TINAS operative Matt Seddon recently caught up with Airbourne drummer, Ryan O’Keeffe, for a quick interview. They talked about the band, touring, the writing process, the new album “Black Dog Barking” and much, much more…
Hey, this is Matt Seddon of ThisIsNotAScene and today I am here in Manchester with Ryan O’Keeffe of Airbourne. How you doing mate?
Ryan: G’day mate. Yeah I’m good ta. Pleasure to be here speaking to you today.
So apart from playing the drums in Airbourne, do you have any interesting hobbies or jobs you can tell our readers about?
Ryan: Yeah sure. Well I’m Ryan, like Matt said I am the drummer for Airbourne. I like my food and wine. Who doesn’t? I like to play a few games; I’m good at Battlefield, stuff like that. That’s about it really. Other than that I just concentrate on the band 24/7, writing new stuff and touring – the usual.
What was your first experience of rock music and what was it that made you want to start playing the drums?
Ryan: Erm, I guess Joel and I used to grow up watching lots of music videos on TV. One sticks in mind was Thunderstruck by AC/DC. Seeing videos like that made us really want to start playing. Joel started playing before me and got really good at the guitar, then I started to learn the drums and then off we went. Airbourne was born haha.
You are currently in Manchester on your UK tour. How has the tour gone so far, what have been your highlights and can you tell us any crazy stories from on the road?
Ryan: Well I guess there have been a few good shows on the tour so far. Before we came to the UK we did a European tour and that was pretty wild. In Strasbourg the bus didn’t show up so between us we had some drumsticks, a guitar and 2 microphones. Anyway we drove round town to some gear hire places and managed to pick up some equipment along the way and thankfully managed to put on the show. It was great as the only thing that turned up on the night was our new box of merch and as a backdrop we decided to use the Black Dog Barking tour shirt. We put a reveal in front of it and during the song someone ran on and dropped the reveal. It was such a laugh, but as for the UK it’s been a laugh so far. We’ve been living off steak bakes and we love it!
You also headlined the Hard Rock Hell festival in Wales the other week. How was that experience for you? Did you manage to check out other bands?
Ryan: Yeah, Hard Rock Hell Festival was really good. I was kind of coming and going seeing bits of different bands as we were really busy throughout the day. Our bros in the Black Spiders played, which was great. But yeah, I can’t remember when that was to be honest. I had a few beers last night and I can’t really remember much before yesterday. Touring life and all is really good.
You guys formed back in 2003, and the style of music you decided to go for was a classic/hard rock sound. Why in a time when so many bands where opting for a more modern sound did you decide to go back to your roots and develop this raw and old school sound?
Ryan: We didn’t really care about time and trends to be honest. We just went for what we thought rock n’ roll should sound like. What we were growing up with was shit, we didn’t like it as it was too muffled, messy and slack, so we turned towards the likes of Maiden, Metallica, Sabbath, AC/DC; the list goes on really. Those are the bands that get your foot tapping and your head nodding. Those are the bands you can have a beer to and have a good time listening to, so that was the style we adopted and adapted. You can go crazy to this kind of music. It’s true rock n’ roll!
Your new album Black Dog Barking is incredible by the way; it made my top 15 albums of the year.
Ryan: Ta mate, glad you liked it.
(Lights in room go out)
Ryan: Oooooo spooky haha.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. How does the new album fare to previous Airbourne releases? How does it differ to the last two records?
Ryan: I guess it’s a ten strong album, so it’s short and sweet. Every song has been done over and over again, and perfected over and over again, as we wanted it to be the best it could be. We have had so much influence over the release of Black Dog Barking right from the artwork to the font in the lyric booklet. It’s the first album that doesn’t have a picture of us on the front. We wanted something more iconic, something more aggressive, and well… It makes one hell of a t-shirt. Everything has our stamp on it! The album itself is very diverse. There is something for everyone on it.
(Staff member comes into room)
Staff Member: Hey I’m going to have to lock this door.
Ryan: Yeah man, just gives us two minutes to finish this interview.
(Staff member leaves)
Ryan: (Said sarcastically) Yeah. Thanks for turning the lights off on us too mate!
How would you describe your writing process on the new album then? Was it a one man job or a team collaboration?
Ryan: Basically the band all work on music together then me and Joel will take the recordings from the rehearsal room, drive round in the car for a bit and add lyrics to them, and then over time build them up bit by bit.
So, what would you say is your favorite classic Airbourne track, and your favorite new Airbourne track to play live?
Ryan: ‘Running Wild’ is pretty classic. It has a lot of history and we always put it near the end of the set. I love playing ‘Live it Up’ off the new album. It gets the beers flowing and everyone goes crazy when it hits!
Bit of a fun question to end the interview on. If you could be in a super group with you on drums, who else would be in the band and what would you call it?
Ryan: That is a sweet question. Hmmmm. I’d have Lemmy on Bass, Angus Young on Guitar and Bruce Dickinson on Vocals. That would be pretty sick. I think I’d call us… Death From Above.
Well, thanks for your time Ryan it’s been a pleasure interviewing you.
Ryan: Thanks mate, enjoy the show!