Brian Johnson became the lead singer for AC/DC following the death of Bon Scott, making his debut for the band on 1980’s astronomical hit Back in Black album. In 2016, following the Rock or Bust tour and with increasing hearing problems, he stepped down from the band. Always a petrolhead, this series of sit downs with musicians, talking about touring, vehicles and music has been one of the projects he’s taken on since leaving the band.
Knowing nothing about the series going in, I had expected the whole show to be a simple sit down between Johnson and Grohl, and perhaps a more even exchange rather than an interview format, but while I’m not at all interested in touring vans, the animated discussion that these two frontmen have about them is fun. We find them reminiscing about cramped early tours and T-shirts so crusty that when they were discovered lying in the van a few weeks later, mushrooms were growing underneath.
The love of technology bleeds through into a tour of Foo Fighters’ studio, and Grohl speaks with particular warmth and nostalgia about the mixing board they record on and the way it makes his music sound. There’s also a nice exchange here with Johnson contributing a story about recording in the room with the board and the engineers rather than in the booth.
The sit down interview does come, and it’s an easy watch for several reasons. Grohl, famously the nicest man in rock, clearly loves to talk about music – he becomes especially animated remembering early gigs in a punk band named Scream – “The deal was we’ll rock you, you give us some pasta, then we’re going to Hamburg”. More than that though, he’s clearly excited to be talking music with Brian Johnson, frequently mentioning growing up with AC/DC’s music and more than once saying he picked something up from Johnson and his band.
This is a very guest dependent format but, in Grohl, Johnson has an interviewee who is both engaged and engaging. It’s a good starting point for the new (third) series. If you’re not a petrolhead or a techie the first twenty minutes or so may be a bit of a slog, but with the show covering 68 minutes and a wealth of fun stories and well-chosen archive footage it’s worth persevering if you’re a fan of any of Grohl’s many bands.