When Australian pop-rock band Sheppard started out just a few short years ago, it was no surprise that their bright, catchy music would take them far. Just how far though, was anybody’s guess.
It’s been a whirlwind year for Sheppard, made up of siblings George, Amy and Emma Sheppard, as well as their friends Jay Bovino, Dean Gordon, and Michael Butler. Following the release of their debut full-length album Bombs Away, the band’s single “Geronimo” went global, reaching platinum-status in Australia, the U.S. and elsewhere. With the song’s success, the band began getting unbelievable opportunities to play on television shows and festival stages, performing for millions all over the world. They have appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Ellen, The Voice Australia, as well as Lollapalooza. In the last year, they have been able to tour with the likes of Keith Urban and Meghan Trainor, among many others.
Bombs Away is a fantastic album filled with a mix of cool, laid-back tracks that make you feel something while listening. It’s hard not to tap your foot and groove along to songs like “Something is Missing,” “These People” and “Let Me Down Easy,” which is earnest yet cheery with it’s group vocals, tambourine, and upbeat melody. Songs like “Electric Feeling” and “Find Someone” are on the jazzy side with effortless rhythm. Sheppard enters new territory with songs like “Geronimo” and “Halfway to Hell,” which aren’t as beachy and sunny. “Geronimo” toes the line, but is ultimately a hopeful tune with an anthemic chorus that starts the album off with a bang. “Halfway to Hell” starts off cool and jazzy, but has much more of a rock edge to it than any of the band’s other songs.
Sheppard recently completed their first-ever U.S. headlining tour with British band Lawson opening the run of shows.
I had the opportunity to chat with Amy and Emma Sheppard before the New York date of their tour to discuss the band’s recent success, Bombs Away, songwriting, and past tour memories.
Elise Yablon (New York Rock Music Scene): Over the last three years, the band has just blown up. How has the ride been for you guys?
Emma Sheppard: Non-stop
Amy Sheppard: Yeah, it’s been non-stop, it’s been surreal, but it’s been a lot of fun. Looking back, we can’t believe ourselves. We’ve just been taking each day as it comes, but when you look back on the big picture, and everything that’s happened, it’s mind-blowing.
EY: What do you think about the success of “Geronimo”? The song is everywhere…
AS: We just feel really happy that people are hearing our music now. “Geronimo” came out in Australia for the first time over a year ago, so it’s really nice to have international success with it.
ES: It’s hard to keep up as well. Take every day-by-day because it’s, you know, blowing up all around the world in different areas at different times. We don’t know how big we are in some countries, and we arrive and there’s a huge crowd for us. It’s really cool, singing our song to us.
EY: What was it like writing “Geronimo”?
AS: It was really funny… We started it just before we went on stage at a concert in Melbourne, but we just had the guitar riff and opening melody, we were like “that’s cool,” we recorded it, and then we had to go on stage. After that we totally forgot about it for a couple of months and it wasn’t until a writing session that we all came together and were like “this is cool, remember this!” and just wrote it in two hours. It was so easy, it was really organic. It was really fun to write and produce.
EY: The sound is so different from songs like “Hold My Tongue” and “Let Me Down Easy.”
AS: I think we were still developing our sound and we still are. We don’t want to be in a box, you know. We want to just write what comes out. Yeah, that’s just what happened, we’re just continuously developing our sound and music, but especially at that point we didn’t know what Sheppard was, we were wondering what to write. I think that’s a good example of it… If you listen to the EP and you listen to the album, you can really tell.
EY: Has there been any moment that has stood out for you over the past three years?
ES: There’s been a lot… Jimmy Fallon, for example… Ellen… We just played a show to 80,000 people in Vienna. Every day just keeps getting better.
AS: Yeah, I guess hitting number one in Australia, going platinum in the U.S. and everywhere else… It’s been the time of our lives really.
EY: What is the most important element of writing a song for the band?
AS: I think its teamwork. Jay, George and I, we have a really good team going on and I feel like… You can always tell that one of us has just written a song and then that’s being supported by the three of us. So for us it’s collaboration.
ES: Yeah, and I guess just being genuine as well. We’ve tried to write random songs where our heart wasn’t into them, songs for other people, and we always write better songs when it’s coming from a personal experience.
EY: You mentioned your appearances on Jimmy Fallon and Ellen… You always have this infectious energy when you’re on stage, especially when you played Fallon.
ES: It always helps when the crowd really gets into it as well. I think we were so excited about being on Jimmy Fallon and the whole atmosphere was awesome and Jimmy Fallon was so nice to us and The Roots and everything…
AS: I mean, you just get the vibe from the audience and then you’re excited and then they get more excited and then you get more excited. Yeah, it’s all about the vibe.
EY: Do you think you’ve “amped up” your stage show since your days playing small clubs?
AS: Yeah, definitely. We’ve learned a lot, you know. Although we’re still doing a lot of the same songs, we’re always mixing it up because we get bored, so we like to change it.
ES: Every show you develop more and people that have seen us a month ago and then will see us again will say that they see a massive difference in the way we play.
AS: I guess we don’t really notice it show by show, because it’s just one after the other, but three years ago we can definitely tell there’s a huge difference.
EY: You guys have gotten to play with a lot of well-known artists… You just finished a tour a few months ago with Meghan Trainor. Do you have any artists that have stuck out in your mind that you’ve played with?
AS: Yeah. We played with Keith Urban and he was incredible. He’s just so nice and such a genuine guy. He felt like your friend… That was a lot of fun. We learned a lot from being on that massive tour, doing arenas every night and just seeing the way he talks to the crowd. He’s just… What you see is what you get.
ES: It’s always nice when you can come across an artist that’s nice back to you and just a normal person. The All Time Low boys are really nice. We just did a festival run with them in Europe and they were playing in Oslo the same night as us and they’re just really decent guys. You always remember that. And you always remember the people that aren’t.
EY: Are you guys planning on releasing another single in the United States?
AS: Yeah, definitely. I’m not sure… I think we’re probably doing “Let Me Down Easy” next off the album, but yeah, we want to get home and get some new stuff out and hopefully… but we want to do it right, maybe have “Let Me Down Easy” and a few other singles as a way to take it over, but… we’ll see. We don’t really have a plan right now.
ES: We just want the whole world to sync up…
AS: …So we can do one release and make this huge thing rather than be like “oh, Australia, yo