In December 2009, during their monster 20-month Black Ice Tour, AC/DC returned to Argentina for the first time in 13 years, playing three nights in a Buenos Aires soccer stadium to 200,000 of that city’s rabid fans. The new concert movie AC/DC: Live at the River Plate (out May 10th on DVD and Blu-ray) documents those epic shows.
Rolling Stone caught up with singer Brian Johnson and guitarist Angus Young – hanging out in London last night and chain-smoking before tonight’s premiere – to talk about the epic film, the perils of touring into your sixties, strippers and herbal tea.
Do you still make the same physical effort on stage as you used to?
BRIAN JOHNSON: You’ll see us give it everything in Argentina. Even if you’re tired or whatever coming on stage, you get there and something happens. My rule is that if you’re not sweating when you come offstage, something’s wrong. The worst part is when Angus has to do something and I’m standing there and the cold air hits the sweat and I’m like [shudders]. But this is the last time these fans will see you until the next time. It has to be good.
ANGUS YOUNG: The fans want to see that you can still do it. They don’t want to say “those guys used to be good.”
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Does touring still have the same thrill, after decades of doing it?
BJ: Well… if anyone can walk out on a stage like that and tell you they aren’t excited by thousands of fans singing, they’re lying. It never gets old, is the answer. And that’s all on the DVD. We never even drink before a gig because it has to be right. Those fans were as crazy as they’ve ever been. It was the same everywhere – in Finland we went on at nine – no, 10 – at night and it was still light and they didn’t care. And it didn’t fucking matter because when we went off at midnight the sun was still up.
Talk me through some of the debauchery you’ve witnessed in a lifetime on the road.
AY: Well, you’re young and you get into adventures, but it’s the people around you that bring it all. In Australia at the start we’d get these girls who were into all that. I remember some girl in a schoolgirl outfit because of my schoolboy outfit [Young has worn a version of his school uniform on stage for decades] and she was a stripper and she had one of these sex dolls and she’d do this show. Do her piece.
When some bands get older it’s all herbal tea backstage. Is that what it was like in Argentina?
BJ: Herbal fucking tea! Let’s just say there’s no herbal fucking tea.
AY: Nobody would believe me if I told them.
When do you think you might call it a day and retire to your multimillions?
AY: You just keep going as long as you think you’ve got something. And hopefully other people like it too.
BJ: When the beast doesn’t need feeding any more. [Launches into an air guitar power-chord.] When it doesn’t feel like this any more! [Starts a high-pitched rock whoop, and jumps up from his chair.]