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How do you write material for an AC/DC album?

A.Young: Usually I start a few weeks after weīve gotten off the road. Iīll tell everyone not to bother me because I donīt want to know anything about rock and roll for a while. But after about two weeks, I find myself drawn to the same old battered "SG" that Iīve been playing for years, and I start to play certain chords. Before I know it, a great deal of a song is written. Thatīs when Malcolm or Brian will come in and help me finish it off. Itīs really a very simple process. I guess you could say I write most of the songs out of boredom.

It seems that AC/DCīs sound remains virtually the same from album to album. Do you disagree with that?

A.Young: No, I donīt. In fact, itīs something Iīm very proud of. You know what an AC/DC album is going to sound like when you buy it, but I think we always provide just enough new twists to make the fans happy. Weīre just not a very clever band, what can I say? (laughs)

Is it hard for you to accept all the accolades that are given to AC/DC? Does it bother you to be called a legend?

A.Young: Itīs very nice that so many bands have respect for us, but it does make me feel very uncomfortable. Iīve always felt much of our appeal was based on the fact that anyone in the crowd could look up at us on stage and think, "Hey, that could be me up there." Weīre always making sure that we keep that good feeling between us and the fans, and I think if they look at us as "legends" that would be difficult. Iīd rather have everyone just think of us as a good rock and roll band.

Do you ever feel a little self-conscious being a 43-year-old man standing on stage in front of 20.000 people dressed like a schoolboy?

A.Young: (Laughs) Oh no, why should I? Actually that outfit is as much a part of me as my guitar once I get on stage. I would feel totally naked on stage without it. Actually, Iīm often almost totally naked on stage even with it!

At what point can you tell that an AC/DC album is a good one ore not?

A.Young: When people buy it! (laughs) Usually I can tell while weīre making it. Obviously I think all our records are good, or we wouldnīt release them. But there are certain songs that just get your foot to tapping right away. I donīt like to sell our music to people; I like to think that they buy it because they like it. But the fact that a lot of people seem to be buy our albums only makes me believe that weīre doing what weīre supposed to doing - and thatīs playing good olī rock and roll.

What sort of student were you?

A.Young: I wasnīt really a bad sort of kid, I mean, I listened. if I wanted to learn something, my old man used to say, "Angus do yourself a favor. Thereīs a library down the road, go in there." When Iīd truant, that was the first place Iīd head to. It was great. Thereīd be racks of the magazine Down Beat from America which had articles on Muddy Waters.And I liked reading about that. So I much preferred going there because thay didnīt sell it at the newsstands. It wasnīt part of the curriculum of Australia. And music certainly...In my music class in school I was given the triangle, a little pieace of metal, and then thay took that off of me because they said, "you have no rhythm!"

The band must have gone through a rough time in those early days. Audiences must have thought your schoolboy-suit routine was a bit bizarre.

A.Young: Yeah. The first thing they saw was me. It was like a cold slap in the face. And they thought, "Is it a joke?" First reaction was people would sort of giggle. And Malcolm would say to me "Shut īem up! You can play." It was a good thing because they were going to remember us for the little guy in the short pants who looks like heīs having  an epileptic fit (Laughs). But the thing is you had to play.

Did you get into many fights?

A.Young: We started in clubs and clubs could be a little rough and tumble. Many a guy dived on stage. One clown, once in Perth, the guyīs at me all night, gets onstage and puts me in a headlock. That was it then. So I defend myself. Well, he got in for the shock of his life. I know I look teeny up there, but thatīs the worst time to give me grief. When I put that school suit on, I go into another thing. It takes over. Malcolm says, "Itīs like heīs possessed!" It is two different people. And this clown decides heīs going to come into your planet. you know, I decided to evict him.

In a show at the Calderone Theater in Long Island during the Bon Scott days you had some trouble with an audience member.

A.Young: That was with Rainbow (headlining). I had a bit of a punch up that night. I got the fright of my life. The guy hit me with an orange. And he had been spitting on me and throwing things and giving me a hard time. And Mal doesnīt like me disrupting (the show). His big advice to me was, "just ignore it, ang." But that night I just had enough. So I put the guitar down and I went for him. The trouble was when I hit him he kept going (big laugh). I mean, I was sort of starig at this guyīs ankles. I prayed.

That happened right after your strip-tease routine. Didnīt you moon him?

A.Young: Normally I do it as a bit of a fun thing, but with that guy, I wanted him to get the full effect. I worked up my lunch. Put it that way (laughter).

How has AC/DC managed to survive more than two decades?

A.Young: We don't even think about the length of time. Sometimes it's like yesterday--things go that quick. We always seem to get a few songs together and play them. You work on a few ideas and before you know it you're in a studio. When we were touring last time, it was like we started and then we blinked and it was finished.

In the late '70s some critics pegged you as a punk band, then in the '80s you were categorized as heavy metal. But while most bands from those eras and genres have come and gone, you're going

A.Young: When you've hung together that long maybe people just get used to you. They might think, "They've been around a lot. Maybe they *are* good." [Laughs.] I think we've survived because we stayed the same. You try to be yourself. It's a bit late in the day for us to get out there and chase some trends. When we started playing, music was very mellow at the time, very middle-of-the-road. If somebody had said, "What's happening? What's the buzz out there for music?" it was the Village People. [Laughs.] "Macho Man." There was Zeppelin and the Stones, of course, but these acts were rarely touring at the time. I thought of Zeppelin as a music trip, like a Yes or something. I never really saw them as a rock and roll band, even though they might have a stab at the rock and roll thing. The Stones were more rock and roll. We thought there was room for a good, tough approach with hard rock music.

