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Air Supply likes challenge of music

POSTED: June 6, 2013 1:00 a.m.
/For Get Out

Russell Hitchcock, left, and Graham Russell started touring as the band Air Supply in the mid-1970s and have not stopped since. The pair will perform Friday, June 14, at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin, N.C.

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Question: After more than 38 years as a band, how have you managed to stay together and produce more songs?

Answer: We are not competitive. Russell (Hitchcock) is lead singer, and I have no desire to be the lead singer. My role is to be the songwriter and he has no desire to write songs. In a lot of bands, they have trouble and break up because they want to do a lot of things.

People should do what they are good at. I’m really good songwriting and Russell is a great singer. In fact, we’ve never had an argument in our entire career. We just don’t. It’s a great thing, because in our lives we have arguments with wives and family. But we’ve never raised our voices with each other. It’s a great working relationship.

Q: How is touring different now than when you first started? And what do you do to pass the time when traveling from city to city?

A: The thing is we do a lot of overseas shows. More than 50 percent of our shows are overseas and are very far away in China, India and South America. And you get into rhythm when traveling.

I actually love touring overseas, because I look forward to the long flights. I can get a lot done without any interruptions. I’m a voracious reader and when you are on your own you can do whatever you want.

When we are doing dates in U.S. and we get to city, I like to go for a walk and find a yoga studio and just work out and get kinks out. Then Russell and I will have a nice dinner. Then next day is show day. Russell and I have might have lunch together. Then I will be in my room and play guitar and think about what songs I want to play and may change up the show a little bit.

Q: Now that you have experienced more in life, has your songwriting process changed? How do you come up with new ideas for songs?

A: My songs are very simple. I never write complicated songs. It’s simple and endless.

I just sit down with guitar and piano and it’s always there. I don’t have to think in advance. I sit down and it’s there and it just starts flowing out.

Sometimes it’s two or three songs at once. I will sit down and start on one and then something else will come out and it will be a completely different song. I like bouncing from one to another. It’s a challenge.

And I love writing songs. I can’t think of anything I love to do more. Consequently, it’s easy for me.

Q: With more than three decades under your belts in the music business, how would you say the industry has changed? Is it better or worse?

A: It’s certainly changed. Touring has changed. It’s more expensive to tour. And not a lot of bands tour because it is so expensive with the gas, freight and buses. You get into it and adapt to it.

Record companies are a thing of the past because of the Internet and YouTube. And that’s a good thing. Record companies made all the money and artists would only get a small percentage.

It also pushes artists to do it themselves. They must promote themselves and do as many shows as they can. It’s a challenge but a great a challenge. We need to have challenges because if it is easy, it’s not fun.

Q: What kind of advice would you give someone trying to break into the music business?

A: First of all they have to have a good product. A lot of people think with so many shows — like talent shows like American Idol — think they will get on there and be an instant rock ’n’ roll star. That’s not going to happen. How many of them from those shows do we remember now?

So you’ve got to be good and have great product and have a great songs. You can’t have a career on bad songs. You can make a great song sound amazing, but you can’t make a bad song good. You’ve got to have great songs.

And you’ve got to have one thing people don’t have and that is you’ve got to believe in yourself. You have to have the passion. If you don’t have that you might not even start. It’s like they say ‘Many are called, few are chosen.’


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