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Interview: Airbourne guitarist David 'Roadsy' Roads

Australian rockers Airbourne are glad to be back in the UK as guitarist David 'Roadsy' Roads explains

Martin Philbey Australian Heavy Rock band Airbourne
Australian Heavy Rock band Airbourne

Taking their lead from the great rock and roll party bands of the 70s and 80s, Australians Airbourne already have a decade of hard living and heavy gigging under their belts.

Self-confessed aficionados of fellow countrymen AC/DC and modelling their latest album on producer John ‘Mutt’ Lange’s definitive Def Leppard records, the committed quartet wear their influences loud and proud.

It’s an approach that continues to grow a dedicated fan base with headline shows across the UK – including tonight’s at Newcastle O2 Academy – selling out fast.

Renowned for their high octane live sets and the crazed antics of frontman Joel O’Keeffe, an Airbourne gig is the epitome of rock and roll’s reckless spirit and enduring appeal.

“Joel’s got a few new tricks up his sleeve – he always has,” explains rhythm guitarist David ‘Roadsy’ Roads. “A lot will depend on where we are on any given night.

“In Paris last week we played L’Olympia and it’s a 3,000-capacity venue.

“When Joel jumped into the crowd he just disappeared!

“He quickly realised he couldn’t get back to the stage without going outside, round the venue and through the back door!

“So he was running past these Parisian cafes without his shirt on waving his guitar in the air and I swear people must have thought he’d nicked the thing and was running from the police.”

Newcastle has been warned. It was the same when Airbourne paid homage to the great Monsters Of Rock bands of Donington festivals through the ages this summer, emerging as the must-see act at the 2013 Download Festival.

“Even before we got on stage there was this vibe and expectation at Donington,” adds Roadsy.

“We actually felt quite nervous. We’d been away from the live scene for some time making the new album Black Dog Barking and you never really know whether your fans will still be out there.

“When we saw the crowds in front of the second stage it was just an awesome feeling. It was nerve-wracking but we all thought ‘wow!’.

“In this day and age you can be forgotten very quickly – we’d spent a year and a half making the new album and that was a long time to be out of the public eye.

“Download made us feel wanted again.

“For people who’d been going there for years saying that our attitude and spirit reminded them of the Monsters Of Rock greats meant a lot.

“I still watch the famous AC/DC show from Donington now. And I have a Whitesnake DVD from the Monsters Of Rock too.

“Back then their shows made that festival and we’re trying to do our very best to do the same.”

Three albums in and 10 years down the line Airbourne are an increasingly big deal in the UK. Back home they still have plenty of work to do.

Roadsy explained: “We’re growing back home but we just don’t spend enough time there to make a sustained push.

“We love touring Australia but we just spend so much of our time in Europe and America.

“I do feel bad because we have a lot of fans in Australia.

“We have played Melbourne and Sydney this year but it’s not so easy to get around.

“We haven’t shunned Australia – not at all. If we could play more shows in our backyard we would.”

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