In the latest issue of Music Week we speak to AC/DC about their incredible new album Power Up – a record that marks the triumphant return of the rock giants after a troubled period which has included tragedy, as well as members leaving due to health and legal reasons.
The first taste of the album – due for release on November 13 via Columbia – came via lead single Shot In The Dark which has, according to Jenifer Mallory, EVP/general manager at Columbia Records in the States, already been featured in over 250 editorial playlists across Spotify, Apple and Amazon and also generated “some of the best airplay of their career”. Released on October 26, the official video for Shot In The Dark has already hit 1.9m views on YouTube.
Speaking to Music Week, lead singer Brian Johnson said AC/DC are hoping Power Up can inspire a new generation, referencing a host of videos that have emerged of young people playing along to Shot In The Dark.
“It’s wonderful, they were straight on it!” Brian Johnson told Music Week. “I hope this whole album generates a new bunch of kids that want to pick up a guitar and make rock‘n’roll so it becomes, not mainstream, but at least played more on radio than it is, let’s put it that way. That would be great.”
Above all else, Power Up is a tribute to AC/DC’s late rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, who retired from the group in mid-2014 as he continued to suffer from dementia. He passed away in 2017. The record, however, features a host of unused riffs and song ideas he and his brother, AC/DC’s lead guitarist Angus Young, worked on around the time of their blockbuster 2008 album Black Ice.
“There was so, so much stuff that we had at that time,” Angus Young told Music Week. “What went on Black Ice was just really the beginning of what we had. Malcolm kept saying to me all the time, ‘Ang, we have to get this material [out]’. He put so much effort into them, but we never got to put them down at the time, and it stuck with me. That’s really what got me to this point.”
While Malcolm Young’s actual playing does not appear on Power Up – Angus electing not to splice up his late brother’s guitar parts – he is credited as a writer. And his presence lingers in other ways, too. One of the key songs is Through The Mists Of Time – it is more pensive than you may expect from the group, but an undeniable instant AC/DC classic.
“It was my favourite right from the start,” Johnson told Music Week. “And I love all the songs on this album so I hate saying ‘favourite’. But it’s the most memorable one for me. When I first heard it, I just thought of Malcolm and I don’t know why, it doesn’t mention his name, but it was such a special song. I still get goosebumps when I listen to it.”
The group believe that Power Up is a fitting tribute to their fallen band member.
“I think he would have loved it,” said Angus Young. “He would’ve loved the fact we’re still doing it. He was always there working until he could work no more. He was ready and willing to do it, that’s how I always saw it. I think he would get a big kick out of it that we’re still here banging away.”
Subscribers can read the full interview here.