Sheppard's new studio album, 'Kaleidoscope Eyes', is released 26 February, 2021.
As he passes the morning at his favourite coffee place, watching the world go by, Sheppard vocalist George Sheppard speaks excitedly, confidently about the sibling band's upcoming third studio offering, 'Kaleidoscope Eyes'.
"I feel like this is our best effort so far. Our most freely creative album, like we've perfected something we've been trying to do for the last ten-plus years."
With the album songs having received a staggered release over the past year, a number of tracks the Brisbane indie-pop outfit have released thus far – 'Animals', 'Solid Gold', 'Learning To Fly', 'M.I.A.' – stand alone as multidimensional bursts of colour.
Put the whole collection together, however, and you've got a cool, cohesive saga that strongly exhibits the creative progress of Sheppard.
"For me, it's my favourite album we've made so I hope other people see that too," George says.
"Love can change your perception of the world in such a profound way." - George Sheppard
The album – produced by the band's own rhythm guitarist, Jason Bovino – is thematically dedicated to the idea of love. An exploration of different types of love and its various levels and intensities, the idea stemmed, George says, from each members' own experiences.
"Everyone in the band now has long-term partners, we're all in these loving relationships with our partners – this is the first album we've all been in that mindset. It was pretty clear to all of us that love can change your perception of the world in such a profound way.
"When you're in love it seems like somebody's turned the saturation up on life around you. That being in love, or not being in love, or respecting yourself and being loving to yourself, it really does change everything about your universe, and it was just an interesting thing of seeing the world through these colourful, rose-tinted lenses.
"That's kind of where 'Kaleidoscope [Eyes]' came from, and the opening line of the album: 'In a world that's colour-blind, we see it all through kaleidoscope eyes' – that kind of idea of falling in love, being completely floored by the amazement of how changed your entire universe is."
"We just want to make music that we find joyful and bring that euphoric energy to people who are really into it." - George Sheppard
Sheppard's perceptions of love certainly extend outside their romantic relationships and the studio and into more recent experiences they've had on a familial level, specifically events surrounding accusations of fraud brought against their father, Greg Sheppard.
On 22 January, a story emerged that Greg Sheppard had been arrested in Papua New Guinea over an alleged $96million fraud. Arrested in the capital Port Moresby on 20 January, Greg was charged with two counts of conspiracy and two counts of false pretence for allegedly defrauding a trust fund designated for impoverished communities that were impacted by the controversial Ok Tedi mine.
A spokesperson for law firm Young & Williams, at which Greg is a partner, issued a statement that claimed the charges were 'politically motivated' and would be 'defended vigorously'.
"It's obviously a stressful time for my family, but we know what's going – we know our dad and he does things very [much] by the book," George says, addressing the topic with no hint of trepidation. It's a very politically-motivated attack against him."
Sheppard, by association, have not emerged from the accusations against their father unscathed [comments surrounding the alleged actions of their father drawing scrutiny to the band]. "It is a shame we get dragged into the politics all the time – it hasn't got anything to do with us [as a band]," George says.
"I'm 33 years old. We're not 'running to daddy', he's not funding the band in any way. We're making a living off touring and record sales, and yeah, what he may or may not have done, shouldn't come into it."
Yet there are those who perceive the decade-long success of Sheppard as having grown from the pockets of their parents, the idea of which George finds incredulous. "That is just not the case at all. My parents, they've worked so hard their entire life to get where they are.
"It's ridiculous and it's unfair, but we've always felt this animosity towards us, probably to do with our upbringing and the fact we're a band, it's just an easy shot to take. But we're all about music.
"That's what we're focusing on and that's what we're born to do. We just want to make music that we find joyful and bring that euphoric energy to people who are really into it. That's what we focus on in these dark times."
It's a fitting analogy, then, that those rose-tinted glasses and being so overcome by love seeing someone in a certain way, should apply to how Sheppard perceive their father.
Music or no music, they support and love him. "Over the years, he's been behind us one hundred per cent," George concedes. "It's not the first time the PNG government has slandered him and tried to throw him in jail. But yeah, I guess it's something unconditional. We'll never not stand behind our dad."
The Sheppard exploration of love continues in a return to the live scene, the band preparing to undertake an album launch show at The Fortitude Music Hall on 26 February, their first home-town performance in nearly two years that will also be live-streamed globally.
With a combination of fans who've followed the band since the start and a new wave of listeners off the back of the release of 'Kaleidoscope Eyes', according to George it's going to be an exciting event.
"We're putting everything we've got into it. One show and we're going to make the most of it, play the [new] album from start to finish then come back to do the old favourites.
"All in all, it's going to be a colourful celebration of love in our home town, and hopefully people all over the world tune into the livestream and we can enjoy it all together.
"Obviously with restrictions we can only have a fraction of the people that fit into The Fortitude Music Hall, but it'll definitely be this big, pandemic-friendly show, but also intimate in this weird way.
"We're just going to have the best time we can possibly have on stage because we don't get to do this very often. We're just going to have a grand old time and hopefully everyone feels that."
With so many elements continually at play, there’s a big picture to consider here – COVID, not performing, performing, livestreams, new material, the situation with their father. How does it help shape the evolution of Sheppard? "It's a case of taking it as it comes," George says, frankly.
"I'm definitely one of those people who tries every day to live in the moment. I'm all about being on my toes and ready to tackle any challenges that come along our way. I think that's served us well over our careers.
"At the end of the day, we're a family, we make music together, and that's not going to change. We'll just keep on going, growing in a way that's organic."