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Joel O'Keeffe, David Roads (Airbourne)

Interview with Joel O’Keeffe, David Roads from Airbourne
by Maria Voutiriadou, Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 29 September 2010, 3:09 AM

It was a hot summer afternoon and there we were backstage before the ‘Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival’ had opened the doors with Joel O'Keeffe (JK) and David Roads (DR) from the Aussie band AIRBOURNE sitting comfortably at the band’s tour bus. These were almost awkward doing an interview due to their young age and mainly due to the fact they have their feet on the earth. The success and the publicity burst that AIRBOURNE are facing haven’t taken away their enthusiasm like genuine Metal fans. So, the interview went extremely smooth and was totally informal.

How is the US tour so far?
JK: Good, thanks. We just back in the US again, so we just back after the ‘Mayhem’ tour. So, it’s good to be back.

You have a pretty busy schedule; how can you make it through all these continuous dates?
DR: We are dealing with one concert at a time, we just play the show and the next we look at the calendar and go like ‘shit, I’ve got more 9 months; I’m getting closer’.

Is there a chance to burn yourself out with the continuing touring?
JK: There is always that chance but we are careful, you know? But we also have time to relax between the show. Like today; it is a beautiful weather and here we are doing this interview. You can have a break while in the road, you know.
DR: We have to be focused; we always have a party when we are on stage but all about touring: motorizing but you have to get a balance.

Joel, you are doing a lot of crazy stuff on stage; have the label or the manager ever told you ‘ok, you have to stop that’?
JK: Yeah, they express their concerns but they know that’s a part of the show, this is how we do it, we are having a good time, you know. It’s not like I’m going to stop doing that; so, we all want to give the best show we can every time. Today, we play at the back of a truck \[note: indeed they did]! So, today, I will jump on the roof or something like that (laughs). We gotta do all we can, you know… cause it’s our shot in the middle of the ‘Park’ for 25 minutes.
DR: Sometimes you have to bend the rules a bit (laughs).

Yes, of course. But you know, the record labels go like ‘ok, you are giving us money, so, we have to protect you in a way’. What’s the driving force behind AIRBOURNE? What drives you that energy in your shows?
DR: Just playing Rock ‘n’ Roll, you know. We love what we do. You have to put us on stage and as soon we start playing, we simply love it!
JK: We just plug the guitar in, get the drums cracking and everything else is getting away, you know… It’s the insane of the band that keeps us going. You can’t stand still and play when this band is playing.
DR: You know the crowd in America is not used to stuff like that; every crowd is different. They just sit and watch the band, but we have to move them crazy. Our job mission of the day is to get back on stage and win that bet either.

You spoke about the crowds; can you spot differences between the US crowd and the European one?
DR: They like both Rock ‘n’ Roll the same and they drink and get drunk, having a good time and they are ready for some Rock’n’ Roll.

Rock ‘n’ Roll unites us!
JK: Yes, it does.

Some people say that you are like the youngest version of AC/DC; how do you feel about it?
JK: Yeah, I love AC/DC! What better Rock ‘n’ Roll band can you possibly get compared to? It’s actually a small number: AC/DC, IRON MAIDEN, METALLICA. And AC/DC is one of them. They are still kicking ass and we grew up listening to ROSE TATTOO, AC/DC, THE ANGELS and IRON MAIDEN. We like to play faster but I don’t know; we just love Rock ‘n’ Roll! We plugging in, playing as hard as we could, we bit simple drums, nothing too complicate, too messy. When you are drunk and you wanna have good time, you want something so up tempo and rock like MOTORHEAD.

You mentioned MOTORHEAD; you had Lemmy in your “Running Wild” video. Did you met the guy?
JK: Yeah, he is a really good guy. He is very very down to earth and he is a true Rock ’n’ Roller, a champion; maybe one of the last true Rock ‘n’ Rollers for the next generations.
DR: We also met him a couple of years ago back in Australia and we went on tour to Scandinavia and in Europe with him. So, he knew us pretty well and we asked Lemmy to appear in our video clip, and he did.

Has this success changed your lives in anyway?
JK: I am still wearing the same old jeans (laughs)!
DR: No, not really. We are focused in what we are doing; we just take every day as it comes. We are playing our shows and having a good time.
JK: For me it’s like a golf course; we have to do the same thing over and over again. But the difference is that you can learn each time something different. You’ve got 25 minutes on stage, you talk to your guys, say ‘get out there to do our stuff’ and the point is the winning of time.

What about the latest album; you decided to record it in Chicago and you actually lived in the studio. How you decided to do that and what was that experience like?
DR: It was great. Actually when we got inside, the facilities were there, so we thought ‘why not? Let’s stay here’. The recording took 3 months.
JK: We spent a month and a half with bringing some ideas to the table and we spent all the other time recording them.

Do you have on the back of your head the music for your next album?
JK: Yes. We always write while we are on the road. We can get a lot of ideas when we are on the road.
DR: We just finished the tour in Canada and we’ve got to come on US again. So, it would be hard if we were waiting to go home to write some music.

So, you have a material ready.
JK: Yes.

Do you have any idea when you will release it?
JK: When we’ll stop touring for this album, I don’t know when this is gonna be. We have booked shows also for 2011.

Are there any plans to shoot a DVD?
JK: I’m not sure yet. Maybe, sometime.
DR: It’s going to be in the near future, we’ve got plenty material.

Ok, last question guys: many strong Metal figures have left us like Ronnie James Dio and Peter Steele; do you believe that bands like you can continue their legacy and keep their name alive?
DR: I guess that Rock ‘n’ Roll has been gone for the last 10 years or whatever, more actually. I believe that Rock ‘n’ Roll is going back in a strong way, even kids begin to learn about it and we can see that in every concert we play. We just do what we have to do and we love when people see that and have some strong fans that support us.
JK: The whole thing just started when the band, all we wanted to do was Rock ‘n’ Roll. So, for us whatever we have to do, wherever we had to go is to raise that flag of Rock ‘n’ Roll. And to promote that, Rock ‘n’ Roll is to have a good time, drink and have party. When you are gonna go to an AIRBOURNE show, we are not gonna preach to you or something; we are not gonna tell you that political stuff or anything. We are gonna invite everybody to get a drink and have a party.
DR: To leave behind your problems ‘cause that’s the role of Rock ‘n’ Roll is. Just to have a good time.

Ok guys, these were our questions; say anything you like to finish this interview.
DR: ‘Just to have a good time’ is a good way to finish (laughs).


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Edited 02 February 2023

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