Ear of Newt exclusive: Mike Fraser says AC/DC was “all business” on Rock or Bust

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The anticipation surrounding the impending release of the new AC/DC album, Rock or Bust, has been building for months. The fact that it’s the legendary Aussie hard-rockers’ first release without original rhythm-guitarist and co-songwriter Malcolm Young has been making headlines, and this Tuesday (December 2) the physical product will hit stores.

With or without Malcolm, I’m betting the vinyl sounds pretty sweet.

And if it does, part of the credit will go to engineer-mixer Mike Fraser, a resident of Langley, British Columbia, who kindly offered Ear of Newt his first interview about the album.

According to Fraser–who has worked with AC/DC on numerous albums since 1990’s The Razor’s Edge–this time around the group seemed more serious than ever in the studio.

“Sometimes when you’re kinda getting sounds ready they’ll jam out a few riffs,” he told me, “but this time around it was all business. You know, there was a lot of pressure whether they should even do this record with Mal not there, but Angus had decided ‘Yep, we’re gonna do it,’ especially in Mal’s memory and all that.

“I wouldn’t say it was tense,” he added, “but, you know, we were there to get it done.”

Rock or Bust is the second AC/DC album Fraser has made alongside producer Brendan O’Brien, the first being 2008’s massively successful Black Ice. We asked the Fraze what he thought O’Brien’s main talents were as a producer.

“Well, he’s a pretty awesome guitar player in his own right,” he replied. “He played with the Georgia Satellites and all that, you know. So he’s got that perspective, and I believe that’s probably why the band hired him in the first place. And he’s really good at going through the song ideas and saying, ‘Hey, that’s really good, but when we get to this thing why don’t you try one of your riffs that you’ve done in the past? Try this or try that.’

“So he was really good at coaching things through and developing the song structures a little more,” added Fraser. “He sorta took over Mal’s place for Angus, when there’s decision to be made or questions about ‘What should we do there?’ or ‘How do you feel about this?’ Brendan was there and helped him out.”

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