Gay AC/DC Tribute Band Aims to Take Music to New Audience
Members of the gay AC/DC tribute band GayC/DC explained how they had set out to share their passion for the Australian band’s music with an audience that might previously have struggled to connect with it.
Asserting their passion for the riffs and rhythms, they admitted that they’d found it difficult to identify with many of the lyrical themes, and decided to find a way to resolve the problem.
“I grew up listening to AC/DC,” drummer Brian Welch told Classic Rock. “They’re part of my DNA. But that whole ‘boy/girl/boy bangs girl’ thing wasn’t something I could relate to. I wanted the songs to speak to me, and that’s a big reason we started this band. Now, those iconic songs can speak to others who felt the way I did.”
“For me, the whole experience of AC/DC is dripping with macho heterosexuality, and that part was hard for me to relate to," singer Chris Freeman added. "But I loved the music, that part I could relate to."
While GayC/DC are committed to reproducing the music as a accurately as possible, they let themselves have “cheeky fun” with the lyrics. “Problem Child” became “Bottom Child;” “Whole Lotta Rosie” became “Whole Lotta Jose” and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” became “Dirty Dudes Done Dirt Cheap.”
Freeman noted they hadn’t suffered any negative reactions to their performance, and while AC/DC themselves hadn’t commented, others had shown support – including Sebastian Bach, who jammed onstage with them in 2015. “Our love for AC/DC knows no bounds, and every show is a love letter and a thank you to them,” Freeman said. “Plus, when Rob Halford and Doug Pinnick think you’re cool, you know you’ve done it right.”
“But we did make a conscious decision to be the reverse of the AC/DC aesthetic, which is simply T-shirts and jeans," Welch said. "We wanted to use a lot of color and exaggerate the bawdiness that is the spirit of the band. We thought such heavy music, but with feather boas, tiaras, glitter and mascara on big guys would make quite the statement. And Bon [Scott] was no stranger to jumping in a frock. Just check out the video for ‘Baby Please Don’t Go.’”
While other genres of popular music have connected with gay culture more directly than rock, Welch argued that "there were always clues, but nothing was overt. You just couldn’t say it out loud. Elton [John] and Freddie Mercury pushed the limits of acceptability.
"I think the hard rock crowd, especially the males, wanted to make sure their ‘boys only’ club was so hetero, they didn’t see the irony in the makeup, the women’s clothes, and teased hair. They thought they were girl magnets. But when you can’t tell Britny Fox from Vixen, your hetero look needs a makeover. And don’t be a homophobe if you’re dressed like that. Plus, we could help you pick out better outfits.”