Interview With the Sheepdogs’ Sam Corbett & Show Review

The Sheepdogs

I’m here with Sam Corbett , the drummer of the Canadian Rock & Roll/ Southern rock-influenced band, The Sheepdogs who just released their newest album Future Nostalgia on Warner Records/Dine Alone Records this past October, and whom are currently on tour in support of it. They performed in Sydney Nova Scotia at Centre 200, last night on March, 15th  2016 at 8:00 PM, before they head to the United Kingdom at the end of the month.

Osty: Hello Sam, How are you today?

Sam:  I’m Good, how are you?

Osty: I’m Good. So hows the tour is going so far?

Sam: “The tour has been really good. It’s been long, but it’s almost over now. We have five shows left, and the whole tour has been good so far.”

Osty: How has it been having Beat Cops touring with your band on the road?

Sam: “They’ve been really good, y’know ? I haven’t seen them play before, but I listened to their album and i really liked it.They’re from Montreal, and they’re a really good live band; I really like their songs a-lot. They’ve been great, getting the crowd really fired-up. They are a very high energy band for sure.”

Osty: When did you first want to learn drums, was it at University of Saskatchewan?

Sam: I didn’t take drums in University, but we were going into University of Saskatchewan and we were bored with our classes and decided we were going to start a band and it basically….

Osty: Changed your life?

Sam: Absolutely! It changed our life. But yeah, I then rented a drum kit, and Ewan Currie and  Ryan Gullen came over that day and we started the band.

Osty: In terms of playing bigger sized or smaller sized venues, which do you prefer, and why?

Sam: “I prefer to do both. It’s one thing that’s been great about this tour is that we’ve played some larger venues, and we’ve also played some smaller intimate-club type shows. It’s very nice to mix it up, because there are advantages to both – More intimate is great but it’s also great to look out and see a sea of heads out there in the audience as well.”

Osty: What were some of your influences for this record, Future Nostalgia in terms of style and playing, as compared to the previous record The Sheepdogs?

Sam: “It’s sort of a natural progression from our previous music,so I think we always look back to the music of the Sixties and Seventies and we started to delve deeper into that music. You know, we’ve always loved the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and all that, and started getting into other bands like Crosby Stills Nash & Young, The Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead; but then we started hearing more obscure music like Bobby Charles who’s theres one album where the band was playing on it a lot, that we really liked. I think something like that influenced the sound of it a lot, along with looking back into old Soul music and Country/funk music from the late Sixties, that really influences the album. The same style from the era, just deeper cuts. That’s our favourite music to listen to so that’s where the influence comes from.”

Osty: The Style on Future Nostalgia really is different from previous albums, how was it working with Patrick Carney of The Black Keys (The Sheepdogs, 2012) ? What did you take away from that experience?

Sam: “Yeah it is! There’s no one way to make an album, there’s a lot of different ways to do it. Working with Pat on The Sheepdogs (2012), it was a very good experience and we learned a lot. It made us realize that maybe we really wanted a little bit more control of this one (Future Nostalgia) and that was an influence. But there were also other things that we took from those recording sessions that helped informed this one as well.”

Osty: Like what ?

Sam: “You know, he told me one time during the recording process:  “Most Hip-Hop songs are on 90 BPM.” and I went “well why does that matter?” and he told me “It’s kind of a natural groove tempo.” So there are some songs on that album that are on 90 BPM. For this album, we also have some songs that are 90 BPM, although it’s not intentional, so it may be a subliminal thing like “this is a good tempo to be rocking out at!”

Osty: In your opinion – The Grateful Dead or The Allman Bros, which is the ultimate Jam band?
Sam: “I’d pick The Allman Brothers for sure. I always liked Gregg Allmans singing more-so than any singer within the Dead,and i just  always gravitated towards the Allman Brothers Band more. I haven’t listened to The Grateful Dead as much, maybe I should get into it a bit more. I mean, I like American Beauty and stuff like that, but I’ve just always gravitated more towards the Allman Brothers.”

Osty: What’s your stance on people using their cell phones at your concerts?

Sam: I don’t mind them when people use them at shows recording stuff, sometimes i’ll view the recordings online on YouTube that people have posted. What I don’t like is if someone is in the front row of the concert and is looking down at their phone while the concert is going on. It detracts from the moment & experience and I wonder like “Why is this person in the front row if you’re just going to look at your cell-phone the whole time?” I don’t know.

Osty: What was your first concert that changed your life?

