Interview with Ryan O’Keefe of Airbourne at Sonisphere Knebworth 2014

Airbourne Band Press Shot from 2013

Backstage amid the chaos at Sonisphere Knebworth 2014, Rock Sins caught up with Airbourne drummer Ryan O’Keefe about their insane live shows, touring plans, copious amounts of alcohol on their tour bus and a lot more!

This is Lisa Fox from Rock Sins I’m here with Ryan from Airbourne.

RO:G’day I’m Ryan from Airbourne.

G’day that is so cute.  G’day.  G’day mate.


So how’s it going?

RO:Ah it’s good, yes good.

Good how was the show for you guys?

RO:Fucking great. Really great, yes.  Yes.

Have you done Sonisphere before?

RO:We have, we done a blue tent, we’ve done stage two and then yes today on the main stage so it was good.

The main stage, wow, so you’ve slowly crept your way up?

RO:Slowly, yes, creeping our way up, which is always good.

Yes.  Cool.  So you enjoyed the show, how did the crowd react?

RO:Really great.  Yes, I mean it was packed so you know, I couldn’t even, you know, it was all the way to the back so it was really, really good and you know I think we pulled off a good show so I’m really, really, really proud about that.

One of my colleagues is reviewing it because I was interviewing so I didn’t get to catch it.  Was there climbing?

RO:Yes and Joel told everyone he wasn’t going to do it, I tell you, but he did. I’ll never take his word, he’s like that and he always does the unexpected I guess.

Well you guys were the first ones to really do that and now everyone else does it.  You know there’s a band called Marmozets who were at Glastonbury last week and their guitarist climbed up the rigging in the middle of Glastonbury.

RO:Yes right.

So he gave the BBC a shit attack to be quite honest, they were like, “What don’t fall, don’t die on the telly”.  But you know you guys are the masters at it.

RO:Well you know, like I said, I don’t know if he’s a master, he’s a crazy boy but, he pulls it off and it’s always good.

So you guys released an album last year.  Are you still on that touring cycle at the minute?

RO:We are, probably for about another five months but then we are still working.  Spend a bit of money to make the back lounge on the bus like a demo room, to sort of like throw ideas down and always writing ideas on the iPhone, stuff like that.  So we’re, you know, it’s in the works, it still hasn’t come together yet but we’re definitely thinking about it and always working on it.

Fantastic so what can we expect from the new album is it going to be more of the same?  You’re not going to go a crazy direction are you?


Not going to start doing Babymetal or something?

RO:Airbourne is, there’s the right way, the wrong way and the Airbourne way and we, we always do that.  We do what we do because we enjoy it, so it will be pretty much the same.

Fantastic.  So where did the climbing come from, just out of curiosity?

RO:It’s just Joel…I mean, he just gets on stage with a guitar and a few drinks and then he’s just, he just goes nuts and like I’ve just got to watch him and make sure I hit, hit, you know hit when he stomps his foot or something, but he just, you know, just goes and reads the crowd and tries to jack them up a bit I guess.  You know that’s probably where it come from just jacking the crowd up.

Have there been any cock-ups or mistakes or anything that’s gone wrong as a result of that?

RO:See me grabbing this wood here……that’s not just touching wood, so…

Clinging on to it for dear life.

RO:Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Thank god it hasn’t, so yes.

You released your third album last year.  What do you enjoy performing the most, your earlier stuff or your most recent stuff?

RO:Ah that’s a good question. Well you know the old stuff’s, the old stuff you enjoy seeing the people react but the new stuff I love because like because like you can see people’s excitement because they haven’t heard it, where the other ones they have. And they’re enjoying the other ones but the new ones there you can see the excitement of the new song and that’s always great.  And I guess it’s hard, I do like playing the news one a lot.

Do Airbourne improve with every record?

RO:Definitely on this last one and definitely going forward, yes.

So what inspires you guys when you write?  Other than beers on the bus?

