Canadian Band The Sheepdogs Sell their Souls to Rolling Stone, Tim Gunn

Canadian Band The Sheepdogs Sell their Souls to Rolling Stone, Tim Gunn

If this blog seems less than timely, I apologize. But I just can't get last Thursday's episode of

Project Runway

featuring Canadian rock band The Sheepdogs out of my mind. 

Last week's episode saw the show's producers team up with

Rolling Stone

magazine who supplied the band as models for contestants who designed  "iconic" rock & roll outfits for each member. The band was then paraded in front of a panel of razor-tongued judges known for spewing vitriolic insults at starry-eyed contestants with sociopath-grade aplomb.

For those not familiar with the Heidi Klum hosted reality show on Lifetime, it pits 16 up-and-coming fashion designers against one another, forcing them to design outfits for various clients in several quick fire challenges ranging from the thought-provoking to the flat-out bizarre. 

It should be mentioned the Sheepdogs snagged this opportunity after competing in a Rolling Stone challenge which saw 15 up-and-coming bands from around the country vie for a chance to be featured on the cover of the hallowed rock rag. 

Orange County's own The Steelwells competed in this contest, and were eliminated early on. If you happen to be a fan of the Steelwells' lushly arranged indie jams, and their energetic live shows, don't feel too bad. After watching last week's Project Runway, it seems the contest losers were the ones who dodged the bullet.

The show saw the group made to play in front of the judges then have their new threads scrutinized by the panel. All looked painfully uncomfortable with arms crossed while nervously shifting in their hastily tailored menswear. The band was more in their element when playing songs for the judges including the song "Who Do You Belong To" which sounds like a mediocre version of Lynyrd Skynyrd met with Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Singer Ewan Currie had the dubious honor of wearing the worst outfit designed for the band, known for rocking the neo-hippy look. Instead of looking like a rakish, high-fashion Jerry Garcia, Currie, dressed in braided pig tails, a flowing purple shawl and striped pants, was reminiscent of a culturally tasteless Three Stooges episode with the knuckleheads dressed as squaws. All he needed to make the look complete was a corn cob pipe and a bowler hat. 

Other outfits prompted flowery descriptions from the judges such as "reggae Jesus" and "Rock & Roll Golden Girls." 

The winning outfit was worn by guitarist Leot Hanson, whose faux leather fringe jacket made him look like a 1980s Dennis Hopper poking fun at one of his iconic 1960s characters.

Ultimately the episode, which was supposed to be evocative of rock's contributions to fashion, turned out to be a pathetic publicity stunt by the hallowed rock rag. In the process they preyed upon the ambitions of a young band, effectively turning them into bobble heads to be thumbed by cruel judges then consumed and forgotten by fickle reality-TV viewers. 

Sadly, this sort of charade has been the norm for a generation of viewers weaned on the instant fame generating American Idol--Project Runway even conscripted former Idolist Adam Lambert for its panel of "fashion forward" judges for the episode. Both shows see producers presenting a version of rock to impressionable, ignorant viewers while leaving out important narration on the turbulence of the era that influenced these fashions and sounds. 

With the music's significance censored, viewers are simply bombarded by images of delicate fashionistas frightened by the volume of the Sheepdog's music instead of its mediocrity.

In the end, I have to go easy on bands like the Sheepdogs, who simply have a driving hunger to be successful and sell their souls out of desperation as opposed to a lack of artistic integrity. I just hope that if one day, if they find that success, they'll look back on their Project Runway adventure and feel the sting of regret.


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