BROS Bio (2016) When Ewan and Shamus Currie were looking to name their new project, they settled on BROS after it checked all the right boxes. First off, they are actual brothers—the front man and keyboardist, respectively, for platinum-selling Canadian band The Sheepdogs. They’ve also fostered an image as guys who adhere to life’s simple pleasures, above all playing loud, grooving rock and roll, and tipping back a few pints in the process. However, since the term “Bro” is no longer easily defined, it became an even more appropriate overall representation of the 10 genre-defying songs on BROS’ self-titled debut album. This isn’t Sheepdogs-style rock; in fact, there’s not a lot of guitar on the album at all. Instead, the sound of BROS, encapsulated in the album’s first single “Tell Me,” combines vintage funk and power pop in the spirit of what Sly & The Family Stone once called a whole new thing. The origin of BROS goes back to the winter of 2014, just after Ewan and Shamus relocated to Toronto from Saskatoon, and prior to The Sheepdogs recording their most recent album, Future Nostalgia. “We had a fair bit of downtime, and Shamus had sent me some demos of songs he’d been working on,” Ewan explains. “One was called ‘Brazil,’ and I was really impressed. Right away I wrote down a whole bunch of ideas for production and arrangement, and we started working on the tunes in a little shack in my buddy Frank’s backyard. Shamus would play keys or guitar while I played some terrible drums, and we fumbled our way into arranging ‘Brazil’ and ‘Tell Me.’” Ewan adds, “I think like a lot of people, we started calling our pals ‘Bro’ ironically, and of course we’d do it with each other. At some point along the way, it stuck with this project, and we just went with it.” Once enough material was ready, the scene shifted to Thomas D’Arcy’s Toronto studio, Taurus Recording, where all the necessary ingredients were added to the musical gumbo. Shamus says, “We had a bit of a kitchen sink approach to a bunch of these tunes. We’d just go back and forth layering more ideas on until we created these musical collages. We love the sound of those over-produced records from the late 60’s and 70’s when people like the Beatles and the Beach Boys were going crazy with overdubs. We loaded these songs with as many hooks and homages and pieces of ear candy as possible.” Indeed, a savvy listener to BROS should be able to hear echoes of everything from E.L.O. and Badfinger to Curtis Mayfield and The Meters. What’s perhaps most surprising is the heavy influence of Latin music on BROS, stemming from their shared love of artists like Gilberto Gil and Os Mutantes. Ewan says, “One of my favourite songs on the album is ‘Flight 714,’ which is based around a strong Latin groove, something I’ve always wanted to do.” In some respects, BROS actually marks the first time the Curries have worked this closely together making music. Shamus was originally brought into The Sheepdogs as a touring member before attaining full-fledged status prior to the making of Future Nostalgia, and his multi-instrumental skills made an immediate impact. “Ewan and I didn’t actually play together in a band until I joined The Sheepdogs; we each had our own bands growing up,” Shamus says. “I think our musical relationship developed more over listening to a lot of the same records. Ewan was always telling me
good stuff to check out. It meant that we had a shared knowledge of music, and when we started writing together the ideas flowed pretty easily.” While The Sheepdogs will continue to be the Curries’ primary focus, BROS has opened up a lot of new creative possibilities, even in terms of performing live. Both admit that recreating the album’s countless overdubs in front of audiences will be a challenge, but it’s one they’re eager to embrace in order to translate the fun they had in the studio onto the stage. It’s hard to imagine the history of rock and roll without its great brother combinations. Shamus and Ewan Currie can now be added to that list, as BROS demonstrates once again what those who share those blood ties can accomplish together.