Sam: My first concert was when I had just turned nineteen years of age and went to a bar called Meegos in Saskatoon, which the Sadie’s performed at that night.That concert made a strong impression on me and opened up some possibilities. I was really impressed, and I had never heard of them before. It made me believe that there could be a local club setting within Saskatoon and that I could do the same and be something.

Osty: Who are some drummers that inspired you when you started playing?

Sam: “Well the whole reason I got into drumming was basically listening to Led Zeppelin and really liking Jon Bonham a lot. I really liked and aspired to be someone like that; somebody really flashy, or someone like Mitch Mitchell. Then The more I started to play drums and listen to music from that era, I started to be more influenced by more basic,groove-oriented, simplified players like Ringo, Levon Helm or Al Jackson from Booker T & The MGs. You can hear just about every kind of drumming and get an inspiring idea from it.”

Osty: I’ve read in previous interviews that  The Sheepdogs took influence from The Band’s Music From Big Pink, and The Stones’ Exile On Main Street, and was then secluded in Stony Lake, Ontario for similar effect.  How did that seclusion change the way the songs were written/composed, as compared to previous sessions?
Sam: “Well an interesting thing about this album Future Nostalgia, compared to our previous album The Sheepdogs, is that the songs were really fleshed out and really well rehearsed going into the recording process, whereas The Sheepdogs, which was done in 2012, they were more half-sketched ideas and had songs on that album that I hadn’t heard of or played before which was a nice challenge, but I prefer to be better prepared, which we were this time around.”
Sam: “Also, the ability to be able to self-produce the record, along with zero distractions helped. The process helped us focus and enabled us to make the record as true to us as we wanted it and people to hear it be.”

Osty: Whom are your top 3 favourite drummers as of now, and why ?
Sam: “It would still be Bonham at Number 1. The second and third would be The Beatle’s Ringo and then Levon Helm. I know that isn’t the most original answers in the world… actually, one of my favourite drummers right now is Stevie Wonder. A lot of people don’t realize that he does the drumming on most of his early 70s albums (Songs In the Key Of Life, Talking Book, Innervisions… He does all the drumming on them, and it’s really spectacular. It’s a little unconventional at times, in the best of ways, so its great to listen to try and figure out what kind of beats/drum patterns he’s doing.”

Osty: Which drummer do you prefer, if you could only pick one drummer:  Bill Lordan (from Gyspy) , or David Thomson (The People’s Choice) ?

Sam: One drummer? You know, I’m not super familiar with either of those guys…

Osty: But I saw on your twitter account that you linked two of the songs mentioned (“Gypsy (Part 1) & “Do you wanna have Fun”

Sam: “Oh I did?… Well, I love the guy in the People’s Choice video, so I’ll have to go with him. (David Thompson)”
Osty: Are there any new elements or styles you’d like to explore for new material / a new record in the future, or keep it how it is?

Sam: “I think it’ll probably be like an extension of  the same genre, but swimming further out. There might be material that is more country-influenced, or more soul-influenced. I’m not too entirely sure. Ewan Currie  (singer/lead guitarist) writes the songs, and I know he’s been writing some new stuff that I’ve been listening to that sounds great. We’re hopefully going to record later this year and have something out for next year.”
Osty: I’ve read that most song collaborations within the band happen while on the road, is their still a lot of song collaboration within the band on the road now?

Sam: “It depends. I think Ewan just gets an idea for a riff or a melody and he sings it into his phone and later, sometimes he’ll have the song structures and ideas fully fleshed out when he brings them to rehearsal to show us. Other times he just has the riff and he’ll play it for a while and then we kind of jam it out and figure out what comes next; but he always comes up with the lyrics melody and chords. From there it’s a toss up for all songs. Sometimes he has 95% of the idea, other times he only has 15% of the idea. It just depends on the song.”

Osty: How has it been since you guys were the first unsigned band on the Cover of Rolling Stone Magazine in 2011, and how has it changed your lives since?

Sam: “We’ve been lucky, but we’ve also worked really hard to try and sustain a career out of making music by doing a lot of touring and recording albums as fast as possible to sustain the career. A lot of reality TV show winners from like American Idol, The Voice, those sorts of shows don’t make for a sustainable career. The fact that we’ve been able to keep such a stable and sustainable career and perform all around the world from Canada, The US, and the UK for people , get radio airplay, and still have a career – we’re very lucky to have, but it’s also something we worked very hard towards at establishing.”

Osty: Lastly, Advice for upcoming drummers & musicians ?

Sam: The best advice I can give is to listen to as much music as you possibly can and to try and figure out what the performer is playing, and then copy it. It’s what I would do. Another thing is to focus on the basics of technique early on, because I didn’t and I’m mostly self-taught, and it’s something I wish i had focused more on, but was too excited to just start playing.

