- - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Do you love AC/DC but realize maybe that band is done for good? Worried that with no album releases in sight and several members being replaced that the rock ride is over? But who will supply the soundtrack to your party?

The good news is there is an another rocking band — also from Australia — that is still in their prime, blasting out new records and sweat-soaked shows. That band is Airbourne. Four albums in, the group — comprising Mr. O’Keeffe on drums, brother Joel on vocals, guitarist David Roads and bassist Justin Street — is a solid rock machine. And, yeah, they sound a bit like Angus Young and the boys.

Airbourne will be rocking and rolling into the Baltimore Soundstage Friday, so you can see for yourself. In advance of that show, drummer Mr. O’Keeffe and I met up at the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Hollywood to discuss the AC/DC comparisons, drinking with Lemmy, two-minute noodles and their new CD, “Breaking out of Hell.”

Question: How does the band being compared to AC/DC sit with you?

Answer: I’m 30 now. If 15 years ago someone said to me, “You’re going to be traveling around the world after four albums. And your name is gonna be in the same sentence as AC/DC,” I would be over the moon. They are the world’s best rock ‘n’ roll band. Up there with The Rolling Stones. Honestly, it’s great. I would be scared if you were comparing us to someone else.

Q: What would you and your brother do if you got the call from AC/DC to be their singer and drummer?

A: Joel, interestingly enough, was in a bunch of polls about who should take the singing job. He found it very humbling. He’s been asked the question before, and he said, “The first thing I would do is call [former AC/DC singer] Brian [Johnson] to get his permission. And the second thing I would do is call a cab to the airport.”

If I got the call, the first thing I would do is call my brother, see if he’s cool with it. See if I’m allowed. [laughs] I think it’s one of those things that if you got the phone call, you would just freak out.

Q:Historically, brothers in bands don’t work out. How do you guys avoid that?

A: I think from Day 1, since we were 11, we both had this goal. We fell in love with rock ‘n’ roll at a young age. Any bickering or stuff like that is usually about who gets the better hotel room. We’re never gonna allow that kind of thing to divert what we’re all passionate about. My brother and the other guys too. Probably why we still got the same lineup. Everyone’s very proud of what they do.

Q: How do you keep the same four guys together?

A: Ten years ago I was 20 years of age, trying to sneak in here (Rainbow Bar) and recording at Henson Studios. Three years before that, we lived in a band house in Melbourne. Sharing two-minute noodles with somebody for three years, you generally get to know the guy. That was the same for all four of us.

On the road I know a lot of bands play tricks on each other in the tour bus. Not us. The tour bus is a sanctuary. We’re very respectful of each other.

Q: Do you prefer playing small clubs or festival stages?

A: We love the clubs. We love the festivals. We try to bring a club show to festivals and a festival to a club. It’s all high-energy.

Q: What can people expect when then come see Airbourne live?

A: Expect a full-on rock ‘n’ roll show. One of the most extreme rock ‘n’ roll shows you’ve ever seem. It’s gonna be very loud. There’s gonna be a lot of people drinking. All the songs are gonna be about stuff you love: drinking, sex, rock ‘n’ roll.

Q: We’re sitting in Lemmy from Motorhead’s second home. How did you get him to do one of your videos?

A: There is a movie called “Con Air,” and the guy who flies the plane in that looks a bit like Lemmy. We thought, “Let’s get that actor!”

We would have never even thought of asking Lemmy. Lemmy is god. Somebody at our label talked to Lemmy’s management. All he wanted was to have a limo pick him up here and take him to where we were filming. Plus two bottles of Jack [Daniel’s] and two bottles of Coca-Cola, two packets of salt and vinegar chips.

He pulled up, rolled down the window and called us over, invited us into his limo. We sat there drinking Jack and listening to ZZ Top. He didn’t want to be paid to be in the video. He did his part, got back in the limo and was dropped off [back at Rainbow]. 

Q:What is the one thing you need on the road to keep you sane?

A: In Europe, the European bus has a keg machine. When we play Germany, they have these actual tapable kegs. It’s not a gimmick. They are 6 liters each. We get the six-pack, so it’s 36 liters of beer every time we play Germany, Austria and Holland. There’s a lot of beer.

When we go to France, we get 16 bottles of red wine.

Q: What do you get in America?

A: Lots of cheeseburgers. [laughs]

Q: What was the recording process like for your new album “Breaking out of Hell”?

A: It’s the first record we’ve done at home in Australia. All the other records we had done in the States. We flew in Bob Marlette, who produced our album “Running Wild” 10 years ago, and we flew in Mike Fraser to mix it. The whole process was a bag of laughs — six guys who just wanted to make an awesome record.

Airbourne plays Baltimore Soundstage Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance by going to Ticketfly.com.


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