AC/DC, for 50 Years on Rock’s Legendary “Highway”

Stamping one’s name on the rock bible is something that belongs only to legends, and AC/DC rightfully belongs in this category. Entire tomes of music history written with songs indelibly branded in the minds and hearts of fans. Albums with innovative sounds and profound lyrics that set the course (indeed, the highway to quote one of their most famous songs) for generations to come. And endless memorable performances in parks, stadiums and arenas around the world where fiery guitar riffs still meet the hard sound of glowing drums and the warmth of an audience always by their side despite the inexorable passing of the decades.

 AC/DC in concert
AC/DC in concert

«Singing with AC/DC is no small thing. It helps you tremendously and always keeps you alive»

High-voltage energy that shows no signs of diminishing in intensity. Despite that stage name (an acronym for alternate current / direct current) chosen by brothers Angus and Malcolm Young back in 1973, the Australian band has been a ‘direct current’ part of music history for more than 50 years. 200 million albums sold worldwide including 72 million in the United States alone. An endless discography unscathed by the passage of time headed by milestones such as Back in Black, which, with more than 50 million copies, is the best-selling album by a band ever. Songs like Highway to Hell, Thunderstruck or You Shook Me All Night Long are universally recognized as iconic songs of a genre, rock, that has found in them among the greatest exponents globally.

Angus Young at the guitar
Angus Young from AC/DC

This year for AC/DC will be the year of celebrations for their first half-century of activity. Next May 25 they will perform at the RCF Arena in Reggio Emilia for the only stop of the Power Up Tour in front of more than 100,000 people in a show that has already been sold out for weeks. March 15 is another date to mark and underline in red on the calendar. In fact, the first 9 albums (Back in Black, Highway to Hell, The Razors Edge, Powerage, For Those About to Rock – We Salute You, High Voltage, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Who Made Who and Live) will be reissued in a special gold-colored collector’s edition for a physical tribute to their immortal music. From that day until March 17, an exclusive pop-up store dedicated to the band will then open in Milan with talks, exhibitions, listening sessions, events and many guests. Admission to enjoy this exceptional experience is free.

«I love getting on stage, being in front of the crowd and feeling that everything is going the way it should. The show feeds me, it’s fun in a way, and that’s the important thing»

As part of the celebration of this important as well as extraordinary milestone MANINTOWN had the opportunity to converse with Angus Young and Brian Johnson, guitarist and vocalist of the band, respectively.

After all these years, how do you manage to still keep your energy so alive, both individually and as a band? Is performing live your energy catalyst?

Brian: I have always been an energetic person. I can’t sit still for a long time. I get bored sitting, watching TV or doing normal things. I always have to be on the move. As my father always said, I was hyperactive, “There’s something wrong with that boy, he never sits still.” And he was right, so you know, that keeps the energy alive. Singing with AC/DC is no small thing. It helps you a lot and keeps you alive all the time. Plus when I see Angus perform on stage I immediately think that I also have to give my
maximum. And I think it’s mutual between us. Everyone, from Phil to Cliff. And I also think of Malcolm when he played his guitar dripping with sweat. That is a characteristic that belongs to AC/DC.

Angus: It all started when I first wore the school uniform on stage. I don’t know why, but when I wear that dress, suddenly I feel different. I feel comfortable and get into character. For some reason, it’s as if I even feel taller. In fact, if I may say so, I have grown a couple of inches. Really! That’s what happens, I really feel taller. From the moment I put on the uniform, I feel ready. You might say, “Angus, okay, now we have to go out and play with fire.” I will answer, “Why not?” I love it, I do it. I love getting on stage, being in front of the crowd and feeling that everything is going the way it should. The show feeds me, it’s fun in a way, and that’s the important thing. It’s like Mal (Malcolm Young, who passed away in 2017 ed.) was still there, he was so solid, I never felt the need to plan what we were going to do on stage, it just happened. You’re there, you’re so sure. I can feel Phil’s presence, so commanding, Phil shreds those drums. It works perfectly.

Brian Johnson about the music of AC/DC: «It is amazing how many different people have been touched by our songs»

Throughout your career you have created very powerful music, full of positivity and deep lyrics. Have you had reactions from people who have found comfort in your music?

Brian: Over the years we’ve met guys, people who come up and thank you for helping them get through college. So many doctors have told us, “Hey man, we played Back In Black before surgery or Highway To Hell.” And then you talk to military people who listen to it under their helmets when they parachute in and go into action. It’s amazing how many different people have been touched by our songs. Sportsmen tell you what they listen to in the locker room to get ready as best they can before they take the field, and often it’s AC/DC, so it’s very nice. It’s nice to know that you’ve been a part of so many people’s lives and helped them make it.

Angus Young from AC/DC
Angus Young from AC/DC

«As you said, our music travels all over the world and to different countries. I think there is a sense of togetherness»

You have very devoted fans all over the world. Your music is able to connect and unite people across countries, languages and cultures. How does it feel to be able to do this?

Angus: Over the years it has been possible to connect with so many people all over the world. I don’t know if it was luck or what, but I think this has been possible because we have struck a chord in people’s lives. We have been very lucky because probably what we play, our style and our sound has touched the right chords. As you said, our music travels all over the world and to different countries. I think there is a sense of togetherness. Everyone can connect with our music and what we do as a band. I think it’s like that. It’s like there is that kind of connection whereby there are a lot of people who come up to you and say, “You guys are my favorite band.” It’s a good feeling, actually.

Brian: Well, that’s exactly what I said. I tried to think about it and I think it’s just because of the authenticity of the band and our music. It’s so simple and everyone in this world loves authenticity.


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