AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd’s presence in Vancouver prompts raves from local skinbasher Pat Steward

photo by nick yacyshyn, rufus drum shop

By Steve Newton

You may have heard that several members of AC/DC have been spotted at Vancouver’s Warehouse Studio, leading to speculation that they’re recording a new album here.

It all started when I got a call from one of my rock ‘n’ roll sources on the street, saying he’d seen Phil Rudd and Stevie Young downtown, and spoken with them briefly. Soon after I was contacted by Glenn Slavens and Crystal Lambert, big AC/DC fans who wanted to share some of the photos they’d accumulated, with Slavens shooting from Lambert’s Gastown apartment. The doozy was a shot of Brian Johnson with Rudd, which set off a firestorm of rumours that they were both back with the band. Followup photos of Angus Young lighting Stevie’s smoke, and mixer-engineer Mike Fraser hanging with Johnson and Rudd, fueled the fire.

One of the locals most thrilled to hear about the Aussie earbusters setting up shop is drummer Pat Steward, who’s currently a member of Vancouver pop-rock legends Odds and riff-driven hard-rockers Cobra Ramone. He is also known for playing drums on Bryan Adams’ multiplatinum Reckless album of 1984. That’s him wailing away behind the kit in the official videos for “Kids Wanna Rock” and “Summer of ’69”.

Steward has been a fan of Rudd’s drumming since a high-school friend in Powell River played him the 1978 Powerage album (which also happens to be the late Malcolm Young’s fave AC/DC disc).

“What I dug about it was the drive and the simplicity,” recalls Steward. “And the guitar riffs in songs like ‘Gone Shootin’ ‘ and ‘What’s Next To The Moon’ really grabbed my attention. We used to drive around town after school with the cassette cranked in our other buddy’s car.”

Steward’s infatuation with the sound of ’70s AC/DC has led him to become a devotee of the Sonor drums brand. He’s endorsed by the German company, and even owns a Sonor Phil Rudd Signature Snare Drum.

“Phil Rudd has played Sonor for as long as I’ve ever known about him,” points out Steward. “He’s had some classic, beauty kits over the years. My fave kit is around Back in Black, when he had three huge toms and two floor toms, in a band where you’d never use more than two toms. So, this not only looked badass, but shows restraint from the player as well. Then, he only uses 20-, 21-, & 22-inch crash cymbals. It just makes sense. AC/DC doesn’t have any use for a ride cymbal. It’s amazing the music they make with bare, basic things like that.”

Considering Steward’s proven professional abilities and keen knowledge of Rudd’s drum sound, I had one more question for him. If AC/DC are indeed recording here, and if Rudd were to get sick or have some sort of mysterious “accident” that prevented him from recording, would Steward be willing to sit in? He laughs off the tongue-in-cheek query, pretty much.

“Look, I’m heavily into this stuff,” he replies. “I’m part of a side project called Bon Red–all Bon Scott-era songs! So I know how this stuff goes and should be played. But a band is a great thing because of its members and how they relate to each other, so I wouldn’t want to mess with that.”

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