Phil Rudd

By Jake Ebdale

Phil Rudd is a beguiling, classic character in the world of rock. The drummer for AC/DC, one of the biggest rock bands ever in terms of both tours and album sales, he once gave it all up for a simpler life - in fact, he retreated to Tauranga in the eighties and is still living there today. Once he rejoined Acca Dacca in the early 90s, instead of begging for his old job back, the rest of the band came to him. It shows how powerful and crucial his style of drumming is to the band - but I've always wondered how he would sound on his own.

So now, my wish has come true - a Phil Rudd solo album entitled ‘Head Job', out now. The title is reference to the kind of job a lady does on your head emotionally, by the way. Mind out of the gutter, sports fan. What Rudd really wanted to accomplish with this album is to sound raw, to sound live, and to have fun. It's only taken 30 years. There are wistful rockers (Crazy), menacing garage tunes (Head Job, When I Get My Hands On You), all slathered with a voice that is part Bon Scott and part Lemmy, but all full of Phil. Here's what the man himself had to say about the album. Let me just say that the man hardly ever interviews ("The other day some big network was ringing me so I don't answer the phone") - so here it is, below. Enjoy.
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How does it feel to finally release your solo album, Phil?

I couldn't be bloody happier to tell you the truth. I'm so proud of the album, everything I had to do with it. The guys played really well on it, it's just too good. Really great, mate. Have you heard it?

Yes I have.  I managed to get a stream a couple of days ago.

Did you play it loud enough? I'm pretty happy with the drum sound. My four favourite tracks are the ones we did at (now defunct Auckland recording studio) York St. The engineers there - fuck, the drum sounds awesome. I can't believe it.

Yeah, the drums are front and centre.

Guess who mixed it (laughs). ‘Aw no, the drummer mixed it.' Yeah I hope the drummer fuckin' mixed it - I like the drums! Usually when you record an album, they start with the drum sound and bury it with all the other crap. It sounds big. I hope it's growing on you like it's growing on me.

Most importantly, it sounds like a bunch of mates having a good time in the studio, Phil.

That's exactly what we are. We're a bunch of good mates and we love playing together... it's the right combination.

How did you meet (musicians on Head Job) Alan and Geoff?

Just through a girl I became infatuated with and had five children with, you know, through that connection. I've known the guys for twenty five years. From what I've heard of the album, and I haven't heard much of it yet - it's fucking stunning. We just get better as we get older, you're not gonna put us away. We're not done yet and still have to kick a few arses along the way.

What would you say to the younger musicians trying to break through into the industry?

I don't really know. You only follow your own vision. They talk about formulas that still exist in music but not where we're concerned. We push any formula aside and do our own thing. But I don't think I can give any one a lesson on how to do music - I think if you need lessons you're paying the wrong estimate. But I do think people should play acoustics first before plugging into any of those zany machines that do it all for you. I don't know how you feel about that.

Well you should definitely practise an instrument first and explore those things later - that's what I think.

I mean, I can't play acoustic guitar and sing at the same time. Some of the high singing, like on (title track) Head Job, was hard. (Bassist) Badge was standing there when I was recording it and I finally hit it, and I said "I can do it!". Badge said "Yeah, you were drunk" (laughs). We were both right.

The big thing though Phil is that besides producing and playing the drums on the record, you're singing. Do you have any influences?

I've got no idea what I'm doing.

Do you have any favourites from Head Job?

It's quite difficult because they're all pretty good. It's quite unusual for a whole album to be good. It might be crap - I don't know. From the response we've had it's not that way.

I do like ‘When I Get My Hands on You' because of the drum sound. That's a granddad playing those drums, bro. You'd hardly ever get a fucking granddad playing that type of sound. I'm really impressed with myself (laughs). I'm old but not cold, if you know what I'm saying.  I think it's a fabulous album - I just hope I'm not wrong... because I've been wrong before!

All Phil, no filler, he says. Damn right. Head Job is out now.

Phil Rudd 'Head Job' iTunes