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Indie-pop sensation Sheppard have had several smash hit singles at home, but now this feel-good band are following in the footsteps of other Aussie acts trying to break through internationally.

On the eve of their departure for the UK and the US, TNT caught up with Sheppard and found out about touring with family, their musical influences, and if they can really get the world to sing ‘Say Geronimo!’

By now, most music fans in Australia are well acquainted with six-piece Brisbane band Sheppard. We were all still singing along to double-platinum single, Let Me Down Easy when follow up track, Geronimo came along and became the first independently released Australian single to top the ARIA chart in over 30 years. While it seems as if Sheppard broke through overnight, it’s actually taken several years of hard work for the band to get to where they are today.

George Sheppard who shares lead vocal duties with his sister Amy filled us in on the band’s beginnings. "Setting the band up was actually a very gradual process," he says. "In 2009 Amy and I started working together musically. She had to write a song for a university assignment that  called for harmonies, she heard me singing in the shower and had the idea of writing a duet. We had so much fun writing and recording that song that we just kept going. It was more of a hobby at that point - something we did for fun, with no real idea of turning it into a full time career.

"In 2011 we really started seeing potential in our songs, at which point we decided to bring one of my Sydney friends, Jay Bovino up to Brisbane to write with us and play acoustic guitar in the band. Amy and Jay have always known that this is what they wanted to do, and we continued to expand, enlisting the help of lead guitarist Michael Butler and drummer Dean Gordon."

"The last addition was our little sister Emma, who learnt how to play bass for the band. Since then we have been experimenting developing our sound to the point where it’s now at."

That sound is influenced by a pretty wide range of music. George told us that whilst he is very into the stadium atmospheric rock of Coldplay, Kings of Leon and U2, Amy is into the classic rock of Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stones as well as modern pop like Katy Perry, and Jay is into his singer-songwriters like John Mayer and Elliot Smith. These different influences come together and make something very unique in terms of Sheppard’s songwriting and sound.

Leaping forward several years and Sheppard are getting rave reviews for their music from publications like Rolling Stone magazine who recently declared that the young band have a classic pop songwriting style that could take them all the way. They were also recently nominated nominated for two Australian Performing Right Association (APRA) awards for Most Played Australian Work and Pop Work of the Year, and they’ve just completed a national tour supporting Keith Urban.

Although they have notched up their first home-ground hits, Sheppard are not resting on their laurels or taking a break just yet. Over the next couple of months they will chalk up tens of thousands of air miles as they try to break through on the UK and European music scene. Flying to destinations like the UK, Germany and Sweden to launch your international music career might sound glamorous but in reality it means lots of very early starts, long days and sitting around in departure lounges.

"It’s just starting to get really full-on, but this is the dream and what we’ve always wanted and we want to make the most of it so that we can take our music out to the fans that have supported us to this point.," says Emma.

Anyone who has travelled with a group of friends for a while will tell you that inevitably tensions surface, we wanted to know if it was the same for this close knit band, considering they have spent so much time on the road together in the last couple of years. "I think we work pretty well together," says Amy. "If there is a fight it tends to be perhaps Emma and I both wanting to wear the fluffy earrings that day!"


Interview: Sheppard
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