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1st December 2017

Graham Russell

Russell Hitchcock


Air Supply – the legacy


Q: There are a lot of multi-million selling, multi decade artists in the world but not many have done it purely off the music. You have, you’ve never thrown things out of hotel windows or smashed up your gear or courting any kind of controversy. That must be a marvelous feeling to know that it is your music, 100% that will be your legacy. 


GH: Right.


RH: I guess you don’t think about it unless you get asked questions like this and having said that, we’re celebrating forty-two years this year so when you get a chance to look back to the first recording in 1976, the body of work that we’ve done and the amount of compositions that Graham has written, it’s quite amazing.


GH: We’ve never thought that we should be those guys. There were enough artists  throwing stuff out of hotel rooms and being kind of weird but that was never our thing plus I think when we had our first success, we were a bit older than most. We were 24/25 when we had our first hit, not 18/19 when you don’t really know what’s going on. By that time, we had figured a few things out so we skipped that stage but it’s always been the music for us. We always tried to stay behind and let the music speak for us. In Australia, there was a lot of resentment because when we came about in ’75, there were a lot of other bands that had been doing the traps forever and just weren’t getting anywhere then we came out and suddenly – boom! It was really fast for us and I think there was resentment and that made us back off a little.


Q: The Hong Kong Blu-ray is great. I played it back to back with the Hawaii show you did in 1983…


GR: Oh did you? (laughs)


Q: …yes and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the music now is just as pure as it ever was.


GR: That’s a nice thing for you to say.


RH: One of the things I think we’re proud of is that people who have listened to the recordings and have never seen us, get what they remember. I’ve been to a bunch of concerts where I couldn’t figure out what the song was and it was a hit but with too many vocal histrionics and arranged differently. I think another reason for the basis of our success so far is that people come along and they hear what they want to hear.


Q: I know exactly what you are saying; I’ve been to a few like that myself. You must have had thousands of people saying to you that they met their husband or wife while hearing your songs, got married to your songs, etc. Have you ever had anyone give you any unusual stories about how your music somehow influenced or was part of their life?

RH: Speaking of that Hawaii video, we had a woman come to a show after that and she said that when her first child was being born, she had the video playing in the delivery room because she wanted her child to be exposed to Air Supply out of the womb which I thought was quite amazing.


Q: That’s a wonderful compliment.


GR: It is a compliment.


RH: We’ve had people say they were contemplating suicide and were affected by our music to the point where it gave them an inspirational push to not go that far so it’s touching.


Q: That’s terrific. You can’t get better feeling than that.


GR: No.




Q: Graham the Air Supply musical has some new songs in it which sit alongside the eighties songs. Did you feel the need to rewind mentally to that era to recapture your songwriting as it was then?


GR: No. If there are certain songs that are needed for whatever, I can just go straight there so it’s not a problem.


Q: So did you learn anything about yourself as a songwriter because in that case, had to actually write too something?


GR: Yeah I actually prefer to write too something. I find it much easier to write too a ctain topic. In fact when I’m writing a song, I always try to think of a story and usually I make the story up. I try to make it as real as possible but once I have a story then it’s easy to make it work. That’s for me anyway. I’ve spoken to a few songwriters and they all work in different ways but that’s the way I like to do it. I ever think about songs because I write all the time. It’s like…


RH: Getting out of bed.


GR: Yeah. It’s very natural for me.


Q: So do you have a big songbook of stuff we’ve never heard?


GR: I’ve probably written about four thousand songs but most of them haven’t been recorded of course. We’ve done twenty-five albums which is only 250 or 260 songs which is really nothing.


Q: It’s 250 more than me.


RH: Ditto.


GR: (laughs) Well, you know, that’s what I do. I don’t really do much else and I enjoy it very much. I write every day, at least half a song and sometimes more than that and quite often I work on two songs at the same time. I can bounce from one onto the chorus of another in the same few minutes and I kind of like that because it’s pushing my boundary out a bit.




Q: To my knowledge, unlike many vocalists you’ve never had any throat problems.


RH: Right.


Q: I really don’t know. In both our lives we try and stay a lot healthier than when we were young but I really don’t know.


GR: Well you did. Last year we had to cancel.


RH: Yeah last year we had to cancel some shows.


GR: It was this time last year – I think it was December 3rd – and that’s the first time we’ve ever done that.


