Hailing from Australia, Airbourne has been rocking the audience with its heavy-hitting style since 2003. Four years after the band was founded by Joel O’Keeffe and his younger brother, Ryan, this group from Down Under burst onto the music scene with their debut album, Runnin’ Wild, in 2007. Since then, Airbourne continues to make a global impression on an audience who can’t seem to get enough.
It Runs in the Family
Joel O’Keeffe serves as Airbourne’s lead vocalist and guitarist while his brother, Ryan, is the drummer. They were joined by rhythm guitarist David Roads and bass guitarist Justin Street. However, as of 2017, Roads has moved on. He was first replaced by Matthew Harrison before Jarrad Morrice took over in 2022.
Before Airbourne (also referred to as Airborne), the O’Keeffe brothers were already rock stars in the making as kids. The two were born into a musical family who followed musical careers of their own. As kids, Joel had his first guitar when he was eleven years old. Four years later, an eleven-year-old Ryan received his first drum set. As teenagers, the O’Keeffe brothers performed with their parents and uncle. In so doing, they learned a thing or two about the music business that would lead to a recording career that would catapult them to stardom.
When Runnin’ Wild was released as Airbourne’s debut album in 2007, it didn’t waste time becoming a global favorite. Since then, it has become certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry. To date, this is the only album released by the band that has an official certification.
However, Airbourne’s success didn’t stop in 2007. 2010’s No Guts, No Glory also became a global favorite that produced a series of hits that continued to spike the hard rock band’s popularity among an increasing audience.
In 2013, Airbourne released its third studio album, Black Dog Barking, then 2016’s Breakin’ Outta Hell. In 2019 it was Boneshaker as their fifth studio album. Among nations throughout the world, they are especially popular in Canada, Germany, and Switzerland. From the second studio album to the fifth, Airbourne has peaked within the top ten of its GfK Albums chart. This is also the case with Swiss Hitparade. As for Canadians, four hit singles released by Airbourne have become number-one hits on its official rock charts.
The musical influence of AC/DC can easily be found in Airbourne’s material. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since they both came from the same nation. Adding to that Aussie influence is also Billy Thorpe, Rose Tattoo, and the Angels. Aside from five studio albums, Airbourne also has an album due for release in 2023. There’s also Diamond Cuts: The B-Sides, a compilation album released by the band in 2017. From these recordings, Airbourne has been nominated on five different occasions with the ARIA Music Awards. ARIA is an acronym for the Australian Recording Industry Association.
Starting in 2007, Runnin’ Wild was nominated for Best Rock Album, as well as Breakthrough Artist – Album. In 2010, No Guts. No Glory was nominated for Best Hard Rock or Heavy Metal Album. This was also the case in 2013 for Black Dog Barking, and again in 2017 for Breakin’ Outta Hell.
Even though the wins with ARIA seem to keep eluding Airbourne, the real prize comes from the adoration of the fans. In an industry as unforgiving as music can be, Airbourne’s world-class quality as a hard rock band speaks for itself. While on tour, they’ve supported legendary greats such as Iron Maiden, Motorhead, and Motley Crue. However, if we’re to monitor a track record of industry-related wins, Airbourne’s Runnin’ Wild won Best Album with Metal Hammer Golden Gods and SleazeRoxx. Also, if you happen to be a gamer or a fan of football and/or wrestling, then you should be well aware of Airbourne’s presence.
No Slowing Down!
Airbourne’s niche as a band focuses on the balance between hard rock and heavy metal music. Aside from their fellow countrymen favorites, the O’Keeffes and their bandmates have also been inspired by the musical impressions laid out by some of the bands they supported so far while on tour, as well as Def Leppard, Judas Priest, and Thin Lizzy. While many bands who specialize in hard rock also venture into ballads from time to time, this hasn’t been a territory Airbourne has opted to venture into just yet. Their musical style has fans and music critics seeming to agree if AC/DC and Iron Maiden were to produce a child to call their own as a couple, Airbourne would be it. Apparently, this is a comparison all three groups don’t seem to mind.
For Airbourne, they knew that even going into the music business they would be compared to some of the legends that have rocked the world even while the O’Keeffe brothers and their bandmates were sporting diapers. At the same time, Airbourne has developed its own distinct sound as the band diligently follows the regime of no acoustic guitar, no ballads, and no keyboards. When it comes to the formula of classic rock and roll, Airbourne has become a legend inspiring a new generation of rockers who are ready to carry on this musical legacy.
Top 10 Airbourne Songs
#10 – Boneshaker
2019’s “Boneshaker” came from Airbourne’s fifth studio album sharing the same title. It, along with the rest of the musical material on it, continued with a formula that put this band on the map as a global hard rock favorite. While many hard rock and heavy metal bands tend to slow down over time, Airbourne hasn’t shown any sign of this yet. At first, “Boneshaker” suggested perhaps the group from Australia is showing signs of mellowing out but both critics and fans are quick to observe how it somewhat behaved like a modernized approach to AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock.”
#9 – No One Fits Me (Better Than You)
Released in 2013 as a single, “No One Fits Me (Better Than You)” became a number-one hit on Canada’s Alternative 30 chart. Coming from the album, Black Dog Barking, this song was a heavy-hitting approach to a love song loaded with Airbourne’s signature style as a hardcore rock band. Actually, the tune was more about enjoying each other’s company and having a good time. Whether or not love actually gets in on the equation is up to the participants listening to decide.
