As AC/DC launched their “Rock or Bust” tour in the States amid substantial personnel changes, we revisited author Jesse Fink (The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC) and put “Five Questions” to him about the band's latest assault on world eardrums.
Congratulations on the phenomenal success of The Youngs. How many countries/languages has it been printed in to date?
I just got a deal to publish it in Czech Republic, so 11 countries and eight languages (Australia, United States, Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, India, Serbia, Italy, United Kingdom, and Czech Republic). I’d love to get it into Russia, Sweden, Poland, Japan, Portugal, Spain and France. I’ve been putting a lot of effort into rights sales over the past year and just got back to Australia from Brazil, where Editora Gutenberg launched the book with great support from the book chain Livraria Cultura. I urge any authors of music books to research the Brazilian market. There is a strong rock scene in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. They really want to read good rock books down there.
You touched on Malcolm’s health issues and subsequent retirement in our earlier 5Q’s. What do you make of the Phil Rudd situation?
I think it’s an unfortunate situation for both sides. I appreciate that the “show must go on” with AC/DC and Rudd has had personal and legal issues that forced Angus Young’s hand. Do they delay the tour or do they carry on with someone else? He chose the latter course of action. Where I think AC/DC has been remiss is offering Rudd a conspicuous public gesture of support. Something along the lines of “We’re right behind you in your recovery, Phil.” Instead he’s been effectively cut off and to hear Phil say he can’t even speak to Angus is a sad state of affairs. That man has been with AC/DC pretty much from the very beginning of the band’s album-recording career, forgive Tony Currenti’s drumming on High Voltage and the mid-to-late ’80s/early ’90s. I believe Rudd can recover his health and hopefully his career. He needs support.
AC/DC just opened their “Rock or Bust” tour here in the Boston area with a raucous sold-out stadium show. With the aforementioned personnel issues seemingly behind them, can anything stop this juggernaut or their appeal?
Well, Boston is AC/DC territory. I’m not surprised to hear it was a great show. I think the whole thing is coming to an end, personally, but I’m happy to be wrong. It’s the Angus Show now more than it’s ever been. How long can Brian’s voice hold out? Angus is the only original member of the band on stage. The band is not quite the same without Mark Evans, without Bon Scott, without Malcolm Young, without Phil Rudd. For me those four guys and Angus were the classic line-up of AC/DC. I will always prefer Mark Evans to Cliff Williams. Mark should never have been sacked. That’s when the band was truly magical. They were young, creative, indefatigable and super-ambitious. It was make or break. For me, the 1976–’80 era was AC/DC’s time. It’s more of a merchandising colossus now than it is a band that is making fresh, vital, clever music. The sound is familiar, though; it rocks, and we all love it.
What’s next for AC/DC? Is there any desire to stretch out and do, say, a blues album or is the formula set?
I think we can safely say the formula is set. Perhaps they will finally release a proper greatest-hits album and go out on top. They have nothing to prove to anyone. They worked their asses off and deserve all their success. However I think it’s very sad Bon isn’t alive to see it and enjoy it. Bon was the X factor. Without him, it would never have happened.
What’s next for Jesse Fink? Can we expect another music book from you any time soon?
I’ve been working hard on a new music biography for Penguin Random House Australia. Trident Media Group represents me and will be selling rights for it into the US and other countries. I’m really excited about this book. It’ll be coming out late 2017. It’s much bigger in scope than The Youngs and has involved three times the amount of research. So I’ve been really busy but having great fun working on it. I feel very fortunate to have one of the best jobs in the world.
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