How do you and Malcolm write together?

A.Young: We play all the ideas of each other that we've worked on over the years. I take a batch and give them to him, let him listen, and see what he thinks. I do the same with what he's made. We play each other's critic and pick what we like. From that it's a process of weeding out and filtering it down until you think, "Well, these ones are really good, that's good, and that's good." Then you might have a few that you think you can make better. They're good ideas, and you think you can get something bigger or better if you work on them a lot longer.

How do you and Malcolm work out your individual roles?

A.Young: Mal starts it off, and I've just got to find my own little niche. It's pretty good, because I don't have to do that much rhythm in a way. His sound is very thick. Sometimes we double up and make it thicker.

Are your songs fully formed before you enter the studio?

A.Young: Pretty much. I think we worked on just a couple of tracks in the studio. That was mainly changing them. Rubin heard something, and if he said that we can use something better there, we worked on it.

How did Rick become your producer?

A.Young: He had done a track a few years back for a movie thing that we had done. ["Big Gun" on the *Last Action Hero* soundtrack.] From doing that he really wanted to try to do an album with us.

What was it like working with Rick as opposed to Mutt Lange or some of your previous producers?

A.Young: Different folks, different strokes, I suppose. His approach is a little bit more bare-bones. I don't know what Lange is up to now, but Lange was very into tuning in on what was current in the world.

Did he bring anything new to the band, or did he take a hands-off approach?

A.Young: A lot of times he would let me get on with the fine tuning, then he would come back and hear what we had done. Some days he would let us do it and hear it at the end of the day and go through it, sift through and see what he liked.

Have you ever had problems getting your sound live? Most amps tend to break up when you get to the volumes that AC/DC plays at.

A.Young: Yeah. For me personally, and it's the same with Mal, if you throw a lot of amps up full, it's a waste of time--especially if you're using a Marshall or something. I would run the amps just under half before they started going to mush. And Mal, sometimes I've seen him play at a very, very quiet volume with a clean, clean tone. He likes it very clean, sharp, and bright. It helps for two guitars because you get to distinguish what the different sounds are. And then for me it's good too because I can mush it up a little, but not an overdriven thing. I try to make it as real as possible.

You've been a big fan of the SG since day one. Why have you stuck with this model?

A.Young: You've got the double cutaway, for a start. If you think you're clever you'll get all the way up the neck, and you don't have to worry about being a contortionist and bending over. I know a lot of people that will go, "Ah, yeah, Les Paul, Les Paul," but the SG's got the same neck. I don't think there's many more in the Gibson line with a similar neck. If you're a little guy like me, the balance makes it a lot easier to play. The only other guitar I could really get around on was a Tele, because of the size. But I've always liked the SG, plus with Gibsons you can get a certain tone. They're all different, whereas with a Fender-type thing they've got a similarity that goes a lot of the way through. What I didn't like about Fenders, probably because I was never a fan of the surf-type thing, was they always make a clicky-click-click sound. With the SG you don't get that click. You get a mellower tone, a little bit more bottom end.

It sounds like you stick mostly to the bridge pickup.

A.Young: Yeah, unless I diddle about and try a trick or something. I hardly play the other guy. Sometimes you flicker about. When I first started playing I used to flick a lot on there, mainly because when I was younger I was a bit fussier. And I probably didn't know no better. Then one day by accident I flickered on the other one, and I liked it better. You get more of the top end coming out. And if you play here [holds right hand as if it is above the neck pickup], you can make it sound like the neck pickup without switching him on. Sometimes I wonder why that is. I do that sometimes--you just get the guitar and go, "How can I make it sound like another sound, but without flicking it on that pickup? How can I get a bassier sound without having to go too radical or changing the whole setup?" I've seen guys split signals and do all sorts of numbers to get different frequencies. It seems like a lot of work, and what's the end result?

When did you get your first SG?

A.Young: I think in '70, around then.

Were guitars like that hard to find in Australia at the time?

A.Young: No, not really. They had guitars--it's just what you were paying for them at the time. It used to be very expensive there because they came from America. "They come from America, therefore they must cost more." If you come from America they're very cheap, well, compared to Australia. I bought one when they got cheap.

What inspired Malcolm to pick up the Gretsch?

A.Young: He was given that by a friend of our older brother George, a player in his band. [George Young was a member of a popular '60s band, the Easybeats.] He gave it to Mal, and I think he regretted it after he gave it to him. [Laughs.] Mal just picked it up. Mal had an old Hofner that he gave me when he got the Gretsch. When I got an SG I gave the Hofner to another brother.

Do you have any other guitars in your collection?

A.Young: Ah, yeah. I've got heaps. I've got various things, lots of Gibsons, a couple of Fenders, a couple acoustics.

Your songs sound like they'd work in an acoustic context, especially because they have a lot of open chords. Have you ever considered doing an "Unplugged" thing?

A.Young: An *undrugged* sort of thing? [Laughs.] I don't know. When things are in fashion, you get one band to do something and they all do it. We tend to stray away from a lot of the trends. I suppose it's good for the people who can do it. Sometimes we've sat there, and Mal might pick up an acoustic.

Open chords seem to distinguish the AC/DC sound.

