Brisbane’s Sheppard have been on a stellar journey with 2014 seeing them achieve milestones such as the highest-selling Australian single with Geronimo, sold-out headline performances at London’s Barfly, New York’s Webster Hall and LA’s The Lyric Studio.
The modest Brissie crew also chalked up a performance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
So how does a group only together for a few short years manage such a coup? George Sheppard, one of the three siblings who provide the genetic and creative core for Sheppard, filled in the gaps. ‘Our manager in the US is Scooter Brawn. He has a few contacts, and Ellen is a big fan of his, and when he proposed to put us on the show she heard our song and was really keen. You could see our numbers go up pretty instantly and there were a lot more people commenting on social media.’
For the sibs who grew up in Port Moresby it wasn’t until they’d left school that their musical inclinations directed them to their creative calling.
‘Amy was studying music at TAFE and had to write a song, and she thought it sounded bland and walked past the shower when I was singing and had a lightbulb moment when she heard me. She asked me to sing harmonies on the song, and it worked well so we decided to do stuff together as a duo.
I guess we were more like Angus and Julia Stone in style; that was for two years and it was as a bit of a hobby but started getting more serious as we added more members. We brought Jason Bambino up to play bass guitar for us and he started to play acoustic guitar one night and we realised we could write songs together.’
When it came to recording the super-successful Bombs Away, the band’s debut album, it was basically a process of paring back what the crew had been throwing together over the years. ‘We just wrote a bunch of pop songs over three years; we never really went in with the idea of a specific album.
We’d write a song and go in and record it and by the end we had 30 tracks to choose from. Choosing was hard. We had to decide what kind of band we were and what we wanted to release.
Because we weren’t really a band we hadn’t had that clear objective from the beginning, and the music itself is quite eclectic.
We find the songs don’t really sound alike but they sound like Sheppard songs – I guess, it’s electro pop folk pop.’
A lover of Coldplay, George takes his lead from their creative courage.
‘If you look at someone such as Coldplay they have grown with each subsequent album – I love seeing what they do next. They are my all-time favourite band – every album is different from the next but it still sounds like Coldplay.’
Sheppard is still very much in the ‘discovery’ phase of their musical cycle, with the world suddenly turning on to their unique sound.
‘Discovery is exciting. The first time you get played on radio or the first time on TV – and because you don’t know if it is going to appeal to the right audience, you have to take that leap of faith!’
Before they hit the US running in 2015 as top support for Megan Trainer on her US and Canadian tours, Sheppard look forward to featuring at Bluesfest.
‘It will be awesome – I had the greatest time when I was last there and I never thought we’d be playing Bluesfest!’
For more program and ticketing information go to bluesfest.com.au.