One band member is retired with dementia and another has faced charges over a murder plot. But for the rest of AC/DC, the time-tested hard rock formula is still going strong.
The Australian rockers are releasing "Rock or Bust," some 40 years since Angus Young first donned his schoolboy outfit and took out his Gibson SG to play the sorts of power riffs that remain virtually unchanged on the latest album.
And it has almost been as long since Brian Johnson took the microphone in 1980. He is still wearing his trademark cap and sacrificing his vocal cords, which miraculously remain intact.
But it's not as if the band -- which recorded rock classics such as "Highway to Hell," "Let There Be Rock" and "Back in Black" -- has much commercial need for innovation.
The band's penultimate album "Black Ice" shot to the top of the charts in 31 countries in 2008 and sold more than eight million copies worldwide, according to label Sony.
"Rock or Bust," which comes out Monday in Europe and Tuesday in the United States, keeps the AC/DC flame going with 11 songs that offer zero surprise but will surely be effective with the fan base, including first single "Play Ball" and the more bouncy "Miss Adventure."
- Malcolm approved of album -
But not all remains the same for the band that has sold more than 200 million records since 1973.
After leaving the studio for the latest album, 60-year-old drummer Phil Rudd was charged with attempting to procure the murder of two men in the New Zealand coastal city of Tauranga. The charges against Rudd, who moved to New Zealand in 1983, were quickly dropped, but he still faces charges of threatening to kill and possession of cannabis and methamphetamine.
Angus Young and Johnson have quickly distanced the band from Rudd and indicated they were ready to sack him before AC/DC's expected tour next year. Rudd was absent from the two videos from "Rock or Bust."
It was the second recent shock for AC/DC. Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist who founded the band with his brother Angus, was diagnosed with dementia and has been placed in a care facility in Sydney.
Angus Young, speaking to a small group of reporters in Paris ahead of the release, said that his brother had listened to "Rock or Bust" and, "He liked it, yes."
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"He founded the band... how the guitars sound," the 59-year-old lead guitarist said of his brother. "It's his baby."
While Malcolm was unable to play on the album, Angus said that his brother still had an influence as there was plenty of leftover material from earlier sessions.
"Even though it's a new album, we had always borrowed some riffs that we had -- we didn't use that riff but what a good riff, a good beat or a good chorus," he said.
- Endurance as a band -
AC/DC's replacement rhythm guitarist has been Stevie Young, the nephew of Angus and Malcolm. He earlier stepped in to tour in 1988 when Malcolm was battling alcohol problems.
"Because Stevie had played with us before, we had a good idea of what it would be like," said bassist Cliff Williams.
Such endurance is not always the case with rock bands. Led Zeppelin never returned after the band's drummer John Bonham died in 1980.
AC/DC earlier persevered after the death of original singer Bon Scott, also in 1980. And despite the latest trouble, AC/DC offered a public preview of the album on Sunday by playing to thousands of fans in the small Australian town called The Rock.
The crowd that packed the rural town endured sweltering temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
It's that philosophy of endurance that is summed up in the album's title, "Rock or Bust."
"It just means do or die, go for broke. It was always probably the AC/DC approach," Angus Young said of the album's title. "I might not be here tomorrow -- play great now."