Andrew Sheppard, the rock/country musician, has traveled many miles in his life. He grew up in Idaho, and like a boomerang’s journey, he’s back in his home state and ready to bring his music to a wider audience. Along the way, he made stops in Los Angeles and Tennessee, and even started a band, the Gypsy River Haunts.
Now settled in Boise, Idaho, the soulful singer is gearing up to release his new solo album, Steady Your Aim, a concept record featuring pedal steel, piano, cello and organ. The songs were recorded at Ivy Hall Studio in Nashville, and listeners will have their first chance to hear the tunes March 23.
Recently, Hollywood Soapbox exchanged emails with Sheppard about the upcoming release, which features such songs as “Not My Kind,” “Here at the Bottom” and “Holy Water.” Questions and answers have been slightly edited for style.
What can fans expect from your new album, Steady Your Aim?
Fans can expect a musical journey that is genre bending, songs that have a hopeful sense and a darker sense of reality, where people, including myself have been [or] where you can see them going. The vision is for it to be both visual and cinematic.
The record label describes the recording as a concept album. How do the songs connect with one another?
I’ve always wanting to make a record on a Neve console, so when my friend/producer/guitarist/and engineer told me he had a new studio available with one, I jumped at the opportunity as I wanted to make a [record] that sounded like my favorite records. I flew some of my band mates out to Nashville (and hired some) with me where we stayed in a [Tudor]-style home with a recording studio (Ivy Hall) and tracked all day and night for nine days.
Living in our work space was a big part of the overall sound of the album as we never had to leave and had unlimited access to music, gear, instruments. We tracked all the basic rhythm tracks and then had time to add the type of layers that we wanted. I wanted something that sounded dark and warm, so we used a lot of natural instruments such as cello and grand pianos.
I went back to Nashville after the initial recording to add any final touches that it required and trimmed a lot of the excess fat in the process.
When did you first get into music?
I first got into music at a very young age as my mother was a singer, but I didn’t play a lot of music as a kid. I started playing bass in punk bands around ninth grade and played through high school years. Skateboarding was my real passion, but as injuries set me back, I decided to bide my time with something that could keep me living a similar lifestyle — traveling and being creative. So I started playing guitar and writing my own songs when I was around 18 or 19.
What’s the Idaho music scene like compared to other places you’ve lived?
Idaho currently has a thriving music scene. We’re getting a vast amount of festivals with our largest being TreeFort Music Fest in Boise, which we will be playing in March. There are a lot of venues and new ones popping up everyday. Compared to other places that I have lived, you can actually [make] a living playing the local clubs and bars [circuit] as most of them have built-in crowds, so you’re not exhausting your fan base. And, they pay better than most cities I have been.
People in Idaho seem to really appreciate live music and love to interact and help the music scene grow as opposed to jumping on the whatever’s hot bandwagon.
By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
Andrew Sheppard’s new album, Steady Your Aim, will be released March 23. Click here for more information.