Airbourne’s Ryan O’Keefe Interview – Walkin’ the Dog

This year is the tenth anniversary of Airbourne, the Australian hard rock machine that, since their Roadrunner debut dropped in 2007, have been making a run at the throne of their countrymen in AC/DC. They’ve done this with their hooky-as-hell, no-holds-barred riffery and party-hearty attitude, not to mention their hard work and tunes from the heart. Their new album, Black Dog Barking, is more of the same high quality hard rock. Metal Blast’s Matt Miller was able to get in touch with Ryan O’Keefe during the band’s recent warm-up jaunt through the US for a few questions about the new record, the recording process and activities, and the highlights of the last few years of hard touring.

Metal Blast: Overall, how are you personally feeling about the new album in comparison with your first two?
Ryan O’Keefe: Very proud, very confident. We feel we’ve achieved exactly what we set out to do.

MB: Other than “Live it Up” have you been playing any of the new material on your current US tour?
R.O.: No, just the single for now. When the album comes out we’ll be adding a few more new songs to the set.

MB: The opening track of the new album is “Ready to Rock”, which was also the title track of your first, independently released EP. Is the new song a re-work of the old track, or an entirely new song?
R.O.: It’s a re-work. It’s basically the jist of the old song, we’d already had alternate lyrics that we’d been kicking around for years. The new version has a little more oomph, obviously, with the new production job.

MB: Does the new album contain any other reworks of early or previously unreleased material?
R.O.: No just that one. We were looking for a couple more things to do, and Joel started playing that riff and we knew it was time to bring that back out. We always knew we were going to do that one again and it just seemed like a natural fit.

MB: While you were in the studio, you took part in a few studio diary videos. Whose idea was that? Did you find that it interfered in the recording process?
R.O.: It was the label’s idea. They just came in with a camera and asked a few questions. It wasn’t really a bother. It was pretty straight forward. We just talked about what we were doing, nobody really got in the way or anything like that so it was all fine.

MB: Why did you guys decide to start the tour in the US?
R.O.: We haven’t spent much time in the states. It’s been mostly Europe, the UK, and we’ve even spent more time in Canada than we have in the US. It’s just one of those things where, the album is coming out here, and it really presented an opportunity for a good warm-up tour for the next year of touring. So we figured we’d start off stateside and then we’re going back to Europe and the UK for the rest of the summer. Then in September/October we’re negotiating for some more North American touring with more of a focus on Canada.

MB: What prompted you to use “Live it Up” as the first single?
R.O.: Well it’s a pretty straight-forward song the really shows what we’re all about as a band. The lyrics are sort of about what we’re about which is to have a good time and rock ‘n roll.

The smoking new cover art (Image courtesy of airbournerock.com)
The smoking new cover art.

MB: This is your third record, and you’re working with your third producer. Is there a specific reason for the consistent personnel changes behind the board?
R.O.: This time we kind of went around and interviewed producers. We wanted to sit down with producers because the first time out we only got the chance to have phone calls. This time we were actually able to travel and meet with people. When we sat down with Brian [Howes, who has also produced albums by Nickelback, Simple Plan, and Skillet, among others.], it was just instant. He was just a guy who was speaking exactly the same way we were. We just felt like we’d work really really well together.

MB: What was your favourite moment of the massive tour you guys undertook on the back of No Guts. No Glory.?
R.O.: Probably supporting Iron Maiden in the UK. Just playing in front of Maiden crowds every night, it was like a dream come true. It was surreal. Also, of course, headlining Wacken festival was a big highlight.

Metal Blast: How were the Maiden guys to work with?
R.O.: Fantastic. They’re really down to earth and looked after us real well. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

MB: Is there anything that you want people to know about the new record or the tour?
R.O.: We really just hope that people, on the day it comes out, can set the day aside and make a day of the new record. Y’know, get some booze, have a barbeque, all that stuff. We really put a lot in to this one and we really hope people have a lot of fun with it.

Airbourne’s new album, Black Dog Barking, will be available in Europe and Australia on May 20th, and in the rest of the world on May 21st. You’ll be able to catch the band on tour throughout Europe, Australia, and North America through the remainder of 2013. Get it here from Amazon US or Amazon UK!