Jan. 19, 1996 -- Doing its part to promote moral decay in the great state of Tennessee was AC/DC, the veteran Australian headbangers, now on tour here promoting their first new album in five years, titled, with their typical subtlety, "Ballbreaker."
The band's current show opens with a custom Beavis & Butthead cartoon done by creator Mike Judge, who's also immortalized AC/DC guitarist Angus Young in cartoon form. When we caught up with the boys in the legendary music city of Memphis, we learned a little bit more about the group's roots from Young and singer Brian Johnson.
BRIAN JOHNSON, AC/DC: American music has influenced us greatly. That's where it all came from, really.
ANGUS YOUNG, AC/DC: A lot from the blues side of it. Blues and the early rock and roll.
JOHNSON: Really the stepping stone towards the music the way it is today.
MTV: Don't think the likes of Howling Wolf or Elvis Presley had AC/DC in mind when they were laying down the foundation
of rock and roll. Yet Australia's arena rock gods have endured for 22 years and are back in America to kick off their "Ballbreaker World Tour," with 70 percent of the band's set list coming from their latest release.
YOUNG: The rest of it, apart from that, is from all of our albums. We've still been doing songs even from our first album, there's lots of songs people know us for and we still play them.
MTV: Keeping the rhythm going this time out is original AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd, who's back after a fourteen year absence.
YOUNG: Our last tour of the world we finished up in New Zealand. That's his home base and he said then he would really love to do it again and we thought "great, let's go".
MTV: And how did Chris Slade, AC/DC's last "Thunderstruck" video drummer, take the news?
YOUNG: Chris is a good drummer but he's also a professional guy too. And he knew. We all got along great with Chris as a person and it was just a different style from
what we are, and Phil does it best. Any drummer we've even worked with in the past, you know, it's always been on the style Phil set. He plays this way naturally.
JOHNSON: He set it, didn't he?
JOHNSON: And nobody can copy it, you see.
YOUNG: I tried but...
JOHNSON: Wouldn't give me the gig either. (Laughs)
MTV: As for the crowd in Memphis, it was a hyper-mix of seasoned veterans and first timers.
MAN 1: I've seen "Back In Black", "Highway To Hell", "For Those About To Rock", a few more, "Razor's Edge" and this one.
GIRL 1: It's my first concert. I'm excited.
MTV: Is this your first concert?
GIRL 2: No.
MTV: Who have you seen before?
GIRL 2: Garth Brooks.
MAN 2: Saw them here in Memphis 5 years ago.
MTV: What was that show like?
MAN 2: It was great. It was killer. This one's gonna be even better.