Although AC/DC's thundering rhythm guitarist and co-founder Malcolm Young is absent from the band's upcoming album, Power Up — he's deep within the album's spirit. Malcolm died in November 2017 at the age of 64 after suffering from dementia and failing health for several years. He retired from the band in 2014, just before the group recorded its last album, Rock Or Bust.
Lead guitarist Angus Young sorted through the miles of the brothers' untapped musical ideas to craft the songs on Power Up, and told NME, “His death was a huge blow to us. But I still think he’s there when I’m playing. It sounds funny, but I can still feel him communicating to me when I’m playing guitar.”
Frontman Brian Johnson explained, “This year has been so bad and it’s a desperate time for everyone. But this record just brings across the sheer power of rock n' roll that other music can’t reach. There’s a lot of stuff out there at the moment with loads of dancers and singers on stage and it all just seems so bubblegum-y and nice and twee. It’s just good to have a nice shot of rock n' roll.”
Johnston looked back at what made Malcolm — and by extension, AC/DC — tick for all these years: “With Malcolm, you’ve got to go back to the beginning when he turned to Angus and said, 'C'mon, we’ve got to start a band — there’s too much soft music around. I wanna play some rock n' roll!’ He was uncompromising in his ethic. If it wasn’t rock n' roll, Malcolm didn’t care for it. He’s left us — but he’s still there! In the studio and in everything he did. We’re all very aware of that. When your target is to pay tribute to Malcolm, you just really want to do well and you don’t want to let anyone down.”
Angus Young told us that the brothers had countless riffs, hooks, and sketched out songs in their archive — all waiting to be plucked and fine tuned for recording: “There was a lot of ideas that Malcolm and myself had done through the years, y'know, which were a lot of great AC/DC song ideas we always had meant to get on record, but usually when you came to doin' the one record, you go, 'Okay, well we got this amount of songs — and this group of songs, y'know, might've missed out.”
Power Up is set for release on November 13th. Once again, noted producer Brendan O'Brien is behind the boards for the band.