Overdrive talks to Airbourne – Exclusive interview!

Posted on by Oran

Airbourne rolled into Dublin on the second date of their “Black Dog Barking” tour. We caught up with rhythm guitarist David Roads and talked about Vinyl, Wine, Touring and Lemmy. Check out what he had to say below. 

IMG_1692O.D Black Dog Barking was released in May of this year and it seems that you have been on the road with the summer festivals first and now the full Black Dog Barking Tour. How has the tour been going so far?

Dave – We are only the second date in with this leg and played Belfast last night,that was a cracker of a show, we started out in the U.S when the album first came out and them we came over to Europe to do the Summer Festivals.

O.D – I was at the Download Festival and saw you there and the crowd was just lapping it up!

Dave – Awesome crowd, there was an incredible reaction that took us by surprise.

O.D – Were you worried that during the writing process you would have to put in the extra hard work as you had been away for a long period of time from the live circuit?

Dave – Yea, loads of our fans were asking us “where are you?” “when are you playing again?” Especially across France, Germany and UK, there was relentless interest as to when we would be back on the road. We didn’t want to rush the album and had to go with the flow and make sure it was right. In the end we are all happy with the result. When we got back out there on the Festival jaunt the crowds were very receptive and the new songs went down great.

O.D –  From the shows that you have played this year already are there any that come to mind that stand out for either good or bad reasons?

Dave – Well, I’d have to say Download as they crowd were just amazing! The festival organisers were happy with the numbers that we pulled over to the second stage and had said that it was it was one of the biggest crowds they had seen on that stage in a long time.

O.D – The crowd was fantastic for that show and it seemed that the gods were on you side as you had some great weather for the duration of your set.

Dave – We feel like that since we have been off the road, we needed to get out there and smash it and give them an amazing show and I think we managed to do that.

O.D The Sharp Brothers designed two of your albums “NO GUTS, NO GLORY” & “BLACK DOG BARKING” how was the album cover design process with them or did you just give them free reign?

Dave – Ryan deals with everything regarding the artwork and Joel has a pretty big say with the final result. With the concept of “Black Dog” and “No Guts” we were inspired by the action movie video covers from back in the 80’s. We grew up loving Lethal Weapon and Indiana Jones and being the 80’s with album covers from Judas Priest and Motorhead their artwork was always cool and the concept for the covers was to be like an 80’s movie mixed with those bands covers. The cover from “No Guts” has references from all the songs on the album, the girl from “Blond Bad & Beautiful” and the truck represents “White Line Fever”. We wanted to bring back the classic album cover feel. Joel and I are big record collectors and take a lot of inspiration from the old school classics. In saying that, I can’t understand why people download music as it’s not the same as having a physical copy of an album in your hands with the cover and the booklet.

Airbourne Album covers

O.D – We agree with you there, as we have a huge passion for vinyl’s. Everything from the artwork to the sound. Have you got a list of “have to get” records that you are ticking off?

Dave – Yea, I need to get a list. I’m trying be buy all my favourite records on vinyl now so I have everything that I like, but I haven’t gotten around to doing a list yet.

O.D –  Favorite album covers of all time?

Dave – I would have to say Motorhead, just with the bands logo and mascot on the cover, also Judas Priest “Screaming for Vengeance”, AC/DC “Razors Edge”with the silver and red and the slash across it.

Motorhead album cover

O.D – What are your thoughts on the vinyl record becoming more popular?

Dave – In Australia the smaller stores are bringing back more vinyl, even if it’s on re-issue it’s great to see. I find that some bands like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones are very hard to find and that just show’s how, after all this time they are still in demand.

O.D –  I witnessed your shows at Sonisphere in 2011 & Download 2013 and was just blown away with the energy that comes from the stage.

Dave – Well Joel has a gift of connecting with the crowd and the reality of down to earth stuff, like last night in Belfast he was asking the crowd “Who’s got work in the morning”? and “Who’s gonna get drunk tonight?, Well fuck the hangover”. There is nothing fake about what we do. We are straight down the line. Some bands use backing tracks, we just like to play out instruments and be true to ourselves.

O.D – How do you keep up that intensity night after night? Are there any rituals that keep you energised.

Dave – It just clicks into gear when we are up there and it all comes together. Right now I’m a little jet-lagged and a small bit hungover as we had a few drinks after the show last night, and am thinking “it’s gonna be a hard one tonight”. We have to keep fit as we do a lot of running around on stage. As a touring band and playing pretty much every night we are match fit and just have to be to pull off what we do. Airbourne has been together now for nearly ten years and we are all confident that we know we are tight live. Starting a tour is always a little hard as you have to get back into that intense pace and just get a few under the belt to get back on form.

O.D –  Coming from a small town such as Warrnambool, does it blow you away when you just stop and realise how far you have come?

Dave – Sometimes, but at the same time it’s been a hell of a journey to get to where we are and when we get home and think about our experiences like touring with Iron Maiden, Motorhead and The Rolling Stones. Looking back on those experiences is mind blowing. We are not making a fortune out of this as the money we make, we just put back into the touring costs etc, but you just can’t put a price on meeting some of the people you grew up listening too.

O.D –  There is a very healthy and growing Metal/Rock music scene in Ireland and many of the bands that exist live in remote rural areas, Airbourne is proof that if you just stick to what you believe in you can break out and make it. If you could give any advice on to younger musicians what would it be?

Dave – We knew that we had to get out of Warrnambool and move to Melbourne because that’s where all the arts and music seem to be happening in Australia. We were lucky as it was not too far from where we grew up. We were just prepared to make extreme sacrifices and were so young, living together and writing music non stop. We were on welfare and played any gig we could get just giving 150% all the time. My advice to any young bands is that if you are really serious about it, just give it everything that you have, move to where you think the best place that can get you exposure and if it doesn’t work out the first time around just keep at it and follow our dreams.

O.D –  I understand that you have a sort of writing process that you do on the road, how has that been going?

Dave – Yea, pretty good. Only tonight Joel was messing around with a riff during soundcheck and whipped out his iPhone to record it? We use a Zoom recorder as well so we can just nail it down before we forget. Any opportunity we get we are always writing and collecting riffs and when we have some down time we sort of stitch them all together.

O.D –  What are you listening to at the moment?

Dave – At the moment, I’m just listening to some of the old stuff. I kind of go through phases where I just listing to a certain band, like recently I was on a Judas Priest trip and now I’m on a Creedence Clearwater Revival buzz. I just love John Fogerty’s vocals.

O.D – With the rise of bands bringing our their own booze (Iron Maiden’s Trooper) would you like to see Airbourne beer/wine and if so what would you call it?

Dave – Funny you say that, as I just met the guy who looks after the wine for AC/DC and Motorhead and he was a really nice guy. There might be something on the cards a little bit down the line but I feel that it’s a little premature as we are still a young band.


O.D –  You must have a Lemmy story?

Dave – Well, Lemmy is a quiet guy and likes to hang out in his dressing room with his poker machine and Jack Daniels. He’s pretty quiet on the road. I guess his poker machine is like the X-Box for his generation. Occasionally he would invite us into his dressing room and thank us for being on the tour and you would get some old battle stories from him which is cool. It’s like sitting with your Grandpa in a circle just taking it all in. Micky D is more the party man and we’ve had a few drinks with him. We were at the Golden Gods awards and he most certainly likes to get out there and have a few.

Airbourne Black Dog Barking

Airbourne are currently on tour in support of their awesome new album “Black Dog Barking” out now via Roadrunner Records. Order you copy here.






Words – Oran O’Beirne.