A.Young: Yeah, we do tend to stick down at that end. It's easier to reach for us. We fiddle about usually. You go between different chords. You hit it on the nail that we play a lot of open chords. Mal will fiddle around sometimes and try and come up with a couple of different things, even with chords and stuff. When we grew up, we never had chord books. We just played. It's like you see someone hit a chord and then you go, "I've got six strings. I better use them all." Now we might use two or one. When we were recording things with my other brother, George, he used to say, "Look, that string's rattling. Take it off." We'd tape it up just for the sound. Sometimes people get all the bits and gadgets and everything and think, "I'm going to use it all." We listen and hear the song first. If something's not right we try some other way.

Why do the songs often change keys or modulate during your solos?

A.Young: Sometimes you hit something by accident. You play something and everyone goes, "Wow!" You sit there and go, "What are they talking about?" If everyone involved is happy with what I've done, then I'm happy. And if I think I can do better I try a few other times to improve on them.

Do you work out your solos?

A.Young: Not really. I never had an ear for sitting and picking out notes. I just play it. If you said to me, "Play someone else's song" and I did it, you'd go, "What's he playing?" I can't sit down and pick a note off a record. Mal's got a good ear for hearing things, but me, I never did. I always think it's more the feeling. If you ever got an album where they include a couple of different takes, like an old blues album, and they've got alternative takes, you'll hear it. The one they settle for in the end usually has a different feeling and sounds totally different.

Many of your solos are extensions of the rhythms.

A.Young: Yeah. I'll play the ringing notes. It's not what you're hitting or how many notes. It just needs to feel good and sit in well with what you're looking for, rather than go, "Well, let me barrage away here." I'm not that clever at working it all out.

What do you play when you're at home away from the band?

A.Young: Blues, I think. If I pick up a guitar, that's the first thing I'll diddle on. I don't sit down and go, "I'll play someone's track." I'll sit and diddle and go, "That's enough of the diddling," and concentrate on what I've got to do. I'm probably more inventive with rhythmic things, rather than sitting back and playing a solo. When you get a good solo sort of rhythm, you know what to play on top. Rather than go the other way, I'll just whittle away.

Who are some of your favorite blues artists?

A.Young: I've got heaps.

Is there a certain era you like, such as Chicago blues from the '50s?

A.Young: Yeah. I like a lot of the Chicago thing, and a lot of different players. Elmore James--I very much like that style of playing. When you hear it you think it's very simple, but it's not. It's actually very clever, and he executed it so well. And you never hear it--even if you see someone and go, "Oh, they're going to imitate it," they never pull it off. And B.B. King is another one. Buddy Guy is a great player. And I like Johnny Winter. He's got a lot of power in his blues. He runs a great variety. And he's always played like that. I regard him as a Hendrix or something. For rock and roll I like Chuck Berry's playing. His things are a bit of an art.

Your riffs are clever. You use a lot of chromatic figures.

A.Young: When we play, a lot of our guitar riffs come out of color. You might have something, and you hear something underneath. Sometimes you go, "I'll try that." You fiddle about with them. I'll try a couple of different approaches--a couple of chords and different formats--and then I might be playing something underneath like a bass line and then I go, "I'll try the riff here." There is nothing better than a good rock riff. We probably have been lucky in a lot of ways.

What has your older brother George been up to?

A.Young: I've heard he's been writing songs. He's always writing songs. And he's opening up a new studio somewhere in England. I never talk to him. I'm his little brother.

Considering that you and Malcolm are brothers, it's interesting that the band has survived. You hear about all of these bands with brothers in them, like the Kinks, for example, and they're legendary for . . .

A.Young: . . .killing each other.

But you guys have managed to get along, or at least so it seems.

A.Young: We squabble, but we come together in the music thing. We may have different interpretations of what we do, but we both know at the end of the day that it's the result that counts. We'll sit and battle away, but we probably get along better playing than we would if we were simply living together.

You don't step on each other's toes, either.

A.Young: I wouldn't do that. He'd kill me. [Laughs.] Mal has always pushed me out there in the front. He's always been supportive of what I do and my playing. He'd be the first to turn around and say, "Ah, Angus can play. He can do that."

Has he ever had any desire to play a solo?

A.Young: He played solos on a couple of tracks from our first album, when the two of us had traded off. I don't know if it got released here, or it might be in Australia, but it was two tracks that I know of specifically. No, actually three. I'm telling a lie, there's four. We traded little bits. Mal is a good soloist. He can probably do what I do quite well. He plays lead like he would play rhythm, and that doesn't sound like someone else. When we used to trade licks, it was always the same way. Before AC/DC he would try doing a lot of different solos. He's a very good performer--the heart of the band. I sit and watch him play rhythm, and I go, "Ah, I'll play that now." I'll try to copy what he's doing.

His parts can be pretty deceptive.

A.Young: Yeah, he makes it look so simple. There are people out there who do that, and you look at them and what they make--that's their art. They make the hard look simple. It's like when you saw Hendrix. He'd pick up a guitar, and it's like he's brushing his teeth with it. But while he's doing that he's making music. That's an art form. Guys like me have got to put on school suits and dive off buildings to achieve that sort of high ranking. [Laughs.]

Have you ever wondered how long you can keep that up? Going onstage must be like preparing for an Olympic event.

