The Principle Angus Young Built AC/DC Around

Times, they are a-changin’; so do music tastes. Dominant genres in the music scene have been shifting throughout the years, and some bands allow these changes to have an effect on their sound. They adapt and improvise — like Metallica or Rush, who weren’t hesitant to shift toward a more commercial and modern sound whenever needed. However, AC/DC were different because they didn’t want to change who they were.

In the beginning, Angus, Malcolm, and George Young started a band called Marcus Hook Roll Band with George’s music partner Harry Vanda. After several other music ventures, Angus and Malcolm founded AC/DC. Following ‘High Voltage,’ AC/DC established themselves as a popular hard rock band with their following albums. Along with Vanda, George produced their early work — so he had a say about the band’s career path.

Today, AC/DC is one of the progenitors of hard rock, or simply ‘rock and roll.’ They owe this success to preserving their unique sound throughout the years while staying away from profound changes. Angus Young believes someone behind the curtains stood by them to protect their legacy. As it seems, this person was nobody but his brother George Young, who helped the band succeed with his musical genius.

Speaking to Rolling Stone in 2021, Angus Young looked back on his career with AC/DC. At some point during the interview, Kory Grow asked Angus whether it bothered him to hear that AC/DC made the same albums over the years. According to the guitarist, Malcolm said they sounded the same because they didn’t change in time. Moreover, Angus also recalled that George told him conforming to the trends was the kiss of death.

Angus explained why AC/DC sounded the same in every album, “Malcolm used to say, ‘Yeah, well, they said we sound the same because we’re the same band. That’s what we are.’ We never aimed to be going into territory that was not ours. And Malcolm always used to say, ‘Look, we get them somewhere. We might get them in the early years before they go to college and head off to Pink Floyd or something [laughs]. But we get them young.’”

Asked if George discouraged the band from going with the trends, Young continued, “Yeah. He said conforming is the kiss of death. He always said it was the kiss of death for any of the great bands. No one likes to see them come out and start changing who they are and trying to be something they’re not. So he always said, ‘When you’re playing live, it’s so powerful. And the art is to get that power on a record and do it justice.’”

As a person who was there during AC/DC’s early years as their producer, George Young told the rest of the band that conforming to the trends wasn’t a good thing for an act. According to George, this was actually the worst thing to happen to great bands, as nobody would want to see them change who they were. So, it looks like AC/DC has stuck to their roots and remained true to their essence, thanks to George Young.