Angus Young, AC/DC guitarist talks about the arrival of Axl Rose, the departure of Brian Johnson, the absence of his brother Malcolm, and tells us that the last tour to be well… the last
Axl Rose is the type to do as he pleases. Did you have to explain to him that, at AC/DC, you have to arrive on time?
Angus Young – Axl has been great. He is getting ready in his corner, ready to go. We sit down and discuss the piece of fat, we define the songs we want to play before launching. It must be fun for him and for us. At first he was confined (due to a foot injury) to this chair he had borrowed from Dave Grohl. But as soon as he could, he got out to move.
How did Axl come to supplant Brian?
A production guy who worked for us told Axl, “I know these guys, they have a work ethic. They want to honor their dates”. And Axl volunteered. He came to Atlanta, where we were rehearsing, and he did his homework. He had a few songs, like “Touch Too Much”, and asked us if we could play it! And in fact, we had never learned it because we had never tried to play it live.
Does Axl sound more like Brian or the late Bon Scott?
He’s more Bon-style, very rock’n’roll in personality. He also has his own humor, quite primitive. In fact, he can attack a Bon song, and, the next moment, do Brian, in a higher register.
“I could see myself landing with Keith Richards”
Did Brian already suffer from hearing problems before the tour?
He was already suffering from it when we were rehearsing for Coachella (in 2015). He had had problems with one ear after a car accident, then his good ear was damaged very quickly. Then he went to see a specialist in Australia. At each concert, he had to have her examined and treated. But it became too hard for him.
Do you think Cliff Williams’ decision is linked to Brian’s departure?
Cliff made it known that he wanted to retire before the tour. He’s been in the band since 1977. He and Brian are the same age group, they liked to hang out, go pub crawls. It bound them.
Touring without Malcolm on guitar, how does that feel to you? Does your nephew Stevie fill the gap in your eyes?
Sometimes I look twice. I hear a sound behind me and I’m like, “That sounds so much like Malcolm…” When Stevie was younger, he was very focused on what Malcolm was doing. It sounds simple, but it’s quite the opposite. You have to be solid, sure of yourself.
Malcolm’s guitar playing was in his image, frank and determined.
Yes. In the studio, I tweaked guitar sounds, so as to hit the bullseye (laughter)! Then Malcolm showed me a good big sound, and there, wow!
Are you wondering today if you shouldn’t have stopped earlier? If you haven’t pushed the band too far?
It’s possible. But Malcolm was always ready to fight. He would sometimes say to me, in moments of crisis: “We’ll get started, let’s work a little. We’re going to write some songs. “He had this strength and I felt compelled to continue maybe because I was there from the beginning with him.
And you, what will be your future? You have never played in another band…
That is true. For now, I don’t know. We had agreed to finish the tour, who knows what state of mind I’ll be in after that? When you sign something saying “I’m going to do this and that”, it’s always good to be able to say at the end of the day: “I did everything I said I would do. That was always the basic idea, even more so when we were young, with Bon and Malcolm. We had to show up on time: we played in a pub in the afternoon, then in the evening we were in another club. We had integrated the principle: “If you don’t play, you don’t eat”.
Who else do you dream of playing with?
Let’s say we need to wake up a bunch of them from the dead (laughter)! I could see myself landing with Keith Richards. It’s a type of rhythm, like Malcolm.
By David Fricke. Translation and adaptation by Xavier Bonnet
Official website ofAC DC
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