Cliff Williams spoke to Ernie Ball's "Striking A Chord" podcast about his decision to leave AC/DC four years prior to the release the of the band's new album, "Power Up".
The bassist announced his retirement at the end of AC/DC's 2015-2016 "Rock Or Bust" tour, which also saw vocalist Brian Johnson leaving because of hearing problems (he was replaced for the last 22 shows by GUNS N' ROSES singer Axl Rose).
"It was my end with AC/DC," he said. "I just got to the point where I thought, for me, it was time to hang it up. And I was fine with that; I was fine with that. I didn't know what the guys were gonna do; I had no idea. I don't know that they did. That was a tough tour to finish up, that one."
According to Williams, he wanted to take part in the recording sessions for "Power Up" as a tribute to guitarist Angus Young's late brother, founding AC/DC rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, who died in 2017 from effects of dementia at age 64. Malcolm is credited as a writer on all 12 tracks on "Power Up".
Asked if there is any tour planned in support of "Power Up", which came out last week, Williams said: "No. I mean, no one's touring right now [because of the coronavirus pandemic]. When we [got] together in January and we shot a video and rehearsed for about two or three weeks, just to see how it was, and it came out really well, at the end of that, we sat around and talked about doing a few shows, and that was as far as it got. We all wanted to do that, but we can't book anything. We all went home at that point — 'Yeah, it's gonna be fun. We'll do a few gigs.' — and then the world went upside down for everybody. So right now, there's nothing planned. If we can do it next year, we will."
Cliff went on to clarify that he doesn't know if he will play a full tour with AC/DC. "We talked about a few shows," he explained.
Asked what it is about performing with AC/DC that he enjoys so much, Williams said: "Playing with the guys. It's just a great band to play with. And now we've got Phil [Rudd, drums] back. No disrespect to Chris [Slade, former AC/DC drummer, who played on the 'Rock Or Bust' tour]. Phil is the man. Angus and Brian, and Stevie [Young] is doing a great job [on rhythm guitar]. So this is as close as we could get to the old band."
Last month, Cliff told Dean Delray's "Let There Be Talk" podcast that he won't commit to playing more than "a few" dates in support of "Power Up" in order to protect his mental and physical health. "I definitely have some physical issues, which I won't bore you with the details of," he said. "But, yeah, it's tough. I'm very grateful for everything. It's been fantastic. But I just don't wanna do that anymore."
Williams recently revealed that a "terrible" bout with vertigo contributed to his 2016 retirement. He also admitted the return of both Johnson and Rudd convinced him to rejoin the group. "It was like the old band back together," he told Rolling Stone. "It was not like starting over again, but as close to the band that's been together for 40-plus years as we can possibly make it. I didn't want to miss that."
"Power Up" came out on November 13. The follow-up to 2014's "Rock Or Bust" was recorded over a six-week period in August and September 2018 at Warehouse Studios in Vancouver with producer Brendan O'Brien, who also worked 2008's "Black Ice" and "Rock Or Bust".