AC/DC's BRIAN JOHNSON: “the juices are running again”
AC/DC singer Brian Johnson can’t wait to party alongside his old pals as rock and roll royalty get pumped up about this year’s Power Trip festival.
AC/DC is among the headliners on a bill of veteran rockers who will take to the stage in California October 6-8. It will be the iconic Australian band’s first gig since 2016.
The much-loved frontman missed out on their last shows due to hearing loss but is set to return when the legends come together in America. GUNS N’ ROSES‘ Axl Rose filled in seven years ago, and Johnson can’t wait to rub shoulders with him and his other mates from some of the world’s biggest bands.
“We decided to do this wonderful show that they’ve put together out in the desert near Palm Springs, near Coachella,” the 75-year-old told motoring podcast “Fuelling Around”. “It’s all rock and roll bands. It’s fantastic. I think it’s just a statement to say that rock and roll is a legitimate form of music. It really has made a difference. Ozzy (Osbourne) is coming out of retirement so I’ll be able to see my old pals again. The GUNS N’ ROSES boys, the METALLICA boys and the IRON MAIDEN boys — all in one field. Boy, what a party!”
He added: “It’s going to be in a beautiful valley, near Coachella, but I don’t get involved in that kind of thing. I just like to turn up, get up and just rock my little socks off until I drop.”
The much-loved Geordie has often been guarded when talking about the AC/DC‘s future. But he’s much happier to discuss “Power Up”, their 17th studio album, and how the coronavirus pandemic interrupted their desire to bring more metal magic to the masses.
“I’m so excited because three years ago we did get together when ‘Power Up’ the album came out,” he said during the latest episode of the award-winning show, hosted by former Radio One star “Comedy” Dave Vitty and British Touring Car Championship legend Jason Plato. “It was fantastic. It went to number one in 27 countries or something and we went, ‘Yeah, we’re back. We’re so proud of the album’. We started to rehearse in Amsterdam. Phil (Rudd) was back on drums. I had this new earpiece that we’d invented. It was fantastic. Honestly, I’ve never heard the band so tight. For three weeks, I think we had one day off because we wanted to be there in each other’s company. We fucked up a few words, chords and just got them tight again and then our tour manager came up and said, ‘Hey, listen, guys, we’ve got this thing. It’s called the Chinese flu or some kind of shit. Just go home for six weeks and we’ll meet again in London.’ You know what happened there. Angus (Young) and Phil, New Zealand and Australia just wouldn’t let them out for months and months afterwards.”
Johnson added: “It does take a lot of time to get a band like AC/DC together again. Most of the crew were out working with other people. Trying to get those guys back together again was tough but I’ve got my fingers crossed — everything is going okay. The most important thing about it all is the eagerness we all feel. The juices are running again.”
Last year, Johnson told Rolling Stone he didn’t know if AC/DC would perform again. “I would love to,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. I think everybody would. There’s a groundswell of people just asking. But I hate talking about the future, because, fuck, we were ready two years ago, and the pandemic came, and it screwed everything up. So I’m terrified to say what could happen and what couldn’t.”
AC/DC postponed the last 10 dates of its spring 2016 North American trek after Johnson was advised to stop playing live or “risk total hearing loss.” The band went on to complete the European and North American legs of its “Rock Or Bust” tour with the GUNS N’ ROSES frontman as a “guest vocalist.” At the time, Johnson had been AC/DC‘s singer for 36 years, ever since replacing the late Bon Scott in 1980 and making his debut on the classic “Back In Black” album.
Johnson wrote in his recently released autobiography “The Lives Of Brian” that he has never seen any of the widely circulated videos of Rose‘s performances in the band.
“I’m told that he did a great job,” Johnson said, “but I just couldn’t watch — especially when you’ve been doing it for 35 years. It’s like finding a stranger in your house, sitting in your favorite chair. But I bear no grudges. It was a tough situation. (AC/DC guitarist and co-founder) Angus (Young) and the lads did what they felt they had to do. That said, after the band released a statement confirming that I was leaving the tour and wishing me all the best for the future, I couldn’t relax or concentrate on anything. It was just always there.
“Part of the pain of it was that I blamed myself,” he admitted. “For most of my career, I’d been in the loudest band in the world. I’d flown constantly. I’d flown even when I knew I wasn’t well.
“For a while, people would ask me if I was depressed, but depression is treatable. My hearing loss wasn’t. What I was feeling wasn’t depression. It was something closer to despair.”
“Power Up” was released in November 2020. The LP 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”.
To enable him to perform live with AC/DC again, Johnson worked with audio expert Stephen Ambrose, who said he could help resolve the singer’s hearing problems.
Ambrose, who invented the wireless in-ear monitors that are widely used by touring artists today, claimed to have invented a new type of ear-bud that would allow Johnson to perform without causing further damage to his eardrums. After three years of experimenting and “miniaturizing” the equipment, Johnson previously said the technology could allow him to tour again.
The “Fuelling Around” podcast is powered by Adrian Flux, one of the U.K.’s largest specialist motor insurance brokers, covering everything from classic and vintage cars to modified sports cars and much more. You can listen to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, YouTube and AudioBoom, as well as several other podcast outlets.