Osty: Thank you for your time Sam. Have a great show tonight!

Sam: Thanks a lot! It was a pleasure talking with you.

You can buy their newest album, Future Nostalgia, released on Dine Alone Records, here:

Show review of The Sheepdogs (March 15th,2016 – Sydney, Nova Scotia, Centre 200) below:

The Sheepdogs played a fantastic set in Sydney,Nova Scotia last night (March 15th, 2016) on their 30th show of the 35 show Canadian tour titled “Keepin it Smooth” in support of their recent LP “Future Nostalgia” on Warner Records.

Upon arriving at the venue, the sun had just set, and the mood was more Spring-like than in recent days. The venue was packed once I first walked in, with fans all sitting in cabaret style seating and tables, with decorative black cloth covering the tables.

Everyone was in a cheerful mood as Beat Cops, a hard rock band from Montreal, opened the show at 8:15pm and took the stage. The band, donned in punk, and Heavy metal T-shirts, launched into “Emotional,” the first track off of their album Mean Streets – a heavy rocker that got the crowd pumped up and dancing. They then played songs such as “Back In Time” , “ Theme From Beat Cops”, and “Hit It Again” and others from their LP titled “Mean Streets“. The bands lead singer, Mikey Heppner, interjected after “Emotional” that he “feels like I’m interrupting your fancy dinner” in reference to the cabaret seating and how everyone was sitting down for the show.

After Beat Cops played their short, but heavy and fast,danceable 35 minute opening slot set, a short 10 minute intermission began at 8:50pm, while the crowd patiently waited for The Sheepdogs to walk onto the stage. The Sheepdogs then came onto the stage at exactly 9:00pm.

The band, sporting flannel and 70’s eclectic taste in fashion, played crowd favourites such as “The Way It Is”, “I Don’t Know”, and “How Late, How Long” from The Sheepdogs as well as newer staples from their most recent album Future Nostalgia, like “I Really Wanna Be Your Man,” “Downtown,” “Jim Gordon,” and “Take a Trip”.

The band launched heavily into “Where Can I Roam,” which immediately drew cheers from the audience. After the second song, “I’m Gonna Be Myself,” Ewan and the rest of the band invited the audience to get up from the cabaret seating style of the venue and dance up in the front of the stage, much to the acceptance of the band; the crowd obliged.

Later within the set, the band brought out and introduced Shamus, the new keyboardist within the band, to the forefront – centre stage – to open the song “Ewan’s Blues” on trombone. The funky rhythm with the trombone of Ewan’s’ Blues really made the fans dance wildly, twirling about, having a rocking good time.

Before the band commenced playing “Plastic Man”, they introduced Jimmy Boswell on Pedal Steel for the song. Boswell’s playing shined on through, eliciting harmonious joy throughout the duration of the song, and really sparked and gave the song life within the live setting.

After a fantastic closing statement by Ewan Currie (singer/lead guitarist) telling the enthusiastic and dancing crowd the last song was to be “I Don’t Know”, the band blasted into the song full force, with soaring leads and dynamic interplay between new recruit Jimmy Boswell and Ewan Currie. Afterwards the band left the stage… house lights went on… and the crowd chanted “ENCORE” for one more song.

Much to the crowds delight, the band returned to the stage, guitars in tow, and announced that they were going to perform “Whipping Post” by The Allman Brothers Band, and then launched into an epic, jammy, 10+ minute version of The Allman Bros. “Whipping Post”. The crowd went insane; they were all dancing and singing along with the band, as Boswell and Currie exchanged leads during the solos. Afterwards, more cheers erupted as the band thanked the audience and left the stage.

The Sheepdogs are performing tonight and the next night (March 16-17th) at The Marquee In Halifax, before heading to New Brunswick and them Prince Edward Island on their last stops of the tour. The night was well received by everyone – band, fans, and management alike.

The full setlist for the show is below:

Beat Cops set:


Hit It Again

Back In Time

Just To Keep From Crying

Next Time You See Me


Theme From Beat Cops

Get Even

Rills of the Nile

When You Left Home

Sheepdogs Set:

Where Can I Roam

I’m Gonna Be Myself

I Really Wanna Be Your Man


Bad Lieutenant

Southern Dreaming

Same Old Feeling

Ewan’s Blues

Right On

One You Belong To


Way It Is

Jim Gordon

Plastic Man

Back Down

Take a Trip

Help Us All

Slim Pickens

Feeling Good

How Late How Long

I Don’t Know

Encore: Whipping Post (Allman Brothers Band cover)