George Sheppard has spent six weeks of this year in Brisbane, his hometown.
The rest of the time has been spent touring the world as lead singer of pop band Sheppard (if you haven't heard their hit single Geronimo, you've been living under a rock.)
Sounds pretty glamorous, right? Not always.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about the whole thing for sure,” Sheppard said. “Of course there are the fun times when you play festivals around the world and hang out with cool people and superstars, but it really does balance itself out with how many disastrous things happen and how many months you have to spend away from home and loved ones. Living out of your suitcase gets old pretty fast too.”
Even though each performer is only allowed one personal suitcase, the group tours with a total of 22 pieces of checked luggage. Unsurprisingly, this makes the checking in process at any given airport a lengthy one, and is the reason Sheppard lists airports as his number one bugbear when it comes to touring the world.
“We’ll spend anywhere from two to three hours before a flight trying to check in, getting all the equipment on, going through customs and all the rest, and then the same on the other side,” Sheppard said.
“We’ve had 65 or 66 flights this year and last year we did 95. I am so incredibly over the airport. That process is the devil."
This particular tour (now coming to an end) has spanned three and a half months. It’s a decent chunk of time to spend away from your loved ones, with Sheppard missing his six-year-old daughter especially.
“She’s not old enough to have a Facebook account or for me to be able to Skype her without her mum around,” Sheppard said. “We send each other voice memos or photos and try to stay in communication that way, but the best time for me to call is just before she goes to bed, which normally is right in the middle of our promo days.”
The schedule is gruelling and can see the band visiting three different cities in one day.
“Germany was the most brutal [promo tour] we’ve done. Nine cities in three days. We’d wake up at 5.20am, do a morning show at a radio station, then drive to another city for more radio promo, then another one in the late afternoon or evening. Go to bed, wake up, repeat. We would usually do three radio stations per city, so when you’re doing three cities per day, you can imagine how hectic it is," Sheppard said.
Band members were looking forward to a three week stint on their tour bus only to find travelling by road poses its own challenges.
“The tour bus we were actually really excited about because we didn’t have to get on planes every day. We thought we could just fall asleep on the bus and wake up in a new destination. But when we got on the bus, there were so many people, it was like living on a submarine,” Sheppard said.
“There was no shower, no solids in the toilet, you really have to minimise your water usage and shower at the venues and that kind of grubby stuff. My sisters didn’t enjoy it.”
When Sheppard gets back to town, the group has one week off before heading into the recording studio for a month. Then it’s off on another international tour, this time for three and half weeks.
“We’re not coming home for a holiday, that’s for sure.” Sheppard said. “We have a month in the studio and then the day after we finish recording we go to Brazil.”