By Steve Newton
I guess one of the cooler in-person interviews I’ve ever done was that time back in October of ’83 when I hung out with three members of AC/DC–singer Brian Johnson, rhythm-guitarist Malcolm Young, and then-new drummer Simon Wright–at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver.
The Aussie earbusters were in town to launch their Flick of the Switch Tour, which started October 11 at the Pacific Coliseum and ended on December 19 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
They were sitting around on the hotel-room floor smokin’ ciggies and drinking tea. There was no Jack Daniels to be found. Just as well, because I had a bad cold at the time. That’s me coughing. I remember bumming a smoke off one of the guys, which didn’t help the coughing anyway.
At one point in the conversation I asked Johnson about the pressure of replacing Bon Scott, and then asked Young about what it was like making the first album without Bon.
Have a listen:
(ya gotta crank the volume a bit. It’s AC/DC, after all.)
And for those who having trouble figuring out what the fvck Brian Johnson is saying through his thick British accent, here’s a transcription:
ME: Brian, how did you feel about joining AC/DC after the tragic death of Bon Scott? Was there a lot of pressure going into such a popular band?
JOHNSON: Oh I was probably going through the same as what Simon’s going through. Not pressure in the sense of kinda real pressure. You felt it, then that was it. But you had to just do it, you know. It’s hard to explain.
ME: How did you join the band? Did they just come up and ask you one day?
JOHNSON: Aw, it was just the same as Simon.
ME: You saw an ad in the paper?
JOHNSON: No, there wasn’t an ad in the paper. I think at the time it…
YOUNG: Word of mouth.
JOHNSON: …it was just word of mouth, ’cause the boys weren’t sure themselves what was happening yet. It was a couple of weeks after Bon’s death, and they decided to keep goin’, and they just put a few feelers out to see what would happen. And I just went down and had a sing with the lads, and that worked out allright.
ME: I thought Back in Black was a really good album. What was it like for you, Malcolm, to make that album with the new singer, without Bon? Was it much different?
YOUNG: Yeah, it was different. But that material, we were working on it for Bon at the time. So that was the weirdest part. And when Brian stepped in he stepped in right in that album, not even goin’ on the road or anything. It was a bit strange, but it was good because we really had to work hard on it, you know.
JOHNSON: I think I was a bit luckier than Simon to actually go into the studio, workin’ with the lads first, before I went on the road, ya know. Cause you get the chance to know people better and live with them for a few weeks, so I was lucky in that respect.