When you’re the biggest metal band in the world who do you handpick to open up your homecoming headline shows? Airbourne is the answer.

As the Aussie upstarts continue to slay Iron Maiden’s notoriously tough crowd across the UK we caught up with Ryan O’Keeffe – look out for a review of both bands very soon! 

rushonrock: Reviews of your Sonisphere set have been outstanding – was it a good day all round?

Ryan O’Keeffe: Sonisphere was great. There were lots of people out front to check us out and the rain held off for us this year. We were able to check out Bill Bailey which was fun and it was another cracking weekend.

rushonrock: How excited were you when you were told you’d bagged the support slot on Maiden’s UK dates?

RO: When we heard we got the Maiden support slot we were all just jumping around. It’s such an honour to play with them and we’re very lucky. I grew up listening to Iron Maiden and the first sticks I ever used were Nicko McBrain sticks. I think we were back home working on the album when we were told the support slots were confirmed. It felt crazy.

rushonrock: What was your first experience of Maiden ive?

RO: The first time I saw Maiden I was actually able to sit behind Nicko’s kit and watch the gig from there. Imagine that? It was the first time I’d ever seen their show and I was sat right behind one of my all-time heroes.

rushonrock: Do emerging bands like Airbourne aspire to ape Maiden in every sense?

RO: They’re an example to everyone in the music business. They’re still rocking and still packing out huge venues after more than 30 years at the top of their game. The secret to their success is that they’re great blokes, they put on a great show and they still write great songs.

rushonrock: Can you imagine packing out arenas in 30 years?

RO: We look at Maiden and that’s where we want to be. Airbourne are here for the long haul. We’ll be doing this for as long as we live and we won’t change the way we do things. We love to entertain and Maiden have always shown that the show is as important as the music.

rushonrock: You already have a great affinity with UK fans – will this tour strengthen that bond?

RO: We’re looking forward to seeing a few old faces across the UK again and from a personal point of view I can’t wait to enjoy a few of my favourite Greggs Steak Bakes. It’s got all the makings of a perfect trip. Greggs every day and Maiden every night – I’ll be watching them from different places and making sure I don’t miss a minute.

rushonrock: So what does the future hold for Airbourne?

RO: After the summer festival season we’re going to head home to Australia and begin work on the next album. We’re not fans of going into the studio – we’d rather be on the road – but we’ve got some great ideas for new songs.