In 2014, Brisbane band Sheppard were unexpectedly launched on to the international stage with their single 'Geronimo'.
Less of a song than it was a global phenomenon, 'Geronimo' swept the charts and saw the members of Sheppard courting major success, all of a sudden playing arenas and stadiums in front of hundreds of thousand of screaming fans.
Now Sheppard are back with their highly-anticipated sophomore album, 'Watching The Sky'.
Frontman George Sheppard says the pressure was high to follow-up their previous accomplishments. “If I'm being completely honest we definitely did feel that stress because we were just a small-time Brisbane band that were making music because it was fun and it was something we loved to do,” George says.
“And all of a sudden we had this international super-hit ['Geronimo'] on our hands. It was really learning on the job, we had to jump into the deep-end and international touring is a huge stress and struggle both physically and mentally.”
Whipped around the world on a whirlwind tour for their 'Bombs Away' album, once the dust had settled Sheppard inevitably found themselves overworked, uninspired and facing an awkward reality: How to write another hit song as popular as, or even more so than 'Geronimo'.
“We sort of hit the ground back in Brisbane after it was all finished and we didn't even know what to do with ourselves, we were like 'how do we even write a song anymore?'” he says.
“We had this whole phase where Jay [Bovino], Amy [Sheppard] and I couldn't come up with anything, or anything we did come up with we immediately dismissed because it wasn't as good as 'Geronimo', and that was a really tough time for us because we weren't writing anything because nothing was good enough.”
Tensions had also starting mounting in the band after months of relentless touring, leading to a blow-up between George and Jay when they first went back into the studio to write new material.
“It's like any creative relationship really, people have their differences,” George says.
“We had a little bit of a tiff in the studio; it was right when we'd come off the back of a two-year long world tour and we were forced to go back into the studio and start working on a follow-up, and we just weren't ready.”
Fences were mended and their songwriting spirit reinvigorated with a ten-day writing retreat to Stradbroke Island where they rediscovered their love for the craft and 'Watching The Sky' began to take shape.
With 'Watching The Sky' out today (8 June), George says he and his bandmates are back to being fighting fit and ready to rock out onstage for live shows tentatively planned for September-October.
“We tried to make an album that was full of songs that could be singles or songs that people wouldn't get bored listening to,” he says.
“We tried this time to write the album from the ground up for the live scenario, for the live stage.
"We had an issue with 'Bombs Away' where we wrote and recorded that album without any indication whatsoever that we'd be playing to 100,000 people at Rock In Rio in Brazil, and so there were a few songs on there that didn't translate so well for those massive arenas and big stadium-type crowds.
“This time around we've really made a conscious effort to have these big-sounding songs that fill those spaces.”