Sheppard Talk Breakthrough Hit “Geronimo”, Cracking America & Their Next Single: Idolator Interview
Sheppard struck gold when they unleashed “Geronimo” earlier this year. The unstoppable sing-a-long anthem shot straight to number one in Australia and eventually went quadruple platinum. The criminally-catchy jam then caught fire in Europe, reaching the top 10 in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Poland and Italy (among other countries). The quirky pop-collective is now turning their attention to the US and it would be unwise to bet against them repeating that success here.
The six-piece outfit were recently in Los Angeles for a promo blitz (that included a rousing performance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show) and dropped by the Idolator office to talk about their global hit and US campaign. The guys and girls of Sheppard also opened up about touring with family (the band includes three siblings) and their next single, which some of you might already be familiar with. Find out what the rising hitmakers have to say after the jump.
What inspired you to use a historical figure as the central metaphor of an upbeat pop song?
The basis of it was not so much the Apache warrior, but more of what his name stands for. You say “Geronimo” when you want to take a leap of faith or a leap of defiance, and I think that’s what the song is about. Just taking a leap of faith and doing something that may not work but having the courage to give it a try anyway.
We were in a space where we were able to write a song like that because we had “Let Me Down Easy” back in Australia. It was on radio and it was a hit, and it was like ‘Okay, cool. Let’s see if can do it again.’ We hoped we could write a song again that resonates with just as many people. It was sort of a make or break moment for us as a band.
Did you feel like you were on to something big when you recorded it?
We had a good feeling about it for sure, it was so easy to write and hooks kept coming out. We never expected to do the things that we’re doing now. It went to number one pretty quickly in Australia, and that was a huge feat for us. But it’s overseas and it’s massive.
I read that it was the first number one single recorded in Brisbane.
Maybe we just got lucky, like when The Beatles were born at the right time when technology was at a good spot! [Laughs]. We just did the whole record in our producer’s house, there’s nothing too fancy. It doesn’t take a million dollars worth of equipment and crazy expensive producers. Which is cool, because nowadays it’s possible.
Which bands — apart from you guys, of course! — do pop really well?
Fun. When they released their album it was a big inspiration to us. It has really awesome melodies and it was quite theatrical and unashamedly so. You get those bands who are trying to be cool, but there’s no melody. Imagine Dragons did it well too, their album had so many different sounds and genres within it.
How do you feel about the possibility of having a big song in the US?
It means we won’t be at home at all! It’s really exciting. Obviously the US is where everyone wants to be in terms of music. The fact that we’re getting any attention at all over here is incredible. The fact that Republic Records, Nano, Scooter [Braun] and everyone on board believe in us is quite humbling. It’s really cool to see everything unfold.
What has the reaction been like from people over here?
It’s been really positive. Everybody really seems to be singing along and getting into it towards the end of the set. They always come up and ask about “Geronimo” as well, and I think that’s always a good sign. Back in Australia, it was the same. Before “Geronimo” was even released, that’s the song everyone kept going to.
Will you release “Let Me Down Easy” as the next single over here?
That’s the plan, because most of the world hasn’t heard it yet. It did do really well in Australia, it was just that we weren’t big enough. We included it on the album for that reason.
You just got a bunch of ARIA Award nominations…
We went to the ceremony where they announced the nominees because our producer was nominated for Bombs Away so we went to support him. Then we were sitting there for the other nominations with Australian legends, and for most of the categories, they were calling out our name. It was pretty surreal. We didn’t expect it.
There’s a mini-revival of bands formed by siblings (Broods, Angus & Julia Stone etc). Does that make it easier when your family involved?
Possibly, because it allows you to be completely honest with each other. We’re all in this together, so we might as well work together. It allows you to be really creative and not worry about egos, and just completely focus on the art form. No matter what the argument is, it’s over in like 10 minutes, which is great.
Are you concerned about being able to repeat the success of “Geronimo”?
There’s definitely a lot of people asking us about it, but we wrote “Geronimo” while the three of us were just sitting around at the kitchen table and having fun. That’s always what we want to be doing. We never want to be writing under pressure or writing for a particular purpose.
It’s just all been organic up until this point, and I don’t think we’ll ever try to force anything. If another “Geronimo” comes, that’s awesome. But we’re never going to chase it. It’s just something that we were able to do once, but I don’t see why we wouldn’t be able to do it again.
What’s the main difference between the music industry in Australia and the US?
There are a lot of open doors here, and a lot more opportunities. Like in Australia, it’s either commercial radio or [independent station] Triple J. That’s your only two options, there’s no middle ground. Whereas over here, there are 15-20 different radio formats. Every radio station has its own spin on things, and it’s quite cool that way.
A lot of the music scene back home is based on what’s happening over here in the US or over in the UK. There’s not a good outlet for new Australian music, especially for what we’re doing. It’s a bit more commercial, so we got lucky.
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