Interview: Ex-AC/DC Drummer Phil Rudd Talks “Head Job”, and Self-Growth

The past few years have been a bit of a roller coaster ride for Phil Rudd. But things are starting to look up, as the ex-AC/DC drummer heads out in support of his solo album, Head Job, at the end of March. The tour, which is set to span across 18 countries in Europe, will be Rudd’s return to the music scene.

Over the last three years, Rudd admits that his outlook on life has changed completely. After being in the spotlight for his drug, and threatening to kill charges, spending eight months on house arrest, and suffering a heart attack, he said that this has been a great opportunity for him to get back out there.

In our new interview, Rudd talked to us about his new solo album, Head Job, his favourite AC/DC song to play, learning from your mistakes, and more. 

It seems you’re back to full health now after your heart attack last year. Would you say that experience changed your outlook on life at all?

Completely, yeah.

There’s just over a month before you head back on the road in support of Head Job. What do you think it’s going to be like getting back out there with the solo band and playing for smaller crowds again in contrast to playing to full stadiums around the world with AC/DC?

The crowds will be into it and half of them [are] familiar with the album. I’m sure they’ll sing a long to a couple of the AC/DC tracks. I’m looking forward to playing and putting on a good show.

Will you guys be playing a lot of the AC/DC tracks, or do you have a select few that you want to put on while you’re out there?

We’re going to play three. We picked them for the Bonfest and we’ve put them in the set as well. They fit quitewell and they’re three of my favourites as well.

That kind of fast-track lifestyle is definitely something you have always seemed to be into, even with your well-known love for fast cars. You’re driving what I think is your Ferrari 599 in the video for “Head Job”, and you’ve got quite the collection, so why that car?

I lost my license. (laughs) I currently don’t have a license, so I don’t drive anything at the moment. I drove the Ferrari because it’s such a beautiful colour and it is my favourite.

You mentioned that you actually decided to go forward on a solo album way back in 1985. Having it come out just over 20 years later must be extremely rewarding. Do you think that the album is representative at all of your self-growth over the years? 

Absolutely, yeah. It’s no doubt a bit of a life story. It’s simple but poignant. It’s not too much dwelling on that… but it is what it is. 

Would you say that the re-release of this album is kind of like re-releasing yourself back into the music world in a way?

Well it’s been a great opportunity to do that, after shooting myself in the foot a couple of times. It’s a really good opportunity to get back out there and have a few people come out and see what’s going on, get a bit of a buzz hopefully. It might grow into something a bit bigger, and it might not.

You always gotta hope, right?

Yeah. We wouldn’t be doing this if we weren’t hoping.

I like that expression, because we all shoot ourselves in the foot I think pretty continuously through life, even if we’re trying not to. What did you take from that experience?

(laughs) Well, I stopped carrying guns.

Ex-AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd released his debut solo album, Head Job, on September 30th, 2016.

Maybe put the safety on.

Yeah, you learn by mistakes and I’ve learnt a big lesson over the last three years. It’s been quite good, got myself sorted out.

I think learning things the hard way gives you a bit of a more kick in life. I think you take a little more from the experience when you do it like that.

That’s the only way you can really learn anything. Some people need to be bitten seriously before they do it. I might be one of those, but it’s all good. I’m enjoying playing the songs we’re playing. It’s more relaxed, but rockin’.

You’ve spoken out pretty publicly about how you don’t think Angus should call it quits on the band – especially when he’s playing as well as he is right now. Could you share your views on that?

Those are my views, he is playing really great. I’m not sure. He’s got something up his sleeve, I’m just not sure what it is, that’s all. It’s great that he plays things [and] keeps things very close to the chest. It’s hard to get anything out of those guys, everyone knows that. (laughs)

What do you think is the reasoning behind wanting to put such a iconic band like AC/DC to rest?

I don’t know. He might be sick of wearing the schoolboy suit. I really don’t know. He might have other priorities, I’m not sure. Losing Malcolm [Young] was a huge thing, especially for Angus, and me. It was a huge loss for the band, and it’s affected the whole thing quite a bit. I can’t really say much more than that, it’s not my place to talk about that.

This wasn’t the first break you’ve taken from playing with the band. After everything that’s happened between you guys, do you think it would be hard to get that same dynamic back?

Hard, no it [wouldn’t] be hard. If everyone decided to do it, we’d all just [get together] and do it. There wouldn’t be any animosity and stuff. That’s for the kids. It’s all good.

What has your contact with the guys been like over the years?

Off and on. (laughs) Years off, years on. When it’s on, you just walk in, sit down, and play along. There’s no brawling or carry on. We’re all pretty grown up. I was probably the last one to grow up, but I’ve got it now.

I feel like it’s kind of like when you don’t see one of your best friends for years, but when you have that connection with someone and you see them again it’s like those years in between never really happened.

Yeah. That’s it.

You’ve also mentioned that you don’t consider the version of AC/DC touring with Axl Rose to even be AC/DC and that you wouldn’t want to play with him. Are there any specific reasons behind not wanting to play with him?

Not really. They’re sort of half cocked on that one. I thought it was a strange choice, but they sounded quite good. Guns N’ Roses have gone out again and Angus is not really into playing in three different bands I don’t think. I can’t talk for Angus, so you’ll have to go and see what he has to say. 

AC/DC must be a huge part of you as a musician. What are some of your favourite memories from those years? Any favourite shows, or albums?

Different things pop into my head, they’re nice memories.

Did you ever have a favourite song to go out and play?

My favourite song was always “Rock N’ Roll Damnation”. You’ll be hearing that one in the set. That’s probably my favourite song. 

Finally, you said in an interview a long time ago that there are a lot of ‘rock’ bands, and a lot of ‘metal’ bands, but not a lot of Rock N’ Roll bands and I think that’s become more and more true over the years. Would you say there are any active bands that give hope for future generations to get a taste of that good ‘ol Rock N’ Roll sound? 

Kids just do what they do. You do what you do and it turns into what you know. It just depends on what people listen to. There’s a certain element in music, a vibration in music. It’s just how it all vibrates together. The whole universe, man. (laughs) Some things vibrate really nicely together and some things just hack themselves to bits.

Do you think there will ever be a movement quite like the Rock N’ Roll movement?

In my day, one or two things took over everything. Now there’s such a mess of an amount of different options.

Yeah it’s almost like there’s so many genres that you can’t always classify what specific genre that it even is.

Now even in the magazines, it’s like holy fuck, who are these guys? Never heard of them. Tons of people I’ve never even heard of. I suppose they’ve got something meaningful, or legendary, or significant, or something. They just sound like a bunch of drunk squirrels to me.

This interview can also be found on Aesthetic Magazine’s website.

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