AC/DC’s Brian Johnson: Younger rock acts have been “swallowed up by the mainstream”

He hopes PWR UP will change that.


Image: Jackie Butler / Getty

AC/DC singer Brian Johnson has opened up about his thoughts on the state of rock today, as well as his hope to inspire more young fans to pick up guitars with the band’s new record.

AC/DC’s latest album, PWR UP, is to be released at the end of this month into a rock landscape completely alien to the one their first was released into. So far, in 2020, we’ve only had one rock album hit the top of the Billboard 200: Machine Gun Kelly’s Tickets To My Downfall.

When asked by Loudwire what’s happened to the abundance of rock acts and fans, Johnson said “I think they got swallowed up by the mainstream. Mainstream music, by that I mean social media, the ‘norm.’”

Johnson clarified that AC/DC was started almost in opposition to where rock sits right now: “AC/DC started in the mind of Malcolm Young many years ago when he was sitting at home in Australia, and the only music you could hear was this soft, gentle music. And he just went, ‘Everything’s too nice, I wanna do something about this.”

Given the enormous success of its first single Shot In The Dark, it’s possible AC/DC’s PWR UP could be the second rock album to hit the top of the charts in 2020. Looking forward to his hopes for the album, Johnson said: “I just want kids to listen to it. We all do. And just say ‘I wanna buy a guitar. I wanna be in a band.’ I think we’ll have accomplished something if that happens.”

Relatedly, prog musician Steven Wilson also weighed in on classic rock and its relevance today. Referring to his scathing criticism of classic rock-revival band Greta Van Fleet, he argued that a perfect sonic recreation of old-school rock was no longer relevant to young fans. “I got in a lot of trouble online because I was very rude about Greta Van Fleet,” he said, “but I stand by everything I said. What are kids gonna listen to? Tyler, The Creator doing this radical urban music that speaks to them about modern life, or this embarrassing sort of Take That-meets-Led Zeppelin parody?”

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