It is more than savvy marketing to pair the British-Australian duo Air Supply with forthcoming Valentine’s Day celebrations. The soft rockers have built a 40-year career tugging at the heart strings and topping the charts with romantic ballads including Lost in Love, All Out of Love, The One You Love and Making Love Out of Nothing at All. Hitchcock says there is more to churning out hit romantic songs than adding the word “love” in the title. With the singer and guitarist Graham Russell writing the tunes, Russell Hitchcock explains it is the band’s authenticity that allows their songs to endure.
“It has got to be from the heart,” he explains. “One of the reasons why we had so much success is that we are sincere about our music. It is not contrived in that we write another song because the previous 10 were love songs. This is who we are.”
Love is hard work
With more than 20 million in album sales, you would think a few choice performance slots a year would suffice for the duo. However, a look at the band’s gig history finds Air Supply a regular feature on the performance circuit, chalking up nearly 130 performances a year.
That’s the way the boys like it, Hitchcock explains. The success has not dimmed the thrill of stepping on stage. “We have been on the road every year since 1975 without a break. So we always had a great presence on the road worldwide and people do look forward to seeing us.”
Old stuff better than your new stuff
Air Supply joins a range of classic rock artists whose new songs have been shunned from the radio in favour of their old hits. However, those hits continue to live on with appearances in a slew of recent Hollywood flicks, including Mr & Mrs Smith, The Wedding Date and Bad Company. Unless you are a die-hard fan, you wouldn’t have known the duo released their 17th album, Mumbo Jumbo, in 2010.
The bonuses of constant touring and the film appearances, Hitchcock explains, is seeing the diversity of fans coming to the shows.
“We get the cliched from 6 to 60,” he says. “In the past four or five years, we had an influx of younger people because of the exposure of our songs in the movies. It is a broad group of people that comes to see us.”
Songs to stage
If all works according to plan, expect to see Air Supply songs performed on stage as part of a musical. Written by the Tony Award nominees Constantine Maroulis and Andrea McArdle, Lost in Love is about the budding romance between Eduardo, a charming Italian prince and Mrs Rutlidge, a British aristocrat. Hitchcock attended the readings in New York last April and was blown away by the early drafts. “There has been a great response so we hope that it comes to fruition sometime this year,” he says.
“They will use about 12 of our hits and Graham will write about four songs to intermingle with the story.”
Love songs will never die
As well as the longevity of their hits, Hitchcock is confident the band and the art of the love song will never fade.
Unlike other songwriting fads, Hitchcock is adamant the romantic song is one of the few genres able to withstand time and generations.
“You could look at any period of music history, whether it is pop or rock or heavy metal; there will always be love songs.”