First off, I have
to say the new record is amazing. There aren't any weak spots on it. It feels
like each of these tracks could have been plucked from any album of your
catalogue. Did it feel somewhat different this time around? Did you know you
were on to a classic album?
Yeah, we knew from the beginning what we were looking for in
the material. My brother Malcolm and myself, we just wanted to make a good rock
and roll album, so that was pretty much the way we approached it for everything.
We just said, "We want to be doing rock and roll, and not get sort of
sidetracked by any other kind of things." There's always that tendency, you
know, and that's why we got my brother, George Young, in [to produce] because he
knows what we're capable of. He worked on all our early records. He knows what
rock and roll is, and he allows us the room to do what we want to do. If we tell
him we want an album that's not commercial, he'll go, "Right, I'll do what
you want me to do."
It was a lot of fun though, as well. You know, in the
studio, there was just bags of good feeling. George is like the sixth member of
the band. He's just this great guy, one of these affable guys. He's your best
buddy, but he's like your favorite uncle if you've got a problem. He's always
there, but in a nice way. But, he has this spirit. He's a guy you always want to
be around, you know, one of these real good guys. He has this spirit in there,
but he's a hard worker as well. I'm sayin' he's easygoing, but he puts the
hammer down in the morning and he'll work you. But it's good, because there's
always something next to do. And we just had this great spirit in the studio.
And it was a good studio, too.... Great place to work, and we just had a ball. I
didn't want it to end. I wanted to stay there. I wanted to do another album.
We packed up and left him there.
Bastard [Laughs]... Anyway, but it was lots of fun.
At this point, after all these years, when you're making a record,
do you have it down to a science, or do you guys still knock heads over things?
Is it a relatively smooth process?
Yeah, well, it's not a formula...
Nah, it's different every time.
Yeah, each time you're making a song, not everything's the same. For
us, the big challenge is to try to find new ways of doing it. We don't try to
sit and go, "Well, that worked before, and that worked before." We
like to find ways, different ideas, you know. Sometimes you're lucky. You get a
bit of inspiration and it all just goes [snap] at once. And then other times you
might have to really work on it. But I've never viewed that you can make a
formula of it.
It becomes mathematical, doesn't it?
Except none of us knows any
The album has a
stripped-down, sort of bare-knuckled sound to it, and I guess that was the plan
all along. Was there ever a temptation to bring other sounds into the mix or to
get a little more ambitious with the production? Or did you know right from the
beginning that you wanted a sort of clean, straightforward sound?
I think in the beginning we might have had a couple of smooth guitars
with a bit of acoustic, but we basically kept to the two guitars, drum, and bass.
We try to work with it, you know. We also think that when you go live, you ought
to be able to reproduce it. You don't want to have to get there and depend on a
string quartet or something. For us, it was always, "Get the best out of
what you got." I think with AC/DC, probably less is best. Then you try to
make as big a sound as possible with what you got, rather than sort of go out
and say, "Wouldn't it be great if we had his comin' in here or this comin'
out here." You know, you leave a few gaps, and you hope that, like a good
book, with a bit of imagination, you can go, "Well, they're not playing,
they haven't got a brass section. But hell, it sounds like they got one."...
And maybe we're too cheap to pay anyone extra.
It's that math thing again. But it's like what George was saying once
when he was at my house talking about rock and roll. And George said, "Sometimes
in the good rock and roll records, it's what you don't play." You know,
like leaving in the gaps. He said, "Some guitarists are like dentists.
They'll fill anything." It's true. It's horrible. They're just straight in
there like a rocket, and he's right. He said, "It's what you don't play,
Brian, that really makes a great rock record." It gives you the feeling,
At this point, how would you describe the drive that keeps you going?
After five years away from the studio, what makes you decide to come back and do
It's when you're ready, I think. He says, "Jeez, you know, Brian,
we got a few riffs here. Fancy coming along? We'll have a sing-song, see if the
key's all right. See if it fits," you know. It's when you're ready, I
suppose. There isn't a time when you go, "Album time."
Could you imagine yourselves not doing this for a long period of
time, or would you go crazy if you didn't have it to occupy your time?
I don't know, I mean, it's a funny thing. You could say we don't know
any better. I've been doing this now since I was not long out of school, so I
sort of like grew into it. I probably don't know any better.
It just seems to me that that we've never done anything else but that,
you know. It shall be strange, though, not doing it. Not having something to
look forward to. Those meetings with the lads and getting together and
rehearsing and that nervous tension before your first gig.
Whether it's the first gig of the tour or as you're about to deliver
this album to the fans, do you still get nervous about stuff like that?
Well, I think if you're confident, that's the only real measure you
can get. I think if you feel confident in yourself that you've done a good
record, then you've succeeded. You sort of put your own little qualities in and
you think, "Well, does it sort of stand up to that? Am I happy with the
result?" And do you feel good about it? Then, I suppose, you can then say,
"Well, I know I've done something that satisfied me and maybe the public."
You know, you hope they hear it, and they like it. But, if not, you're still
satisfied, satisfied that you've done something for what you believe in.
So would you attribute your longevity to staying true to that and
steering clear of trends?
Well, in the beginning, when we started, the music of that time was
very light, very soft. So you weren't going to hear any real sort of rock and
roll, especially a harder-edged rock and roll. You weren't going to hear it.
We've always stuck to that hard-edge thing. We've kept that all the way through.
We haven't sort of drifted off into different things, like disco or rap.
It's just like a lot of music is like fashion, and they usually do
the music to the fashion of the time. And, of course, as soon as you do that,
you do it to yourself and your music, because the fashion's changed again, you
know? And Angus always compares it to junk food. It's like junk music. You buy
it and toss it away and wait for the next trend. And if that's what you want to
do, that's all right.
We suppose we'd like to see if we hear something, "Oh, that's
new," and then we nibble on it for a little, and then we go, "Eh, it's
okay." I suppose it's a bit like, I might change my lunch diet for a bit,
but after a while you might go, "Hey, I just want this.... Something nice