In only a few short years Sheppard have ticked off some massive bucket list items. After the massive success of their breakthrough singles ‘Let Me Down Easy’ and ‘Geronimo’ the Brisbane five piece toured the world, performed on some of the biggest talk shows like Ellen and Jimmy Fallon as well as opened for the likes of Justin Bieber, Little Mix and Meghan Trainor. Four years after the release of the debut album ‘Bombs Away’ the band have finally released their highly anticipated sophomore studio album ‘Watching The Sky’. The album boasts a collection of some of their most recent radio favourites like ‘Coming Home’, ‘Keeps Me Crazy’, ‘We Belong’, ‘Edge Of The Night’ and ‘Riding The Wave’ as well as a couple of intimate tracks that show a more vulnerable side to their songwriting. But as a whole this record hears them offering a consistent collection of upbeat pop that will continue to add to their feel-good live show. I recently chatted to vocalist Amy Sheppard about what made the creative process of this new record so different to their first, the stresses of opening up for Justin Bieber and also found out if they are over ‘Geronimo’ yet. Check it out;
TB: Your second studio album ‘Watching The Sky’ is one of those albums that is full of feel good pop tracks that instantly lift you up. As a band, when you enter the studio how do you make sure you’re all on the same page to how you want the song to feel?
AS: George, Jason and I have been writing together for so long now that we have developed a sound which we are all happy with and passionate about. This “sound” is continuously evolving which is the challenging and fun part of the whole writing process. I think the important thing is to listen to each other’s ideas, try the ideas and develop them further if they need some work. Sure, sometimes it doesn’t work out but when it does, it’s magic. It’s a thrill to create something new.
TB: This album shows a lot of growth lyrically from your debut. So what would you say is the most vulnerable or special moment for you guys on the record?
AS: We have grown a lot as songwriters since ‘Bombs Away’ was released and I think the real magic happens when we work on a song together wholeheartedly. Of course, this means exposing vulnerabilities and being transparent with your co-writers which in turn allows you to express your true emotions with your audience. One of my favourite moments of writing the album was when we were all working on the track “I Was Lost”. In the bridge of the song, there’s a section where we each get a turn to sing. My line is “5am when the sunlight breaks, six young minds in a crowded place”. Although we are so grateful for the opportunities we are given, this whole section is about how difficult we found extensive touring. Being away from friends and loved ones, being in a very foreign place and endless travel takes its toll on a lot of musicians and different people handle the stress of it all in various ways. Some which can be very destructive to their regular life.
TB: What was inspiring you the most while you were writing and recording ‘Watching The Sky’?
AS: What always inspires us the most is personal experiences. The gift of being a songwriter is having the ability to “vent” your feelings out into a song. Every song on this record has a real story behind it.
TB: In “Coming Home” there is a line that says “Meet me in the valley where the kids collide into the morning”. Being Brisbane natives I’m guessing that you are referencing “Fortitude Valley”. So what is one your craziest or most memorable experiences from a night out in the valley?
AS: What happens in the valley stays in the valley *laughs*.
TB: You are going to be hitting the road for your biggest Australian tour yet this September and October. So what can your fans expect from these live shows?
AS: We can’t wait to perform all of the songs from “Watching The Sky” plus the old Sheppard classics. And we are also planning a meet and greet after each show, so it will be cool to meet everyone.
TB: What new song are you most excited/nervous to perform live?
AS: We are most excited to perform “Coming Home” live. Our fans knows the song well and it has so much energy to bounce around to.
TB: Over the past year you have toured with the likes of Justin Bieber and Little Mix where were both MASSIVE productions. So what was one thing you learned about yourselves as band from these shows?
AS: We have been so fortunate to have been given these opportunities. To be a part of a stadium tour is a huge learning experience. We’ve had to learn how to work mega stages, how to get crowds pumped even if they don’t care who you are because…JUSTIN BIEBER IS ABOUT TO HIT THE STAGE! Most of all, we’ve learnt how to treat people with respect even at your most tired and cranky. We’ve met some wonderful people in this industry and you never forget how people treat you.
TB: “Geronimo” has become one of those unstoppable songs. It’s been three years since it was released and its still being played on heavy rotation all over the world. Are you over hearing it yet or have you learned to embrace it?
AS: We’ve learned to embrace it. Geronimo has given us the ultimate gift which is a full time career in music. How could we not love it!
TB: Where is the strangest place that you’ve heard one of your songs played?
AS: It’s always awkward when it comes on the radio in an uber or taxi and you’re in the front seat. One time I mentioned “Oh this is my song” and the guy thought I meant “Oh yeah! This is my jam!” so he said “Yeah I like this one too!” and blasted it *laughs*.
10. Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions;
Our pre-show pump up song is…
AS: Downtown Shutdown by The Presets
TB: The most unexpected thing on our rider is…
AS: Manuka Honey
TB: The emoji that best describes our group is…
AS: The sheep emoji… because Sheppard…get it?! *laughs*
TB: If we could form a supergroup with any other band or artist it would be…
AS: Coldplay and Stevie Nicks
TB: The messiest member of the band whilst on tour is…
AS: 100% Emma!
Sheppard are embarking on a MASSIVE national tour this August, September and October. Check out all the dates HERE;
Fri 10 August – Mt Isa Rodeo, Mt Isa
Sat 11 August – Yours & Owls Sideshow Tent, Wollongong
Sat 25 August – North West Festival, Port Headland
Thur 30 August – Racehorse Hotel, Ipswich
Fri 31 August – Kingscliff Beach Hotel, Kingscliff
Sat 1 September – Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane
Sun 2 September – Redland Bay Hotel, Redland Bay
Thur 6 September – Wyong Leagues Club, Wyong
Fri 7 September – Hornsby RSL, Sydney
Sat 8 Sep – Tivoli Theatre at Rooty Hill RSL, Rooty Hill
Sun 9 Sep – The Metro, Sydney
Wed 12 Sep – Panthers, Port Macquarie
Thur 13 Sep – Hoey Moey, Coffs Harbour
Fri 14 Sep – Casino RSM Club, Casino
Sat 15 Sep – Tamworth West Leagues Club, Tamworth
Sun 16 Sep – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Thur 20 Sep – Harvey Road Tavern, Harvey Road
Fri 21 Sep – Magnums, Airlie Beach
Sat 22 Sep – Dalrymple Hotel, Townsville
Sun 23 Sep – Tanks Art Centre, Cairns
Sun 30 Sep – Caloundra Music Festival, Caloundra
Thur 4 Oct – Matthew Flinders Hotel, Chadstone
Fri 5 Oct – Chelsea Heights Hotel – Chelsea Heights
Sat 6 Oct – York On Lilydale, Mt Evelyn
Sun 14 Oct – Botanic Park (Supporting Foreigner & Cheap Trick), Adelaide
Friday 19 Oct – Golden Stave Luncheon Charity Event, Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney
Sat 20 Oct – V8 Supercars After Concert, Gold Coast