By Pamela Manganaro
‘Our songs are very simple and effective. They get inside of you.’ –Graham Russell
In 1975, British singer/songwriter and guitarist Graham Russell and Australian vocalist Russell Hitchcock created the band Air Supply. With hit after hit on the charts including “Lost In Love,” “All Out of Love,” “The One That You Love,” and “Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” the duo would make an indelible impact upon the collective human heart.
For over four decades, Air Supply continues to record and tour the world non-stop. In between shows, The Tolucan Times was privileged to ask Mr. Russell a few questions about life on the road and what’s new.
What is the latest, Graham? Do you have a new album coming out?
We do have an album coming out. We went to Prague in October to record with the Prague Symphony Orchestra. We recorded 16 tracks. It was just incredible. It was the same studio that Lawrence of Arabia was scored in. It’s a very famous old world studio right in the center of Prague.
I understand the music of Air Supply has traveled to the stage in the form of a musical theatre production.
Yes, we have a musical opening in the Philippines in October. We are putting the finishing touches on that. It’s actually quite a nice, little show. It’s called All Out of Love and will be playing in Manila at Resorts International.
Does Air Supply ever play Las Vegas?
Yes, we play Vegas twice a year. We play at The Orleans every Memorial Day and Labor Day. We’ve done it for 22 years.
Do you play Vegas on New Year’s Eve?
No, we don’t normally play New Years Eve in Vegas, but last year, we did. MGM flew in very wealthy Chinese high rollers and asked us to play. They flew about 400 people in from China and we had a lot of fun doing that. It’s usually a private show. We may do that again.
Tell me about your life on the road. How many shows do you play a year?
We have always done about 125 shows a year for over four decades. We very rarely take time off. Sometimes, we take off a couple of weeks here and there, and often, we take off a couple of weeks later in the year, but we love to play live and that’s what we do. The only way to enjoy it is to get out there and do it.
Being on the road for so many years must be hard on you and the guys. How do you stay focused or beat boredom on the road?
I never get bored. I’m writing all the time. I write every day. I work every day. I have my little routine. I work out every day. So, that takes some time. I go for a walk in the afternoon. Then, we do the show, and then, we move on to the next show.
What is the core message of your songs? What is the heart of Air Supply?
Our songs are very simple and effective. They get inside of you. Our big hits still get played on the radio all the time. I have five songs that have been played four million times each just in the U.S. alone. “All Out of Love” is one of the biggest ones. That tells you that people are listening to the songs still and they mean a great deal to the audience, and it means a lot to us as well. It’s the ‘circle of life’ as Elton John put it so aptly.
I know you have a huge baby boomer following but do you have younger fans as well?
It’s bizarre, even at the casinos, they give permission for young people to come to the shows because their parents and their grandparents know the music.
Is this one of the reasons why you’ve had such a long run because the younger generations love your music?
They do, yes, and we talk to them after the show. They just love the songs and the show. We’ve got a great show. Russell is one of the greatest singers, in my opinion, of the last few generations. He’s just fantastic. He still gets out there and he does his thing. He brings his part to the jigsaw puzzle.
How is Russell? I remember when he brought me on stage for Larry (my ex-husband) to propose to me at The Greek Theatre.
Yes! I remember that. That was amazing.
Tell me more about the show and the musicians in your band. Who are they and what instruments do they play?
Our show is a great show with a great light show. We rely heavily on the band. The band is a fantastic band. We have four guys behind Russell and myself. On drums we have Aviv Cohen; on lead guitar, who is incredible, is Aaron McClain from Los Angeles; on bass it’s Doug Gild and on keyboards, it’s an Italian keyboard player, Mirko Tessandori. They are a bunch of young guys who make us look young too.
Are your songs in any movies or commercials?
Yes, “All Out of Love” is in the new Deadpool 2 movie. It’s in the trailer. It’s already been viewed 35 million times. I think the movie is going to be pretty big. It’s things like that keep us in the public eye. People are reminded of us. “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” was in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. There is always one of our songs playing at any given moment.
Air Supply will be playing The Rose in Pasadena on Friday, August 17.
Pamela Manganaro is a professional drummer and drum teacher.