Interview - Sheppard

Sheppard have just wrapped up a trot around Australia and New Zealand tour supporting Justin Bieber, with one sixth of the dream team, George Sheppard, finding time to hop on the horn to talk about their up-beat new single, upcoming album and UK tour.

Rewind the tape back to earlier days and you’ll find that this band wasn’t always a hexagonal three-sibling-three-friend existence. Their inception in 2009 consisted of George, his sister Amy Sheppard and Jason Bovino – “a trio-type deal that went on for almost two years,” Sheppard offers. Bringing Emma Sheppard, the third sibling, on board along with Dean Gordon and Michael Butler, they formed a bond like no other, as Sheppard furthers “It’s so valuable to have people you trust one hundred percent in this business, whilst also having that feeling of home where ever you are.”

Following on from 2014’s debut Bombs Away, Sheppard are hitting the streets and the charts with their electric new single Keep Me Crazy, debuting at #1 on the Independent Sales Charts in Australia and notching up Top Ten chart placements globally. “We have been out for about a good year and a half trying to write this album and I often think ‘Do people still know who we are?’” he laughs. “So when we receive something like this award it’s refreshing to know we’ve still got fans out there!

“It’s a catch 22; even if people get impatient and we lose fans, we want to make sure the next album we release is actually better in every way than the first album… It takes time and a lot of energy to get that done – you have to write 30 to 40 different songs to find the 12 that are going to fit perfectly in the album.”

Expect to hear and see dreamier, surrealist and imaginative video clips like the creative treatment of Keep Me Crazy. Sheppard drew inspiration from Bruce Springsteen to produce this indie-pop single: “It’s about finding wild, lasting love that keeps you youthful, enthusiastic, and passionate.”

Expressing his view on relationships in this day and age, he muses: “It seems everyone’s afraid of commitment. For example, Tinder, where people are connecting but not having that real connection, and with so many options often thinking ‘My life is going to be boring if I stay with one person’ – we want to promote the opposite effect.”

Embarking on three intimate shows in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, this is the first time in two years that Sheppard have done a headline tour, providing an opportunity to treat all of their fans to a sneak peek at the new album. “Playing live is so important to us, and before things get too crazy overseas we are looking forward to playing for our fans here.” Keeping busy, Sheppard just finished a five stadium tour with pop icon Justin Bieber, Sheppard saying that “this was one of the most surreal experiences we have been through,” including playing at their hometown’s Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

The seasoned travellers that they are, Sheppard are soon venturing back to the UK on tour with Little Mix. “Being on tour is a lifestyle you can’t really ever properly recreate or express… It’s like being on a camp except really intense, with 4am starts and 1am finishes,” Sheppard explains. “Imagine a shitload of promo work to be done, acoustic performances to be played in-between live shows and lonely nights in empty hotel rooms after playing in front of a thousand or so audience, along with numerous flights, and then repeat this everyday. It’s exhausting, but the best type.”

There’s definitely a light side to this lifestyle; before the show the band will have sound check and then hang out in the green room for an hour or two before they walk on stage: “I try and Zen out by listening to music, doing some stretches and vocal warm-ups,” he enlightens. After the show is a complete different vibe: “Everyone is buzzing, that moment in the last five minutes of a show where you know it’s all gone well is the moment that makes doing what we do worthwhile.”

Exciting times ahead for Sheppard as they embark their next journey to the other side of the world for a run of headline shows around the UK and then back home to serenade us in Oz. Be sure to catch the release of their second album mid to late this year!

27 May, Eaton’s Hill Hotel, Brisbane
10 June, The Croxton, Melbourne
11 June, Metro Theatre, Sydney