Niclas Müller-Hansen of Sweden's Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with Joel O'Keeffe (vocals/lead guitar) of Australian hard rockers AIRBOURNE. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metalshrine: Music-wise, can you see yourselves breaking away from the AIRBOURNE sound and do something different?
Joel: We're not gonna change. [laughs] We do what we do because we fucking really love it. Every time we come out on the road and every time we meet somebody, they always say "Don't you fucking change! If you change and your next album comes out and it's different, I'll come looking for you with a knife!" I just say, "OK, man! We're not gonna change." It's rock and roll. Imagine if Little Richard all of a sudden started playing some weird jazz music. It wouldn't be the same. He played the same song over and over again and just rewrote it different ways and that's what people sort of say we do as well and that's rock and roll. We're not all of a sudden gonna go and do an acoustic album and use Fender amps and stuff and it's gonna be really jazz-oriented and all the guitars are gonna be out of tune. "It's gonna be really great!" Not that shit! That does not rock. We're gonna play rock and roll.
Metalshrine: When you're out on the road, what kind of music are you guys grooving to in the bus? A lot of AC/DC?
Joel: Yeah! (laughs) "Back In Black" on repeat. [laughs] I listen a lot to stuff like "Backtracks" (AC/DC box set of rarities) and I listen to a lot of stuff from the '80s. I listen to "Fly On The Wall" a lot and I fucking really love that album and I listen to "Flick Of The Switch". Those two albums I really love. They never got big ratings, but you know… You know all these bands going out these days and doing whole albums, like [Bruce] Springsteen and "Born To Run". Imagine if AC/DC just went out and did fucking "Fly On The Wall"? In one night it would be "Flick Of The Switch" and "Fly On The Wall". That was the tour. The merchandise would be sick and I'd have the best time ever. I'd get so fucking drunk and smoke cigarettes like Brian [Johnson] and Angus [Young] and just rock out. It would be awesome!
Metalshrine: The whole party thing and staying up late after the show, there will probably less of it the older you get. Do you look at it as this being the time to party hard and just go all in?
Joel: Yeah, but it's also about picking your battles, picking your party battles. If you gotta get up the next day to catch a ferry at 7 a.m., you might as well stay up all night. I mean, what's the point? You might have a party and then just continue on the ferry and it's a day off. We never really get super smashed before a show. I've never met one band that does. We used to do that a little bit back in the day. Have a bottle of Jack up there and literally fall on my face, but as soon as you start booking tours like this one and you're playing for an hour and a half every night and you wanna give every crowd the best show that you can, you don't wanna be like you've been up all night for the last past week, smoking and drinking and then you can't sing. You rob those fans. You literally rob them of that show. It's always about fans coming first. You just know how much you can drink and go on with that before it affects the show. The show is the parameter. No one can fuck with that! But yeah, when we get a day off, it's fucking all guns blazing. It really is! Crew, band, the whole lot. Don't be in that town if we're there! It's a fucking real good time. You see those things about throwing a TV out of hotels and shit, well, these days it's no fucking point, because they're all fucking LCD screens, you know what I mean? What's the point of that? We have more fun having wrestling matches on the bed and getting fire extinguishers out. They're always fun.
Metalshrine: Do you see any danger of burning yourselves out?
Joel: Well, look at IRON MAIDEN at the "Powerslave" tour. They really did push it to the limit and look where they are now. That was a really big turning point for them. They worked and worked and those tours, "Powerslave" and "Somewhere Back In Time", they were the tours that fucking broke that band. It was just simple, hard fucking work. Now they're flying around in a plane and they're still putting on one helluva show. It's all about that work ethic and that's what it takes for a touring band. If your thing is the live show, you gotta go out there and give it to them. If you burn out, it's because you pushed it to the limit and you did everything you could. It's always about that. Fucking run it 'till the gas runs out!
Read the entire interview at Metalshrine.