Following all the speculation since last summer about AC/DC welcoming back classic members and recording new music, their longtime engineer, Mike Fraser, has revealed that the band has “been in the studio doing something.”
To quickly recap, singer Brian Johnson and drummer Phil Rudd were both photographed this past summer outside a studio in Vancouver, Canada, where AC/DC had recorded in the past. Johnson was forced to exit the band’s “Rock or Bust” tour in 2016 to avoid total hearing loss, with Axl Rose filling in on vocals for the remainder of the trek. Rudd had not been with the band since facing serious legal issues in New Zealand, and had been replaced by Chris Slade.
Guitarists Angus Young and Stevie Young were also photographed outside the very same studio the next day. A few years back, Stevie stepped in for his uncle, Malcolm Young, who was sidelined with dementia, and later passed away in 2017. Moreover, bassist Cliff Williams, who retired from AC/DC following the “Rock or Bust” tour was photographed at a gym in Vancouver with Brian Johnson a few months later, suggesting that he may be back in the band, as well.
In a recent appearance on the “Mastering Music Mastering Life” podcast, Fraser was asked by host and fellow engineer Tony “Jack the Bear” Mantz if there was any truth to the rumors that there’s a new AC/DC album in the works. He replied, “Well, yeah, I could say that we’ve been in the studio doing something. What’s come of that I can’t discuss yet.” When Mantz asked if Johnson was singing, Fraser coyly answered, “I think so.”
Fraser has engineered all of AC/DC’s studio albums since 1990’s The Razor’s Edge. Further along in the interview, he admitted that he wasn’t a fan of the band’s decision to bring Axl Rose in to replace Johnson on tour. “I think Axl did an amazing job … but to me it kind of tarnished, in my opinion, the AC/DC name. That wasn’t AC/DC to me. That was just a band going through the motions.”
A report back in the fall suggested that material for the new album would be culled from riffs that Angus and Malcolm recorded prior to the latter’s death. And earlier this year, Johnson apparently told the band Terrorizer, upon a chance meeting at an airport, that he was “sick of denying” that he was back in AC/DC.
Thus far, there has been no official announcement from AC/DC regarding their status or a new album. In the meantime, you can pick up the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band’s classic albums on vinyl and other formats at Reverb LP.
Watch Mike Fraser discuss AC/DC in the podcast below. The comments about the band being in the studio come around the 37:30 mark.