HARD ROCK MAG - HS2 - December '96
Interview with Cliff Williams
CLIFF WILLIAMS : THE COOL POWER
HRM : How did you feel Phil's come back ?
Cliff Williams : Really fine. I love to play with Phil.
The two drummers that took his place when he leaved us in 1983 were good
musicians but, with them, we just tried to remake Phil's game. Simon Wright
replaced Phil after Flick of the switch's recording session and was himself
replaced by Chris Slade - who's an amazing musician - but none of them has
really been able to make us forget "the really one". There's just one
HRM : What was the difference between them
about the groove ?
Cliff Williams : Phil is really THE groove. His play is
simple, like mine, still being strong and fiable. Chris Slade was more a
technician, kid of "studio shark". Simon, he... knew every song ! (laught)
His play was simple too, but he wasn't Phil Rudd. Phil's play is exactly what we
need. Moreover, he's got this sixth sens, a natural feeling.
HRM : Ballbreaker has got a song that can
make remember, by some ways, some of AC/DC 70's albums.
Cliff Williams : We wanted to do a good album... and
that's what we did. Now we've found our rythmical section from our begining
back, AC/DC re-is a real group. Indeed, the making of the album was really hard.
We started to record to the Record Plant Studios, in New York, but we didn't
enjoy the song we had. Many musicians told us : "It's an excellent studio
to record drums parts." But we tried the drums in each of the rooms of
those studios and haven't been able to have a descent sound. So, we fixed
carpets on the walls, we put a tent onto the kit too, to obtain a more live song.
Result, we loose two month by turning around. The only positive thing, is that
we knew perfectly every new song. Then, we choose the Ocean Way studios in Los
HRM : Is AC/DC live song so hard to put on
the tapes ?
Cliff Williams : Not exactly. We've always recorded live,
playing all four of us, together. As time gone by, we tried to record with a
click but, with Phil, it's totaly useless. We record basic tracks, tracks bones,
then Angus adds his guitar parts. For Ballbreaker, we put every speakers in
different rooms. Malcolm, Angus and me played in a small room with glasses, to
enable ourselves to see Phil, that was still in the main room.
HRM : Is it that important to keep an eye on
Cliff Williams : Yeah, I've got to be able to see him
constantly because I've got to know when Phil will hit his cymbals, or we'll
HRM : Did you keep the firsts takes ?
Cliff Williams : Maybe. Rick Rubin made us record every
track about fifty times each to obtain the good dynamics and we kept those who
got the best feelings. Sometimes, when we head the whole tracks, our opinion
changed totaly. It was a bit dissapointing and I thought we'd loose the sacred
fire by playing all of those tracks again and again.
HRM : Do Angus and Malcolm write the main of
the tracks ?
Cliff Williams : Yeah, they come on the studios with
lots of cassettes with many riffs we listen to one by one. Most part of the
time, they know exactly what they want to have finaly and we do everything to go
that way. About my bass parts, they usualy have got an idea of what they want me
to do. Or they already have written a bass line that I try to play my best. Or I
write myself this line basing upon what is done, drums, guitars... I give'em
what they want (...). I don't have any problem doing this, because I enjoy
playing simply. I never feel angry or prisoner.
HRM : From years, you wear, on stage,
something on your right arm and your fingers are full of sparadraps. Is it that
Cliff Williams : No, it's only because I'm a poser ! (laught)
I protect my right hand because my guitar hurt my fingers. My index ongle jumps
everytime ! About my bandage on my arm, it's due to a cicatrice I've had when I
was young. Just there, my skin is fragile and usualy go away. Wearing a bandage
avoid me to hurt it.
HRM : By the way, how did you join AC/DC ?
Cliff Williams : I've had a call from a friend that told
me that AC/DC was looking for a bassist and my name was on the list. They
weren't satisfied about their curent one (NB: Mark Evans) and the boys in the
group thought they'd have more luck to find the man they wanted in England that
in Australia because it was an huger vivier. I've had an audition in Victoria,
in a tiny repetition room. The first tracks I played with'em were "Live
wire", "Problem Child" and if I remember, some old family blues.
The band's manager told me after time I had the job. The idea was that I left
London to go to Australia, because we were sensed to prepare the recording of
Powerage, but the australian immigration service wasn't really good with me. In
fact, the guy who had my folder told me : "I don't know why an English has
the job. An Australian one would have done it really fine." I answered :
"You fool, you could make me loose my job !" So, I had many problems,
but finaly I've been able to go to Australia where we've recorded the album.
HRM : By the way, what's the song you rather
like to play live in this Ballbreaker tour ?
Cliff Williams : "Down payment blues", because
it's incredibly simple. In fact, I only play four notes on the whole song, but
I've got a crazy fun.
HRM : Some people says that this Ballbreaker
tour would be the last one.
Cliff Williams : No ! A long as public will want us and
we'll be able to be good, there's no reason to stop. AC/DC is the best thing
that ever happened to me, so I hope of all my heart we'll continue. And,
concerts are goods, the kids have fun. We don't pretend to give something deep
and intellectual. Just a good rock'n'roll !