Australia’s raucous, rockin’ quartet Airbourne hits hard with their newest tune, “Breakin’ Outta Hell,” available via StripJointsMusic.com.
ED Publications' exclusive interview with Airbourne's Ryan O'Keefe!
What do you think of when you hear someone mention “Australia”? “Down Under,” sure, that’s likely the first answer. If we’re being completely stereotypical, then Outback Steakhouse and “shrimp on the baahbie” would come next (though we’ll guess that this Americanized version of Australian food is not quite authentic). The Sydney Opera House and the Great Barrier Reef are other fairly obvious selections.
But for fans of rock music, Australia is known as the home of—without exaggeration or hyperbole—one of the most legendary bands of all time. AC/DC was born in Sydney in 1973, when brothers Angus and Malcom Young formed a quintet that would go on to write such rock anthems as “Highway To Hell,” “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and “TNT.” At what appeared to be the zenith of their success, tragedy struck as their incomparable lead singer Bon Scott died of alcohol poisoning. Many thought the band would die with him (and it almost did), but as history clearly shows, AC/DC would thrive for decades to come.
With such a lasting legacy in their home country, it’s no surprise that a band like Australia’s Airbourne would bear a striking resemblance to their four-letter predecessors. As any AC/DC fan will tell you, there are two AC/DCs—the Bon Scott era and the Brian Johnson era. And it will only take a few listens to Airbourne and a track like their newest tune “Breakin’ Outta Hell” to realize they’re Bon-Scott-era devotees (“Breakin’ Outta Hell” is featured on the latest installment of StripJointMusic.com’s songs for adult club DJs).
In fact, if any rock band that’s come out over the past three decades has actually picked up the Scott-era AC/DC mantle, it’s Airbourne. The band, led by brothers Joel and Ryan O’Keefe (vocalist/lead guitarist and drummer respectively), create a sound that’s both retro and modern at the same time. While they draw heavily from AC/DC albums like “Powerage” and “Let There Be Rock,” they still create a raw, raucous, flying-by-the-seat-of-their-
ED: Since the band's first album was released in 2007, Airbourne has been hailed by some as a "savior of hard rock/metal" and the band that's carrying the flag for the next generation of hard rock fans. Is this something the band embraces? Has it ever felt like there's pressure to be the "next AC/DC,” or do you just do what you do regardless of what the expectations are?
O’KEEFE: We have always done what we have done since we were kids. The main goal of the band is to get bigger and bigger and play to more people, that's all our goals are, we don't see each ourselves as the next big thing, we just see ourselves as band that is devoted to rock and roll
ED: Now on your fourth album, Breakin' Outta Hell, how would you say the band has evolved from the first album (Runnin' Wild) to now? How has your core of fans developed over the past five or six years?
O’KEEFE: I guess we have gotten more personal on this last record, but honestly I don't think we have evolved very much!! We stay true to our craft. It's just gotten bigger and bigger, and as the years have gone by, the band has been growing organically, which is fantastic.
ED: Being that you're from Australia, it's not surprising at all that Airbourne does remind listeners of Bon-Scott-era AC/DC. Is there any way a rock band can be from Australia and NOT be influenced by AC/DC?
O’KEEFE: Probably not, because you know hard rock, or as we put it rock and roll—if they weren't influenced by AC/DC, they would have a tough time convincing anyone they are rock n’ roll band as AC/DC is one of the best rock bands ever.
ED: What other influences shaped the sound of Airbourne?
O’KEEFE: Everything from Motorhead to Metallica to Iron Maiden, but then you know from Australia, we have The Angels, Rose Tattoo, Billy Thorpe, to name a few.
ED: You've toured with some major rock acts, including Motley Crue, Motorhead, and Iron Maiden. What was their reaction to the band, and how gratifying is it to see a guy like Slash wearing your band's t-shirt on stage?
O’KEEFE: It's fantastic. You have to pinch yourself to know it's real, but one that comes to mind is the Rolling Stones. When we came offstage their whole road crew were applauding and they said we were one of the best bands to ever support the Stones, which is as humbling as it gets.
ED: Having brothers in the band certainly can create a different type of dynamic. Does this relationship contribute to your ability to write music together, and is the band a tighter unit because you and Joel are brothers?
O’KEEFE: Yes and yes! Joel and I work on songs at any time, any hour, whether it be 3 am or lunchtime, over coffee, we are always working on material and having us both as business partners helps move the band a lot quicker in making decisions.
ED: Your sound is both retro and modern, an impressive combination. How are you able to be both at the same time?
O’KEEFE: I don't know. I guess just being true to what we do, and not trying to be something we are not, has created that.
ED: With the new album set to be released in about a month, what are your hopes for the album and the upcoming tour cycle?
O’KEEFE: Just to keep doing what we are doing, keep growing the way we are growing and keep playing rock n’ roll to the masses.
ED: The new track "Breakin' Outta Hell" is being promoted to over 3,000 adult nightclub (strip club) DJs in the United States through our magazine and website (courtesy of our relationship with Concrete Marketing/StripJointsMusic.