AC/DC's Angus Young promises "there'll be a good drummer there" when the group hits the road in 2015 in support of its new album, Rock Or Bust. But he won't say whether that will be Phil Rudd.
Rudd, a two-tenure skinsman with AC/DC, is facing charges of threatening murder and drug possession in New Zealand after another charge of attempting to "procure" murder was dropped. He's due in court November 27 and faces up to seven years in prison.
Young and bassist Cliff Williams say they haven't heard from or spoken to Rudd since his arrest on November 6 and hedged on his status with the band.
"That's sad when you see him in that space, it's sad to look at," Young says. "But we've committed to going on, going forward. That's our main thing. And also, the guy`s got to be in condition to do this run. We don't want to be in this position of canceling things, 'cause if you put together a lot of stuff you don't want somebody saying, 'Oh, yeah, maybe I'll be there, maybe I won't." Williams adds that, "It's for (Rudd) to sort himself out. We can't do it for him. We can only do so much accommodation. It's in his hands."
The band issued a statement after Rudd's arresting noting that it learned the news at the same time as the rest of the world, but there was apparently no love lost between AC/DC and Rudd prior to that. Young and Williams both spoke of Rudd's "erratic" behavior this year while making the Rock or Bust album in Vancouver, as well as missing a video shoot for the title track and "Play Ball" the first weekend of October in London.
"We had issues with him," Young acknowledges. "It was difficult for us to get him to record...to get him there. I don't want to rain on him; he's a very talented guy, and we go way, way back. But I think he's let himself go for a bit, and after (recording) the album we were kicking off to promote, doing videos and stuff. We had moved that around 'til everyone was coordinated so everyone would be there. We'd already juggled everything quite a few times, and he know that and he wasn't preparing to do anything.So we get to the point where, if we're gonna do something, he's got to be reliable. He's got to be there. We couldn't plan anything. It was just making it harder. I mean, either you want to be there or you don't."
Rudd's situation is the second major sucker punch AC/DC has suffered during the making of Rock Or Bust, which comes out December 2 and is the group's first new album in six years. It's the first AC/DC album without co-founder and guitarist Malcolm Young, Angus' brother, who's suffering from dementia and is currently in a facility in Australia.
Angus says Malcolm began showing symptoms as far back as during the making of 2008's Black Ice but that his brother "wanted us to carry on. He loved the band, loved the music. He didn't want it to stop." Angus says his brother has heard Rock Or Bust and that "he was smiling, laughing. He always loved rock 'n' roll music."
As it prepares for the album's release AC/DC is also making plans for the tour, though dates and routing are still being determined. Production ideas are also being discussed, and it will likely be another of AC/DC's lavish, pyrotechnic-filled stage shows.
"They're still presenting a lot of ideas, especially for the visual side of things," Young says. "I think you've got to come with a good visual thing. Sometimes you think, 'Well, do they want a hoo-ha, or do they want just a plain Jane? But if you're gonna play in a big place, you've got to have a bit off a hoo-ha, I think. You want people to go away and go, 'Yeah, I got my money's worth.' "