ANGUS YOUNG – RAW ENERGY IS ALL YOU NEED
Guitar World March 1986
By Joe Lalaina
(All parts in Italics and Quotes are from the March 1986 issue of Guitar World)
If there’s one thing Angus really hates, it’s when people call AC/DC a heavy metal band.
“It’s a cheap tag”, he says, “and its been stamped on us mainly from a media point of view. It’s an insult to be slapped in with hundreds of other bands. We look at it this way, we’re a rock and roll band. We don’t mind being called that—at least you’ve got a bit of individuality. Calling AC/DC heavy metal is like saying The Police is a reggae band, even though they may have a bit of that style. We’re just as individual I mean, we don’t sound like Scorpions. Although we don t consider ourselves heavy metal, I’m sure a lot of kids will jump out and say ‘Yeah’, AC/DC is heavy metal. They’re so heavy they can sink through
the floor. But that comes from youth more than anything—the kids want to be a part of something. The kids who attend AC/DC concerts are, for the most part, teenage males—
fans who would rather get drunk and rowdy than just rock out and enjoy the show.”
AC/DC is still found in the heavy metal section of music shops. Even Bon Jovi was classed as heavy metal back in the day. Anything that had long hair and distorted guitars, the media classed it as heavy metal. However, Angus has used the metal tag to market himself as a devil among other things. So even though he hates the tag, he has no issue exploiting it.
“We’re not a pop band”, explains Angus, “so there’s usually more guys than girls who come to our shows. Girls are into the pretty side of things, like the Durans Durans of the world. We don’t go onstage with fancy haircuts and flashy clothes? We just go onstage and rock and roll.”
I saw AC/DC on the Ballbreaker tour at the Sydney Entertainment Center on November 13, 1996. More than 10 years after this interview took place. AC/DC had a third wind in their sails at that time, courtesy of the mega successful The Razors Edge album released in 1991. The crowd had males, females and mum’s/dad’s with their children.
The point I am trying to make, is that even though AC/DC went on stage with simple clothes, their stage show was anything but simple. On the Ballbreaker AC/DC had the wrecking ball, the canons, the Rosie blow up doll and enough pyro to cater for a New Years Eve celebration.
Born in Scotland, in 1959. Angus and his family emigrated to Australia in 64.
“There was a lot of unemployment in Scotland at the time.” remembers Angus, the youngest of seven brothers, “so my father took everyone to Sydney [the capital of Australia] in search of work. He managed to find a job as a laborer.”
Yes, Sydney, the capital of Australia. It looks Joe Lalaina failed geography.
Although Angus had been messing around on a banjo in Scotland since he was five years old, it wasn’t until his early teens that he began playing guitar. ‘A kid down the road had an electric guitar,’ he explains, and I just picked up the thing and was able to play it. I don’t know why and I don’t know how.
Angus is talking himself up here. As a guitarist, you don’t just pick up the guitar and play it. You fiddle around, you make mistakes, you play around with the tuning and so on. At the time I was reading this, I thought Angus was a god. All the guitarists in the magazines started to be portrayed as such in the Eighties.
Does Angus think he would be a better player nowadays had he taken lessons when he was younger?
“Nah”, he says, “A lot of guitarists tend to throw their technique on you, which is a lot of crap, really. I’ve always thought that if you can clap your hands and stamp your feet in time anyone can play guitar. I don’t think one needs to take lessons to learn how to play the thing. You should give someone a chance to develop their own technique. If someone tells you how to play something it could easily mess up your talent and corrupt you for life. Everything you play should be done how you feel like doing it—very naturally. Playing guitar is like doing anything else—you’ve got to be able to think for yourself.”
Angus left school when he was fifteen.
That doesn’t happen today. No one drops out of school at fifteen to be in a band with people who aren’t good-looking. People get into music these days for all the wrong reasons. Then they scream piracy when it all goes to hell. The ones that get into music for the love of it, end up making it.
MTV also made it that you needed to be beautiful to be famous. Everything else started to come first and music was a distant second.
“Malcolm was putting together a band at the time.” recalls Angus and I joined. After a few rehearsals, I was really impressed. Malcolm said to me, “We are just gonna have a good time and play what we want to play—very tough rock and roll, no pretty stuff.”
“At first it was hard to find guys that thought like us. One guy we auditioned was a singer, but we told him. We don’t want a singer, we want a screamer. You are not the guy for us. But after a while we found some people and put together a good band.
Two things happened; AC/DC was formed, and Angus’ short-pants routine came into existence. It was my sister who suggested I play in the band with my school shorts on, he explains.
“After school I would go straight to rehearsals, I didn’t have time to go home and change. I wanted to get some solid playing in. One day my sister told me, “Hey it would be a great idea if you played in the band with your school outfit on—no one has ever done it before. It was such a great idea, I decided to do it. I was always one for something a bit original and different.
AC/DC didn’t want perfection, they wanted a certain style. It was that style that formed a connection with listeners. Call it pub rock, rock n roll, hard rock or heavy metal. They didn’t form to be famous. They formed to write rough music. That is why they made it. They looked genuine. That is why they made it. They just wanted to play rough music. That is why they made it.
Part 3 to come