AC/DC fans will learn a lot more about frontman Brian Johnson’s relationships with cars and auto racing than with music and the band in his new book, “Rockers and Rollers: A Full-Throttle Memoir.” And that’s not by accident.
“I hate autobiographies,” Johnson tells Billboard.com. “I think they’re boring and rotten, and I’m not interested. It’s usually some bitter old git doing a tell-all to get back at everybody.”
Instead, Johnson fills “Rockers and Rollers” with what he calls “short stories that are funny and positive,” mostly about his lifelong fascination with cars — including youthful misadventures and even a remembrance of his teenage driving test. “I just love cars,” Johnson explains. “It’s probably because we were born with no money, and it was always something you dreamt of when you saw it driving past — ‘I wonder what it would be like to have one of them?’ But it went beyond that. I just loved these things, these motor cars, these things that you could get in and do anything. You could go anywhere. It becomes personal, you know?”
Slash, AC/DC, Rolling Stones Win at Classic Rock Awards
Johnson has parlayed his passion into a collection of four vintage race cars — his “biggest prize” is a 1928 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre — that he races regularly when he’s not on the road with AC/DC. “I don’t tell (the band) anything,” he says with a laugh. “I just go out and do it, because otherwise they wouldn’t let me.”
Nevertheless, Johnson says racing and rock ‘n’ rolling pack a similar thrill for him.
“They’re not much different,” he notes. “You’ve got a band crew, and they’re all there to egg you on, ‘Brian, get on that stage! Go on, son!’ and they give you a pat on the back. And before you go racing you get a pat on the helmet, ‘Go on, give ’em hell!’ It’s the same thing — the excitement when the green flag drops and the excitement when you walk on stage for the first song. It’s a very similar feeling.”
Johnson says another set of stories is possible — “Man, I’ve got a million,” he notes — but if he ever does dip deeper into his music career for a book, he promises it will be of the same anecdotal style as “Rockers and Rollers.” “If I could do it without stepping on anybody’s toes, I think that would be quite fun,” Johnson explains. “As long as it wasn’t negative. It would have to be a positive, funny side of everything. I think that would be a great thing, and I have thought of it.”
Meanwhile, Johnson has no firm idea about AC/DC’s next move after the long cycle supporting 2008’s “Black Ice,” but he’s hoping there won’t be another eight-year interim before the band’s next project. “I’ll be six feet under by then, so no,” Johnson says with a laugh. “We never say ‘no’ and we never say ‘never.’ If we can get out an album and do another short, little tour or something, have a bit of fun, I’ll be right there. The thing with the boys in AC/DC you’ve got to remember is we’re constantly surprised and amazed at how we keep the success going. We don’t know what we’re doing — I mean, we literally don’t know what we’re doing except that we just play 100 percent every night and give it everything we’ve got. If that’s the secret to success, we’ll pass it on.”