With the new album ‘No Guts, No Glory’ about to drop, we caught up with Airbourne’s guitar-wielding frontman Joel O’Keeffe to get the low down.
With the new album ‘No Guts, No Glory’ about to drop, we caught up with Airbourne's guitar-wielding frontman Joel O’Keeffe to get the low down…
Airbourne love ‘roughing it’ by living on the bus and working on songs in derelict pubs –you even turned down a hotel in favour of sleeping in Chicago’s Groovemaster Studios, whilst recording with Johnny K! “We slept in the studio as we wanted to be a lot closer to the recording process. We were sleeping behind the drums and stuff. It was really good except when we came home from the pub at four in the morning and smashed into the mics and knocked stuff all over – it made it hard to get the same sound again! The producer would be like, ‘The snare sounds a bit different, has somebody moved the mic?’ and we’d be like, ‘Ah, that’s because we came in last night and knocked over all 27 of them!’”
You’ve been doing your bit to promote the ‘working man’ – tell us about that. “The studio was on the third floor of a building and had construction going on above and below; a drill made it onto one of the guitar tracks – which I think is great, the working man made it on there!”
Tell us about some of the tracks? “‘White Line Fever’ is a bit of a rocker and there are a few hidden meanings in there. After we tracked it we realised Lemmy has a book [of the same name] which was cool as Motörhead influence just about everything we do. ‘Back On The Bottle’ is about drinking piss.”
Drinking piss? We hope Airbourne gone all Rolf Harris on us and added a daily tipple of urine to the diet? “Ah, no, sorry! That’s what we call alcohol in Australia! When you drink enough of it you start pissing like a race horse! The road is for partying and when we get back home we just hang out in the sun, have a barbecue and drink cold cans of Aussie beer. My image of a party is a crazy fucking thing where you burn your house down – which it usually eventuates into – but it normally just starts off as a quite few tins and a barbecue in the back yard.”
You’re doing shows with rock royalty such as Status Quo, The Rolling Stones and Motörhead amongst others; how does it feel to be sharing stages with the bands you pilfered from your uncle’s record collection? “It’s like we’ve come full-circle – you listen to the records by Motörhead, Rose Tattoo and Status Quo and when you meet them, it’s amazing! You’re playing with the guys that got you into playing. If we didn’t have those records or that upbringing things would have been a lot different. We had the freedom and were introduced to rock ‘n’ roll at the age of five.”
You and brother Ryan (drums) were regular features at your folk musician dad’s gigs. “Yeah, I’d get my [Gibson] SG guitar, Ryan would be on the drums and we’d rock it up a bit. He thought it was great. My dad loves getting out there and seeing us.”
You’re well-known for ‘Runnin’ Wild’ – literally, what’s your latest crazy incident? “We did a quick tour of New Zealand when we got out of the studio and I jumped off the stage and tore a few ligaments in my ankle which wasn’t too good. I misjudged the stage height by a few metres and didn’t realise how high up I was. I had to hop around for the rest of the gig.”
The album ‘No Guts, No Glory’ is out March 8 on Roadrunner. More on Airbourne in Rock Sound, issue 133, on sale in March. www.airbournerock.com
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