The band has been making a lot of headlines in the past few months, though not the positive kind you’d expect from a group that has, for over 40 years, been giving the world some of the finest bare-bones guitar-rock ever created.
First came the sad news about rhythm-guitarist Malcolm Young suffering from dementia, and then the even more shocking revelation that drummer Phil Rudd had been charged with attempting to procure a murder.
That charge was dropped the very next day, although lesser charges–of drug possession and threatening to kill–are still in place.
Langley’s Mike Fraser–who has been working with the band on its albums since 1990–was as shocked as anyone by the accusation of Rudd attempting to set up a murder.
“I think that was a bit of a bullshit charge in that situation,” he told me last week in his first interview about AC/DC since the crap hit the fan. “And that’s part of the problem with some of the social media, that somebody grabs the story and it’s almost like you’re guilty until you’re proven innocent, you know. So it’s a bit sad, and especially as quickly as they retracted it–like the next day. But the damage was done.”
One of the charges Rudd is facing is possession of methamphetamine, but Fraser–who describes the 60-year-old drummer as “a great guy”–says there was no Breaking Bad action at Vancouver’s Warehouse Studio when he engineered and mixed Rock or Bust there last spring. “I never saw any sign of that in the studio,” he claims.
“I really like Phil,” Fraze added. ” I mean, it sounds like he’s got some demons, so he needs to get that sorted out, hopefully.”
As for Rudd’s actual musical performance, Fraser claims that he was quite the powerhouse behind the kit.
“You’ve got to do a lot of changing the skins ’cause he hits so hard,” he explained. “After one or two plays on the snare drum we gotta put a new snare head on ’cause it’s beat to crap. But I’d rather it be that way than him just tickling the drums.”
Nope. The day AC/DC brings in a drum-tickler is the day I burn my autographed Powerage album.