Airbourne - 12/02/2010

Inspired by the likes of Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy, Angel City, Rose Tattoo, AC/DC and Motörhead, AIRBOURNE have been waving the rock and roll flag for Australia since 2003, winning fans and awards (including Metal Hammer's "Best Debut Album" and Classic Rock's "Best Newcomer") in the process. They hail from Warrnambool, a small drinking town on the southwestern coast of Victoria, and they've steadily gained an immense following among fans of infectious, high-energy, whiskey-soaked, whiplash-inducing working man's rock.


There's something about the kind of potent rock and roll fury that AIRBOURNE cranks out, all cylinders firing, that makes you want to chug a beer straight down your throat and punch the air as though it'd touched your wife inappropriately. It sounds crude, we admit. But that's the thing about these Aussie pub rock rebels. Their music, for example their new album "No Guts. No Glory.", is a perfect soundtrack for drunken debauchery.

AIRBOURNE traveled to the Windy City to record "No Guts. No Glory." with producer Johnny K, live and straight to analog tape. Like their debut album "Runnin' Wild", "No Guts. No Glory." continues that good time vibe.  The album is a virtual rock and roll buffet, boasting tracks like "No Way But The Hard Way" and "Blonde, Bad, and Beautiful". When the band lived together for three years on welfare in a Melbourne suburb, surviving on a steady diet of booze and barbecue, things were tough and the band nearly burned their home to the ground - literally.



Furthermore, AIRBOURNE will be touring the most part of 2010 in support of No Guts. No Glory.’. Prior to all this, the O’Keeffe brothers visited Amsterdam in January to answer some questions for the European press. Of course was there, too and here you can read what Joel O'Keeffe (Lead vocals, Lead guitar) had to say to us.


First of all, could you start this interview off with a little update on Airbourne?


Joel: With us, it's fun. It's just rock and roll. We want people to have a good time, no matter what. Have a drink, play it really loud and kick back. We have done a new album, it’s coming out in March, just around that time we will go on tour to play live as much as possible.


What’s 2010 going to bring Airbourne?


Joel: Lots of touring, drinking and rock and roll. Lots of sex and fun….  So all the good stuff, hopefully. We love to play and party and getting out there.


How did you launch into writing material for ‘No Guts, No Glory’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?


Joel: We are chaotic. We sometimes write when we are on a plane or on the road, or when we have been drinking in the bar… We think of something and then write it down. We’ve made 37 songs or so. Every sound check we jam and figure out one new riff or so, and then we write it down.


Which approach did you choose to create this album, did you go for a more raw exposition.. Or something more reminiscent of your previous other works, or something all together different?


Joel: We locked ourselves up in a friend’s hotel/ bar. We really wanted to get the live and raw vibes on the album. We got the front door key and could rehearse in the main room of that hotel. Funny thing is that rats were running around and they peed everywhere. We’d been there for a few months when it started smelling funnier every day. Then we went to Chicago to record the album.


Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?


Joel: I must have been dropped on the head as a baby, because I really don’t know. Sometimes they just pop up, and with other songs we take 6 hours to get it right. We get most ideas from life itself. We do work on songs and just want to make it great.



What comes first, lyrics or melodies?


Joel: Whatever people want, as long as it fits together. Sometimes or, actually, often it’s the guitar riff like “Born To Kill”. We have no structure at all hahaha. Sometimes it’s the lyrics, though. Things are not too serious with us, when you’re very drunk you can’t play the guitar but you can write the best lyrics. So it also depends on your state of mind.


What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘No Guts, No Glory’, any elements you definitely wanted to include on the album?


Joel: We wanted to make this album more of a live sounding album. We were recording everywhere in the hotel, even in the kitchen. So we created a real live vibe. We gave it more live ambiance. It has to be a bit raw and real.


What is the utmost important ingredient for a song?


Joel: A good guitar riff and a good chorus, a good theme and a melody that stays in your head. Add some lyrics and that’s it. You’ve gotta feel it right away. If it’s a song called “back on the bottle” it has got to be about drinking… You know what I mean; the song has got to be about drinking…..


Could you describe the implications of the title ‘No Guts, No Glory’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?


Joel: It sounds good, and the title speaks for itself. It’s just right for us…


Can you give us a little background information on the songs; is there a story behind them?


Joel: No stories. The songs are all part of our lives. What we see, hear, drink and love and more.


What about the lyrics, where do you get your inspiration from and can you tell me a little more about them?


Joel: Driving around on the roads in different countries. Meeting people all over the world. Drinking beer from other countries. We can’t remember everything that happens, and the memories are not enough. So we use those things to make another song.



How important is it to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?


Joel: Whatever you want to do with it. If you only listen to the guitar, it’s all good to me. If you like the lyrics, that’s great. Or even if you just check out the high hats! Whatever floats your boat. As long as you enjoy our music.


How did the recording process proceed, did you work differently this time than you did with your previous works? How much time did you spend in the studio?


Joel: We did a bit of a pre production and the actual recording was a month and a half. And then the same time picking which songs to include on the album… Some tracks we recorded will be on the special edition, it’s great. If you like this album, you should check out the special edition. Our songs are all the way we want them to be. We don’t want to make an album with just 1 good song.


Who produced the new album and can you tell me something about him?


Joel: Producer Johnny K is a great producer. He takes it live and straight to analog tape. Like debut album "Runnin' Wild", "No Guts. No Glory." continues that good time vibe, there’s a tougher element to the album, so to speak." Instead of sleeping every night in a comfortable hotel room bed on the label's dime, the band actually slept in the studio, taking inspiration from Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band who were known to live in the studio until an album was completed.


What made him the perfect man for Airbourne?


Joel: He doesn’t try to change our music but he does capture what we do and get it on tape!! A great producer should be able to get the best representation of the band on tape, without changing the music too much. A good producer has to be able to produce all different kinds of music, and that is what this man can do for us.


Which element of this new album are you most proud of?


Joel: I really like the songs, this whole album is just great for me. I really like the whole finishing product!!!


What have been the highlights and low points throughout your career? Joel:


Joel: Highlights are supporting bands like Motorhead, Rolling Stones, Status Quo, Iron Maiden, Rose Tattoo and Judas priest. Hanging out with people talking about music and touring itself, talking to people who have seen AC/DC with Bon Scott!!! Low points are hanging at an airport for a whole day or extensive traveling. To be honest there is not that many low points; we are doing what we love!!


Have you received any feedback on the album yet?


Joel: Yes, mostly good comments. But I also think that people won’t say it if they don’t like it.


Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that matter?


Joel: I want to hear everybody’s opinion, good or bad. We should listen to others so we can improve ourselves and do things in another way if we think that it could be done better.


What makes Airbourne different from the other rock / metal bands out there?


Joel: Different? We are all the same, we all make rock and roll…. Hahahaha. We make sure we have fun!


What can we expect from Airbourne in the future, you guys will be touring Europe in a couple of months, but what can we expect after that?


Joel: We will write a new album and get on the road again. We are a band of gypsies, we were born to be on the road, even our parents still travel a lot. So we will be touring till we drop.


Any last statement or something you'd like to share with us?


Joel: As long as you’re alive and we are alive, Rock and Roll will never die!!!


Thanks for your time

Talitha Martijn





Joel O'Keeffe - Lead vocals, Lead guitar

Ryan O'Keeffe - Drums, Percussion

David Roads - Rhythm guitar, Backup vocals

Justin Street - Bass guitar, Backup vocals



(2004) Ready to Rock (EP)

(2007) Live At the Playroom (Live)

(2007) Runnin' Wild 

(2010) No Guts, No Glory