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Sheppard Apologize For Foiling Pharrell's Chart Record With 'Geronimo'

Sheppard Pharrell Williams

Sheppard might be yet to gain significant attention in the US and UK, but they're becoming serious superstars in their home nation of Australia. The Brisbane six-piece shot to number one with their multi-Platinum single 'Geronimo' last year, and even managed to knock down Pharrell Williams' record-breaking hit 'Happy'.

Sheppard promoSheppard apologize for Pharrell victory

Needless to say, the band were, indeed, very happy when they discovered that they had beaten the pop giant to the top of the chart in Australia, and even more so when their independent debut album 'Bombs Away' reached number two. They remain, however, contrite that Pharrell's opportunity to break yet another record was snatched from him.

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Sheppard - Interview

An Interview with Sheppard at Isle Of Wight Festival 2015

Australian indie-pop band Sheppard may not be on your radar yet, but they're about to be. The six-piece outfit released debut album 'Bombs Away' in their home country a year ago. Hit single 'Geronimo' went on to 5x Platinum sales in Australia, knocking Pharrell Williams' 'Happy' off the top of the charts in the process. The song has already clocked up over 3 million Spotify plays here in the UK. Now, as the band roll out 'Bombs Away' to a European audience, they're hitting the festival circuit. Contactmusic caught up with singers George and Amy Sheppard following their recent afternoon performance in the Big Top at the Isle of Wight Festival.

Contactmusic: Congratulations on the last year, it's been quite a rollercoaster for you. For those readers who may not know much about the band how would you describe Sheppard? In a word I'd say versatile.
Amy Sheppard: I'd say eclectic, energetic.

CM: The album came out in Australia a year ago, you've then been preparing for it to be released internationally. What have the highs and lows of the last twelve months been?
George Sheppard: The fact that the record has been out of sync. We started in Australia and because it did what it did over there, it's branched out into the rest of the world. We've got to do the whole cycle over again. Most bands would have everything in sync, you sign to a record label and release material worldwide. We've had to do three or four whole sets of promo, which was a bit of a drag, but the fact that we have done that and that the record is worldwide at the moment is bigger than what we dreamed was possible with this whole band. We started as a university assignment. Amy wanted to be a musician from an early age, but we really didn't expect anything huge to happen. That it has, is a dream come true.

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Isle Of Wight Festival - 2015 Live Review

It's perhaps fitting that my prevailing memory of this year's Isle of Wight Festival will be guitars. This was after all the 45th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's legendary performance on the Island, something that was being widely celebrated by festival organiser John Giddings and his team across the site. Fender, for example, brought some specially designed guitars to the party for artists including You Me At 6 to play, and there was also a world record attempt for the most number of people in one place to be wearing a mask, the face in question was naturally Hendrix himself. Despite that backdrop, it was some of the guitarists who played across the weekend that demonstrated the power of the instrument and reinforced that guitar based rock isn't on its last legs as some have speculated over the past few years.

Isle Of Wight Festival 2015 Live Review

The festival got into full swing with a Stones-esque swagger on Friday afternoon when The Struts took to the Main Stage. Their enthusiasm signalled a continuation of their set from the previous year's festival, indeed they are an ideal opening act when you want to energise a crowd. Their appearance at Download the following day, will no doubt have had a similar effect. There seemed to be a Rolling Stones theme to many of the acts getting the festival underway. Over in the Big Top The Ruen Brothers covered 'Miss You' during their rousing set that was well received.

The first moment that sent a shiver down my spine this year was the Counting Crows though. The guitar line to 'Round Here' sent a wave of excitement across the main arena. It was a strong opening statement in a nine song set that featured the likes of 'Mr Jones', 'Miami', and 'Rain King' into which singer Adam Duritz dropped some Elbow lyrics as a nod of the hat to Guy Garvey. If Counting Crows' guitars weren't haunting enough, it was actually The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach whose riffs were the most powerful and elemental of the day. The dirty Blues grit of Auerbach's playing was like a roll of thunder that saw the heavens open to drench the crowd in torrential rain. While much of the set was dedicated to material culled from 'El Camino' and 'Brothers', rather than recent record 'Turn Blue', the band's graduation to a headlining slot was well deserved and warranted. The final song of the set 'Little Black Submarines', which builds from a delicate solo performance to a dramatic climax, utilised every trick in the book for The Black Keys' expanded touring band. If Patrick Carney's drums and Auerbach's guitars are the perfect union on record, it seems their live shows rightly now have the power to command top billing with the inclusion of bassist Richard Swift and keyboardist John Clement Wood. 

