Being the first independent act to hit the top of the ARIA Singles Chart in a decade with their single'Geronimo' knocking out Pharrell Williams song 'Happy,' from the top spot, Australian band Sheppardproduced the first #1 single ever recorded in Brisbane, also breaking the record for making 'Geronimo' run as the longest independently released #1.
With 2014 proving a whirlwind of a year for the band, who have been on the road for the past 18 months, guitarist Jay Bovino took some time to respond to my questions regarding their debut album (Bombs Away), their recent success and what the future holds for the band, via email, while they were in the UK to perform at V Festival alongside the likes of Vance Joy, Howling Bells and comedian Adam Hills.
I saw recently on your Facebook you guys said ‘Geronimo' has started getting some airplay on radio stations in The States - congrats!! Coming from a reasonably small country, how does it feel knowing your music is beginning to be heard all around the world?
It's insane really. As you said, Australia is relatively small (there are almost as many people in New York alone) so the idea that it's being heard by so many more people around the world is hard to comprehend.
Where were you the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio and what was your reaction like?
It was 'Let Me Down Easy' and I was actually in a cab with Amy. We couldn't sit still. The cab driver must have thought we were crazy. It was always a dream to hear my music on commercial radio.
‘Geronimo'is a huge hit, which you've achieved great success with to date, what's life been like for Sheppard since the release of both the single and your debut album?
Thank you! It's been a whirlwind of a year. We haven't had a chance to breathe since the single was released. I don't know how much has changed though. We've been on the road for the last 18 months, so it all just blends together these days.
Did you ever think ‘Geronimo'was going to be such a massive hit?
I don't think you can ever KNOW that. We did however know that WE liked it, and in the few months of playing it live before its release, it always got a great response, so there was a hunch that it might do well.
Out of interest I Googled to see if the term ‘Geronimo' meant anything, and found there was a leader named Geronimo who fought against Mexico and Texas in the ‘Apache Wars' in the early 1880s. Does the story behind the song have anything to do with that/him or is the meaning and message you're portraying throughout the song about something completely different all together?
That's true. There was a famous Native American called Geronimo! There's always been a popular tradition to yell Geronimo before taking a leap, so that's basically where the song comes from. We've been told the story dates back to WW2. A group of paratroopers went out and saw a film named "Geronimo" the night before a jump. Apparently, at the end, one soldier said to another, you'll be so scared before you jump tomorrow you're going to forget the name of the film. So the soldier said, "No I won't, and to prove it, I'll yell the name when I take the leap." Not sure how true that is but it's a great story!
I absolutely love both of the music videos that have been released for the single, what was the reasoning for releasing two different videos and how much creative input did the band have into each of these?
We made the first one (cardboard monster) in Australia. A really talented director friend I went to school with came up with the concept and we kind of fleshed it out together from there. It was an amazing production; the set was designed entirely from cardboard, single-handedly by a guy called Nicholas Aplin! The reason behind making another was our UK label's call. As it was going to be the first single the international market would hear/see from us, they wanted something that featured the band more prominently.
‘Let Me Down Easy' was your first big hit and was essentially what introduced most of us to Sheppard. How do you think the band has evolved and grown since the release of that single and the EP in 2012?
That was written and released over two years ago now, so as songwriters, in that time, I feel we've definitely honed in on our "sound" and as a band we are much tighter and closer. Two years of touring will do that to a band!
With three siblings in the band, I'm going to assume that George, Amy & Emma must have had a pretty musical upbringing, how important was music to the Sheppard siblings growing up and what made you want to start the band?
I'm not one of the siblings, but I think they, like the rest of us, had a lot of influence from their father's record collection. One thing we have in common is that we grew up listening to classics! They also grew up and went to a very musical school in Papua New Guinea, so that definitely would have played a part.
What's the best and worst thing about working with siblings?
Amy says the best thing is travelling with your family and the worst thing is travelling with your family!
