The six-piece band Sheppard is made up of siblings George, Amy and Emma Sheppard and joined by friends Jay Bovino, Michael Butler, and Dean Gordon.
The six-piece band Sheppard is made up of siblings George, Amy and Emma Sheppard and joined by friends Jay Bovino, Michael Butler, and Dean Gordon. Daniel Boud

Sheppard bound for Gladstone amid music scene successes

CATCHY tunes and great melodies have allowed Brisbane-based band Sheppard to make their mark on the music scene over the past year.

Releasing their EP almost a year and a half ago has sparked much interest, particularly for their hit song, Let Me Down Easy.

Their breakout track achieved platinum status mid to late last year.

But despite their success, lead singer George Sheppard says he can still sit at a cafe and enjoy a coffee without the hustle and bustle.

"It's fair to say our lives have changed … but I can still come down to the shop and have a coffee, which is nice, I don't really get noticed here," he said with a laugh.

We spoke after the band had a busy Australia Day long weekend, playing a few shows around Brisbane.

The six-piece band is made up of siblings George, Amy and Emma Sheppard and joined by friends Jay Bovino, Michael Butler, and Dean Gordon.

The three Sheppards, who have a strong family bond, were heavily influenced from their upbringing in Papau New Guinea.

"I would say it was more than just an influence on our music, it has shaped us as people.

"The school we went to was very arts-focused. Being exposed to such diversity early on has influenced our adult lives," George said.

He was about 14 years old when the family moved to Australia.

While still having interest in the arts, his particular focus was on acting.

"I never really intended on being a musician, I wanted to be an actor.

However, after completing acting school in Sydney, Sheppard realised his true ties to music.

"There was a piano in the theatre (at acting school) and I would sit down and re-teach myself how to play, I started writing simple songs and I rediscovered my passion."

Originally George and Amy began performing live shows, and the band slowly grew.

"Michael (Butler) is an old friend of Amy's. We had him on the smoke machine for our first few shows," he laughed and added, "He was our official smoke machinist."

After a disagreement with their guitarist at the time, Michael mentioned he played the guitar.

"We realised he could do better than smoking a button on a smoke machine."

Drummer Dean Gordon became part of the band after their music teacher held auditions for a new drummer in Cairns.

Jay Bovino is their second guitarist, and their third song writer, who Mr Sheppard says was "kind of like family".

"We're all really good friends and there is little to no fights … which is good, because when you're touring you want to travel in close confinement with company you enjoy.

"We're a good team."

He attributed part of their success of the pop-style music to manager Michael Chugg. With his contacts they were able to play national and international festivals.

We also have a heavy focus on percussion, which is something people may not get from our recordings.

Following their success in 2013, excitement has been building for new material from the dynamic pop band.

"Our music is not like what you would usually hear on the radio. It's very melody-based, and we all still play instruments … it's like classic pop music."

"We are releasing a new single in early March and the debut album will shortly follow … it's the year of new material. We want to make sure it's perfect."

Amplifying the excitement will be their far north Queensland tour, kicking off in mid-February.

Over four days Sheppard will play shows in Gladstone, Mackay and Bundaberg.

"We've never been to any of the towns, so it's a bit exciting."

"Gladstone is a beachside town, so that works for me. I'm looking forward to trying some Ginger Beer in Bundaberg too," he said.

He said people could expect easy-to-sing-along-to music in a very fun and dance-able atmosphere.

"We also have a heavy focus on percussion, which is something people may not get from our recordings."

Their live shows will feature a mixture of songs with a few from their EP and new material from the debut album.

THE GIG

  • WHERE: Gladstone Harvey Road Tavern
  • WHEN: Thursday February 20, from 7.30pm
  • TICKETS: $18.95 and available on Ticketmaster


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