#8 – Let’s Ride
“Let’s Ride” was a single released from Runnin’ Wild, the debut album released by Airbourne in 2007. If you’re looking for a great tune while on the highway, this would be it. Between the heavy riffs and energized vocals, “Let’s Ride’ is that one song that should have no trouble keeping you awake as you drive. In the video gaming community, “Let’s Ride” was featured in Skate and Trials Rising. In College, it was featured in its comedic approach to the life of students wanting to finish off their senior year with a bang.
#7 – Stand Up for Rock N’ Roll
From the album, Runnin’ Wild, “Stand Up for Rock N’ Roll” was Airbourne’s musical message that the genre deserved to be treated with respect and nothing less. This song won so much respect that it was chosen by WWE for its 2008 edition of Royal Rumble, one of its most popular pay-per-view SuperCards.
It was also featured in the EA video games Madden NFL 09, NASCAR 08, and NHL 08. Among gamers, “Stand Up for Rock N’ Roll” was an ideal anthem to be on top of their game. Among fans in general, this song was virtually anthemic by nature as they’re clearly in agreement that rock and roll deserve top-notch treatment.
#6 – Turn Up the Trouble
“Turn Up the Trouble” was a non-album single that was featured as a theme song on two different occasions for World Wrestling Entertainment. Released in 2008, it was featured on WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009, as well as WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010. It’s also on their album, WWE The Music, Volume 8. Straight from the start, the riffs and heavy-hitting “Turn Up the Trouble” was all about enjoying the raw energy of rock and roll. As a group, Airbourne has glorified the genre exactly as it deserves. When listening to this song, it’s easy to picture getting caught up in a car chase as you run away from authority figures who are out to put an end to your wild ride.
#5 – No Way But the Hard Way
Released in 2010, “No Way But the Hard Way” was a single that came from Airbourne’s second studio album, No Guts. No Glory. On Canada’s Alternative 30 chart, it peaked as high as number two. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, it became a number twenty-nine hit.
As a song, it dealt with the realities of a band’s experience when they struggle to go from unknowns to established stars. At the time of writing this song, each band member had his own financial hardship to deal with. Since then, Airbourne definitely realized its claim to fame as a world-class musical group. Yeah, they did it the hard way but at least it worked.
#4 – Breakin’ Outta Hell
The title track, “Breakin’ Outta Hell” came from the album, Breakin’ Outta Hell. Released in 2016, this song put Airbourne back in the world of WWE with its 2016 Hell in a Cell pay-per-view Supercard. As a hit single, it became the fourth song released by Airbourne to become a number-one hit on Canada’s Alternative 30 chart. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, it peaked at number forty-two.
For Airbourne, the idea was to come up with a rebellious song against abusive authority figures fans could also relate to. The explosive “Breakin’ Outta Hell” also suggested getting away from the madness of a world that seems to become less appealing by the day. Many fans took this to heart, myself included.
#3 – Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast
Released in 2008, “Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast” was a single that became one of the most popular tunes ever released by Airbourne. This hard-hitting outcry against modern society hammered the message home on how badly world leaders have treated the global population.
Instead of using technology for the greater good, such leaders only pretend to do so. Instead of being honest with their true intentions, they condition the people into believing in a series of lies. If the world feels like it is moving too fast for your personal liking that’s because it was arranged by the powers that be who abuse their authority. Partly what makes Airbourne so popular worldwide is the honesty behind the group’s music. This is a rare quality that repeatedly demonstrates they’re unwilling to compromise integrity in favor of whatever seems acceptable in the eyes of corporate society.
On the Canadian Hot 100, “Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast” became a number seventy-four hit. On its Alternative 30 chart, it climbed as high as number one. The US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart peaked this single at number sixteen. For Airbourne, this remains the highest charted single in the U.S. from the band’s discographic portfolio.
In the world of video games, “Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast” was used in Burnout Paradise, Guitar Hero World Tour, and NASCAR 09. It was also used in movies and television as a tune that bucked authority with its powerful message.
#2 – Live It Up
Among the fans, Airbourne’s advice in “Live It Up” was well noted. With Canada’s Alternative 30 chart, this was made loud and clear as the single topped its music chart after it was released as a single in 2013. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, it became a number forty hit.
In the gaming community, “Live It Up” from Black Dog Barking livened up the music score behind Full Throttle, Extreme Rules 2013, and NHL 14. As the guitar solo began one of Airbourne’s signature tunes, the lucky fan was already put on notice this was to explode into yet another major hit for the boys from Down Under.
#1 – Runnin’ Wild
When Airbourne made its debut in 2007, “Runnin’ Wild” was released as a single that quickly put them on the map as a fan favorite. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, it became a number twenty-two hit. In Canada, the Canadian Hot 100 peaked it at number ninety while its Alternative 30 chart saw this hard-hitting single climb straight to the top.
The appeal of “Runnin’ Wild” was also featured in a series of games belonging to Electronic Arts. Those games include Madden NFL 8, NASCAR 09, and NHL 09. It’s also in other popular video games such as Rock Band, Rock Band 2, Battlefield: Bad Company, and The Crew 2. Aside from influencing the gaming community, “Runnin’ Wild” has also been featured as a dramatic musical piece in movies and television. If you’re looking for a classic hit that’s guaranteed to rev you up, “Runnin’ Wild” is a tough act to follow between the guitar riffs and that feel as if you’re running from the cops in an epic car chase.
Top 10 Airbourne Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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