuss hair that’s bound to make any girl with a diffuser very jealous.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Kennedy, Kennedy Etc.
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How did four guys from Saskatoon become The Sheepdogs?
Ewan: “We started as a three piece, myself, Ryan, and Sam. We were terrible. We would just hammer out rehearsal after rehearsal. We slowly worked at it and we did a bunch of shows. When it came time to tour, we met up with Leot in a nearby town. And basically for the last six years, we’ve been driving back through Canada and very, very, very, slowly pushing things, so the last few months are like woosh.”
Where did the name Sheepdogs come from?
Ewan: “My head. I wish I had a good story for that.”
For people who are not familiar with your music, how would you describe your sound?
Ewan: “I usually say old school rock. The Beatles, Rolling Stones. We listen to all kinds of stuff. We’re big into The Allman Brothers, Joe Walsh. We like, you know, rock music; nice guitar work [that] really grooves—it’s got nice driving rhythm to it. I don’t like rock music that’s unnatural; I don’t like when it’s too heavy. And also harmonies.”
You all have such awesome hair, do you have any beauty secrets you can share?
Ewan: “Beauty secrets?”
Well, what’s your haircare regiment?
Sam: “Just hop out of the shower, possibly shampoo it. Comb it. We don’t really do that much with our hair. We’re definitely more natural.”
Ryan: “We have a lot of gals obsessing, like ‘how do you get your hair like that?’ We don’t think about it that much. We all do it just to do it. Maybe like doing too much of a good thing is really a bad thing?”
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You guys just got back from Bonnaroo. What were some of the highlights?
Ryan: “I think it was good to take in the music and also to be a part of it. Our set was really cool. For a Canadian band to get down to this festival, it could have gone either way. We thought we did really well; we thought the crowd appreciated it.”
Tell me about your personal style. Do you take inspiration from anyone or anything?
Ewan: “I hate to say that we’re stylish guys, but I guess that ultimately we do think about what we wear. We’re more than what’s on the racks at a local H&M. We do look at a lot of old school music.”
Ryan: “We like to like dress the part, I guess. It’s sort of a mixture of that, but not so out there.”
What’s your three top places to shop?
Ewan: "Well, vintage shops, I guess. Every city we go to, we try to check out vintage stores. There’s Value Village. You got that?”
No, what is that?
Sam: "Value Village is basically like a large chain of second-hand clothing, furniture, and every medium-sized city has one in Canada.”
Ryan: “One place I can think of specifically is Kensington Market [in Toronto]. It’s a big block with stores on one street and they also have a market. Its like an old neighborhood converted to shops.”
Ewan: “We like old stuff and cheap stuff, we don’t have a lot of money. We’re not going to buy $2,000 John Varvatos dusters. Top three? Kensington market, Value Village up in Canada, and…."
Ryan: “Buffalo Exchange? We’ve gone to it in the states a couple times.”
What’s the best vintage piece that you’ve scored?
Ryan: “Snakeskin cowboy boots. It’s really fun to find something that’s really awesome and people are like, ‘Oh, that’s a great shirt! Where’d you find that?’ and I’m like, ‘It was $5 and I found it in Peterborough, Ontario.’ There’s a story behind a lot of things."
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Out of the four of you, who spends the most time getting ready?
Ewan: “I’d say it’s one of these two [Ryan and Leot].”
Leot: “Well, I have to put my contacts in. And, we’re the only ones who comb our hair.”
If you do land on the cover of Rolling Stone, what do you think it will look like?
Ewan: “I love that picture of Winston Churchill, it’s like a propaganda poster from WWII, and he’s got like a top hat on, and a cigar in his mouth, and he’s holding a Tommy gun. I thought it would be sweet if we all had Tommy guns, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a little too aggressive. I thought it would be funny.”
Ryan: “My idea was, because of the sound of our music, if they went back to… like a throwback issue.”
Sam: “I think in 2002 when the Patriots won the Superbowl, Tom Brady was the replacement quarterback, there was a shot of him after when he gets the trophy. He’s like very shocked and he brings his hands up to his face. I would like the cover to capture what a crazy ride it’s been.”
Leot: “I think if somehow they could incorporate Canada, the Canadian flag, or something like that to show where we’re from.”
I heard you guys were practicing in your parents’ houses a few months ago…
All: “We still are.”
So, how have things changed since you’ve been a part of this contest?
Ewan: “We get to go to Bonnaroo and play. I think the biggest thing is like, you’re in a band and you’re traveling, and it’s hot, and you start to wonder if this is going to work out. Are we actually as good as we think we are? Or, that people that see us say we are? It’s like this validation. Yes, what you’re doing is worthwhile, it is something that you can build a career on. You’re not a loser for practicing in your parent’s basement, not having any money, or a car that runs. We just see that we’re going to make a career of it, that’s the best part. You can tell people, ‘I’m a musician for a living.”
I hear there’s a little bit of friendly trash talk between you and the other finalist, any last words for Lelia?
Ewan: “Trust us, we can really go to town with trash talk, but we’re just taking care of business, doing our thing. We’re not here to get into a war of words. And we’re not worried what anyone else says of us. We’re worried about The Sheepdogs and that’s it.”
Sam: “Having said that, Lelia Broussard sucks.”
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