The band's debut album ‘Bombs Away' was released in July, what has the reception towards it been like so far?
So far so good! We've been overwhelmed by the positive response. The first review we got through was 4 stars from Rolling Stone; needless to say, we were over the moon. I think as a "pop" band we never expected critical acclaim, as pop music is usually frowned upon in that world, but we've been ecstatic with the response from both fans and critics alike!
How would you best describe the album in one sentence?
Bombs Away is an eclectic mix of pop songs that centre around the theme of picking yourself back up!
Can you tell us a bit about the album? What inspired it, where it was recorded and what the songwriting process was like?
The album was entirely recorded in Brisbane. It's a collection and selection of songs we put together over the course of three years. The band has three songwriters, myself- Jay, Amy and George. We don't have a standard writing process. Sometimes one of us will come up with the bulk of a song and the other two will add their touch, or other times we can sit around and it can be a completely collaborative process as we throw out ideas.
In terms of songwriting, a lot of your lyrics are very personable and relatable, what inspires the lyrical themes of your songs?
We tend to reflect a lot in our writing and generally sing about past relationships, which is very relatable, as everyone has had their heartbroken at one point or another. We've been told our songs have an "underdog" theme. We like that idea. We think of them as hopeful songs about - and for - the downhearted.
You've already toured quite a bit this past year, what's your most memorable touring memory so far and what is one country in the world you would love to tour some day?
Our most recent album launch tour was probably the highlight of our career so far. Coming home after being overseas for most of the year and playing to two thousand people in our hometown was unforgettable. We haven't visited much of Asia yet, and we'd all love to check out Japan.
By the time these questions get to you, you probably would have performed at the V Festival in the UK, how'd it go and what was that experience like?
It's a two-day festival and we played both shows. The first was a bit of a shambles, due to technical difficulties, but thankfully the second ran a lot smoother and we had a great day. It was just amazing being on such an impressive line up, and to top it off we got to watch The Killers side of stage!
Does anyone in the band have any strange pre-show warms up to help calm the nerves?
Not really, actually. We all kind of just do our own thing until we're ready to go on. George and Amy always sip on lemon and ginger tea, while Dean bangs his sticks on any surface he can find... That's within three inches of our ears!
Can we expect to see Sheppard on New Zealand shores for a tour any time soon?
Hopefully! We've got a national tour in October and we'd love to pass through NZ. So fingers crossed!
Whether it's in the near future or further away, what can fans expect and look forward to from a live Sheppard's how when you do make it to our shores?
We're very energetic when we perform. We love to jump around and rock out. You'll be surprised. We perform our songs live with a lot more "oomph" than on our recordings. We like to treat the fans to a little more than what they get on the CD.
What does the next year have in store for the band musically?
Touring! For the rest of the year we've set our sights on conquering the overseas market, so It's looking Ike we'll be on the road (and in the air) a lot more over the next year.
Last of all- Where would you like to see Sheppard in the next three years?
I guess it all depends on what happens with the single and album overseas, but there will definitely be a lot of touring and eventually album number two.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are gracing our shores on the 28th of November at Galatos. After a 4-year hiatus, they have burst back onto the scene and headed straight for the spot they are most familiar with, number 1 on the Billboard Christian Rock Charts.
Breakups are never easy - whether it's a romantic tryst, a teenage crush, or with a young Mark and his favourite band Dream Theater, that dark moment when founding keyboardist Kevin Moore left the group in 1994.
There's no denying that at my core, I'm a lover of progressive music - whether that means I love "prog" music or not is a question for another day, and is a topic which I touched on whilst talking to Steven Wilson the other week regarding the upcoming To The Bone show at Auckland's Bruce Mason Centre.
Auckland-based quartet Openside have added an extra date to their first, all-ages, nationwide tour. The group headlines The Seamless Tour will now perform a final show in Tauranga on July 20th featuring special guests DUNES .
