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Air Supply

Love Ballad Kings Team up with the Calgary Philharmonics

Celebrity Interview by Janine Eva Trotta (From GayCalgary® Magazine, April 2014, page 28)
Air Supply: Love Ballad Kings Team up with the Calgary Philharmonics

He has the singsong British voice of a favourite uncle or children’s narrator – like Ringo Star reading the story lines for Thomas the Tank Engine.

Graham Russell is a name that has survived three generations of karaoke and passion rock fans for the hits his band Air Supply has provided them: "All Out of Love", "Making Love Out of Nothing at All", "Just as I Am".

On Saturday, April 12th the original vocalists for the band, Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock, will be crooning their classic hits, as well as three newer tracks, alongside the ample accompaniment of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

"We love playing with them – the philharmonics," Russell says. "[Shows with them] don’t come up very often, for whatever reason, but when the opportunity comes we jump on it."

China, Taiwan and across the United States the vocal duo has done shows like this before. Charts are rehearsed by the orchestra for some time previous, while the singers will arrive the day of the show, roughly 1pm, to cycle through the set a couple of times with the orchestra before the grand performance begins at 8pm.

Russell promises all the oldies fans know, but will "tone it down" from the newer dance tracks they have been recording more recently.

"We have a couple dance charts going up the billboards right now, but we won’t play that," he says. "We don’t want to freak everyone out... this audience will be a little more conservative than a rock n roll audience."

"Desert, Sea, Sky" is one of these said electric tracks that you will be more likely to hear out on a club night than you will at the Jack Singer Concert Hall performance.

"It’s full on dance; its fabulous," Russell describes.

Mumbo Jumbo is the last full album the band recorded, released in 2010.  Though it hasn’t been as well accepted in North America, their fan base in Indonesia, Malaysian and Taiwan have seen the album rise to top chart spots.

"It was a gamble because it was a concept album with a story," he says. "It was very different for us but very well received."

Russell says that while they are still writing and recording new music, given the direction the industry has taken, they would rather record and release tracks individually than go the lengths of recording a full record.

"We don’t make as many albums as we used to simply because there’s nowhere to place it anymore," he says. "The whole paradigm of recorded music has changed... there are no record stores anymore, or very few of them."

In addition to putting on 140 shows every year, the singers are also being kept busy by the three musical productions they have in the works; returning to their roots as it were. The three original members of Air Supply, Russell, Hitchcock and Chrissie Hammond, met in 1975 while performing in the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical Jesus Christ Superstar back in Australia.

Russell was headed to New York at the time of interview "to see the latest incarnation" of the children’s version of Treasure Island he has created.

"I think children need theatre too as much as adults do," he says. Russell’s children are ‘all grown up now’ but he has five grandkids to cater to. All of the music in this score are originals written by Russell. This musical is still in the reading stage, but will open in New York City.

Meanwhile Korea will host the opening of Russell and Hitchcock’s musical venture aptly titled "Lost in Love", a work that has taken already six years to accomplish.

"Musicals such as this, rather glam and large scale, they take so long to produce," Russell says. "I’ve learned my lesson – you don’t create a show and it goes on...the process is quite long."

Though Russell says he harbours hopes the show will one day play on Broadway, this could take years. After playing in Korean the show will be translated into English, travel Asia for six months, then hit the U.S.

Ironically the other musical the two are collaborating on is called "All Out of Love", but he assures the material is quite different.

Despite growing older Air Supply has not slowed down a smidgeon. After New York and Calgary, Russell is flying out to play shows in South Africa.

"We’ve always been on the road," he says. "We tour so much our marketplace is quite huge. We don’t rely on just North America... we’re always going somewhere."

Since 1984 the duo has called the States their home, but live in different cities. Asia is a huge site of fans for them, but in reality they have a strong following just about around the world.

"We sell out every show we do; it doesn’t matter where we play, big or small," Russell says.


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