Why AC/DC Matters
Why did you choose to write about AC/DC?
AC/DC is one of the most commercially successful bands alive, but they’ve always been critically under appreciated. It was very frustrating to see that prejudice from the inside, as someone who was a member of the music media at the national level at an iconic magazine. I use Rolling Stone as an example in the book because I know from experience that the general attitude there towards AC/DC was one of disdainful acceptance. But that attitude can be found across the board in most mainstream media coverage of the band for the past 30 years. And it’s completely unwarranted. The band’s musicianship is incredible and their contribution to the history of rock is incalculable. They do what they do, and nobody does it better. You could argue that they’re a metal band and that metal fans are dedicated, like Kiss’s fans, or Judas Priests’ or Def Leppard’s, which explains their enduring popularity. But AC/DC’s music transcends that. It’s much more primal and fundamental, which is the real case for their widespread appeal. There is a reason that Chuck Berry and all the forefathers of rock and roll started a revolution. It was because there was no denying the electricity of the music and the magnetism of the back beat. It spoke to, and continues to speak to generations of fans. AC/DC’s contribution to music history runs parallel to that.
You were lucky enough to attend the dress rehearsal of AC/DC's Black Ice tour. What was that like?
It was incredible. The scale of it alone was awesome in the true sense of the word. The band mounted a show designed to dazzle an entire arena, down to the fans in the very upper rows, for just a few thousand of us, all of whom were on the floor in the rows closest to the stage. There was a great looseness about the whole affair, too. Not in terms of the production value - the band gave it their all and the show packed its full punch as far as the pyrotechnics and stage props went. Still, even with a giant fire-spouting train on stage, it felt like an intimate club gig because the band had a very tangible excitement about them. When Brian Johnson came out and walked around the stage just before they launched into the first song, he smiled out at the crowd as if he were having a house party, we were the first to arrive and he was happy as hell to see us. It felt like a special occasion, and it was. After eight years without an AC/DC tour, the fans were completely mental.
Will there be more Why .......... Matters books coming?
I think so. I really enjoyed writing this book, and I hope it shows in the pages. There are a handful of bands that I would love to write about just for the joy of analyzing their music and their legacy from a fresh perspective. Like AC/DC, one or two of them have achieved success on their own terms with little to no praise from the music media. There are also bands like Pink Floyd, who have received their share of critical praise, but whose legacy I’d like to address anew, particularly in light of a band like Radiohead.