Arts & Entertainment, Features

INTERVIEW: George Sheppard on indie band Sheppard’s newfound fame

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The up-and-coming indie pop band Sheppard may have roots in Brisbane, Australia, but its current tour — promoting its debut album Bombs Away — has given its members the opportunity to embark on a journey far beyond their hometown and deliver genuine performances to a worldwide fan base.

Boston’s own Brighton Music Hall hosted the band on Friday, with sibling duo and lead vocalists George and Amy Sheppard kicking off the show with the upbeat “Halfway To Hell.” With little sense of attachment toward their microphone stands, both Sheppards chose to position themselves face-to-face with their audience, crossing the stage from left to right at their leisure.

Though the performance came across as natural and effortless from the very start, George Sheppard, in an interview with The Daily Free Press on Tuesday, shared that he never truly intended to have a career in music until the band formed in 2009.

“What happened [was that] Amy actually had finals to do for her university project,” he said. “She always kind of wanted to do it [perform] for a living. The assignment formed Sheppard, in a way, because we kind of worked on a song together and realized how much fun it was. It just blossomed from there. Jason Bovino was the third member to join…[and] the crew just got together and started jamming.”

Current members of Sheppard include the three Sheppard siblings — George, Amy and Emma — as well as Michael Butler, Jason Bovino and Dean Gordon. Emma Sheppard, who joined the band in 2011, serves as the bass guitarist, while Butler, Bovino and Gordon play lead guitar, rhythm guitar and percussion, respectively.

After “Halfway To Hell,” the band went on to play more familiar pieces including “Hold My Tongue” and “Let Me Down Easy.” The energy in the room escalated as fans sang along with the band and cheered after each piece.

“Songs are never done in the same way,” George Sheppard said. “It’s always … kind of a spur-of-the-moment type thing. You might have a melody come into your head, which you can quickly recall. [Then], you show the other guys later and find some chords to go with it. We all just try to jump on board. It usually starts with one person coming up with an idea and if the other two like it, we’ll all jump on it and collaborate to the point where we are happy with where it’s at.”

Sheppard’s teamwork-based songwriting and the members’ interactions with one another on stage clearly demonstrate their commitment to working with one another. At one point during the concert, Emma Sheppard turned toward Gordon and they performed their part of “Something Missing” together. Amy Sheppard and Bovino vocalized in congruence during songs such as “Flying Away” and “Find Someone.”

The band also chose to perform a cover of Wheatus’s “Teenage Dirtbag.” Though many younger people were also present in the audience, the group still sang along to the duet verbatim. This was also the case during songs performed later on, such as “A Grade Playa” and “The Best Is Yet To Come.” The latter is one of George Sheppard’s favorites, despite it not standing as one of the band’s hit singles.

In addition to the band’s creations together, George Sheppard also added that his personal experiences with the fans have been fantastic.

“It’s quite nice to know that there are so many people that have connected with our music,” he said. “Some people have actually tattooed lyrics to their bodies. Something we wrote in our bedroom [is] tattooed to somebody’s body for the rest of their lives. It’s a crazy, surreal experience.”

Though the band has enjoyed their adventures so far, George Sheppard admitted that touring itself is tough.

“It’s quite demanding, physically and mentally,” he said. “[It’s a] very unnatural lifestyle, living out of a suitcase and away from your loved ones … At the same time, you’re getting to experience every wonder of the world.”

At the close of the Boston show, the encore turned out to be Sheppard’s most popular song, “Geronimo.” Toward the end of the song, George Sheppard encouraged audience members to squat with him and then leap up together to sing the last verse. The togetherness that flooded the room seemed to flow straight from that of the band — the same feeling that drove the band to the stage in the first place.

“The feeling it gave us, that sense of euphoria,” he said, “is what inspired us to continue.”

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