Interviews Music

Get on board and run wild

All the way from the land of Rose Tattoo and AC/DC, Airbourne is a very young band that will carry the tradition of Australian hard rock in the years to come. Earlier this year, Airbourne published its first album, Runnin’ Wild, but the band has toured extensively in the past few years, opening for The Rolling Stones, Motörhead and Mötley Crüe, which its music is feature in the soundtrack of many hit videogames. Airbourne was the band that opened this year’s Sauna Open Air festival in Tampere. A few hours before its afternoon set, FREE! met drummer Ryan O'Keeffe at the lobby of the hotel near the festival. Still a bit sleepy and with the need of morning coffee (or beer), Ryan professionally replied to a few questions.


Things are happening very fast for Airbourne, how do you feel about this success?

This is what we always wanted to do since my brother Joel [vocals and guitar] and I were kids. We wanted to tour the world. At the moment we are touring Europe and the UK.

You are young, but experienced, when did you start playing?

I was 11 or 12 when I started playing. Now I’m 22.

Why dd you choose to play drums?

My brother got the guitar and my parents  to get me entertain they got me the drums.

There is a tradition in rock that tells that the brother that form a band are always fighting. How is your relation with your brother? Do you fight a lot?

Not really. I guess we do resolve issues quicker. Our relation is ok. Also with the rest of the band. We al four get along very well. We’ve spent a lot of time together rehearsing and recording the album. Now we all live together in a house in New Jersey.

In the 1970s and 1980s, it was usual that bands live together for some time. Now it does not seem to happen so much.

Yeah, it’s true, but I’m glad we are one of those bands.

How was the recording of Runnin’ Wild?

We recorded the album with Capitol Records in LA. They merged with Virgin and suddenly there were two catalogues that they needed to support. They were already struggling financially, so they had to dropped some bands. 70% of the catalogue had to go, including big artists. So we got the album back to us and they said good luck. We found this new deal with Roadrunner Records.

Did you feel very disappointed with this change?

No we just kept going. If this is what you feel doing, you don’t give up.

The album came out internationally this year, but you recorded much earlier, in 2006.

It took a while to finish with previous label and it took a while to organize deals with the new record label It was another little downer, but we could continue touring, so it was not that bad.

How was the recording process?

We pretty much had all the songs when we went to the studio. When we were in America for recording, we decide if we could go jumble through the songs that we had (Heartbreaker, etc). We just wanted to make a jumble of different things to make sure that we would make the best album possible.

How do you feel about playing festivals, when sometimes you need to pay as early as 3pm, like today?

We’ve been playing for a long time, so I guess we played already at any time possible and different kind of shows. We played gigs at 7am. We did some morning radio shows. You just do it. Nothing is never perfect.

Do you do anything special before the gig? Do you have any rituals?

We just hang around, have a couple of beers, even if it’s 7am.. to get in the mood.

How is life on the road for you?

Basically, we don’t really have much time. If we have, we usually spend it drinking. But we love working and taking care of the band.

Do you have many groupies?

In the last year and a half, there have been a few women, yes. It is good to meet some girls, from different places. It goes with the profession.

You opened for The Rolling Stones, how was it?

We met some of them, like The Rolling Stones. They are very good boys, really down to earth. We had a drink and that was all. We met Lemmy and the other guys of Motörhead. Also Rose Tattoo. It’s great to meet the royalty of rock and roll.

Your music has been featured on many videogames, how do you like it?

Yes, they have managed to fit our songs in everything from football to car racing.

Do you like playing?

We get the chance to play them, but we don’t have that much time as we woud like to.

Are you already preparing new songs?

Yes, al the time. Charles has a notepad with him al the time. We jam new songs at soundcheck.

Do you have any special music you like travelling with?

We carry the usual stuff: Rose Tattoo, Mötorhead…

Name one of your favourite drummers?

Phil Rudd.

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