Airbourne are an Australian hard rock band formed in Warrnambool in 2003. Mainstay members are Joel O'Keeffe on lead vocals and lead guitar, his brother, Ryan O'Keeffe on drums, and David Roads on rhythm guitar and backing vocals. They were later joined by Justin Street on bass guitar and backing vocals. Their debut album, Runnin' Wild, was released in June 2007 and peaked in the top 30 on the ARIA Albums Chart. It appeared on the United Kingdom Albums Chart and United States Billboard 200. Their second album, No Guts. No Glory. was issued in March 2010 and reached the top 20 on the ARIA Chart, top 40 in the UK and also appeared on the Billboard 200. Their third studio album Black Dog Barking was released on May 21st 2013.
Formation and Ready to Rock (2003–2006)
Airbourne formed as a hard rock band in late 2003 in the Victorian country town of Warrnambool by Joel O'Keeffe (born c. 1985) and his younger brother Ryan (born c. 1986). Joel had played guitar since the age of 11 and Ryan got his first drum kit four years later also at the age of 11. Joel met David Roads (born c. 1983) when the two worked at the Hotel Warrnambool. The pair brought their guitars to work and, after their shifts, jammed on song ideas, Roads was asked to join the O’Keeffe brothers on rhythm guitar for rehearsals at their house. By late 2003, Adam Jacobson had joined on bass guitar, the group was named Airbourne and played regular gigs at the local Criterion Hotel.
In March 2004 the four-piece won a state-wide band competition, Push-On, in Melbourne. Their early material was influenced by Australian pub rockers AC/DC, The Angels, Billy Thorpe and Rose Tattoo. They recorded an eight-track extended play, Ready to Rock, which appeared in July 2004 as an independent self-funded release. By that time Jacobson was replaced by Justin Street (born c. 1986) on bass guitar – Ryan had met Street while stumbling home drunk from a party one night. In early 2005, the band relocated to Melbourne and in August, they signed a five album record deal with Capitol Records. According to Joel, while the band were living in a shared house they threw a party, and during listening to a Krokus CD, Rock the Block, a blown fuse resulted in a fire burning the back part of the house. The group have supported Mötley Crüe, Motörhead, Iron Maiden and The Rolling Stones, as well as performed at summer music festivals.
Runnin' Wild (2006–2009)
In 2006 Airbourne travelled to the United States to begin work on their first studio album, Runnin' Wild, with producer Bob Marlette (Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper).Runnin' Wild was released in Australia on 23 June 2007. Three singles were issued from the album, "Runnin' Wild" (May), "Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast" (June), a playable track on Guitar Hero; World Tour and "Diamond in the Rough". In February, Capitol Records had cancelled their contract with Airbourne, but the album was still issued in Australia through EMI. In June, the band signed with Roadrunner Records for international distribution.
The album peaked in the top 30 on the ARIA Albums Chart in Australia, top 40 on New Zealand's RIANZ Albums Chart and appeared on charts in Austria, Switzerland and France. During late 2007, the group toured the United States supporting Kid Rock and Korn. Runnin' Wild was issued in North America, Europe and Japan in January 2008, after which they relocated permanently to the US. The album reached the Top 100 on the UK Albums Chart and appeared on the Billboard 200. In September 2007, they issued a five-track live extended play, Live at the Playroom.
In a September 2008 interview with MetalSucks, Joel discussed comparisons with AC/DC, "whoever you are when you come out, especially if you’re from Australia and you sound like we do, you’re going to get compared to anyone who is out there. It doesn’t matter who you are, you are going to get compared to somebody. To be compared to the best rock and roll band in the business, who are still going today and are about to release another album, there is no higher compliment..." In November at the Astoria in London, Dan Hawkins (Stone Gods/The Darkness) joined Airbourne on stage to play the AC/DC song, "Whole Lotta Rosie". Hawkins played Joel's guitar (white Gibson Explorer) while Joel sang without any guitar.
No Guts. No Glory. (2009–2011)
Roads confirmed that in January 2009, Airbourne would enter the studio to begin recording their second album, No Guts. No Glory. In the 17 January issue of Kerrang! magazine, Joel revealed they had earlier written the tracks in the Criterion Hotel, "We're getting all our gear plugged in and getting set for Aussie pub rock written in an Aussie rock pub!"
The album was produced by Johnny K, mixed by Mike Fraser, and was released on 8 March 2010 in the UK, Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and in the U.S. on 20 April. "Born to Kill", was first played live at the Logan Campbell Centre, Auckland, New Zealand in October 2009. In January 2010, another new song, "No Way But the Hard Way", was played on the BBC Radio 1's Rock Show. On 9 February it was available on iTunes, as the first single from the album. The album reached the top 20 on the ARIA Albums Chart, and top 20 on albums charts in Austria, New Zealand, Finland, Greece, Sweden and Switzerland. In the UK it peaked at No. 31, while on the US Billboard 200 it reached the top 100.
