Angus Young’s Three Requirements To Make An AC/DC Song

Known as the co-founder, lead guitarist, and only remaining original member of AC/DC, Angus Young, is one of the most iconic guitar players in the scene with his trademark schoolboy-uniform stage outfits, duckwalk, and energetic stage shows. He was just 18 years old when he and his brother Malcolm formed AC/DC in 1973. The band then recorded their first single, ‘Can I Sit Next To You Girl,’ and decided on the name AC/DC after the suggestion of Young and Malcolm’s sister Margaret.

Young began playing guitar around the age of five, and his guitar sound was influenced by straight blues playing and Scottish folk music. Although AC/DC’s songs were criticized for being overly simple and formulaic, Young believed that their music is just rock and roll, and simple is better for them. Throughout his career in AC/DC, the guitarist also set down three requirements that need to be met when making an AC/DC song. Let’s see what those requirements are.

What Is The Secret Formula For An AC/DC Song?

In 1991, Angus Young gave an interview to Guitar World to talk about his guitar playing style and music career in AC/DC. During the conversation, the interviewer asked him about the three components that a typical AC/DC song needs to have. As a response, Young stated that the first requirement is a good rhythm as an AC/DC song needs to rock.

Following that, Young said he likes the band’s songs to be uptempo as they need to add something extra to the song if it’s slower or a bit moody. He then added that the third requirement is that the song needs to be ‘a song,’ not a collection of riffs. According to the guitarist, it needs to have a very natural flow.

Angus Young also claimed that most songs of that era fall behind guitar riffs. He stated that in the songs written by a band’s lead guitarist, the singer needs to find a place to sing between the guitar riffs. So, as the guitarist said, a song should not be an ‘excuse’ to bring forward the riffs.

Speaking to Guitar World, Angus Young revealed the three components of a typical AC/DC song as follows:

“It’s got to have a good rhythm. It’s gotta rock. That’s the first requirement. I also like the songs to be, for my own preference, uptempo. If the song’s slower, perhaps a bit moody, it has to have something extra. And we like it to be a song — not just a collection of riffs. I think it has to flow and be very natural.

Most songs these days seem like excuses to put a riff around. In songs written by the lead guitarist — the loud guitarist, I call him — the poor singer’s got to sing in-between this guy’s chops. It makes it kind of tough on some of those guys if you only leave the bar in the end.”

In conclusion, Angus Young believes that a good AC/DC song needs to have a good rhythm, be uptempo to rock the stage and be a song, not a music piece that is a collection of riffs. Although he’s a guitarist, he dislikes the prioritization of riffs and believes the songs need to have a flow and a very natural feeling.