Ex-AC/DC drummers Peter Clack and Tony Currenti recall recording of debut album ‘High Voltage’
Former AC/DC drummers Peter Clack and Tony Currenti were recently interviewed by Andrew DiCecco for Vinyl Writer Music. Prior to achieving international stardom, AC/DC had a revolving line-up for some positions with former members including original vocalist Dave Evans; bassists Larry Van Kriedt, Neil Smith, and Rob Bailey; and drummers Colin Burgess, Ron Carpenter, Russell Coleman, Noel Taylor, Peter Clack and Tony Currenti.
Clack was the fifth drummer for AC/DC replacing Taylor in April 1974 and lasting nine months in the band. Clack ended up playing drums on one song off AC/DC‘s debut album High Voltage, which was first released in Australia in 1975.
In terms of his memories from the recording process for High Voltage, Clack recalled (with slight edits): “Well, it had to be done in a week and it had to be done at one o’clock in the morning. So, the only track that I got down was “Baby Please Don’t Go.” The others were all done by a backup player that George [Young] knew because I had been playing every night and I just didn’t have the — I don’t know — the stability or the constant reproduction. And [George] came up to me and he said, “Look, you’re obviously pretty stuffed. But do you mind if we have someone else fill in and I’ll try someone else on some of the songs?” I said, “No, no, no. Not at all.” That sort of didn’t work out too well for me.” With respect to what he meant by being ‘stuffed’, Clack indicated: “Well, yeah, after playing through the songs. They weren’t up to the intricate standard of perfection when you’re recording.”
Given AC/DC‘s revolving door of drummers, Clack was asked whether he felt any pressure during his time in the band to which he replied: “No, I didn’t, really, ‘cause I hadn’t experienced any of that at all. I just joined the band, kept playing, everything was cool. One track I did play on, their first single, was a No. 1 in Perth. Considering the business side of things, and I suppose that works both ways, it didn’t work out. But then again, when I said the business side of it, Rob Bailey — well, that’s a little bit different to recordings — but there’s some business that went on there, and Rob Bailey left the band. However, I didn’t because I kept going — no apparent reason — and George Young filled in on bass. That was really good, but then the novelty wore off. I was living out of a suitcase after six months and just going bull-bang, bull-bang, bull-bang; that style. I thought I could do better. I got more adrenaline out of playing in the [Allan Hessey] Big Band for twenty years than I did ACϟDC for a year if you know what I mean because they weren’t big in those days. And the money wasn’t there.”
Currenti ended up getting recruited to replace Clack and the former played drums on the majority and remaining songs off High Voltage.
In terms of how he ended up in AC/DC, Currenti recalled: “It was very simple. I was recording the last single with Jackie Christian & Flight, a song that Ray Burgess ended up singing and made a hit out of it … “Love Fever.” We recorded it as Flight, but George did not like Jackie Christian’s singing on that song. So, we tried with the rhythm guitarist singing it, and they didn’t like that either, so they ended up giving it to Ray Burgess. And that particular night that I finished recording the single, George approaches me and says, “Can you hang around until midnight? My younger brothers are coming to the studio. They would like to record some songs with you.” I accepted it and waited for them to come. The first person coming up was Bon because he remembered me, and he couldn’t wait to see me. That’s how it started. I got asked to stay back in the studio — we finished at 11:00 — and midnight was Angus [Young] and Malcolm [Young] with ACϟDC coming up to the studio.”
With respect to whether Clack was still there when he came in, Currenti indicated: “No. Well, only they know exactly what happened, but Peter Clack wasn’t present at all. I think George asked his brothers to come along without him because they had another drummer trying out for the album. So, I never really met Peter Clack. I only know that they already recorded “Baby Please Don’t Go,” and George wasn’t very happy with the time that it took to record it. They spent a lot of time on that song, and he just wanted somebody to do the job a lot quicker.”
In terms of his recollection of the recording for High Voltage, Currenti stated: “”High Voltage” was the very last song we recorded. The first two songs we recorded the first night were “Show Business” and “Little Lover.” “Show Business” got done in half an hour, then we spent quite a bit of time having coffee and tea and a chat. Then we did “Little Lover” and finished it that night. They were very happy and said, “Well, the way we’re going, we’re gonna do the album in a week!” So, they were very happy about it. It was nothing difficult for me to do; I just kept it simple, and it happened to be what they really wanted.”
You can read the rest of the interview with Peter Clack and Tony Currenti at Vinyl Writer Music‘s website.