The Band went on a UK Tour supporting Iron Maiden on their Final Frontier World Tour from 20 July Starting at Glasgow SECC Arena ending at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on 1st August 2011
Black Dog Barking (2011-present)
It was announced in November 2011 through their official Facebook page that since mid-2011 the band had been working on a new album, and that updates were to follow soon. The album's name, Black Dog Barking, was announced in early February 2013 on their Facebook page. It was released on 21st of May 2013 via Roadrunner.
The cover artwork was once again created by Australian artists The Sharp Brothers, who also did the cover artwork for No Guts. No Glory.
Songs in other media
Airbourne has provided their music for the soundtracks of the following video games:
- Burnout Paradise – "Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast" (edited)
- Guitar Hero World Tour, NASCAR 09 – "Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast"
- Battlefield: Bad Company, Madden NFL 08, NHL 09, NASCAR 09 – "Runnin' Wild"
- Rock Band, Rock Band 2 – "Runnin' Wild" (as downloadable content; however, the song has since been removed from the Rock Band library)
- NHL 09 - "Runnin' Wild"
- NASCAR 08, "Medal of Honor: Airborne, Madden NFL 09 – "Stand Up for Rock 'N' Roll"
- Need For Speed: ProStreet, NFL Tour – "Blackjack" (edited)
- Need For Speed: Undercover, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011, Tony Hawk's Proving Ground – "Girls in Black"
- Skate – "Let's Ride"
- WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2009, WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2010 – "Turn Up the Trouble" used as Mr. Kennedy's entrance theme.
- Madden NFL 10 – "Heads are Gonna Roll"
- Jonah Hex – "Born to Kill"
- Twisted Metal – "Raise the Flag"
- NHL 11 – "Bottom of the Well"
- NHL 08 - "Stand Up for Rock 'N' Roll"
- NHL 14 - "Live It Up"
Airbourne have gained exposure in the WWE. Their song, "Stand Up for Rock And Roll", was the official theme song for the Royal Rumble 2008. They performed a cover version of "Turn Up the Trouble", Mr. Kennedy's entrance theme, which replaced Jim Johnston's original version. In 2013, their song "Live It Up" was chosen as the official theme song for Extreme Rules 2013.
In the movie The Lost Boys: The Tribe, a sequel to the original Lost Boys, the song "Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast" is played in the car as Chris and Nicole drive to their new house. The song is also used in the 2009 comedy I Love You Beth Cooper. The song "Let's Ride" appears in the 2008 film College. The song "Diamond in the Rough" is constantly used during the NRL games on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons when transitioning to commercial breaks. It is also featured in the film She's Out of My League. The song "Hellfire" was used in the "This is a Skateboard Car" episode of MTV's Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory. The song "Runnin' Wild" was used in the Battlefield: Bad Company TV Spot "Totally Not".
- Joel O'Keeffe – Lead vocals, lead guitar
- Ryan O'Keeffe – Drums, percussion
- David Roads – Rhythm guitar, backup vocals
- Justin Street – Bass guitar, backup vocals
The guitarists use Gibson Explorers, Gibson SGs, Gibson ESs (Joel owns a 2007 Antique Ebony '61 Reissue SG) and Marshall Amps, Kerry King JCM800's without the 'Beast' section activated. They also sometimes use DSL 100, Handwired Marshall Plexi reissues and some JMP Mk. 2's with their main instruments. Joel also uses Wizard Amplification alongside his Marshalls on stage. Bassist Justin Street uses primarily Fender Precision Basses and Ampeg SVT Amplifiers.
Joel is one of the respondents in the book Sex Tips from Rock Stars by Paul Miles published by Omnibus Press in July 2010.
Airbourne's influences include Def Leppard, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy, The Angels (aka Angel City), Motörhead and Rose Tattoo.
- Ready to Rock (independent release, 2004)
- Live at the Playroom (EMI, 2007)
Awards and nominations
- Nominated: Best Rock Album (2007) for Runnin' Wild
- Nominated: Breakthrough Album Of The Year (2007) for Runnin' Wild
- Winner: Best Album (2007) for Runnin' Wild
- Voted 12th Best Album (2007) in Sleaze Roxx Reader's Poll for Runnin' Wild
- Nominated: Best Rock Vocal Performance (2007) for Runnin' Wild
- Nominated: Best Rock Song (2007) for "Runnin' Wild"
- Nominated: Best New Artist (2007)
- Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards :
- Winner: Best Debut Album (2008) for Runnin' Wild
- Classic Rock Roll Of Honour Awards :
- Winner: Best New Band (2008)
- Official website
- Airbourne Q&A with Rock Sound
- Interview in the Leicester Mercury, England
- Airbourne discography at MusicBrainz
- Pictures of the No Guts, No Glory Tour
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Image from Discogs