Dave Hill Talks the Enduring, Healing Power of AC/DC

Love might not be forever, but AC/DC sure is.

Back when I was a pretty young thing growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, it was announced that AC/DC would be making a stop at Richfield Coliseum, the gigantic sports arena just a short drive from my family’s house, on their current world tour. Joining them would be a hot new act called White Lion, who were by all accounts at the peak of their powers and had the pants to prove it. Needless to say, I was fucking pumped.

Of course, I wasn’t alone in my feelings, and — for reasons that remain unclear to me even now as I type this — I made a plan to attend the concert with my ex-girlfriend Julie, whom I was still completely crazy about, and her new boyfriend Dan, who — at least by outward appearances anyway — was taller, cooler and better looking than I was. More importantly, though, he had a car and that was how we would be getting to the concert. Because he wanted to watch the situation unfold and also really needed a ride, my best friend Tim joined us, too.

To ease any residual tensions, and also because we were a bunch of teenagers about to see fucking AC/DC, we scored a case of Busch, the beer of choice among underage drinkers in Northeastern Ohio at the time, for the drive out to Richfield and the subsequent totally awesome tailgating that would go on before we saw fucking AC/DC. It only took a few sips of the sweet nectar before I began to abandon thoughts of strangling Julie’s boyfriend Dan with the shoelaces of my white hightops from the backseat and started to focus on all the sweet AC/DC fucking jams we were about to hear live and in person from just a few hundred yards away in the only seats we could afford. Similarly, Dan’s understandable resentment about driving his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend to see AC/DC slowly seemed to fall away, as did Tim’s understandable desire to see me and Dan totally beat the crap out of each other right there in the middle of route 271.

A few more sips later, however, all of these feelings were somehow back and stronger than ever. Add to that the fact that we got stuck in traffic and ended up arriving too late to see fucking White Lion, and the mood was anything but light as we began our trek up to the nosebleeds at Richfield Coliseum. By the time we made it to our seats, Dan and I were about to come to blows, Tim was taking side bets and Julie had still broken up with me six months earlier. In short, it totally sucked.

But then AC/DC came on stage and suddenly none of that stuff mattered. The only thing that mattered was fucking AC/DC. And the only thing that mattered for the next couple hours — and even after the concert — was fucking AC/DC. As a matter of fact, I just got off the phone with Tim and we were just saying that all these years later, the only thing that still matters is fucking AC/DC.

The reason I bring all of this up, of course, is both to highlight the healing powers of the mighty AC/DC, who are pretty much the Nelson Mandela of hard rock, and perhaps more importantly for the purposes of this assignment, point out that AC/DC have just released a brand-new album called Rock or Bust, their 17th, not counting live albums. As you can probably imagine, it sounds exactly like AC/DC, which is awesome.

As is the case with pretty much every AC/DC album after Back in Black (1980), in my expert AC/DC-based opinion, it feels kind of pointless to dissect Rock or Bust track-by-track or anything, other than to say that four songs out of 11 have the word “rock” in the title and there is also a song called “Sweet Candy” on the album that is either about the situation in Gaza or pussy. I’m not sure. The important thing is, if you like AC/DC, you will like or maybe even love this album. Worst-case scenario, it will cause you to break out your copy of Highway to Hell (1979) or Back in Black instead. But even then, you are still listening to fucking AC/DC, so any way you look at it, Rock or Bust is doing its job.

The only big difference with Rock of Bust, of course, is that Malcolm Young, whose battle with dementia has sadly forced him to leave the band, has been replaced by his and brother Angus’ nephew Stevie (who, coincidentally, was playing with the band when I saw them all those years ago as Malcolm was taking a break to get treated for alcoholism, and who pretty much looked exactly like Malcolm from where we were sitting anyway). And while Stevie’s no Malcolm, he still does a bang-up job, just like Brian Johnson is no Bon Scott but has been delivering in a completely respectable yet still not-Bon Scott kind of way for over 30 years now. And it looks as if drummer Phil Rudd, who played on the album, is taking a break from the band to focus on getting arrested for drug possession and trying to punch large men on the street. Let’s see Steven Tyler try that shit.

As for Julie and Dan, they stopped dating a long time ago. And last time I checked, Julie had still totally broken up with me, too. Love can be fleeting sometimes. But AC/DC is forever, dude.

Dave Hill is a comedian, writer, musician, and highly boneable public figure. He is the author of the book Tasteful Nudes (St. Martin’s Press, 2012), host of The Goddamn Dave Hill Show on New Jersey’s WFMU-91.1, frequent contributor to This American Life and singer-guitar player for the power-pop band Valley Lodge. His new comedy album Let Me Turn You On is available now, as is his second collection of essays, Dave Hill Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (Penguin/Blue Rider Press). Dave also smells incredible and can play sweet guitar solos without even really trying. You can follow him on Twitter here.