RH: Yeah it was. It don’t think it was the throat though – it was just exhaustion. We are on the road as you know doing 150 shows a year.


Q: If you’re at home, washing the dishes or whatever, what do you find yourself singing?


RH: I don’t.


Q: Nothing?


RH: Very rarely. I do this, it’s my life and my living and when I’m not doing it, I don’t want to do it. I used to listen to a lot of music but now if I listen to the radio it’s usually sports talk radio.


Q: I’ve got to ask…where did you get those glasses?


GR & RH: (laughter)


RH: In Los Angeles of course.


The Music Business past


Q: The Australian music scene in the seventies was very healthy within Australia but how difficult was it to break internationally?


RH: The first record we released in Australia was huge. I guess a month after we finished Jesus Christ Superstar we got invited to open for Rod Stewart in Australia and who gets that? Then we toured with him again in ’77 in North America; we were in the right place at the right time on so many occasions and we thought we had the talent to back it up.


Q: You were managed by Don Arden for a while. His fearsome reputation as a cutthroat business man preceded him but as a personal manager, to you, how was he? 


RH: We loved him. He was great to us and one of the most generous people you could ever meet. I think part of his reputation is that if he’s involved with an act, he’s so protective, like a lioness: ‘Don’t come near my kids’. There’s famous stories of someone trying to seal his acts and he hung some guy out of the window…


GR: Robert Stigwood


RH: …and in fact we had a lawyer who we called and said we had just signed to Don Arden and he said he was a crook and a gangster but we said well he’s been really kind to us and we’ve signed to him. The lawyer then said that Don came into his office once and put a gun to his head. That was kind of shocking. Don’s house had two guest houses and we used to live in one of them and I went over to Don’s office and said I had just spoken to our lawyer and he asked who he was. I told him and he said ‘What did he say? What did he say to you?’ and I said ‘Well, as a matter of fact, he said you once put a gun to his head’ and Don said ‘Well it wasn’t loaded!’


All: (laughter)


RH: H had a great sense of humour.


Q: And when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, for his artists, he was a great manger.


GR: He was yes. For us he was great. I would never say a bad word about him because he was always great to us and very generous. I think he used to frighten everybody. Did you ever meet him?


Q: I only ever saw him once backstage at a concert. I looked at him and he looked over at me and I left.


GR: Did you? (laughs) he could really intimidate. He wasn’t tall, very short but built like a bull and wasn’t afraid of anyone.


The Music Business present


Q: You are the beneficiaries of a major label; do you celebrate or rue their demise?


RH: The whole atmosphere then for my opinion was great. A lot of camaraderie and support, it didn’t matter what you did. If you played Heavy Metal and we were Air Supply, you’d have a beer and talk about the things we had in common but once the majors got out of the picture and there was no support for new acts, it just all went down for me and I don’t have any interest in the mechanics of music these days. I don’t know anything about it but it seems pretty grim to me.


GR: I agree. It’s just different now. Maybe it had to change but it’s totally different. I wouldn’t envy a young artist trying to make it nowadays because there are so many people out there. Everybody’s a songwriter, everybody’s a singer, everybody’s got a cat that’s a singer on YouTube or whatever. It’s saturated with everything but by the same token, cream rises to the top and if you have luck on your side, as Einstein said, ‘Luck favours the prepared mind.’ You’ve got to be ready for it but it’s a tough place out there. For us, fortunately we have our catalogue and we love to play live and it’s always fun and we try to make it different.


Q: When I listen to the radio now – which isn’t very often – I don’t here melodies and harmonies…


GR: No.


Q: …I hear over-produced computer programmed formulas…


RH: Right.


Q: …do you think like me that something has been lost in this age or am I becoming an old fuddy-duddy? Are kids missing out on anything?


RH: I think so. My daughter’s thirty years old now but when she was sixteen she’d download all this stuff and I felt old when I said ‘This is rubbish. You are never going to remember this in two years let alone thirty or forty years like the classic artists’ but she said no and it was great but now she realizes that that is exactly it; music for the most part  is so disposable and forgettable. There is nothing to grab on to.


Your Forrest Gump questions…


Q: Back before you had the dream Graham about the name, did you ever consider ‘The Russells’?


RH: I don’t think so, no. That would have been…


Q: Terrible, I know.


