Brisbane pop hotshots Sheppard have been flying away to the top of the charts worldwide, shouting we belong here! The band consists of siblings George, Amy and Emma Sheppard and friends Jay Bovino, Michael Butler and Dean Gordon to complete the ensemble and over the course of 5 years these people have churned out hit after hit. With a plethora of international headline and festival shows, as well as a stack of awards under their belt, including winning Best Group at the 2014 Aria Awards, Sheppard have created a unique buzz around the globe. Fresh off a national stadium tour supporting Justin Bieber with Martin Garrix and releasing their latest single Keep Me Crazy, it’s safe to say these all Aussie kids have such a charismatic and bubbly sound, giving listeners this electric feeling. But something’s missing, no word yet on the title or release date for their next album, but I think it’s guaranteed to make you smile. Always lingering in the Australian music charts, it’s safe to say that the best is yet to come for Sheppard. We caught up with George to chat about his musical inspirations and how to let me down easy when you get caught with your fly down on stage. So sit back, relax, and let’s jump into another Savvy Seven with Sheppard, Geronimo! [see what we did there?]
1) Who was your first musical inspiration? Why?
At the risk of sounding a bit cliche, The Beatles – but for a pretty funny reason. I used to go crazy for ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ when I was a kid, and because I loved it so much, my Dad saw the opportunity to educate me on the unique voice who narrated the show – Ringo Starr. So before I was ten I had a pretty good insight into the Beatles impact on modern pop music. Everything that followed came from that foundation.
2) What advice do you have for someone who is about to set off on their first tour?
Don’t be discouraged by how hard it is. Touring certainly isn’t the easiest lifestyle, but it’s arguably the most important part of any band’s career (behind the songwriting). You’re about to make your first batch of fans, some of which will follow you throughout the whole life of your band, so be sure to give everyone the time of day. And lastly, no matter how many people are in the crowd ALWAYS perform like you’re playing to a sold out room. Even if there are only 2 people who come to the show, they could be the two people who have the power to change your lives forever and they’ll be able to see the energy and passion. So give it your all, everytime.
3) What has been one of your most defining moments in your career?
I’d say our most recent stadium tour of Australia supporting Justin Bieber. Getting to play our new album, in the biggest venues our country has to offer, alongside one of the world’s biggest pop stars was a dream come true. Definitely one of the high points of our careers so far.
4) How has your music practice changed over time?
Nowadays we think a lot about the “live” scenario. With the first album we were literally just writing an album, and when we got to the stage we noticed that not all of the songs translated well to a live, impactful pop show. So this time around we’ve built the album from the ground up with the live shows in mind. We’ve made sure every song has the classic Sheppard songwriting our fans have come to know and love, but we wanted to make sure every song could be played in a stadium. The production of the second album is definitely in a different league this time around. Everyone really stepped up their game, and we can’t wait to show everyone.
5) My top business tip for new artists is…
Get savvy with social media. It’s not just the place for you to promote your music, it’s the place where all your fans will connect with you on a personal level and feel like they’re part of your community. Connecting with your fans in an authentic, personal way is so important, and there’s no better way for them to feel a part of your world than by posting original, quality content consistently. It’s a huge part of being in a band that a lot of people over look.
6) My biggest career mistake has been…
Leaving my fly open on stage supporting Keith Urban. 20,000 people watching me perform with my fly undone would have to go down as one of my most embarrassing onstage moments. It wasn’t until halfway through the set that somebody held up a piece of paper saying “Your fly is open” and I realised the horror of my reality. There’s no subtle way to zip up your fly when you’re onstage in an arena with all lights and cameras on you, so I held up the piece of paper so every one could see and had a laugh at myself. Luckily everyone else saw the humour too, and it turned into a memorable part of the show, but yeah… Make sure your fly is done up BEFORE you step out on stage. 😛
7) In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is…
How much money it actually takes to get a band started. Running a band is unbelievably expensive, regardless of what level you’re at, and if you’re just starting out you have some pretty immense costs with ZERO return. Trying to navigate that precarious wasteland of being a new band is a massive challenge. I wouldn’t be able to tell you how many fledgling Kings of Leons, U2s, and Foo Fighters I know that have fallen apart simply because of a lack of funds. In saying that, I think it’s easier than ever to CREATE music – music production and online marketing is becoming more and more accessible with the rise of new technologies and the interconnectedness of our brave new world, but we’re still quite a ways off being able to make it easier for bands to tour. Flights, hotels, fuel costs, crew costs, instruments, etc. It all costs a TONNE of money, and new bands still struggle big time to stay afloat. So keep buying music please! It’s one of the most effective ways you’ll be able to help support and usher in the next generation of superstars.
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