Airbourne are a straightforward rock band in the Aussie pub rock tradition of AC/DC, the Angels, and Rose Tattoo: four guys with beers in hand who would rather die than be caught wearing a pink shirt. The brothers Joel and Ryan O'Keeffe grew up in the country town of Warrnambool, with a collection of classic Australian rock albums stolen from their uncle. When everyone around them was listening to contemporary music, they were firmly entrenched in the music of the '70s and '80s they longed to re-create. Joel took on vocals and lead guitar and Ryan played drums while still in school, earning them the enmity of their neighbors, who sent the police around with noise complaints multiple times. Second guitarist David Roads was sourced from the local pub, where Joel O'Keeffe worked. Bass player Justin Street was encountered in the town's sand dunes by Ryan O'Keeffe while drunkenly rolling down them, and with his addition Airbourne were complete. The four soon moved to the city of Melbourne to find venues willing to accept them.
Steadily playing, they put out a self-financed EP called Ready to Rock in 2004. Hard work paid off with support slots for acts including the Rolling Stones and Mötley Crüe, and a billing at the Big Day Out festival in 2006. That year they were invited to the U.S. by Capitol Records to record their debut album, Runnin' Wild, with producer Bob Marlette. When Capitol merged with Virgin they were one of several artists dropped, though they managed to quickly sign a new contract with Roadrunner Records and secure a worldwide release for the album, which proved popular with video game producers who licensed songs for use in the games NHL 08, Madden NFL 08, and Skate. The band released its spirited sophomore album, No Guts. No Glory., in 2010, and set off to do a stint on tour with Iron Maiden the following year. A third album, Black Dog Barking, arrived in 2013, followed in 2016 by Breakin' Outta Hell, the latter of which was released via Spinefarm. ~ Jody Macgregor