"We're being compared to the best rock band still alive... What do you want us to do? Cry and ask to be compared to Coldplay?". That's how hyperactive Joel O'Keeffe responds when asked how it feels to be compared to the legends of AC/DC. Both make explosive hard rock, both hail from Australia and both unleash crowds and passions. So much for the comparison.
But we've never seen AC/DC do so many antics live, we've never seen AC/DC climb a stack of speakers dozens of meters high to perform solos without any protection whatsoever. And with good reason: Airbourne have renewed a genre that the general public thought was moribund, infusing its ardor, passion and youth into a hard rock genre the likes of which the Australian West Coast has never produced.
In terms of music, it's a veritable hurricane of sound that Airbourne like to put on tape in just two or three takes, when they're still energetic and excited about playing their new material. The result is always terribly enjoyable, in the pure tradition of old-school hard rock, but with a freshness that's a pleasure to hear. From rhythmic compositions to hard boogie and sounds to make US hard rock swoon, the O'Keeffe brothers on guitar, vocals and drums, Justin Street on bass and newcomer Jarrad Morrice on rhythm guitar, have mastered their subject to perfection.
But what they prefer to the polished post-production of their albums is the raw sound they manage to produce on stage, deploying an almost limitless energy. Frontman Joel O'Keeffe is always unleashed, slamming, crowd-bathing and showering his audience with dozens of pints of beer. Because Airbourne's fiery spirit, straight from the other side of the globe, is best experienced with a drink in hand and a headbang on the back of your neck!
Joel received his first guitar at the age of 11, while at the same age his brother Ryan was hitting his first drums. It only took a few years for them to develop a passion for wild hard rock, create Airbourne and start playing in bars and pubs all over the region. Already, they're kicking ass, and in 2004, they won the Push-On competition in Melbourne, which enabled them to record their first EP, Ready to Rock, and reach the ears of American producers.
The band signs with Roadrunner to produce their debut album, Runnin' Wild, which is released worldwide. Comparisons with AC/DC are rife, but for the four musicians, this is nothing less than the highest of compliments. On stage, they already give their all, and are beginning to make their mark on the scene with their 100-an-hour concerts and the unmistakable swagger of their young singer. Stage after stage, album after album, they become headliners in their own right, leaving breathless, overjoyed fans in their wake.
The band likes to do things the old-fashioned way, still preferring magnetic tape and recording with the same Marshall amps they climb on stage. With the excellent Boneshaker, they hit the nail on the head with an album that "hits straight to the bone". The sound is ultra-crude, and the tracks were recorded under live conditions. And the result is just like them: fresh, pure and absolutely smashing!
I'd never heard the noise made by 2,000 overexcited fans before! And Airbourne, with Joel O'Keeffe at the helm, returned the favor. It's all heart and guts as the inexhaustible frontman roams the stage, throwing himself into the crowd and making sure everyone goes home smelling of beer. The pit resembles a joyous battlefield, and one thing seems certain: hard rock is still not ready to give up the ghost!
In the press
"No ballads, no acoustic guitars, no keyboards. There are no weird tangents here, no bullshit. Just a pure rock set that smells of burnt rubber and spilled gasoline," said Joel O'Keeffe. Three years on from Breakin' Outta Hell, Airbourne continue to take on the hard rock heritage of their elder AC/DC without concessions, and have just unveiled the first track from their fifth album Boneshaker.