Halfway through 2018, Mike Fraser, Canadian record producer, engineer, mixer and AC/DC's go-to guy since 1990, witnessed the most authentic version of AC/DC gather for a clandestine recording session in Vancouver.
"I remember walking into the studio…and there's everybody there — the whole gang again," he said. "It was probably a good hour of hugs and high fives. What a feeling to have everybody back together again." After keeping the recording sessions a secret for nearly two years, the veteran engineer sighs a bit of relief: "It's a weight off my chest, for sure."
On part 2 of the podcast "AC/DC Beyond The Thunder", Fraser not only lifts the curtain behind the band's triumphant return and new No. 1 release "Power Up", but also takes on listener questions from around the globe, including fans from Argentina, Japan, Germany, U.K. and Australia, tackling both technical and recent band topics.
From the opening track "Realize" to the blistering rocker "Demon Fire" and swaggering "Wild Reputation", the podcast first dives into many of the album's new tracks, including the heartfelt departure "Through The Mists Of Time", a genuine tribute to AC/DC's rhythm guitarist and founder Malcolm Young.
"Kind of makes you tear up a little bit," admits Fraser, who says Malcolm's presence was definitely felt during the "Power Up" sessions, especially while recording the backing vocals, "On all their past records, Mal always sang on it. On some of those [new tracks], I could swear it's Malcolm singing."
All of the material on "Power Up", written by brothers Angus and Malcolm Young, stems from a well of previous demos, alongside a book of ideas and lyrics that Angus carried around in the studio, which Fraser says contains, "ideas all the way back to 'Highway to Hell', and before that. It's kind of neat seeing the wrinkled up pages from back in the heyday."
Aside from a dismal 2020, Fraser says that he has been re-energized by the absolute love of "Power Up". "It's been overwhelming seeing the love and respect that the fans have for the band. I'm very happy for the band and proud of the job they've done on this record."
"Power Up", AC/DC's seventeenth studio album, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, marking the return of vocalist Brian Johnson, drummer Phil Rudd, bassist Cliff Williams, rhythm guitarist Stevie Young and lead guitarist Angus Young. As the fastest-selling LP of 2020, this is also the band's first collection of new material since the death of Malcolm Young in 2017 and serves as a tribute to him.
"AC/DC Beyond The Thunder" features well known actors, authors, athletes, comedians, musicians, media hosts, and even members of the band, all paying homage to one of the greatest bands of all time. Guests have included Slash, Hall Of Fame MLB pitcher Trevor Hoffman, "SNL" comedian Jim Breuer, U.S. military war hero Mike Durant from the film "Black Hawk Down", classically trained Croatian duo 2CELLOS, Dweezil Zappa and AC/DC drummer Chris Slade.
Created by duo Gregg Ferguson and Kurt Squiers, "AC/DC Beyond The Thunder" originally set out to be a feature-length documentary film. After shooting on the Highway To Hell for years, Ferguson and Squiers approached AC/DC's management to seek partnership with the band for a worldwide commercial release. After countless attempts for a face-to-face, the duo sent a proof of concept edit for review, and while the band said they, "weren't quite ready to make a historic film while still making history," AC/DC liked what they saw. But with no partnership, and no music rights from the band, "AC/DC Beyond The Thunder" was, for all intents and purposes, shot down in flames.
Wondering if the film would ever catch lightning, Ferguson and Squiers decided to unearth these wonderful stories of extraordinary fans discussing their affinity for AC/DC and harness that energy into a vehicle that just might work…a podcast. After capturing over 50 interviews and with a newfound momentum to create all-new episodes with sound engineer Eric Kielb, "AC/DC Beyond The Thunder" is back, serving up inspirational stories about the fans, for the fans, by the fans.
"AC/DC Beyond The Thunder" can be heard on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or any of your favorite podcast apps.