By the end of their Rock or Bust tour in 2016, singer Brian Johnson had bowed out for health reasons, drummer Phil Rudd had been replaced as a result of legal issues and Williams himself had announced his retirement. Despite that, all three rejoined Angus and Stevie Young for the recording of the band’s new album Power Up, which will be released on Nov. 13.
“We talked about playing some shows,” Williams told Rock 100.5 Atlanta. “When we got together to shoot a video and do some rehearsals, it was with an idea of playing some shows. Unfortunately, we all went home after that rehearsal and conversations, and then this damn virus hit, so it was never taken any further. So, like everybody, everything in on the shelf. But we would love to get out and play again.”
He added that it didn’t take much to persuade him to rejoin for the making of Power Up. “Rock or Bust was due to be my last fling, and that was a tough tour to finish,” he recalled. “But when I heard that Brian and Phil were back, I was super-excited to join in.”
You can listen to the interview below.
Meanwhile, longstanding AC/DC recording engineer Mike Fraser said the lineup’s reunion was such a secret that he only found out himself as he waited for the band’s arrival in its Vancouver recording studio.
“As far as I knew, Brian had retired, Cliff had retired and with Phil and some of his problems he’s had … who knew if he was even gonna be allowed out of his country?” Fraser told the AC/DCFans.Net podcast. “Walking into the studio … the first day, I had no idea what was gonna happen. When I got there, none of the band had arrived yet, but a lot of their techs were there.
“One of the guys said, ‘Hey, you know what’s going on?’ And I said, ‘I have no idea. I just know we’re here and we’re setting up.’ And he goes, ‘Well, the whole band’s here: Brian, Cliff, Phil and Stevie, and they’re here and we’re ready to rock another record.’ So, man, it was such a shocking, awesome surprise.”
Fraser noted that Young had “three or four songs sort of completed” when sessions began, but that he brought “a whole suitcase full of demo things that he’d done,” including material co-written with late rhythm guitarist and co-founder Malcolm Young. “And him and Brendan O’Brien, who produced the record, would sift through all the ideas and say, ‘Hey, that’s great. That’s a really good song. Let’s put that riff here’.”