The one that you (secretly) love

After wowing Israel in 2008, Eighties duo, "Air Supply" is returning for four shows around the country.

Air Supply 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Air Supply 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Calling someone an ‘airhead’ is not usually very complimentary – unless you’re talking about the fans of Air Supply. The enormously successful soft rock Australian band who hit their stride in the 1980s with a string of syrupy ballads apparently have a lot of Airheads in Israel. Three years after filling the Ra’anana Amphitheater, the band led by longtime partners Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock, are returning for not one, but four shows – September 8 back in Ra’anana, Sept. 10 at the Kiryat Motzkin Amphitheater, Sept. 12 at Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem, and Sept. 13 at the Arts Center in Beersheba.
That means there’s a ton of people who like singing along to their romantic hits like “Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” “All Out of Love” and “Lost in Love.”
Once maligned as the epitome of wimp rock, the band’s music has come to symbolize gentler, less ironic days. And the duo have been recognized for the consummate pop craftsmen they are, with Russell writing and playing guitar, and Hitchcock wrapping his soaring tenor around the memorable melodies.
“We’re celebrating our 36th anniversary of working together,” said Hitchcock, taking a break from a soundcheck in Tokyo last week. And rather than slowing down, the 61-year-old Russell and the 62-year-old Hitchcock, along with their touring band, are on the road these days more than ever.
“We’re doing four shows in Japan, then on to Singapore, and then home for a little bit before heading to Las Vegas and coming over to Israel. We’re trying to get to as many people in the world as we can,” said Hitchcock.
“To have a career like this at such a level without the support of mainstream radio anymore is quite a testament to the music. We’re very proud of our show and we’re working with some great guys in the band right now. If you didn’t see us last time, you should come because you’ll be in for a great surprise.”
That’s because, according to Hitchcock, despite their reputation as sappy balladeers, Air Supply’s shows are, dare it be said, rocking.
“It’s a rock and roll show, it’s loud and you have to get involved,” he said, adding that while they still perform their well-known hits, it’s anything but an oldies show.
“Last year, we released our 25th studio album called Mumbo Jumbo [called “adventurous” by the All Music Guide]. And we’ve never considered ourselves to be anything but current. I don’t think we’re resting on our laurels,” said Hitchcock.
That hasn’t been the case ever since Hitchcock met Russell when both were accepted as cast member for the stage show of Jesus Christ Superstar in Sydney in 1975. They hit it off, sparked by their common love of The Beatles, and were soon performing a late-night duo act in clubs following the Superstar shows.
Signed to CBS Records in Australia, the duo, now expanded to a full band, became local stars, and toured the US and Canada opening up for Rod Stewart.
When their music found its way to Clive Davis, the head of Arista Record, he snapped them up which, in 1980, started a run of chart-topping songs and albums in the US.
”I’m proud of every recording that we’ve made,” said Hitchcock, adding that he and Russell are in sync with each other regarding their songs.
“I’ve never had a disagreement with Russell over a song he wrote, I’ve enjoyed singing his songs more than any composer I’ve ever been involved with. I’d sing anything he wrote, I love his attitude, the emotion involved and the melodies. He’s one of the finest there is. I don’t write my own songs because I leave it to the expert.”
Russell, speaking to the The Post before Air Supply’s 2008 show in Ra’anana, expressed similar sentiments about Hitchcock.
"We certainly have a brotherhood. I don’t think we’ve ever had an argument in our entire career,” he said.
“We let each other do whatever he does best. He’s the singer and I write the songs. He usually leaves the creative stuff to me, including the show design and the pacing, and he does his own thing in performing. His voice still sounds so amazing, that’s what he does so well.”
With over 100 performances a year on the docket, and no longer being a spring chicken, Hitchcock admitted that it’s getting more imperative to take care of himself in order to keep his voice in prime fashion.
“At this point, I try to take it easy when I’m not onstage, and get as much rest as I can,” he said.
“I’m conscientious about what I eat and I’ve never smoked. And I leave the partying to the young bulls.”
That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like to get out and experience the countries he’s visiting. Hitchcock recalled how much he liked visiting Israel the first time and seeing holy sites in Jerusalem. But he added that the focus of the band was on the performances, which along with Air Supply’s legacy, is something they take very seriously.
“I’d like to hope that we’re making music that is going to last a long time. We’ve been around for nearly 40 years now, and we see people bringing their grandchildren to shows,” said Hitchcock.
”Beside our chart success, there’s something more important though. I want to be remembered as an act that produced and wrote songs that touched peoples’ hearts.”
Airheads around the world will agree to that.