The after concerts at the Superloop Adelaide 500 continues tonight with Sheppard and Pete Murray. Sheppard are building towards their third album after a string of singles so far including Die Young and Phoenix which was a fundraiser for bushfire relief. George Sheppard speaks to Hi Fi Way about their show tonight and their plans for their third album and how it will be released.
Great to be talking to you. It must be exciting to be coming back to Adelaide to play the Superloop Adelaide 500 again?
Absolutely, mate. I’m very excited. This is the first show of the year for us, so I’m excited to get back into it. We’ve built a whole new show around it.
Oh wow. Do you get nervous playing shows of this size? I think they conservatively say ten to twenty thousand but it could be more.
Yeah. Well, I’m not nervous at the moment, but maybe five minutes beforehand that’s when you start to get the butterflies, but its good butterflies. It’s the kind of butterflies that are going to help you perform better, rather than just be complacent, like you’re just going to an everyday job type thing.
Yeah, you said this is the first show of the year, do you get a bit toey not having played for a while after a break and just itching to get back out there again?
Yeah. I’m starting to get the itch. I mean, it’s nice to have time off, because touring is a very hard slog. It’s very demanding physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Anything that you can give from your being, touring takes out of you, but you obviously get a lot back as well from the fans, and that’s what I’ve missed the most. I think it is getting out on stage and seeing your beautiful fans listening to your music and enjoying it. That’s what drives you. That’s why you keep doing it.
How do you cope with the rigours of touring because I’d imagine probably by about September you’re probably feeling tired even with a lot of shows left to finish a year off?
It depends on what phase of the album you’re in. We do a lot of one-off shows, which are fun. That tickles, scratches the itch, rather. But when you do a full album tour, that’s when it can start to get a bit draining and exhausting, when you’re constantly having to get up at 4 or 5:00am to catch flights around the country, do interviews every day, sound check, late nights, not really getting proper nutrition. You have to stop at the Servos for food and that type of thing. That’s when it starts to get a little grating, and it does take its toll. Over the years we’ve learned how to live with each other in a twelve seater van for three months.
Does that add another layer of complexity being your sisters as well?
Yeah. I mean, obviously, being family as well, that’s a whole other layer of dynamic that everybody on tour needs to consider. It’s all about compromise, being considerate of other people and knowing that everybody’s having to hold on and struggle through this together. It’s about being considerate.
With the international touring, do you feel that after two really strong albums now, that you’re really starting to make some strong inroads and people overseas are starting to take notice of how good Sheppard are?
Since we had Geronimo, we’ve had a very solid overseas fan base. Holland in particular, we’ve got more fans in Holland now than we do here in our home country. So, that’s quite hilarious when you’re like, “Well, we’re actually quite a big band overseas. ” But Holland, Italy, Germany, the United States we keep getting requests to come back to these places. Brazil, Japan as well so, hopefully we can keep up the successful touring model and visit those countries again.
Does that make it a bit hard on the home front, particularly Adelaide? I know Adelaide can be a bit of a fickle market, but being able to actually play your own show here, does it make it hard to play shows here when there’s big interest overseas?
It all balances out I guess, because it does cost a lot of money for us to get overseas as a ten person touring party. So, we’ve really got to pick and choose carefully, and then once we’re overseas, we have to make the most of it. Being in Australia is quite a luxury I think for us. This is our home, this is where our families are and our partners. We love being in Australia and we prefer to be at home. The fact that we get to do these amazing shows and headline these massive events in Australia is the dream for us. We love playing to our own friends and families, and having them come along. We’ve got all our partners flying to Adelaide to watch the show. That is a luxury that we don’t get when we go overseas.
Speaking with Adelaide in mind, do you have a favourite spot or things that are uniquely Adelaide that you like to do when you’re over here?
Actually, every single time we’ve been to Adelaide, it’s been for the Supercars, so it’d be hard to say anything else because that’s really all I’ve seen in Adelaide. This is another one of those pros and cons of touring, we get to visit these incredible places, but we never get to stay there and actually explore and experience the city. The first time we visited Paris, we saw the Eiffel Tower through the window of a van, heading to the airport. It’s bittersweet.
Do you have any pre-show rituals that you have to follow each show, or do you just get in the zone and just get out there and do your thing?
Well, I’ll sit around listening to pump up songs on my iPod, but in terms of a band thing that we all do? No. We all have our own space to prepare, and then we come together right before the show and we’ll do the quick huddle, make sure we’re all focused and ready to go. Then it’s up, it’s off we go.
Congratulations on the single Phoenix and donating the proceeds to bushfire relief. You must feel proud of that one?
Oh, thank you, mate. We weren’t sure what we could do. Aside from flying there and being on the ground, there wasn’t much we could do except offer up our musical abilities. Hopefully people respond to it, get behind it, and help raise some money for the people who need it.
Is the band building towards an album this year, or is it still too early to know?
Well actually, we spent a lot of last year writing and recording. We didn’t do a lot of touring. We did the one-off shows, but I had my vocal surgery in August. Before that, I went to Sweden, wrote a bunch of songs. Amy went to Nashville, wrote a bunch of songs. Amy and I went to LA together, wrote a bunch of songs. So, now we’ve got this bag full of unreleased music that we’re really excited about. We’re going to try this year to release as much of it as we can as the third album, but we’re going to do it one song at a time, one a month. Starting with Phoenix in January, and then Don’t Believe In Love comes out at the end of this month. Then next month we’ve got another song called Somebody Like You. We’re going to try and it’s a bit of an undertaking, it’s going to be quite ambitious, but we’re going to try and release every single song off this next album on its own and let it have its moment in the sun. Does that make sense?
That’s a good idea. Will you do videos and stuff like that for each one as well?
Well, that’s the plan, yeah. We’re going to. I hate to commit to it, but I guess that’s, I’m kind of announcing it here, but yeah, we’re going to try our best to do this. It’s a challenge.
What is it about writing overseas that you think that that brings to the mix? Is it just working with different people, or just the environment itself?
For me, personally, I really love the sense of adventure that it brings. Just being completely free. I’m not on anyone else’s agenda or schedule. I can just go over and that’s my full focus, to work on music with new people. It’s trying new things and being open to new experiences. That’s why I went to Sweden. I wanted to just have a completely new experience and write music with people I’d never written before. It was really quite a productive trip for me.
How do you think the Sheppard sound will evolve on the third album?
I guess it’s going to be firming up as the months go on as we’ve written all the songs. Now we need to go and reproduce them or fix them up so that all of the screws are as tight as they can be and the sound is as Sheppard as it can be. So yeah, it might be a little early to tell, but you get a good semblance with Phoenix. It’s a little bit more raw and organic, loving the strings, the symphony elements in Die Young and Phoenix. There’s no telling at the moment where it can go, but anything’s possible.
Do you think that’s something that you might do down the track, where there might be a tour with an orchestral arrangements?
That has long been a goal of mine. I’d love to make a full orchestral album, but with all the pop sensibilities.
What’s the plan beyond Adelaide?
It’s going to be month-to-month releasing music. So, that’s going to be a full time job. We’re going to try and do one-off shows here and there, like we’re doing an Adelaide, but most of our time is going to be spent in our studio finishing songs and then releasing them, doing music videos, then releasing them, photo shoots. All the stuff that comes with a single, we’ve got to do that every month. So, it’s going to be a busy time, but when the album drops, then we’re going to do a big tour surrounding that.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Sheppard play the Superloop Adelaide 500 with Pete Murray. Tickets from Adelaide 500 or at the gate.