A.Young: I've never worried so much about the health. If I go along with the music, I'm fine. If I concentrate on that, the rest comes. I don't have to worry about the training or running or being in good shape. No one ever told me you had to be a weight lifter to play guitar. People like it when you're sloppy. People like to see that more than, say, someone who's pretty plain and worked out his dance steps. [Laughs.] I don't even know one.

I've noticed that even before you go onstage you already have a rhythm going.

A.Young: You go with the vibe. You try to turn on a switch in your head and go, "Right. I'm on. Better be good." [Laughs.] I've gone on sometimes and I don't even hear the guitar. I go, "What the hell? It's cut out." Well, that's science for you.

You do put on quite a show. You're all over the place.

A.Young: It's a bit of a ham act.

Chuck Berry's still doing it, so what the heck.

A.Young: That's true, he is still doing it. I saw him recently in Australia, and he was great. I saw Buddy Guy at the Roxy in L.A. while we were making the record--great show. To me these guys are timeless. Muddy Waters was the same. You look at them and they ooze youthfulness.

In some ways, AC/DC is really a blues band. You guys are an extension of that, maybe a little bit louder.

A.Young: Me and Malcolm both like the blues. It's between that and the early rock and roll-- Little Richard and Chuck Berry. For us that is rock music. All the other things that you hear, like the current trends, Top 10s, and the latest--that's all that they are, trends. But I think all of those other things are timeless.

Do you listen to anything beyond blues or rock?

A.Young: Not really. I hear the odd tune or maybe I might hear a bit of classical on the TV. But I've never zeroed in and gone, "What's that?" Whereas with blues music, even if I've seen an old documentary and there's somebody banging on a piece of wood in the back, I'll try and find out who it is. That's what I grew up with and liked best. Maybe it's the lack of rhythm in classical and other things. I like rhythm more than anything. But I know there's heaps of music out there, and I'm sure they're all good at whatever they're doing.

How would you define AC/DC?

A.Young: It's just a tough-driving rock and roll band--five dwarfs that make a big racket. [Laughs.]

Explain how you heard about Bonīs death

A.Young: I received a panic phone call from Kinnearīs landlady explainung how Bon had been rushed to Kingīs College Hospital and declared dead on arrival. I immediately phoned Malcolm, cos at the time I thought maybe sheīs got the wrong, you know, thought it was him. And Ian Jeffreys, our tour manager, said it couldnīt be him cos heīd gone to bed early that night. Anyway, the girl gave me the hospital number, but they wouldnīt give me any information until his family had been contacted. Anyhow, Malcolm rang Bonīs parents cos we didnīt want them to be just sitting there, and suddenly it comes on the TV news, you know. Peter Mensch our manager got to the hospital as soon as he could to find out exactly what had happened and identify him, because everyone was in doubt at the time. At first I didnīt really believe it, but in the morning it finally dawned on me. Itīs just like losing a member of your family, thatīs the only way to describe it. Maybe even a bit worse, cos we all had a lot of respect for Bon as a person cos, even though he did like to drink and have a bit of a crazy time, he was always there when you needed him to do his job and things.

Do you still think about the years when Bon was in the band?

A.Young: Yeah, sure. As a band, it's your history and you reflect back on it, and sometimes you laugh. Sometimes you're somewhere and you remember something. What he did  he could be an
adventurous-type person.

Were you surprised how he died?

A.Young: There were times you could say he lived on the edge, but I was still pretty young. He himself was not an old guy and I suppose in those times you think you're immortal.

Not a lot of time elapsed between the time Bon died and the time Back in Black was released in July 1980. Do you regret not taking more time off?

A.Young: At the time, we were pretty much shocked. And it was my brother that picked me up a bit from his death. And he said to me, "Let's get together and just continue what we were doing." We were writing songs at the time Bon died. He said, "Let's continue doing that." It kept you going and was good therapy, I suppose.

Itīs interesting that Bon had an indirect hand in picking his own successor.

A.Young: He had pointed Brian out, especially to me. Me and Bon were great rock & roll fans. Bon would always come in and give me a record of Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard , something that he bought in a record store  and if I saw one, I'd pick it up for him. Late at night, if we had a little get together, we always had on those records. He always told me the story of when he first saw Brian on stage.

And you thought about those conversations when it came time to pick his successor?

A.Young: Brian's name came up right away. The guy who was managing us at the time he said, "What do you wanna do? Are you gonna continue on?" He suggested a list of people. At the time I said, "Maybe check out this guy Brian and see what he's doing." Maybe in hindsight, it was Bon's way of saying it'll never happen to me.

Most people consider either Back in Black or Highway to Hell to be the best AC/DC album. Do you have a favorite?

A.Young: I like the album Powerage. I think because it's got a good mix for me. You've got rock tunes, but you've got a few things in there that are different. I always thought that album set us apart from a lot of other bands. I know a lot of people judge success on numbers. For us, that was always a great record.

Have you ever hurt yourself on stage?

A.Young: Sure. I've lost teeth. I mean I don't go out there to hurt myself. But when your on the road for that lenght of time, you're bound to twist and ankle or something. I once had splints on my fingers. I soon learned to play slide with them on, Hah! I've jumped off amps and fallen ass over tit-made a complete fool of myself.

What was your most embarrassing moment on stage?

A.Young: Well, I've had my pants fall off. All of a sudden my welding tackle was there for all to see. You know, I've even had my shorts stolen a couple of times.

Whats the origin of that time honored part of your show where you strip off and moon the audience?

