Airbourne crank out the anger
FORGET cranking your work in progress through those heavy duty studio speakers.
If you want to hear if a song is working, just get in your car and drive.
Airbourne frontman Joel O’Keeffe laughs when asked if the police intervened in the mobile listening sessions when the Aussie hard rockers were road-testing new songs for their latest album, Black Dog Barking.
‘‘You do tend to put your foot down if it’s working and if someone cut you off, there was a bit of road rage,’’ he says.
‘‘So if we put the foot down and got angry at someone else’s driving – that would make the album. It’s dangerous but it gets results.’’
O’Keeffe recalls a close encounter with the law while driving to a rock soundtrack.
‘‘I was listening to Bat Out Of Hell and had it cranked. The police officer asked me why I was speeding. ‘Can you hear my stereo’?’’ the rocker says.
There is a lot of anger on Airbourne album No.3. While O’Keeffe, his brother Ryan and bandmates David Roads and Justin Street are undoubtedly the band most likely to keep the AC/DC flame burning brightly when the famed Aussie rockers finally abdicate their throne, Black Dog Barking broadens their slate beyond girls and good times.
Airbourne are taken seriously in hard rock circles around the world and have built an enviable international fanbase, particularly in Europe. At home, they can’t get arrested.
‘‘Yeah, the title track, it was a hard song to record because of all the anger that has built up after years and years of doing this,’’ he says.
‘‘We kept playing Black Dog Barking really hard and would break strings or scream too loud into the mic and it would distort.
‘‘But in rock’n’roll, doing what we do, there are no watered-down singles or ballads.’’
The bio for Airbourne’s new record confirms their perpetual underdog status, referring to them as ‘‘scrappy upstarts’’.
The song Hungry reflects the band’s humble heart, keeping them attached to the memories of long drives in crappy vans up the Hume Highway even as they enjoy a more comfortable ride on tour buses throughout the US and Europe.
‘‘Hungry explains everything, four guys in a van versus the world. It reminds me of driving from Melbourne to Sydney to play a gig at Spectrum for a guy from Capitol Records who had flown over from the US. It was going to be a good gig because we were playing with Hell City Glamours,’’ O’Keeffe says, laughing.
‘‘We broke down in Holbrook, we had $50 for fuel and that was it and the mechanic wouldn’t look at the van until he had finished eating his sandwich. An hour later, he tells us it’s a broken fanbelt, fixes it in five minutes and we just made the gig in time. They guy from Capitol Records signed us the next day.’’
Airbourne’s new album is already enjoying a YouTube boost courtesy of some German fans who asked the band if they could use their new single Live It Up to soundtrack their video of 100 Ways To Open A Beer, filmed over a year of exploring novel ways to crack a bottle of brew. The band’s management sent them the clip as Airbourne soundchecked in a Milwaukee venue last week. ‘‘He sent it to us and told us to have a look at it,’’ the rocker says. ‘‘Ten seconds in we all looked at each other and said ‘Hell yeah, they can use the song!’ Now we have 99 other ways to open a beer instead of using a lighter. We will definitely be trying out the guitar method in soundcheck. And we’re still trying to work out how he did it with the newspaper.’’
Black Dog Barking is released tomorrow. Airbourne play Splendour In The Grass, at North Byron Parklands, July 28.
Black Dog Barking.
– KATHY McCABE
Hard-rocking Australian band Airbourne are back with new album