Menu Subscribe Search



Subscribe for the Latest Music News

Enter your email address below to subscribe to a regular(ish) dose of AAA Backstage goodness direct to your inbox.

Interview: David Roads from Airbourne


Modern Aussie rock legends Airbourne have been touring the world since the release of their debut album ‘Runnin’ Wild’ in 2007. Over their 13 years as a band they’ve supported all sorts of music royalty such as The Rolling Stones, Iron Maiden, and Mötley Crüe. We had a chat to guitarist David Roads about their upcoming album and what the ride’s been like during their crazy career!

You guys are getting ready to release the new album ‘Breakin Outta Hell’. Are you excited for your audiences to hear it and what can we expect from it?

Yeah, we were happy with this album, the whole process went really well, its sounding really good. It’s got some really good songs and its gonna be a good little rockin’ album. I guess it’s different, every album is different from the other. We’ve worked with Bob Marlette on this one. He’s the producer we worked with on ‘Runnin Wild’, and we had Mike Fraser engineering it…he’s quite renowned for working with Aerosmith and AC/DC and those sorts of band. What he does with the mixing process is just unbelievable. So that will release soon and the single is supposed to be coming out in a couple of weeks!

How do you think it compares to your other releases such as ‘Runnin Wild’?

In terms of the sounds and the tones of it, it’s got a bit more of a classic sound. It’s hard to explain really. The songs are just gonna be more of a rocker and just straight down the line. It’s hard to tell till it actually comes out and we put it up to compare. With the people we worked on it with, it’s just got a different vibe about it, a different energy to it and it’s just a real fun, exciting sounding rocker!

You’re playing Summernats in January, it’ll be your first time in Aussie since 2013. Are you really excited and why has it been so long?

We are excited, especially to play Summernats because none of us have ever been and I’ve always wanted to go to it, so it’ll be a great show to play! The reason we haven’t played in Australia for a while is just that our workload overseas is so intense. When we go and tour Europe and North America, by the time we get around everywhere, it just takes up the whole year. We just tour over there for months on end. We got back here in 2013 and after that we had more tours booked overseas and the next thing we know it’s the end of the album cycle.

So that’s why we’re definitely trying to get to Australia early on in this album cycle, starting with Summernats and then we’ll probably maybe follow up with some more Aussie dates after that. Nothing is locked in at this stage but we are talking about doing some more dates, so at this stage it’s just the Summernats locked in. It’s just hard by the time we get ground everywhere, it just takes up so much of the year. But we love to play Australia and unfortunately it’s just hard for us to get back sometimes, but we always try to get a tour in on an album cycle.

I’ve seen some photos of you guys on stage and all of the AAA team is wondering, during huge performances how many of those Marshall amps are actually turned on and being used?

Oh we had something like 12 stacks all up with our main specs, so six stacks a side. So 22 cabs (cabinets) per side all up there.  So yeah there’s quite a lot! (Laughs) Marshall normally hook us up with as much stuff as we need and then we just fill the stage up with Marshall’s, and they’re all turned on as well!

Over your 13 years as a band, is there anything that you’ve seen that surprised you or that you didn’t realise?

I guess when we broke into the industry we came in at probably the toughest time the industry had ever had in a really long time. When we first moved to Melbourne 10 years ago, all there was was Myspace really and that’s what a lot of bands had (laughs). Things like YouTube and downloading of albums illegally, our first album came out when that was all big. So we really broke into the industry at the toughest time. As our manager kept saying, “This is the worst it’s been in a really long time because artists don’t really sell albums anymore and you just have to go on the road to keep yourself going and make money”.

That’s the same for every band in this day and age. So that was our first experience of the industry, coming in at that time, which was hard! In the long run it’s made us a tougher band and just a working class band. We tour pretty flat out, when it comes to going on the road we’re out for a pretty long time, we just never stop.

How do you feel now? As you said when you started there was the downloading and stuff, but now that’s started to stop and more people are going to live shows and using streaming, so what’s your thoughts on it now?

It’s always been good, and one thing that’s always been good for us is our live show, we’ve won people over with that and we’ve had more and more people come to the live show every time we’ve gone back on tour for a new album, the crowds have been bigger. So we can’t complain, we’re really happy with that! We pride ourselves more on being a live band, y’know an Aussie pub rock band. So having the crowds to play to is more important to us than selling thousands of albums. We’re all about doing good albums and releasing them with exciting songs, but at the end of the day we’re just all about the live show!

Speaking about that, the band and obviously Joel (O’Keefe) are known for crazy stage antics. Are there any performances or moments live that have stood out for you?

We’re all pretty energetic on stage, I guess you could compare us a lot to almost The Who and Iron Maiden with the way we all move around on stage. Over the years, our showmanship has gotten better with just more experience. Streety (Justin Street) and I over the years have started moving around a lot more on stage and there is a few choreographed bits I guess in some songs, when the three of us all get together and do a bit of a duel guitar thing. From the start we said to ourselves that we never wanted to be a stand still band, we wanted to be high energy, move around, and just be more entertainers, as well as musicians!

Then there’s Joel with his climbing and all of that…

(Laughs) Yeah he just takes it a step further, or 10 steps further!

It’s a known fact that you guys have really become big over in the UK compared to back here in Australia. Why do you think you’re more popular over in the UK?

I guess it’s just the masses are over there. As you said, we do have a following here in Australia and a big rock crowd. We’re just a huge country with a really small population and I think that’s just why it works well in Europe and the UK. All the cities are a lot closer together and there’s millions and millions of more people over there, and therefore there’s bigger groups for the certain genres of music.

They also have the big festivals over there that draw in up to 80,000 – 100,000 people, and there’s festivals allocated just for rock bands and metal bands, not as much for the alternative bands. I guess it’s just more in the population and the masses of people over there I think.

Yeah, you guys played at Download Festival and those sorts of festivals…

Yeah! The festivals over there are unreal, I’ve never seen anything like it! You just go out and you’re playing to a sea of people!

Lastly, you guys are called Airbourne, but what brings you back down to earth?

I guess we never leave Earth really (laughs) we’re pretty down to earth most of the time. We’ve just done things the hard way throughout our career so far and that’s kept us pretty grounded. When we are off the road we all live back in Melbourne, and we’re a pretty basic bunch of guys. We love to go to the pub and have a beer and go to the footy.

We love being home in Australia and that’s why we never wanted to base ourselves overseas, because we just love living back home. I’m into the AFL myself and just love to come home and switch off after you’ve been on the road for ages. You’re on a high when you’re on tour and stuff, but when you’re home you’re back to a normal life until we go back on the road and it’s crazy touring!

Summernats Festival 2017

THU 5 – SUN 8 JAN 2017
Canberra Exhibition Park, Canberra

Get Tickets HERE