By Arne Sjostedt
Have you seen what Australian three piece Sheppard have been up to since their half time slot at the 2020 AFL Grand Final? Well - RCJ has. Remember hit ARIA # 2 album Bombs Away? You shouldn’t necessarily, if you don’t. However press play at this link to catch up or remind yourself.
The significant blast off record, and its lead single Geronimo took them right into the heart of entertainment TV USA. Ellen, Jimmy Fallon. Yes. Sheppard have already done everything even some of our most signifiant artists in this country could dream about.
“A lot of people think that everyone's an overnight success but we have been working really hard since 2011,” one third of the overnight sensation, George Sheppard says.
It’s a labour of love. And something that still gets him, and sisters Amy and Emma, up every morning. Despite the challenges that face anyone working as independents in the music industry. Polishing their brand, and giving up day jobs and regular income for the artist sacrifices, and joy they bring to their fans. Which segues evenly into their most recent song. A glossy, radio friendly, super polished sing along that NSYNC would have been proud to pen.
A real songwriting team, Amy is the fan of finding hooks. And has an obvious ear for writing them.
“I really love old classic pop songs,” Amy says. “I’m a big fan of Fleetwood Mac and America. So I love those kind of 70s rock songs. It’s kind of rare that I hear a song these days and I'm instantly like my God, that's a banger. I'm quite picky when it comes to pop music. But I know it when I hear it. So I try to have that in the music that we produce.”
With that in mind, it’s time to kick back and have a listen to their Christmas single destined for our holiday season, Christmas Without You. And enjoy just how far these true ambassadors of Oz Music have come.
Coming up is our interview with George, where I speak about the song. Sheppard’s career. Song writing. And other fancy stuff.
MERRY CHRISTMAS from RCJ. Sit back. Have a read. And don’t let the eggnog bite. Arne Okay, so it’s Christmas time. Your fans must be eager to hear what you've got to come out with.
George Absolutely. I think they've been asking for a Christmas song every year since we started a band. So they're eager to hear what a Shepherd Christmas song sounds like.
Arne Who writes your music?
George It’s all in the band. So Amy, myself, and Jason Bavino, who is our guitarist. He also produces, so we just we just did this at home.
Arne Can you talk to me about what Christmas means to you guys?
George Well, I think the the main thing for us at Christmas time is family and I'm sure that's the same for a lot of people. It's fun to have the whole Santa Claus thing, reindeers and Christmas carols, all that stuff is like the sprinkles on top. But the cake is the family, you know, being able to spend time with the people that you care about most in the world. Particularly in Australia because we don't really have Thanksgiving.
Arne Are you in Australia now, or out of the country?
George We’ve got a family home here in Brisbane, where we have a little home studio. It's nothing too fancy. But it allows us to record our ideas and get professional sounding records. So yeah, in this day and age, it's very amazing what you can achieve with just a laptop, speakers and a keyboard.
Arne It helps having somebody that that knows how to stitch it together really well.
Jason's a legend in that respect.
Arne I paid attention to you guys since you broke through with your first really lovely album. I'm curious to hear the highlights of the kind of high life you Geronimoed into after you hit the big time.
George It's obviously been a huge journey over the past 10 years. Amy, Emma and I, and Jason as well, we've sort of been through all the ups and downs of the music industry.
Obviously a huge highlight was 2014, 2015, around the time Geronimo was released. We got to travel the world and, you know, do incredible things like be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Jimmy Fallon and playing Rock and Rio.
Just getting to actually live like touring rockstars which was a huge eye opening experience for us. And it was not, it's not at all what we expected. But it was still a very wonderful time we look back on. And it's afforded us all these incredible opportunities in the years following.
Obviously, we've been able to continue on writing recording music as a full time job. Which is the real dream. And playing to incredible sold out audiences around Australia and around the world. It's been an absolute dream come true for us.
But I think you know, more recently, something that I think we'll hold dear to our hearts until the time is getting to play the AFL Grand Final. I think that was probably the highest point of our careers.
Arne What great ambassadors. It's not every day a group blasts off as you guys have. How do you feel about the music industry now? With streaming, where everybody's in it. Kind of makes it pretty crazy hard to step out, even with your brand, potential and international breakthrough.
George We try not to focus too much on the industry side of it, because it can be really disheartening. And, you know, watching the charts all the time. It's a game that you really don't want to spend too much time playing. So we try our best to just, you know, focus on the music that we're releasing, and staying in our own lane in a way. Because where we step in, where a band like Shepherd fits within the Australian music industry, is kind of an odd one.
We're not like like a Triple J band. We’re also not like, a full on Top 40 Sony backed commercial band. We sit somewhere in the middle where it is like a little bit of an own lane type of situation which is good for a number of reasons.
But it does tend to make us feel like we’re not a part of the Australian music industry in a weird way. So, you know, we’re sort of happy doing what we're doing, beaming our music out to planet earth, and not worrying too much about what the industry is doing. Or if we're nominated for any awards, or, having to go to events like the Grand Final, that's all a bonus if it comes but that at the end of the day, we're just, we feel lucky.
And we feel that the real prize has been in the fact that we get to do this for a living and we have so many people listening to our music and appreciating what we do.
Arne When I saw your press shot for this Christmas song I saw three superstars. You probably hear it a lot. Only people who've been sitting with the experiences that you have had can truly stand up and own that.
George That's really nice to say. Because you don't really hit those experiences that often.
Arne As for the new single, the biggest thing, from my perspective, as a fan and a lover of what Australia can do and produce, is integrity. I'm really curious how you managed to pull it off. How do you approach songwriting?
George We don’t don't try to chase what's current. Like listening to the top 40 and trying to emulate what's a hit at the moment. But we sort of take a lot of pride in just writing music that we enjoy. We do it for ourselves at the end of the day. And people I guess, subscribe to our musical tastes, and what we like to write for ourselves, and that's, that's I think the real secret. Not to stray too far from your own personal musical tastes.
Great to speak with you. Any last words on the Sheppard family Christmas experience? We relish that chance to kind of spend time with our loved ones like we got a lot of family over in Perth and we would usually fly to Perth for Christmas and see our grandparents and our aunties and uncles and cousins and all that. So that's that's kind of what Christmas is about to us just getting to spend time with the ones that you love, which is why this song Christmas without you is so important to us