RO:Well just, you know, general life, general perspective of you know what’s going on.  More or less having a good time and then, and making sure, you know, that is always, that’s what we’re about, just making sure that everything, if it’s played in front of a crowd they’re going to fucking rock.   You know.

Airbourne is very much as a party band. Your albums are the ones that I put on when I’m getting ready to go out when you want the buzz.


Who would you say is the most fun act that you’ve ever played with?



RO:Made in the UK tour. Yes that was great.  We did play with the Stones actually. Back in 2005, with just us and the Stones in Melbourne Rod Laver Arena.  That was it was the first ever big support we ever got.  It was before Running Wild but yes.

Running Wild’s a great song.  And the video with Lemmy and everything in it.

RO:Yes.  Yes.

Fucking cool.  Although he’s not doing too well at the minute, Lemmy, bless him.

RO:Isn’t he gotten better?  I think he may have got better, I’m not sure.

They’re legends though.

RO:They are.

Who inspires you guys in terms of like old masters or you know musicians out there?

RO:Just everyone that’s headlining these festivals you know.  I mean Metallica, Maiden, AC/DC, Motorhead.  Just the greats, all the greats yes.

With the way the music industry has diversified so much in the last 10 years, do you think there’s always going to be a place for the classic rock and roll?

RO:Probably more of a place. Well it’s diversified, that’s great and that’s cool and that makes it more interesting, it’s like you know Coca Cola was there since the dawn of time but you get to enjoy a Fanta sometimes, you get to enjoy a Sprite.  When you get that burger and that fries you’re always going to go back to the Coca Cola.

I love it, that’s such a good analogy.  You know Coca Cola used to have coke in it as in cocaine in it?

RO:Yes. So did all the old music.

Yes that’s so true, that is so true and now it’s, well it’s diversified.

RO:It has…

What’s the best show you ever played?


I’ll exclude Sonisphere for the purposes of being here, if you want.

RO:I mean no, no, no, I mean that one was really fucking good.  You know I’ve really enjoyed it.  That one’s going to sit with me for a while.  Because it was so full, because the crowd was so reactional, so, but I’d say that as I was saying before, the best tour was the Maiden tour UK.  It just sits there in my head as a definite memory that I’ll never lose.

Do you ever just suddenly like have a moment where you’re thinking, “fucking hell I’m playing with bands that I idolised as a kid”?

RO:Well I was out there before last night watching Maiden, just watching them and then I said to our guitar tech, Adam, I said, “Fuck I just forgot we supported them” and he goes, he goes, “Unbelievable”, and I said, “Probably because my brain actually can’t actually physically, it won’t actually calculate that we did it”.

That’s so humble, I like that.  That’s awesome.  So are we going to see you back in the UK anytime soon?

RO:The end of the year with Black Stone Cherry we’re going to do a tour.

That is another fucking party that is, that is a party waiting to happen man.

RO:And selling really well, so yes we’re going to do that and then we’ll always be coming back, you know it’s a second home so.

I’m interviewing you guys for a site called Rock Sins.


What is your biggest rock sin?

RO:Rock sin?


RO:Mmm…Rock sin.  Rock sin.  So what’s an example like…

It can be a guilty pleasure, it can be something you’ve done, so a story about something crazy that’s happened, it can be something that you guys love that maybe you shouldn’t.

RO:Ah well, I mean it’s pretty cliché but well there’s, literally there’s a keg machine on the bus, there’s kegs, there’s actual tapped beer.

Oh wow that’s so Australian.

RO:Next to it is an ice machine and bottles of whiskey and coke, mmm, alcohol.To a point of not moderation.

Your rock sin is alcohol to the point of excess.

RO:Yes.  There you go.

Fantastic.  Thank you very much for taking the time to share.

Airbourne have just completed a short run of intimate UK club shows. They will return to the UK as main support to Black Stone Cherry on a huge UK arena tour at the end of October. Theory Of A Deadman will open up on the tour.

Airbourne’s most recent album Black Dog Barking is out now on Roadrunner Records.


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