Airbourne To Party

Before Airbourne take to the main stage at Sonisphere this Sunday, they're holed up in a rehearsal space in Manchester. So we dropped Joel a line to to get a sense of anticipation for one of their biggest UK shows.

Airbourne play Sonisphere this Sunday, the day Metallica headline. What did you make of Glastallica?

It was great! It was so good to see Metallica, the world’s biggest heavy metal act, just giving it to them like that. Glastonbury loved it, everyone looked like they had a great time, and you couldn’t escape that bit of tongue-in-cheek humour at the beginning. It had to be done. All those jazzy, indie folks poking fun at them and trying to ban them from playing a big festival - it’s sort of like when the churches tried to ban Black Sabbath. It was a total triumph for rock ‘n’ roll, and Metallica just crushed them all.

Mastodon are on after Airbourne on the main stage at Sonsiphere too, and they just landed themselves a Top Ten UK album (Once More ‘Round The Sun). It feels like a triumphant week for heavy metal music. Do you ever find it a battle playing rock n roll, and if so do you think the battle is being won?

First off, congratulations to Mastodon. That’s awesome to hear that - they’re a great bunch of guys. It’s not really a battle I don’t think, because it’s just so much fun to get out there and do it, you know. When you look out at the audience’s faces and they’re all rocking out and having a good time, and you’re cranking up all your amps - it’s a big energy. Whether it’s heavy metal or rock ‘n’ roll, it’s all based on that same fundamental energy. Look at The Who and Black Sabbath, who are two very different bands from the same era, but they both share the same power and energy, and that’s the thing that gets you up and going man.

The last time Airbourne played Sonsiphere was in 2011, when you downed a bottle of ‘Cabinet Shiraz’ during Cheap Wine, Cheaper Women, before climbing up to the top of the stage and ripping out a guitar solo. What do you have up your sleeve for Sonisphere 2014?

As always, we never plan anything in advance. We just get to the festival and decide, right, what can we do to take it up another notch. Sometimes, like at Donington the other year, they have the stage cornered off so that you can’t climb it, so then I just dive out into the crowd instead, and basically run around the whole festival. Literally anything goes. We just do what we do on the day, and see what we can get away with without getting arrested.

We can expect a few new tricks though, right? Things which we’ve never seen even Airbourne attempt before…

I want them to be surprises, so I’m not going to say too much, but we have got a few little things that are gonna happen - things that we learnt from the Iron Maiden school of rock. A lot of their greatest theatrics are achieved by simple ingenuity. So we started thinking, what can we do with our own stage to be innovative and make cool things happen. Metallica have always been one of the great innovators too, so it’s gonna be great to be on the same stage as those two bands testing out our new inventions.

It’s safe to say Airbourne are looking forward to playing at Sonisphere this weekend?

The big thing for us is playing again in England, playing again at Knebworth, celebrating their 40 years of rock ‘n’ roll history - from The Stones to Status Quo - and going out and doing what we do, and that’s going as hard as we can, and giving it to this crowd the only way we know how to. It’s either go hard, or go back home to Australia… and we’re staying because we love this festival. Our whole thing has always been just 4 dudes, giving the crowd the best that we’ve got. So if you want a big dose of rock n roll, come over and check us out. There’s always free beer flying around too.

Matt Stocks

DJ, presenter, writer, photographer and podcaster Matt Stocks was a presenter on Kerrang! Radio before a year’s stint on the breakfast show at Team Rock Radio, where he also hosted a punk show and a talk show called Soundtrack Apocalypse. He then moved over to television, presenting on the Sony-owned UK channel Scuzz TV for three years, whilst writing regular features and reviews for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazine. He also wrote, produced and directed a feature-length documentary on Australian hard rock band Airbourne called It’s All For Rock ‘N’ Roll, and in 2017 launched his own podcast: Life in the Stocks. His first book, also called Life In The Stocks, was published in 2020. A second volume was published in April 2022.