Air Supply LIVE! This Sunday at The State Theatre, New Brunswick: A Conversation with Graham Russell
Come get “Lost in Love” in the music of Air Supply, when they take the stage of New Brunswick, NJ’s State Theatre this Sunday, February 26, 2017, at 8pm.
This world-famous duo consists of Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell, who met in 1975 on their first day of rehearsals as actors in the Sydney, Australia version of Jesus Christ Superstar.
After evening performances of the show, Hitchcock and Russell would moonlight as a duo, playing pizza parlors, coffee bars, and night clubs with just a guitar and their own two voices. They quickly gained a reputation for musical quality thanks to Hitchcock’s soaring tenor voice, their excellent vocal harmonies, and the original songs that Graham Russell created especially for the budding duo.
One afternoon, the young men recorded a single, which ended up catapulting to the top of the Australian music charts and Air Supply was born! The same year, the group was given the opportunity to open for Rod Stewart in Australia, and they also went on tour with him in both the United States and Canada.
After the tour was over, however, Hitchcock and Russell found themselves back in Australia. Feeling a need to start from square one again, they recorded Life Support, an album featuring “Lost in Love,” which went on to climb the charts in Australia and ultimately find its way to music executive Clive Davis in New York. Davis signed Air Supply to Arista Records and, in 1980, “Lost in Love” became the fastest selling hit single in the world, leaping to the top of the U.S. charts.
Air Supply was now on their way, and their second single, “All Out of Love,” proved it by skyrocketing up the charts even more quickly. Seven top-five singles later, Air Supply managed to equal The Beatles’ run of consecutive top-five singles. Their albums sold millions of copies, as well.
It was their live stage shows, however, that held audiences captive around the world.
In 1983, Air Supply recorded “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All,” a song which helped to solidify them as a permanent force in modern music. The song was released on their Greatest Hits album, a recording which also sold millions of copies around the globe.
Since then, several of the group’s songs including “Lost in Love,” “The One That You Love,” and “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All” have gone on to achieve over one million plays on the radio. Graham Russell was also awarded a BMI Million-Air Certificate for over three million radio performances of his Air Supply hit, “All Out of Love.”
Today, more then forty years after they became friends, Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell still continue to tour together, thrilling their fans all over the world with their fabulous stage shows, in addition to creating new material — notably their latest effort, “Free to Love.”
Spotlight Central recently had an opportunity to chat with Air Supply’s Graham Russell before the group’s upcoming concert at The State Theatre in New Brunswick. During our conversation, we talked about Graham’s career as a songwriter, his favorite Air Supply song, his thoughts on the group’s New Jersey fans, and more.
Spotlight Central: We understand you’re from England and, as a child, you had a strong interest in poetry, books, and music. We also understand that at the age of 11, you wrote your first song called “That Rockin’ Feeling.” Is that right?
Graham Russell: (Laughs) Yeah, that’s right. How did you know that?
Spotlight Central: (Laughs) Well…we did a little homework. So here’s the question: How did you feel writing that very first song?
Graham Russell: It was very freeing for me because I wanted to get it out. It was a very simple little song and it was really cool. And, of course, once I’d written the words and the music — and I could play it — I wanted to write another one. So that’s how it really started — the snowball had begun. Of course, I didn’t know then that I was destined to be a songwriter…but it was very revealing — very freeing.
Spotlight Central: We understand that you and your Air Supply partner — Russell Hitchcock — were Beatles fans. What was it about The Beatles’ music that attracted you?
Graham Russell: Well, I used to dash home from school when The Beatles used to be on the radio. It would be on Tuesday afternoons from 5 to 5:30 on the BBC, and it was called Pop Go The Beatles. I happened to hear it one time and I just fell in love with it — they were playing live at the BBC studios in London, and it was just so good. The songs were great and it was raw and it was a different sound.
And then when I was 14, I went to see them at the Odeon Center in Nottingham and my whole life changed — I just couldn’t believe it. They were only on stage for twenty minutes, but it just changed my life. I went, “Oh, my God. I need to do that. I want to be in a band. I wanna be a rock and roll guy.”
Spotlight Central: (Laughs) We know that you and Russell Hitchcock met in Australia when you were both performing in Jesus Christ Superstar. So we’re wondering: are you a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music or music from the theater?
Graham Russell: Absolutely. I think Andrew Lloyd Weber is brilliant — that goes without saying. But after I was in Superstar for two months or so, it really gave me a great insight into theater and also, dramatic songs. In the show, I was one of the Apostles and I’d be lying down on the floor in the Garden of Gesthemane singing when they’d be playing “Gesthamene,” which is one of the most beautiful pieces of music you’ve ever heard. So I listened to that every night — and the whole score, of course — and it was just so moving. It had a big impact on me — it really influenced my writing from that at time on. And so, yeah, I’m a big fan of theater.
