Metal Wani‘s Adam Hayward conducted an interview with vocalist/lead guitarist Joel O’Keeffe of Australian hard rockers AIRBOURNE at this year’s edition of the Download festival, which was held June 9-11 at Donington Park in Leicestershire, England. You can listen to the chat below.
Speaking about the recent departure of guitarist David Roads and addition of Harri Harrison (PALACE OF THE KING), Joel said: “People sometimes, they might misconceive what it’s like to be in a touring band. They might think it’s all private jets and it’s really glamorous, and it’s absolutely not. When you’re a working-class rock and roll band, it’s not like that. You’ve just gotta look at the long line of musicians over the years that have either passed away or, for whatever reason…
“The road can be one of the darkest and loneliest places. And I’m not saying… With David, I know he was having a hard time out on the road, but he loved the fans, though — he loved playing. So now he’s back on the farm [working in his family business] and he’s happy as hell. He’s happy again. [He’s fulfilling] a promise to his parents that he’s gonna work, he’s doing the farm. We said, ‘No, man. It’s all good. You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.’ You get one life.
“We’ve done this for how many years now; people forget how long we’ve been going.”
When asked how Harri is settling in, Joel said: “He’s great. Every gig, he… he’s been hard on himself. He wants to do better with this and that, but he’s rocking out there and the fans love him. We’ve had a few comments coming back saying, ‘Harri‘s great. We love him. Onwards and upwards. And all the best to Roadsy.’
“When Roadsy first told us [he was leaving the band], the first thing [we said to ourselves] when he told us, Ryan [O’Keeffe, drums], Streety [bassist Justin Street] and myself, we just [went], ‘All right. Who’s a mate? Who’s a mate?’ Because that’s how it was in the beginning. And we went with mates first. We didn’t even think about musicianship.
“In this rock and roll circus that we’re in, sometimes you get left at airports, sometimes you get stuck on a bus for just three days on end just driving and driving and driving, playing the darkest, shittiest places in the world, the shit can hit the fan. And if you’re not there with your mates… And your crew is the same. It’s a family. So when you bring someone into your family… A mate is someone who stands by you in a trench. When the shit’s fucking coming at you, you need that guy right there. And Harri is that guy.”
AIRBOURNE‘s latest album, “Breakin’ Outta Hell”, landed in the Top 10 in both the U.K. and the band’s native Australia after its September 2016 release.