In between chugs from the tour bus keg, Airbourne’s drummer Ryan O’Keefe tells George Morahan about where modern bands have gone wrong
Airbourne know what being in a band is all about: playing music at an ear-splitting volume, zealously examining their livers’ collective resilience and having a great time doing it. They have their priorities straight.
Ryan O’Keefe sums it up rather neatly: “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to put smiles on people’s faces. You’ve got to take advantage and not take it for granted. We enjoy every second of it.”
Their latest album, No Guts. No Glory. came out in March, giving them a valid excuse to debase themselves on stage for a year or two. The band usually leaves the theatrics to lead vocalist and guitarist, Joel O’Keefe.
At this summer’s Rock Am Ring festival in Germany, Joel climbed the height of the main stage’s outer frame to play a guitar solo, but this is not out of the ordinary. Ryan has come to expect such flamboyance from his brother and just takes it in his stride these days. “You never know where he’s gonna go or what he’s gonna do. One time he managed to find a fire hose and then sprayed the audience with it.” Of course, all great rock stars have a penchant for phallic imagery.
Airbourne certainly have their detractors though; some decry their lack of originality and their air of machismo as anachronistic, but the band pays little attention. Does the band listen to critics? A shout of “naaaaaah” in a thick Australian accent comes down the line. O’Keefe even laughs off the suggestion that No Guts. No Glory. is merely Airbourne’s best AC/DC impression as an “apt description of the rock n’ roll we play”.
Their aim for this album was one of continuation from their previous effort, and the band, as well as their fans, were very pleased with the outcome. “We wanted to carry on as we were doing. We just basically wanted to make the album that we made and [the reaction] has been fantastic, the shows keep getting bigger and bigger.”
O’Keefe certainly seems content to live the rock star dream and not worry about musical progression. He believes they’ll be in this band “for the next 30 years” making the most of their opportunities for as long as they can. He also feels that modern bands have lost the fun of being musicians, however he freely admits that his knowledge of contemporary music is lacking; “the last 10 years to me felt like it ended in 91,” he says, before citing Nirvana as a modern band. Airbourne may be outdated, but they’re having too much fun to care.
Airbourne play the Olympia Theatre, December 7th. Tickets from €22.50. The album No Guts. No Glory. Is out now.