Spotlight Central: Is it true that after about a year and a half into Jesus Christ Superstar, you formed Air Supply under a name you had seen in a dream?
Graham Russell: That’s true. We had a single coming out, but we had to keep it pretty quiet because we were still in Superstar. And we needed the name the next morning, so we said we would go with whoever had the most intelligent name. And that night I dreamt of a big billboard. The billboard was white and it had all different colored flashing lights on the perimeter of it. And on the billboard, in black, were two words, which said: “Air Supply.”
I told Russell about it the next morning and he said, “Well, I don’t know what it means, but let’s go with the name.” And so we did.
Spotlight Central: At the time your song, “Lost in Love,” was released, it became the fastest selling hit single in the world and, also, won Song of the Year. What was the initial inspiration for that song?
Graham Russell: Well, I was living in Adelaide in Australia. We’d been touring with Rod Stewart for six months in the U.S., and we came back to Australia and nothing was happening — we had no prospects as a band. So, I was living on my own in Adelaide, and I just wrote the song.
And it really is about being shut out and being kind of despondent, but at the same time, realizing you can come through that if you are in love with someone or if you love something.
Spotlight Central: Since then, a lot of the songs you’ve written have gone on to become very popular — “The One That You Love,” “Every Woman in the World,” and “All Out of Love,” for example. So do you happen to have a favorite Air Supply song you’ve written?
Graham Russell: Yeah, I do. The new songs for me are always my favorites. However, nothing can replace the feeling when I first heard “Lost in Love” on the radio in the United States. Russell and I were driving in California on the freeway and this guy came on the radio and said, “I’m gonna play a brand new song,” and he played “Lost in Love.” And that’s when I heard it for the first time in America and I went, “Oh, my God” — it just sounded so good.
Now the guy originally had said, “We’re gonna give it a spin,” but he came back on the radio ten minutes after he played it and said, “We’ve got so many calls on that song, we’re gonna play it again.” And he kept playing it and playing it. So that’s really my favorite song, because it’s such a beautiful short song and it’s very simple, but the message is very deep and very sincere, which is something I really like about it.
Spotlight Central: And how does it feel to know your Air Supply songs are so beloved by people all over the world that they’re even played at their weddings? That must be very gratifying.
Graham Russell: It really is. And I know Russell feels the same way. When we step on stage at night, we get to experience that feeling, knowing we’ve brought so much happiness and love into people’s lives through our songs. And it’s not just me as the writer of most of the songs — it’s also Russell, because he’s got this undeniable voice that as soon as you hear it, you go, “Oh ok… I know who this is.” And to know we’ve achieved something that’s very unique and not many people achieve is a great feeling.
Spotlight Central: And we understand you write specifically for Russell’s unique voice too?
Graham Russell: Yeah. We know each other inside out. I write a song pretty much every day. And I’ll always go to Russell first and say, “Do you like this?” And he’ll always say, “I love it. Let’s start rehearsing it,” and that’s how it all works.
Spotlight Central: People here in New Jersey — like us, for example — wonder if their favorite artists have anything to say about us as New Jersey fans. Is there anything special you can recall about New Jersey fans, or are they pretty much the same as your fans everywhere?
Graham Russell: Well… they are a little different, and I’ll tell you why. From the very beginning of our career, we’ve always had strong element of fans in that area. Every year, we come back there — and it’s a reciprocal agreement we have with our fans in New Jersey — they’re very devoted, and we are very devoted to them. And I don’t know why it is — I just don’t know! — but they are just very devoted fans we have in that area, absolutely.
Spotlight Central: And what can your fans expect to experience at your State Theatre concert in New Brunswick, NJ, this Sunday, February 26?
Graham Russell: Well, we pride ourselves on our show — we like it to sound great, so it always sounds great. And there are always unexpected things, too. Like we’re gonna play our brand new single for them — it will only be the third time we’ve ever played it — and it’s called “Free to Love.”
Spotlight Central: That sounds great. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Graham Russell: Well, I think we’ve covered pretty much everything. And it’s been really nice to speak with you.
Spotlight Central: Same here and we’re looking forward to seeing the show!
If you, too, would like to experience the music of Air Supply LIVE! at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ, this Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 8pm, please contact www.statetheatrenj.org for tickets or call 732–246–7469 Mon. through Fri. between 10am and 6pm.