A.Young: A lot of that came from the days when we'd be playing in clubs and it'd be hot inside. So I'd take off my jacket, and half the audience would go "whooooo." Especially with my physique-Im not exactly Mr. Arnold Schwarzengger. So its all built off that. I'd take off my shirt and the drummer would go ta dump A bit of cheap cabaret, really. And the mooning thing...well, its a great way to shut up a heckler. Or get attention back up on the stage. One time we were playing this big festivile in England and there was this woman photographer with a realy Dolly Parton physique, you know? She gets up and walks across the front stage, and of course more then half the audience are hot blooded males; so they're all following her like this [ rolls his eyes to the right]and my brother says, "You better do something quick to get their attention back." So I mooned 'em. That certainly jolted them back quick. Very popular with the law too.

I'll bet!

A.Young: Oh yes. On one of the early tours of Britain we had the vice squad on tour with us the whole time. 'Cause Bon he took to french lauguage you know? Well, he had a colourful language anyway. I remember there was this one time in Austraila, playing in these outback places where we'd have to put up money. And if we did anything wrong like me pulling my pants off or Bon swearing or anything-we'd loose the bail money. The mayor and the councilmen would come along to the show and monitor us. They thought it was a great thing. They invented it, not us. It was their way of trying to stamp us out. So I remember Bon getting up there and saying, " I've been told we can't say fuck, Okay we won't say fuck. I've been told we can't say shit, ok we won't say shit. They left out suck, but we won't say that either..." You know? Our bank books didn't grow but our popularity did.

You've said somewhere that you can't play guitar well without jumping around like a lunitic.

A.Young: Yeah, well I go with the guitar cause Im pretty small. On most people a Gibson SG looks small-like a violin. On me, it looks like a big guitar. I've got small fingers too. Now when most people bend a string up, their finger bends the note. With me, my whole body has got to go.[he falls into Angus stage move # 1, miming how he uses his entire forearm to bend a string] I hug the guitar, if you want to get technical about it. Now for a vibratto[he convulses with laughter as he illustrates] I've got to shake me leg a little. When you're a little guy, there's not much pull on the strings-espeically with the heavier gauges. The most important thing for me on stage is playing the guitar. The whole epileptic routine-whatever I do up there-comes out of that. I do become a little possessed as Malcolm says but theres nothing satanic in it. I do become another person, but that person comes out of concetrating really hard on playing the guitar.

Do you feel AC/DC is essentially a live band?

A.Young: I think that all good bands are essentially live bands. The great ones-the ones that last-are the ones that had that approach. Your Stone, Who, whatever. Your only real gauge for AC/DC is if we play live some place and they come back to see us the next time we play there. Thats the only way we know if we were good the last time. You can't trust the hype side of it.

Do you see alot of fans from the very begeginnings of your career-1976?

A.Young: Sure we do, there's a lot. You can tell, the older ones are in the back.

B.Johnson: We're just about on first name terms with some of them. Some of the guys have a standard pass to get in. They know the crews and all.

A.Young: Europe accepted us before America did. So when we went through Europe kast time it was like an army following us. Kids with tents comming out and stuff. You walk in and they give you the set list they want to play.

B.Johnson: We feed 'em too. Theres always a lot of food back stage; more then we can eat. So as soon as we are leaving the venue we say "Okay guys!" and the kids come in with their haver sacks and fill them up, so they can get to the next gig.

A.Young: They've got great networks the fans. They can tell you what happend the night before. Like if you played a few different songs or did a song a bit too fast the previous night, the know all about it.

Is it kinda like the Greatful Dead phonomenon?

A.Young: Naaaooowww, I mean the last four letters of the Greatful Dead say it all don't they?

Brian, you joined AC/DC in 1980, after the band had enjoyed a bit of sucess. Did AC/DC live up to your preconceptions of what they were like?

B.Johnson: Well, I hadn't know about AC/DC long enough to have a preconception of them. I was up there in Northern England and it was just six months before I auditioned for them that I first heard them. A couple of me buddies...Malcolm Waley, I'll never forget her brought back an album, cause he'd seen them at the Newcastle May Fair and he said[his voice drops lower then it usually is]" You gotta fookin hear these! Fook!"[to Angus] you know Mal. At the adution, we started doin 'Whole Lotta Rosie' because there was a big buzz in England on that song. England and Europe was the first place where the boys were really gettin red hot. It was great, cause it was right in the middle of that big punk thing. Now, I heard punk and I said " I fuckin don't get it. I know everybodies rantin and ravin about it" but I didn't like it at all. So with the boys there was something out there that was at least descent. Ya could tap your foot to it no what I mean?

A.Young: At that time he's talking about middle seventies-we were giving punk a good name. Because that was the word to describe us-punk band. They'd get the wrong idea. We weren't a punk band but they'd put us on the same bill as punk bands. They sure got a shock when they started spitting and we spat back. We were nevers ones getting tagge into a title or filed under: A, B, or C. We started as a rock n roll band Thats what we play; thats what we do best. We never claimed to be anything else. And then in the 80's they'd slump us as a heavy metal band. Even before that they had other things: power pop. Crap!

B.Johnson: You put all the names together and it spells bullshit.

