AC/DC guitarist and co-founder Angus Young remains uncertain about the band’s future as the group prepare to wrap up their Rock Or Bust world tour with a 10-date US run that begins later this month.
Angus became the sole original member of the legendary Australian band after his brother Malcolm retired in 2014 due to health issues including dementia.
"It's hard to communicate," Angus tells Rolling Stone about Malcolm’s current status. "I do pass on messages. I can't be 100 percent sure it goes in there. But I let him know there are a lot of people missing him."
Nephew Stevie Young was brought in to handle rhythm guitar for the “Rock Or Bust” sessions in Vancouver, following which longtime drummer Phil Rudd faced a series of legal issues that sidelined his involvement in the tour while Chris Slade returned to the lineup.
This past March, singer Brian Johnson was forced to step down due to hearing loss issues that have plagued him for years, and Axl Rose jumped in to help the rockers perform a spring tour of Europe – and he’ll rejoin the group for the US dates starting August 27 in Greensboro, NC.
“He's been really good,” raves Angus of Axl’s performances. “He prepares himself, ready to go. We sit and chew the fat before we get on, work out what songs we want to do. It's gotta be fun for him, and for us. In the beginning, he was confined [with a foot injury] to that chair he borrowed from Dave Grohl. But as soon as he could, he was out and moving.
“He's more in the Bon style – the rock & roll character. And he's got his own folksy humor. He's pretty quick with a quip. Axl has different vocal ranges. You can hear him one way in a Bon song. Then he can flip and do Brian, the higher register.”
Bassist Cliff Williams recently announced plans to retire when the Rock Or Bust tour ends in Philadelphia, PA on September 20.
“Cliff made it known before we'd even started touring – this would be his last,” says the guitarist. “Besides myself, Cliff has been there the longest, since 1977. Cliff and Brian are in the same age bracket. They like to go out, hit the pubs. They had the bond.”
Asked whether AC/DC should have shut things down when Malcolm retired, Angus reflects, “That might be the case. But Malcolm was always one to battle through. He would look at me in times of crisis and go, ‘We'll just go in and do some work. We'll sit and write some songs.’ He had that drive, and I feel obligated to keep it going, maybe because I was there in the beginning with him.”
What will become of Angus and AC/DC once the 2016 dates end next month?
“At this point, I don't know,” he says. “We were committed to finishing the tour. Who knows what I'll feel after? When you sign on and say, ‘I'm gonna do this and that,’ it's always good to say at the end of it, ‘I've done all I said I would do.’
“That was always the idea, especially when we were younger – me, Malcolm, Bon. You had to show up and be on time. You'd be playing in a pub in the afternoon. Then late at night, you'd be playing a club. You got into that habit: "If we don't play, we don't eat."
North American tour 2016
Aug 27 - Greensboro, NC - Greensboro Coliseum
Aug 30 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - BB&T Center
Sep 01 - Atlanta, GA - Phillips Arena
Sep 04 - Columbus, OH - Nationwide Arena
Sep 06 - Cleveland, OH - Quicken Loans Arena
Sep 09 - Detroit, MI - The Palace
Sep 11 - Buffalo, NY - First Niagara Center
Sep 14 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden
Sep 17 - Washington, DC - Verizon Center
Sep 20 - Philadelphia, PA - Wells Fargo Center
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