Cliff Williams spoke to Bass Player magazine about his decision to return to AC/DC for the making of the band's latest album, "Power Up".
The bassist announced his retirement at the end of AC/DC's 2015-2016 "Rock Or Bust" tour, which also saw vocalist Brian Johnson leaving because of hearing problems (he was replaced for the last 22 shows by GUNS N' ROSES singer Axl Rose).
When interviewer Joel McIver told Williams that fans thought they had seen the last of him, Cliff said: "I thought I'd seen the last of me too. [Laughs] Look, I spoke to Angus [Young, guitar] on the 'Rock Or Bust' tour — I said that I felt that I was done. It was my time, I guess. Phil [Rudd, drums] had done the recording and then never did come on the road with us. He had his issues, and that's that, you know, so we had Chris Slade come in to replace Phil. And then, of course, we had that terrible thing with Brian. He really needed to stop, so Axl came in and did a bang-up job — God bless him — and got us through to the end of it."
According to Williams, he wanted to take part in the recording sessions for "Power Up" as a tribute to Angus's late brother, founding AC/DC rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, who died in 2017 from effects of dementia at age 64. Malcolm is credited as a writer on all 12 tracks on "Power Up".
"As Angus said, you can't have a tour called 'Rock Or Bust' and [then go] bust, so we wanted to finish it, which we did," Cliff explained. "And then that was it — we all went home and I was pretty much done. But Angus and Sony reached out a couple of years ago, asking if we would have any interest in getting together to do an album with Malcolm in mind.”
Cliff went on to confirm that his commitment to AC/DC was only for "a few" dates in support of "Power Up".
"Earlier on this year , we all got together and rehearsed for three weeks to see how it would be — and it was fabulous," he said. "The band was playing great and the conversation got around to 'Is everyone up for playing some shows?' I said, 'I would love to play a few shows,' so everyone was, like, 'Great! Let's go home and get the guys to work on putting the shows together,' and then, of course, the world went on lockdown. We're hoping that lifts, because we would love to play some shows."
Last year, Williams revealed that a "terrible" bout with vertigo contributed to his 2016 retirement. He also admitted the return of both Johnson and Rudd convinced him to rejoin the group. "It was like the old band back together," he told Rolling Stone. "It was not like starting over again, but as close to the band that's been together for 40-plus years as we can possibly make it. I didn't want to miss that."
"Power Up" was released in November. The follow-up to 2014's "Rock Or Bust" was recorded over a six-week period in August and September 2018 at Warehouse Studios in Vancouver with producer Brendan O'Brien, who also worked 2008's "Black Ice" and "Rock Or Bust".