A.Young: It's true. I mean, okay, the word "blues" conjures up something difinite. You know where you're going it says right. But the heavy metal thing? I immedatly think of men in armor. And then theres that spilt leg routine. You know what I mean? Theres more to playing guitar that being able to do a split leg and wearin' a pair of thights. The heavy metal thing offended me more then the punk thing 'cause I thought, "Jesus what have they conjured up now?" Then jut because you call an album Highway to Hell you get all kinds of grief. And all we'd done is describe what its like to be on the road for four years; like we'd been. Alot of it was bus and car touring with no break. You crawl off the bus at four in the morrning, and some journalist is doing a story and says, "what would you call an AC/DC tour?" We it was a highway to hell. It really was. When your sleeping with the singers socks two inches from your nose, thats pretty close to hell.

Presumably it's gotten a little better now.

A.Young: It has, he can do his own laundry now.

B.Johnson: I've gotten two pairs of socks now.

So Angus, did you listen to a lot of blues early on?

A.Young: Sure. That was my diet. Other kids would come to school with the latest top 40 thing. I was always buying alot of imports: Muddy Waters. Thats music. When I was young, one of the earliest records I heard was Little Richard's "You Keep a Knockin'" I think I nearly invented rap with that record. I'd take the needle and keep putting it back on to the same spot, to the blues bit, over and over again; 'cause that was the best part of the song. My mother said "You touch that needle one more time and you're going to have very sore fist." But I couldn't help it. I just loved that one bit. And I was never a lover of the harmony type stuff. For some reason that seemed to...eeuuuewww...it brought in that sweetness. When I heard the beach boys I thought it was an older version of the Chipmunks.

B.Johnson: Hah-at the real speed!

A.Young: You know what I mean. 'Cause it was like [sings in a nasal Califorina accent]"We're suurrfun Yew Ess Ayyy." Then when my family immagrated to Australia you'd see these kids that had nothing to do with the real thing, but they all looked like they came out of Hawaii Five O. Standing there with these great lumps of wooden board. I'd never seen a surf boards in my life. But they've all got these bits of wood, and they're all going, "Suurrfun Yew Ess Ayyy." I went home to my mother and said, "Mum, I think we're on another plantet."

B.Johnson: In Newcastle we didn't know what water was.

A.Young: It was oil.

B.Johnson: The only water we had was the water you put in whiskey.

A.Young: Thats right, Newcastle invented the word pollution.

So you weren't impressed by the "American-ness" of it all?

A.Young: Oh, no, no, no, don't get me wrong. I love whats come from America musically. But I don't think the people here see it for what it is alot of times. For me culture is blues music, That's what I grew up on and I have respect for Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon...If thoes people weren't there, you wouldn't have your Stones, your Zeppelins, the Who...all the big time blues based bands. The Beatles-same thing. I mean if Paul McCartney played in Boston tomorrow, he would finish off the night with seven or eight Little Richard songs. That, to me, is rock music. The other things are really the house wife, "cry in the tea towl: shit. That ain't rock music.

When did you start up with the SG, Angus?

A.Young: Just as I came out of school. I saved up all my pesos and wne to the guitar shop. I always wanted an SG. I had a friend, an American guy who had a Gibson catalog. As soon as I saw the SG, I knew it was that one I wanted; I think because the sharp horn things[Cut aways] reminded a bit of myself. And the other thing when I saw the beach boys with a Stratocaster, I think that also swayed me the other way. It didn't look right. And that surffin' thing was popular at the time.

That Fender sound.

A.Young: Im not condemning it. You've got your Hendrixes and all that. But even he said he didn't like playin tha surf music.

The Who did.

A.Young: Well, yeah. They were a strange case.

So you discovered the guitar of your life pretty early on.

A.Young: Well, not right off the bat. I mean I played other guitars. I had an acoustic guitar first. My mum got it for 10 bucks when I was nine or so. She got both me and Malcolm one, so there'd be no fighting over it. There was always a guitar around the house. always some brother that had a guitar lying around somewhere.

Were you influenced by your brother George being in the Easybeats?[The Easybeats were a mid sixites group with the world wide hit "Friday on my mind"]

A.Young: Not that much 'cause he formed that band as we arroved from Scotland-formed it in the immegrant camp. So from the moment we arrived he was playing alot. I never really saw him much. And then I had another brother, a saxophone player, who also had taken off. He went to London and ended up in Hamburg, Germany during the Beatles' times. My father wanted to get us all off the music kick. He thought we should be working. That was his thing. That's why we moved to Austraila. So at school I wasn't allowed to tell anyone that my brother was a member of a band. I remember one Headmaster found out and gave me a hard time over it.

Did you and Malcolm start your thing together?

A.Young: Not really. We just used to play away. George would say to Malcolm sometimes, "Here Mal, pick up the guitar." Like if he was working out an idea or something. 'Cause Mal was very competent. He's a great all around guitarist. I know it says "rhythm guiatarist" on all the albums. But for me, if he sits and plays a solo, he can do it better then me.

Does he ever play solos on records?

A.Young: In fact, theres a couple of solos from him on our first album. ut even then it's the way he plays rhythm, its got that distinct sound with that Gretsch. I've tried to emulate his rhythm style myself, at home, with one of his guitars, and its no easy task. He's got thoes big thick strings on it, like tram tracks, you know? Its all in his tiny little wrist.

You guys have an amazingly tight rhythm together.

