It was April, 2014. Sheppard the band had travelled to the United States for MUSEXPO, the music, media and technology conference. But George and Sheppard guitarist Jay Bovino were more concerned with sitting in their shared Los Angeles hotel room, checking the single charts back home in Australia.
The band’s giddy new release ‘Geronimo’ had already been out a month, but was choosing this particular night to begin its assault on the ARIA charts in earnest. Sitting in the hotel room, the bandmates kept refreshing iTunes every couple of minutes. And each time, the song climbed higher and higher. And higher. It reached number 12. “We were thinking, ‘Wow! This is crazy!’”
Then George went to bed.
“I woke up at maybe two in the morning,” George continues. “There was this tap-tap-tap on my shoulder and Jay’s voice in my ear: ‘George! It’s at number one!’ And I fell right back to sleep.”
It wasn’t a dream. Rising in the morning, George opened his laptop and there it was. ‘Geronimo’ sat at number one. “It was crazy,” he says.
Sheppard had created a phenomenon that quickly went international, the song’s call to follow your dreams packing a universal appeal. ‘Geronimo’ went six-times platinum in Australia and raced to the top of the charts throughout Europe. It became a sleeper hit in the United States, eventually peaking at number 53 on the Billboard Hot 100 and achieving platinum status (1,000,000 sales).
A debut albut Bombs Away would go gold in Australia, the band would win an ARIA for ‘Best Group’ and complete what seemed like endless rounds of touring, including knock-out performances at Rock in Rio 2015, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. There were sold-out headline shows in New York and Los Angeles, performances for both the Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.