The Aussies bring their no-frills rock to a town near you in November.
The Australian hard rockers have a new box set, Diamond Cuts, that brings together their first three studio albums with a disc of B-sides and a documentary called It’s All For Rock ’N’ Roll. As the band get ready for some UK dates, frontman Joel O’Keeffe checks in.
Does the fact that Airbourne now have a box set make you feel old?
Aw, man [laughs]. Maybe a little. But… whatever.
Classic Rock has only seen the trailer for the It’s All For Rock
’N’ Roll documentary. Tell us about the full version…
It’s a real in-depth look into the band that goes back to the first album [in 2007], right up to the present day. It’s a snapshot of those years – it shows you what we’re like on the road.
Manowar’s Joey DeMaio says he would die for rock’n’roll. Would you go that far?
When we play a show, it’s all or nothing. But dying for rock’n’roll? If it really took me dying to keep rock’n’roll alive, what’s that song… [Mötley Crüe’s] Kickstart My Heart? You can put me under for a few minutes and then bring me back.
When you clamber up to the top of the lighting rig night after night, it looks dangerous. What does your mum think?
Aw, she’s on Facebook now and she sees it on YouTube [laughs]. I wait until Australian time and the phone rings: “Joel, I’ve bloody told you…” I still get threatened with the wooden spoon on the knuckles.
Back in the summer you picked up the Dimebag Darrell ‘Shredder’ award at Classic Rock’s sister magazine Metal Hammer’s Golden Gods ceremony. How does that sit with a down-toearth guy like you?
Aw, I felt like I got away with that one. I’m not the world’s greatest guitarist, and it was a great honour. What winning made me do was concentrate on improving, so I’ve been listening to Joe Bonamassa, Zakk Wylde and Steve Vai.
How happy are you with Airbourne’s progress? The band ascended from playing small clubs like London’s Borderline to playing Hammersmith Apollo in just two years, then dipped slightly and have now hit a plateau. Is that a fair comment?
We’re a working-class band, and the music industry has changed completely. We arrived in the Napster era, and a lot of bands that came up with us have fallen by the wayside. Since then we’ve been through three or four different labels but we’ve managed to survive, which makes me very proud.
“When we play a show, it’s all or nothing.”
Is there a part of you that can’t wait for AC/DC to call it a day and leave the door open for a successor?
Aw, Angus is a little guy with the biggest balls. They’re a band that you can never discount. Who’d have thought they’d get a new singer? I’d love to see them all get back together for one last kick in the teeth. DL
The tour ends on November 22.