A.Young: I think thats part of the brother thing too. It use to be a game, sort of. It becomes an instinct with you. And my other brother George was so quick, you learned alot when you were with him. Especially when you were 14 or something. He'd pick up a bass and hand you the guitar. And you'd think you were incompetent, but before you knew it you were playing with him. He'd go, "G...A..." and you were away. He also taught me...like say you play a song five nights in one key, but the sixth night the singers voice ain't makin' it, you might have to go down a tone or so. George was really use to that, and he got me use to that.

Instant transpostion!

A.Young: Right. And he was into some crazy things too, you know. Like he'd tell me the D string annoyed him. The G too. "Too sweet for Rock N Roll." he'd say. So off went the G string. Last time I saw him with the easy beats, he had like four strings on that guitar. He was never a fan of light strings either-especially when thoes slinky strings came out. He'd say, "You can't tune 'em."

So now Malcolm uses real heavy guage strings and you use lighter ones.

A.Young: Well, Malcolm just seems to get heavier and heavier with his strings. Now he's at the point where they're not making that gauge any more, since the youth want them lighter and lighter. These days you see, they all want to run from one end of the fret board to the other. They want to practice their scales. I mean, thats all very good, so long as they do it at home.

Why should we have to hear it?

A.Young: Right.

A lot of your greatest hooks are single string riffs where you alternate between freted notes and playing the open string. Like "Thunderstruck" for example.

A.Young: Yeah, I was just fiddling around with my left hand when I came up with that riff; I played more by accident than anything. I thought "not bad" and put it on tape. That's how me and Malcolm generally work. We put our idea's on tape and play them for one another. Malcolm came to me once when we were on the "Highway to Hell" tour and said, "I've got this riff and it's driving me nuts." Its three o'clock in the morrning and Im trying to sleep and he's saying, "Well what do you think of this?" I said, "sounds fine to me." And that was "Back in Black." Bang.

So you like being in a band with your brother?

A.Young: Well, its good and bad. When I play something in the studio and the producer says, "Oh thats great." I always look around and say, "Yeah but what does Malcolm think?" 'Cause Malcolm knows me, and if he says yay or nay, it's the differance between getting to go home or sitting in the studio all night. So sometimes its like having two producers. But thats good, it keeps you on your toes. And if I ger really disheartend, I can just hand Mal the guitar and say, "Here you try it." Then he'll show me up and I'll say "right, I'll beat him."

What can you recal about your first tour of the states?

A.Young: When we first came here, we toured around in a station wagon. We got put on with Kiss. This was when they had all the make up and everything-the whole hype. They had everything behind them, the media, the huge show and stuff. And here we were five migrants, little microscope people.

B.Johnson: Migrant workers that just about describes it! "Wheres your green cards?"

A.Young: It was tough to get into the show with that station wagon. Many a time they wouldn't let us in the venue 'cause they didn't see a limo. [another nasal Yank accent] "Wheeahs duh limo? If yaw the rock band wheeahs yaw limo?"

When was this?

A.Young: 1977 was the first time we got to America. So this would have been '78. It was pretty stange. I hadn't even heard of a lot of the music here at the time. I thought it would be more rock. But when we got here it was a disco type thing.

It was a dismal place in 1977.

A.Young: What was real stange was that although the media was pushing this really soft music, you'd get amazing numbers of people turning out to hear the harder stuff. We were playing big stadiums and getting a great reaction. We'd be on the bill with a whole heap of acts, like in Oakland, playing a Bill Graham "Day On The Green" event. We were on at 10:30 in the morring; the first act. But at 10:30 in the morring there was about 65 000 people. And they knew what we were about when we came on. We were only on for 35 minutes. But in 35 minutes you had to do a lot. It was fun, it was exciting. I'd do it again.

B.Johnson: Yeah, yeah, that was excitin' time, that. Pick yer best and go out. Pow.

A.Young: Sometime we could be a real mercenary. Like it another band was givin' us a bit of a stick; the headlining band or something. We get on and just sort of say, "Okay, we'll turn up to 11 here, and lets go." Blow 'em away, we were good at that too.

B.Johnson: Fuck 'em, Hah!

Were you overwhelmed by the groupie scene here?

A.Young: No, no, no, no, no. In thoes days, girls were intrested in... well not us. You met more of that when you started in clubs and pubs. Because in that time, you got rich people commin' to slum it, and other people commin' to see what the fuss is about. So thoes were your times when you could meet somemore of thoes wierd and wonderful women. The crazy people. But during thoes first tours in the states...no. No more then what we would be now. Same thing. And we were never that sort of band, anyway. I've never saw a girl out there that would faint over me. Maybe she'd look and go, "Mmmmm, I've neer seen someone as ugly as this!" Maybe I'd get some of that. But not a-what would you call it?-a fan sort of thing.

B.Johnson: The Top Of The Pops syndrome.

A.Young: But in a way thats always worked for us. You don't see and audience of young little girls screaming for us. So other people say, "Now thats a realband. That I like. It's real." 'Cause we aren't the prettiest things in the world. With AC/DC, it's not like we're here to steal your wife and your girl friend and your daughter. We may borrow them, but...

B.Johnson: Only for awhile.

But don't girls like the school boy suit?

A.Young: Well, they used to come out in England. But then, the English have been known for their craziness in the, um, sexual department.

B.Johnson: The public toilet department. "Vicar please take yer hands off me. Its not yer turn!"

A.Young: I guess there's something a bit sexy in the blues elment of what we do. That's probably more what's associated with the old strip club routine. I think thats somewhere in the back of people's heads when they hear that sort of music: the strip club image; you know? The smoke filled room and the girl on stage. Well, I would lie to believe that.

