AC/DC once tried to smoke out the Loch Ness monster with fireworks

(Image credit: Columbia)

AC/DC have undertaken an impressive media blitz to promote their upcoming Power Up album, but just when we thought we knew all we need to know, up pops Brian Johnson to casually mention that he and the late Malcolm Young once went hunting for the Loch Ness monster. You might not be entirely shocked to learn that alcohol had been taken in advance of this mission.

Speaking with NME, Johnson recalls that the duo’s failed attempt to locate Nessie, the Loch’s fabled aquatic resident, took place when he and former AC/DC bandleader Young took a trip around Scotland with their wives during downtime for the Australian rock legends.

“Malcolm loved his fireworks and he’d taken a big box with him,” Johnson remembers. “One night, we were four sheets to the wind and staying at this hotel right on the side of the loch. Mal just said, ‘C’mon, let’s go and find the Loch Ness monster! I’ve got fireworks and it might attract it!’”

“There we were, going straight into the water in our shoes, up to our knees, and it was freezing! Mal had a drink in one hand, a box of fireworks in the other, and was trying to set fire to the loch. We were just howling. By the time we got back to our wives we had straw in our hair and were covered in mud. What a night!”

Good times.

Good times lie ahead for AC/DC fans too, as the band’s Power Up album will be with us in just over two weeks time, being scheduled for a November 13 release via Columbia. A video for the album’s first single, Shot In The Dark, was released earlier this week. AC/DC surely missed a trick by not theming the video around monster-hunting, but maybe they couldn’t agree image rights payments with Nessie. Maybe.

Having re-connected with Angus Young, Stevie Young, bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd at Malcolm Young’s funeral in November 2017, Johnson undertook his first rehearsal with the band since quitting during the Rock Or Bust tour, in Amsterdam earlier this year.

“It was like the atmosphere of a rocket launch,” the singer told NME. “Everyone was incredibly tense and we put the full back line of the band up. It worked immediately and I couldn’t believe it. I felt like a kid again and we just did 15 days of non-stop rehearsals. I can’t explain how good it felt.”

"We did Back in Black straight away,” Johnson revealed earlier this week. “If I can do that, I can do anything. And I could hear everything. We went through Shot Down in FlamesHell Ain't a Bad Place to Be – the whole set. We did 15 days, non-stop. The guitars were so sweet. I said, ‘Angus, I can hear every little note you're playing.’ And he went, ‘Oh, I better start rehearsing more’… Angus' sense of humour. It was lovely.”

Power Up was recorded in Vancouver, Canada with producer Brendan O'Brien and engineer Mike Fraser, the same team who worked on Black Ice and Rock Or Bust,. Malcolm Young receives a co-writing credit on each of the album’s 12 tracks.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.