Music | Airbourne supremacy

Australia, it seems, is the place to go for powerhouse rock. Kate Rothwell chats to Airbourne’s Ryan O’Keefe, as they take over Europe via videogame.

A long line of Australian rock bands have made a name for themselves in European territory. Airbourne are the latest of these and they’re about to take it that little bit farther afield, with a string of dates in Japan this month.

The Australian music scene, according to drummer, Ryan O’Keefe, is heavily influenced by the US and UK markets; bands must first make themselves known on other continents before they are granted real recognition back home.


“You go overseas, and you get a name and it feeds back through those sort of channels.” The lengthy and no doubt, costly process of foreign self-promotion is why, in O’Keefe’s opinion, the band receive more airplay abroad than in their native country.

“[AC/DC] are possibly one of the best bands in the world, there’s no better band to be compared to”

However, with a list of support slots to bands of such a high-profile as Mötley Crüe, Status Quo and Motörhead, Airbourne have little to worry about in terms of rock recognition- just ask the crowd of 75,000 who saw them support Iron Maiden in Germany.

As well as supporting the world’s greatest rock musicians, Airbourne have received a barrage of comparisons to fellow Australian rockers, AC/DC, something which O’Keefe sees as an extreme compliment. “They’re possibly one of the best bands in the world, if not the best, and every band’s got to be compared to someone – there’s no better band to be compared to”.

One dizzy height of fame that both AC/DC and Airbourne have both reached is that their tracks featured on video-games, Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

The games are what O’Keefe describes as “a great way of getting out to younger audiences, they’re perceived as the new radio” – even if he hasn’t played them just yet, it’s one more thing on a long to-do list.
The age range of Airbourne fans does stretch beyond that of the Xbox generation, with “16 to 60-year-olds” listening to their latest album Running Wild.

Their performance of tracks for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) may be appreciated by even younger fans and was an experience that the band enjoyed. “It was just a bit of fun really, an excuse to play a song… we went in on Fox Sports and had a laugh.”

With 2008 booked out to overseas dates, Airbourne will be looking at their follow-up to Running Wild in 2009 but have yet to decide in which part of the world it will be recorded; their homeland still being an option.

“I’m not sure yet. We haven’t discussed exactly where we’re going to do that but maybe- it could be cheaper!” For now though, their sights are set on foreign shores- after a sell out show in Dublin earlier this year, anyone wanting some Aussie rock should snap up some tickets to see how they do it differently down under.

Airbourne play the Ambassador on the 10th November.