All: (laughter)


GR: I can’t remember the names we did consider.


RH: We did some work with a lady we were working with in Superstar and we had a trio called Hitchcock, Hammond & Russell.


Q: That does have a nice ring to it.


RH: We were going to call it Russell, Hitchcock and Hammond but…


All: (laughter)


Q: Which parts did you play in Superstar?


RH: We were both in the chorus initially and then as the production progressed I got to understudy Jesus and Judas and Simon and some others.


GR: Everybody. I was just in the chorus.


RH: They wanted him to understudy Mary Magdaline but he wouldn’t shave his legs.


GR: (laughs)


Q: The Airheads* are still going?


GR & RH: Yeah!


Q: How many Airheads are there in the world?


RH: We have one and a half million people on Facebook. The great thing about our fans is that as soon as they get hooked and I mean that in a positive way, they never leave us. We se people at shows that have been coming since ’81 and now they’re bringing their grandchildren. They are really devoted.


Q: This is Hiroko** by the way: she has a quick story for you about the Beatles patch she is sporting on her shirt.


HY: This is from my treasured collection from the sixties when I was a High School student.


RH: Wow! That’s very impressive.


 HY: I stitched it on last night to show my respect to your history.


RH: that’s very kind of you.


GR: That’s very cool. So that’s an original?


HY: Yes.


GR: We both saw The Beatles in ’64.


Q: I know – Nottingham and Melbourne right?


GR & RH: Yeah


Q: Have you ever met a Beatle?


GR: Yes! I met Ringo. We were rehearsing at S.I.R. (Rehearsal studios in Los Angeles) and the guy who ran the studio told me that Ringo was here because he knew I was a big fan and he said he’d see what he could do. Joe Walsh was there with some others I can’t remember who. (Turns to Russell) I can’t remember why you weren’t there…


RH: Me neither.


GR: Anyway the S.I.R. knocked on my studio room and said Ringo was coming out in five minutes, get ready. Ringo came out and it was quite funny. He said (Graham adopts excellent Ringo voice) “Are you Graham?” so I said yes and thought ‘Aaauuughhh! He knows my name!’ (laughs) He signed a picture for me and he was very, very nice.


Q: What are your memories of the Nottingham and Melbourne shows?


RH: Just amazement. Couldn’t hear anything. They were carrying girls out over shoulders, chaos and mayhem. I think they only played six songs…

Q: Ten actually.


RH: …every thirty seconds you could hear a word and there because nothing was amplified, no P.A., nothing. Once again, as you get older and you talk to younger people and they talk about Justin Bieber, nothing compares to the effect The Beatles had on the world by any stretch of the imagination but you know, you sound like an old fart when you say ‘You should have seen that! You should have been there!’ They just don’t get it; you can’t translate it.


GR: Did you see them?


Q: No I’m fifty-six so I’m a generation behind you. Russell and Graham, we’ve overtime and thank you very much.


GR: Thank you very much – a real pleasure to meet you.


RH: Yes thank you very much.


*The Air Supply Fan Club

**Hiroko Yoshizaki - Photographer


エア・サプライ インタビュー2017













Q:「The Hong Kong」のブルーレイ作品はいいですね。1983年のハワイ公演のところは何度も観返していますよ。




















































GR & RH:(笑)

























GR:僕もだよ。もう今ではすっかり変わってしまったね。まったく違う。最近の若いアーティストなんて、何も羨ましいとは思わないよ。簡単に売り出し過ぎだよ。誰もが曲を書けて、誰もがシンガーになれて、誰もがYou Tubeでいっぱしのシンガー振りを披露してファンを作れる。もういっぱいいっぱいになっているよ。でもそんな中でも頭角を現わす人もいてね。幸運に恵まれているなら、アインシュタインが言ってたよ。「幸運は、心の準備をしている者のところに降りてくる」ってね。チャンスをじっと待たねばならない。でもこれは結構辛いよ。僕たちにとってはありがたいことに、代表的な作品があるし、ライブが好きだし、いつも楽しめるから、やりがいはあるんだ。
































GR & RH:ああ!







HY:(ビートルズの影響で音楽を始められた) お二人の歴史に敬意を表したくて、昨晩このワッペンを縫い付けたんですよ。






GR & RH:ああ。




















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