How Guns N’ Roses hellraiser Axl Rose saved legendary rock band AC/DC and spurred them onto new album
GUNS N’ ROSES hellraiser Axl Rose has proved to be the saviour of another legendary rock band – AC/DC, who have reunited and recorded a new album.
Four years ago the singer offered his services after the Aussie stadium superstars lost vocalist Brian Johnson to hearing problems midway through their 2016 tour — with many fans fearing the worst for the band.
But despite Axl’s wild reputation, he has proved a positive influence, prompting their reunion after a four-year hiatus — and unexpected new album, Power Up.
It’s a record many feared would never materialise, but as founding guitarist Angus Young explains: “We’ve had our fair share of tragedies. Back in the early 80s we lost our lead singer Bon Scott, and that was a very dark patch for us, but it was my brother (Malcolm) who contacted me at the time and said that instead of moping about, we should just keep on doing what we had been doing before.
“In 2016 it looked very difficult again. We were at another unknown juncture because with Brian’s hearing problems we didn’t know what would happen.
“There was a real risk of him going deaf if we carried on, and none of us wanted that.
“So we had to cancel the rest of the tour with no idea what would happen next, but we were lucky enough that Axl Rose stepped in to help us out. It wasn’t planned like that — he got in touch and we’ll be forever thankful and grateful he did it.”
But Axl came with a reputation for hard partying and unruly behaviour, though Angus adds: “I’d heard a lot of things too. But I talked to him and he was very respectful to me and the others.
“He would listen. We said, ‘Okay, we’ve got to get some rehearsals to get this happening’, and he fully committed and went about it very professionally.
“I don’t know if I can say we tamed him, but I can only say that when we were on the road he was there with us.
“He was very respectful. If we were there to do the show, he was there, and he was there at the same time as us, ready to go.”
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Rockers Young at heart
AS the band’s founder, Malcolm Young holds a special place in the hearts of rock fans.
But for brother Angus, his fellow guitarist in the supergroup, the rhythm supremo behind many of the band’s iconic riffs remains ever present –– even three years after his death.
In fact, for his bandmates the late rocker still affects every decision they make – and is a major influence on their new album, Power Up.
The opening chords on lead single Shot In The Dark are instantly recognisable as one of Mal’s trademark riffs – and the album is packed with his previously unreleased ideas.
Angus explains: “A lot of these were ideas that Malcolm and myself had worked on and I knew he had put a lot of effort into them. These were songs we always wanted to get released.
“I thought, ‘Now’s the time to go through them.’ I picked out ones I knew he was very fond of, and so for Malcolm – and myself too – I was determined to get these songs out there.
“These songs represent the band he knew, and that’s why everyone was eager to be on board.”
His bandmate Brian almost missed out on the chance after an issue with his hearing but he’s now on the mend.
Angus explained: “Brian has had serious hearing problems but had been keeping us updated while he worked with a specialist. He’s had some technology implanted – it has really changed the game. He’s so happy with the results.
“We did a rehearsal and Brian wanted the full stage on with our amps and the equipment – and he couldn’t believe the results.”
But despite the excitement of reviving the band, Angus admits they still miss Malcolm. He adds: “I feel him there, even when we were in the studio – I’m still looking for him.
“He had such a character too and you always felt his presence.
“I always looked to Malcolm as the guy who would say ‘No Angus, do better’. I trusted Malcolm’s judgment.
“Now I have to put on his hat and think, ‘How would Mal want it?’ ”
POWER Up is their 17th studio album and comes six years after their last release, Rock or Bust, which went to No1 in 12 countries. The record will be out on November 13, pitting them against new releases from McFly, Paloma Faith and Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
Angus: Booze not my cup of tea
AS one of the hardest rocking guitarists in the business, Angus has seen a legion of stars fall by the wayside from showbiz excess.
But despite being surrounded by temptation, the guitar virtuoso says he would now prefer a cup of tea to a night of boozing after going teetotal.
And he credits the decision with keeping the band on track for nearly five decades.
He says: “When I was in my twenties I’d hang out with my brothers in clubs, but I was never an alcohol type of guy so often my first thought was ‘Can I get a cup of tea here?’
“But it’s true this world encourages excess. You try to help people who go down that route but if they don’t see that they need help, that’s the hard part.
“It is tragic when you think of the people who have fallen to it.
“I was lucky my brother had been in a Sixties band and told us, ‘You’re there to make music so stick to that, don’t let the lifestyle dominate you.’”
AC/DC have made their name as a top rock band, filling the world’s biggest stadiums. But despite putting out music for almost 50 years, Angus and the lads still think they are in their twenties and want to get back on stage. Angus said: “I still think of myself as 20. I’ve always said, ‘I want to play guitar and do it well.’ That’s what I’ve always focused on.”
Angus: We’ll live forever
AC/DC are one of those bands that will live forever in the memory – and that’s exactly what Angus wants.
He says the group is his life and they have tons of material that he hopes will eventually see the light of day after numerous studio sessions.
And despite not planning too much into the future, he’s hoping he will get another chance to perform to thousands.
Angus said: “Well I always kind of thought, even at the time when everything was in unchartered territory so to speak, I always thought, ‘I know I’ll be doing something for AC/DC whether it’s putting unreleased tracks together or collections or something.’
“I never in my mind said, ‘Well, I think that’s the whole thing over.’”
He added: “Everyone’s getting older.
“I don’t want to pressure them into feeling obligated to do it.
“But it was so good us all being there together and to have that bond again.
“We all became one unit and we want to get the best down for the songs.
“That was the goal. Anything else we do is a bonus.”
CEMENTING their status as one of the world’s biggest rock bands, AC/DC played to more than 4million people on their last tour, Rock Or Bust, in 2015 and 2016. In total they performed 88 shows across the globe, including a coveted headline set at California’s Coachella Festival.
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