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The Sheepdogs branch out on ‘Changing Colours’

No matter how you slice it, 17 songs is a lot of new material to put out all at once. And with the release of Changing Colours, the new album by The Sheepdogs, bassist Ryan Gullen feels as though his band will be able to interest two of today’s most common types of music consumers.

“One is online, and so the more things you can have out there for people to discover about your band, that’s great,” he says. “People consume music so much faster than they used to. And the other is the person who still throws the record on the turntable. This is a cool, cohesive piece that all flows together for a different experience.”

Creating Changing Colours (released digitally Feb. 2, with a U.S. physical release set for April 27) proved to be a different experience on multiple levels for Gullen and his bandmates. With previous studio efforts, the Canadian rock band would have everything wrapped up in about two to three weeks.

“In the case of this one,” Gullen says, “we started working on the record in that way. And by the end of the couple of weeks of recording, we realized, ‘Well, we don’t really have anything coming up. It might be kind of cool to take our time.’ ”

By pacing themselves and letting everything marinate a little, The Sheepdogs found themselves incorporating a variety of styles and sounds into Changing Colours, the band’s sixth album. There’s a mellow early Santana-meets-Allman Brothers Band flavor to “Cool Down,” while “The Big Nowhere” is War-like.

“That one definitely changed shape over the course of us working on it,” Gullen says about the latter song. “It was a lot more straight-ahead [originally]. We had a friend come by one day for beers; he’s a percussionist. We were like, ‘You wanna play some Latin percussion on this song?’ So he did a couple of passes. Because we were afforded the time, it was really fun to inject some of that.”

Changing Colours marks the first time multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Bowskill, who joined The Sheepdogs about two years ago, has made an album with the group.

“He’s kind of an [instrumental] freak,” Gullen says with a sense of awe in his voice. “When it came to us attempting different things, it was like, ‘Hey Jim, you wanna try throwin’ down a viola/violin string section on this?’ He played mandolin, viola, fiddle, banjo and pedal steel [in addition to guitar]. Anything with strings, he can figure out and play great parts. He just has an ear for that.”

— By Chris M. Junior

Photo by Mat Dunlap

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