B.Johnson: I was startin to feel good.

Do You play all the solos on AC/DC records?

A.Young: Yeah, my brother's too lazy. It interferes with his drinking.

Whats the differance between you and your brother's and the roles you play in the band?

A.Young: Im just like the color over the top. He's the solid thing; he pumps it all along. His right hand is always going. In that field I don't think anyone can do what he does. He's very clean and hard. Its an attack. Anyone thats seen him or knows guitars can tell.

Could he play your solos?

A.Young: Ah yeah easy [laughs]. I look at it this way: Thats the easist part, the solos. There's no great thing in being a solo artist. The hardest thing is to play with alot of people together, and to do it right. I mean, when all four guys hit the one note at once-very few people can do that.

Does your playing constantly progress, or do you get into slumps.

A.Young: I've never gotten into a slump as far as playing, because I never sit there and go "wow jeez! Whats happening here?" I know what I can do, its just a matter of sitting there and fiddling around with the guitar.

Have your recording methods changed since your days with Vanda & Young?

A.Young: We always were raw sounding; we just wanted it free of reverbs and the effects. I like a natural drum sound, you don't want this giant echo going on. We tend to go for keeping the raw idea of it all. Because really thats what rock music is meant to sound like.

Do you have a fairly good idea's of what your going to do with the solos?

A.Young: No, I never work them out before, unless there's an iportant part, like if its part of the song. It just has to flow. Solos got to have continuity.

What should and Angus Young solo do?

A.Young: I just want to add to the song. You don't want to suddenly gove a ragging solo in a song where really it should be sittin in there. Some times it can go a bit over the top. Guys will try and go over the top and get every lick they can get, cover ever bit of space. We just like to go with what the track requires.

How do you construct solos? Do you work off the chords

A.Young: It's mainly spontaneous. I mean there are some things I've played and gone "how did I do that?" You can sit there and try to figure it out for years and there's nothing to match it. In the early days, if you were playing an A chord, you might play a solo in A; but then again put in progressions or notes in there that don't sound right. It sounds like your playing in the wrong key or something, and some times it works.

Do you know what your doing in musical terms?

A.Young: I haven't a clue.

You don't work on scales?

A.Young: Nah. Thats basically for home use or whatever.

Will you ever try to attempt to play something on-stage that you've never done before?

A.Young: We always try it. In little bits of songs or intros we may fool around. We try to keep a little spontaneity in the songs. We do alot of blowing when we are building something up or bringing it down. On songs like "The Jack" you've got little bits of room to do blues things. It's thoes things thatare going to make you take it further, and you need that to make it rock.

You put a tremendous amount of energy in concert. Do you do anything special to stay healthy?

A.Young: Don't eat pizza [laughs]. I just try to take it easy and relax alot. If you don't relax, you could be going all the time, which could damage your health. If your feeling tired or ill you have to think "well it could be worse. I could be in some club doing three shows," or you could be working [laughs] The only time I've noticed my self getting weak is its been an incredibly hot building. If you're playing in a place like New York in the summer the place is all humidity. There's no air conditioning, and the lights are pouring up there. At the end of it you can barely walk.

When do you play your best?

A.Young: I don't know. I usually think its when your mind is clear. If your minds totally blank on what you're doing, then you just go and do it.

 

Do you think about anything on stage?

A.Young: It's funny no. Its like two different people, sorta like a split. To me, the whole showis like over and done in five minutes. It's like watching a movie.

You've been known throught out your career for using Gibson SGs. Whats the appeal of the guitar?

A.Young: I got my first one it was like a gift or something, I've still got it now. When I picked it up it was easy for me to play. Over the years I've never found a better one.

Have you found a wide differance in tone from one SG to the next?

A.Young: In fact I have. I never come across two that are the same.

How many SG's do you own?

A.Young: I have maybe 16 or 17 now. I would say my favorite one is from about '67 or '68. It use to have one of thoes engraved metal things on the back with the little arm-the tremolo-but I replaced it with another tail piece. I've got a couple of them that have the vibrato arm.

Do you ever use the vibrato arm?

A.Young: No, not really. There are songs whe I can do it for the sake of convenience, for tuning or something. I've used it on some songs in the studio for [makes desending growl sound] but mainly I use the key, cause you can go way up or down.

Do you work with your tone and volume much?

A.Young: Mainly the volume. I usually stick to one sort of tone and thats more flattened out.

What is your amp set up?

A.Young: I've got this big giant custom amp that Marshall built me. I think it rates about 350 watts. Then I've got about eight 100 watt Marshalls up there, but I think they only use for at once. We mike the amps, theres nothing direct excpet the bass. They take a D.I for the bass.

Does your vibrato come more from your fingers or wrist?

A.Young: Fingers more then anything. Sometimes I'll shake the neck a bit cause thoes necks get wobbly.

How do you bend a string?

A.Young: I've only got a small hand so I use all my fingers to bend. I really push it with all my fingers backing it up.

How far is your reach?

A.Young: Very small. I sweat alot, my fingers seems to go apart for miles. They'll stretch on their own once the really get loosenend.

Are you happy with the ditrection your music is going?

A.Young: Yeah, because its always been our favorite form of music. Its what we started with, and its what we always had to fight with. And we are still fighting with it now. We are still pushing, and thats the good part about it. There's nothing to make us sit back and go "Oh Im going to play God now."