World exclusive: Rock or Bust engineer/mixer Mike Fraser gives Newt the scoop on new AC/DC

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Today I got a call from Langley’s own Mike Fraser, who engineered and mixed the new AC/DC album, Rock or Bust, which is currently streaming on iTunes and hits stores this Tuesday (December 2).

It was the first interview Fraser has given about the highly anticipated album, the only one ever recorded without original rhythm-guitarist Malcolm Young, brother of lead guitarist Angus Young.

As previously reported, Malcolm Young was admitted to a nursing home, suffering from dementia, and his place has been taken by his nephew Stevie Young.

So my first big question was: how did losing Malcolm and gaining Stevie change the sound of the band.

Or did it?

“Well, it didn’t really,” said Fraser. “I mean Mal’s irreplaceable–he’s a one-of-a-kind. But Stevie stepped in and really played well, I thought, and was pretty much the only replacement that they could have for Mal. He’s similar to Mal–very hard hittin’, thick strings on the guitar. So we just tried, with Mal’s memory in mind, that’s how we kind of approached Stevie’s parts on the record, you know.”

After listening to Rock or Bust a few times, I couldn’t really pinpoint how the rhythm-guitar sounded different without Malcolm cranking it out. So I asked Fraser–who had previously worked on such AC/DC studio albums as The Razor’s EdgeBallbreakerStiff Upper Lip, and 2008’s massively popular Black Ice–if he could.

“Uh, yes and no,” he said. “When you’re recording it you kinda go, ‘Well, I wonder what Mal would have done,’ and all that. But we had to sort of shelve that, and just kinda do the similar thing, because that’s a big part of their sound, with the two different guitars–Angus’s style on one side and Mal’s style on the other side. And again, Stevie did a top-notch job.”

More from Fraser about the new AC/DC disc–and his thoughts on the highly publicized criminal charges against drummer Phil Rudd–to come.

 

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