Consisting of drummer/vocalist Cat Leahy and guitarist/vocalist Leisha Jungalwalla, This Way Northwill be a part of a very special night in Auckland called ‘Sass the Patriarchy’ an event they have been running in Australia.
As the days and nights get colder, we need something more to laugh about than the unpredictability of Auckland weather and lucky for us, The New Zealand International Comedy Festivalreturns (kicking off this Thursday 26 April).
I Am Giant’s have recently released their third and final album ‘Life in Captivity’. Featuring the singles ‘Dead Flower’, ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’, the band are currently touring New Zealand; their final tour and last hurrah in NZ.
To this day I still remember my introduction to Sepultura - camped out in the granny flat bedroom of long-time friend Kerry - a live version of their cover of Motörhead's Orgasmatron, and from there it continues to this day
The 4-piece genre-melders Hellions are getting ready for their biggest Australian headline show yet. The tour will be taking place this May and stopping off in all the major cities; Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
It howls. It's grindingly beautiful. It's dangerously sentient. It’s The Sisters of Mercy returning to Australia and New Zealand this October and November. Due to demand, The Sisters Of Mercy will be adding Perth, Adelaide and Auckland to their tour in 2019.
Who Loves NZ The Most? Following a Sold-Out Winter Tour in 2018, Kiwi icon's The Jordan Luck Band today announce their massive 19 date New Zealand Winter(ish) Tour. Trekking the whole country; the massive NZ tour begins the last weekend of April with shows through to late June 2019.
Psychedelic heavyweight Earthless have announce their supporting acts for their Australia/New Zealand tour. The support line up is heady and heavy, meaning that each show is going to be stuffed with rock n roll greatness.
Due to incredible demand, internationally renowned award-winning musician, comedian, actor, writer and composer TIM MINCHIN has today announced a third and final Auckland show as part of his Australasian tour of his live show BACK.
Legendary, GRAMMY-award winning band FLEETWOOD MAC today announced an Australian and New Zealand tour, set to kick off on August 9 with two shows in Auckland on September 16 and 19, along with a welcome return to Dunedin on September 21.
California’s radical sons, The Growlers arrive in the country this week for the start of the Australian leg of their mammoth worldwide ‘Beach Goth’ tour. In what is guaranteed to be a rollicking, majestic wave of movements all around our golden coast,
Timaru’s iconic Soundshell in Caroline Bay will host two of the most well-known bands in New Zealand in a one-day entertainment extravaganza this January. Katchafire and The Black Seeds will headline the R18+ event at the Soundshell on Saturday, January 26, 2019. They’ll be joined by The Butlers.
In true kiwi summer tour tradition Marlon Williams will now take The Tūrangawaewae Tour to a further six markets this February making it a total of 12 shows - Marlon’s most comprehensive New Zealand tour ever!
On the heels of releasing several collaborative hit tracks this year, five-time Grammy Award-winning artist and producer Mark Ronson returns with a brand new single of his own ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ featuring Miley Cyrus.
George Ezra toured the world nonstop for more than two years following the release of his debut LP Wanted On Voyage, finally making it to Aotearoa for one of the standout sets of this year’s Auckland City Limits.
Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops the popular stars of the Emmy nominated Whose Line Is It Anyway? have teamed up to present an evening of extraordinary improvisational comedy for one show only at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland.
In a New Zealand first, five of the stars of Twin Peaks, Sheryl Lee, Kimmy Robertson, Michael Horse, Al Strobel, Dana Ashbrook and the Executive Producer of Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series, Sabrina S. Sutherland, will visit Auckland and Christchurch for an exclusive and unique CONVERSATION WITH THE STARS evening.
Singer Elaine Paige has announced an 8-date series of concerts from October 10 to October 25 2018, which will see her perform songs from her illustrious career along side an array of her favourite tracks by contemporary songwriters.
The critically acclaimed, award-winning comedian and actor, Catherine Tate, is bringing The Catherine Tate Show - Live to New Zealand for the first time, with shows in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch commencing November 28, 2018.