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Sheppard - Bombs Away Album Review

Named after the three siblings who make up half of the band, Sheppard broke through in their Australian homeland last year, with their success including a three week chart-topping run for their second single.  Seeking to expand to other markets, they are currently in North America before a London show on March 23rd.  They'll also be back to the UK for a slot at the Isle of Wight festival in the Summer.

Sheppard - Bombs Away Album Review

With song-writing duties shared by three members, an array of styles are evident on what can accurately be described as a pop music record.  Leading off is the hooks-aplenty 'Geronimo', on which both lead vocalists George and Amy Sheppard get to shine. You can sing along within the first listen and would expect it to annoy by the second, yet this is never the case - it is a bona fide indie-pop gem. If this was to continue, then 'Bombs Away' would be a classic release, so it is almost inevitable that the quality tails off - but not dramatically. The sextet clearly has nous for catchy melodies and sweet harmonies, best demonstrated on 'Let Me Down Easy' and 'Smile', while the breezy 'These People' is also pleasant. Moves into other genres aren't quite as successful; 'Grade A Playa' is ineffective synthpop, though does show the power of Amy Sheppard's voice.  Despite sounding familiar, 'Halfway To Hell' isn't the most impressive venture into heavier territory, but 'Find Someone' proves a decent stab at glam-rock.

By opening this album with such a strong track, Sheppard, to a degree, shoot themselves in the foot.  The wait for an equal doesn't end unless you play the record again, but at the same time the majority of bands will not write a 'Geronimo' during their lifespan. As well as writing a brilliant song, this young outfit are encouraging in that there are plenty of tracks here that are, at least, listenable and, in many cases, very good.  With a touch of focus on what they do best, there is enough evidence to suggest that they could be the next big thing from the Australian music scene.

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Various Artists - The Giver: Music Collection Album Review

As someone who's long been a fan of the book, to see 'The Giver' movie finally come to fruition has been quite the nostalgic trip. Headed and ended by OneRepublic and featuring rising stars such as Tori Kelly ('Silent'), Capital Cities ('One Minute More') and other solid up-and-comers in the music industry, 'The Giver: Music Collection' has a perfect mix of superstar power and the flair of still-indie but progressively more mainstream acts to inspire confidence in its pedigree. But is that confidence warranted?

The Giver: OST Music Collection Album Review

One Republic's first track 'Ordinary Human' has a pleasant synthetic backing and uplifting, optimistic lyrics that, with a certain "sci-fi" vibe, is reminiscent of Muse combined with the nouveau-disco feel common to contemporary popular music. 'One Minute More' plants the album more firmly in the territory of contemporary pop-rock with a light, airy and upbeat tone alongside, again, positive lyrics, and some interesting mid-paced synth. From there we go into the only female vocals on the album with Tori Kelly's 'Silent', which is a competent acoustic guitar song with a country twang. Where 'Silent' takes that distinct country flavor, 'Feel What's Good' by Jake Bugg brings in a dash of classic rock in some electric guitar. It's not strictly acoustic, of course, but it maintains a certain soulful element to its lyrics that resembles that of more acoustic and instrumental music. Bruno Major's 'Children' is more stripped down, its lyrics taking center-stage over a lightly strumming guitar.

Rixton's 'Whole', oddly enough, sounds more like a OneRepublic song than the actual OneRepublic. The music seems unnecessarily slow to the point of lethargy. However, Rixton give way to album highlight Aloe Blacc's 'Here Today'; the strong vibe of gospel and blues give it a certain dynamism and very inspirational quality. 'Shine My Way' by Sheppard has a lot of the same sound, and its more subdued lyrics carry all the richness that the swinging beat demands. The album departs with two more acoustic style songs - NEEDTOBREATHE's 'Difference' and OneRepublic's closer 'I Lived'. 'Difference' is slow and somber throughout, invoking the same vibe that made 'Children' work, while 'I Lived' picks up the pace around the time it gets to the bridge.

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