AC/DC will release its long-awaited comeback album, “Power Up”, on November 13. The follow-up to 2014’s “Rock Or Bust” features AC/DC‘s reunited lineup of Brian Johnson (vocals), Phil Rudd (drums), Cliff Williams (bass), Angus Young (guitar) and Stevie Young (guitar). Johnson and Williams both left in 2016 for health reasons; and Rudd was sidelined in 2015 with various legal issues.
In a new interview with “The Hot Breakfast”, which airs on Australia’s Triple M radio station, Angus stated about how the “Power Up” recording lineup came together (hear audio below): “Brian had kept us informed [about his efforts to overcome his hearing loss]. He’d been working with a specialist — hearing people in the U.S. And he was always letting us know that he was having a lot of great results with these people he was working with. And so he himself was going through and testing it in different environments. So he was happy about the way the new technology that they had put together for him [was working out], so he was happy and really eager. I didn’t have to ask him twice to be there, to do this album. And Cliff had said to me at the end of the last tour that we had [done]… I said, ‘Do you want me to contact you if I’m gonna do anything?’ And he said, ‘Yeah. Contact me.’ And I said, ‘And you can see then if you wanna do it or not do it. There’ll be no pressure.’ So we contacted him, and he was, ‘Yeah. I’m on board.’ And Phil, I’d talked to Phil and also seen him a few times. And he was in great shape. But he himself was ready. He said, ‘Yeah, I’ll be there with bells on.’ And then, of course, my nephew, doing Mal‘s [late AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young] role. Everyone was excited about doing it. So that was pretty easy to put together.”
The legendary hard rockers postponed the last ten dates of their North American tour in 2016 after doctors told Johnson he faced a total loss of hearing if he did not stop touring immediately. He was eventually replaced on the road by GUNS N’ ROSES vocalist Axl Rose.
“It was pretty serious,” Brian told Rolling Stone earlier this month. “I couldn’t hear the tone of the guitars at all. It was a horrible kind of deafness. I was literally getting by on muscle memory and mouth shapes. I was starting to really feel bad about the performances in front of the boys, in front of the audience. It was crippling. There’s nothing worse than standing there and not being sure… The docs said, ‘Deaf is deaf, son.’ Cliff and Angus didn’t want to be responsible for me damaging my ears any further. … Shit happens. At least it wasn’t terminal.”
Johnson eventually found a specialist willing to try an experimental treatment on him and he spent three years figuring out a solution.
“The first time he came down he brought this thing that looked like a car battery,” Johnson said of the specialist. “I went, ‘What in the hell is that?’ He said, ‘We’re going to miniaturize it.’ It took two and a half years. He came down once a month. We’d sit there and it was boring as shit with all these wires and computer screens and noises. But it was well worth it. The only thing I can tell you is that it uses the bone structure in the skull as a receiver. That’s as much as I can tell you.”
Rudd was ousted from AC/DC when he was sentenced to eight months of home detention by a New Zealand court in 2015 after pleading guilty to charges of threatening to kill and drug possession.
Rudd, who has appeared on all but three of AC/DC‘s 18 studio albums, toured in support of his 2014 solo debut, “Head Job”. It was the release of that album that led indirectly to Rudd‘s arrest, with the drummer allegedly so angry at a personal assistant over the way the record was promoted that he threatened to have the man and his daughter killed.
Johnson told Rolling Stone that he and the rest of AC/DC welcomed Rudd with open arms. “I speak for all the boys with Phil,” he said. “We defend Phil to the hilt. What happened up there, that’s not the Phil we know. That was just something else. He’s really looking brilliant now and doing everything great.”
Williams recently revealed that a “terrible” bout with vertigo contributed to his 2016 retirement. He also admitted the return of both Johnson and Rudd convinced him to return to the group. “It was like the old band back together,” he told Rolling Stone. “It was not like starting over again, but as close to the band that’s been together for 40-plus years as we can possibly make it. I didn’t want to miss that.”
“Power Up” was recorded over a six-week period in August and September 2018 at Warehouse Studios in Vancouver with producer Brendan O’Brien, who also worked 2008’s “Black Ice” and 2014’s “Rock Or Bust”.