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 -
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 metal-experience.com
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
Joel: As long as you’re alive and we are alive, Rock and
Roll will never die!!!
Thanks for your time
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