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Airbourne formed in 2003 as a hard rock band hailing from the Victorian town of Warrnambool, populated by 32,000 people. At a very early age Joel ‘O Keeffe’s main interest was listening to the albums that he had stolen from his uncle which included bands like Rose Tattoo, AC/DC, The Angels, Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs and Cold Chisel. By the tender age of 11 Joel had picked his first guitar trying to emulate his Oz-rock idols. Joel’s younger brother Ryan was paying close attention to Joel’s hobby and soon after he was under the same spell as his brother. Ryan started playing drums at the age of 11 and started rehearsing with his now 15-year-old brother much to the delight of their neighbours who was constantly calling the cops due to the noise. Joel met David Roads when the two worked at the Hotel Warrnambool. The pair brought their guitars back to work and started jamming after their shifts ended. Bassist Justin Street was recruited in 2003, whom Ryan met after stumbling home after a party one night. Turns out he was interested in moving to Melbourne with the band.
It would be another nine months before the band would make the permanent move to Melbourne, so in the meantime they had to drive to the capital to play shows as regularly as they could, often returning to Warrnambool as the sun was coming up with $25 to their name and a full day of school stretched out before them. They were exposed of the realities of what it would be like to be a working rock ‘n roll band in Australia. In early 2005 the band relocated to Melbourne. The band found a four-bedroom home and started playing gigs relentlessly. Ryan claims that they attacked Melbourne putting up a posters for every gig they were playing and if it got ripped off they will just replace it. They had to walk, because they couldn’t afford a car. In March 2004 the band won a state-wide band competition Push-On in Melbourne. The band recorded an eight-track extended play Ready To Rock which appeared in July 2004 as an independent self-funded release. In August, they signed a five album record deal with Capitol Records. According to Joel while the band were living in a shared house they threw a party and while listening to a Krokus CD a blown fuse resulted in a fire burning the back part of the house.
Gigs at Melbourne pubs became stadium shows and the band even supported The Rolling Stones and Motley Crϋe. Given that the band had only released one EP (Ready To Rock) it was an amazing feat. National tours with the likes of Dallas Crane, Jimmy Barnes, The Living End, You Am I and Magic Dirt helped further hone their rowdy live show. A main stage slot at the 2006 Big Day Out festival cemented the band’s role as one of the country’s fastest rising bands.
Airbourne always go on stage to try to prove to the public and their audience how good rock ‘n roll music is.
In 2006 Airbourne got their big break after they started to receive a lot of attention from international record labels. They relocated to the States to start working with legendary producer Bob Marlette. His credits include albums by Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and Shinedown. Airbourne started with a lengthy pre-production stint narrowing down 40 songs to only 11 songs which would eventually appear on “Runnin Wild“. The band enlisted Andy Wallace (Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, Linkin Park, Slipknot) to mix the album to make sure that their immense live energy translated to CD. Runnin Wild released in Australia on the 23rd of June 2007. In February Capitol Records had cancelled their contract with the band, but their album was still issued in Australia through EMI. In 2007 Airbourne attracted the attention of Roadrunner Records’ A&R man Ron Burman in New York and secured a worldwide record deal in July. During late 2007 , the group toured the United States supporting Kid Rock and Korn. In September 2007, they issued a five-track live extended play “Live At The Playroom“. Runnin’ Wild was issued in North America, Europe and Japan in January 2008, after which they relocated permanently to the US. The album reached the Top 100 on the UK albums chart and appeared on the Billboard 200. In November at the Astoria in London, Dan Hawkins (Stone Gods/The Darkness) joined Airbourne played the AC/DC song “Whole Lotta Rosie”, Hawkins played Joel’s guitar while Joel sang without any guitar.
One of Ryan’s ears blew out, because he had his headphones on too loud! So he recorded the album with the use of only one ear.
In January 2009 David Roads confirmed that Airbourne would enter the studio to start recording their second album No Guts. No Glory. The album was produced by Johnny K, mixed by Mike Fraser and was released on 8 March 2010 in the UK, Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and released on the 20th of April in the US. The album reached the top 20 on the ARIA Albums Chart, and top 20 on albums charts in Austria, New Zealand, Finland, Greece, Sweden and Switzerland. In the UK the album peaked at No. 31, while on the US Billboard 200 it reached the top 100. The band went on a UK Tour supporting Iron Maiden on their Final Frontier World Tour from July to August 2011.
In November 2011 it was announced on the band’s official Facebook page that the band had started working on a new album mid-2011 and that updates were to follow soon. The album’s name Black Dog Barking was revealed in early February 2013 on their Facebook page. The album was released on the 21st of May 2013 via Roadrunner. The cover artwork was created by Australian artists The Sharp Brothers who also created the cover artwork for the No Guts. No Glory. album. According to David Roads , the idea behind the album title was to use the black dog as a metaphor for the bands’ ability to break the rules. At the end of 2013 the band toured Europe and supported, among others, Swedish band Corroded.
Airbourne’s music carries a distinct 80’s rock flavour which is really unique in today’s market. They are a passionate, determined band, which they convey through their energetic live performances. Airbourne draws inspiration from classic rock bands without being false. The band is keeping the spirit of classic rock alive in the 21st century.
You can follow Airbourne on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Airbourne