In October 2014 Michael Browning published his memoir Dog Eat Dog: A story of survival, struggle and triumph by the man who put AC/DC on the world stage. The book is available here through the publisher Allen and Unwin.
I met Michael in 2013 when I was researching my book Bad Boy Boogie: The Adventures of Bon Scott.
Michael was generous with his time and I spoke with him recently about Dog Eat Dog.
James: Your book Dog Eat Dog came out in October 2014 – what was your main motivation for writing it?
I was getting hassled by relatives and friends to share my experience.
James: There was a rush of memoirs and AC/DC related books in the last few years – in your own experience, what made you decide ‘bugger it I’m going to put one out’? Do you think it was age that prompted people to record their experiences? Or did it have more to do with the resurgence of AC/DC popularity?
I was not particularly motivated by the ACDC books other than to more mindful of conveying the feeling of what it was like actually being there and less obsessed with facts and timelines. I conducted no interviews. My book was entirely from my memories. Not to say that the other ACDC related books ain’t good . Mostly they are but the authors also had a lot of smoke blown up their arses
James: Okay. You credit Jeff Apter in the acknowledgements section at the back of Dog Eat Dog – what was his involvement? Did the manuscript get to a stage where you needed someone’s help? Did the experience of writing put you off?
I sent my script to Jeff and he was great at making me go further. Sometimes I would assume the reader would understand what I was saying. But Jeff would make me spell it out. He is a great writer and talent and I was very fortunate to have him bring out the best of my writing
James: Your account is actually quite personal and touching, in a good way. Did you mean for this to happen? Or did you realize half-way thru that in order for the book to work you’d need to allow yourself to be vulnerable?
I felt that I had to put myself out there. I am now at a point in my life where I don’t give a shit. So the great thing about speaking the truth is, it sets you free.
James: Have you been able to find long lost friends through the release of Dog Eat Dog?
Not really. I was hoping to reconnect with Malcolm. Sadly this appears to be no longer possible. I loved everything about our relationship and always longed to reconnect with him.
James: Being separated from AC/DC meant you could apply your skills and use your contacts with other bands tho, right? INXS would’ve missed out on your experience?
It was important to my self belief, post AC/DC to achieve something positive. So I came back to Australia with a view to discover a band that could also do well internationally. I just happened to sign INXS. But I signed them to my label Deluxe Records. For the record I didn’t manage them, I was their record company. Chris Murphy, managed them and he did a great job at it.
James: In Dog Eat Dog you say you felt guilty for not serving in Vietnam, but perhaps AC/DC and INXS wouldn’t exist if you did. Do you ever feel you served your country in a different way?
No, I always felt that it was a useless war. But my best mate was a victim. So I felt guilty for not being at his side. I was never going to be there.
James: I see. Big difference. If you were twenty-odd today, would you get involved in music?
Yes absolutely, the live music scene that I was involved with has now be taken over by the Internet which is equally exciting. All the old business models have gone and the possibilities are endless. A big day of social media hits is now the equivalent of playing to a huge live audience.
James: Great – and thank you for your time Michael. Last question: after Dog Eat Dog was published was there anything you thought about that you wished you included? Any subjects you might have come at differently?