JET Frontman Reveals He Auditioned To Replace Brian Johnson In AC/DC

Nic Cester & Brian Johnson | Credit: Instagram & Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Power Trip
Nic Cester & Brian Johnson | Credit: Instagram & Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Power Trip
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Aussie pub rock icons JET are back with a fiery vengeance, with a huge run of shows to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album Get Born kicking off this week and a comeback album, marking their first LP in 15 years, locked and loaded to drop in 2025.

But this week, frontman Nic Cester has spilled the beans about some of the things he was getting up to over the years while things were fairly quiet on the JET front, revealing that he copped a direct invite to audition for AC/DC after their frontman Brian Johnson was sidelined due to hearing issues.

Muse Perform AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’ Live With Nic Cester At The Big Day Out In Sydney 2010

To recap, Johnson was ordered by doctors to stop touring immediately or risk permanent hearing loss back in 2016 while the juggernaut Aussie rock act were in the midst of their Rock Or Bust world tour.

A number of singers threw their hats in the ring to replace the iconic Scotsman, including Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist of The Hives. While Music Feeds playfully trolled y’all on April Fools Day of that year by falsely reporting that Foo Fighters icon Dave Grohl had been given the gig.

Now, this week, Cester has revealed that he was among the top candidates scouted to step into Johnson’s shoes and front the iconic band that formed one of JET’s biggest influences.

“I got up in the morning and read the paper and it said that Brian Johnson was not in the band anymore,” he told Triple M’s Homegrown with Matty O. “Literally 20 minutes later, the phone rang saying, ‘Would you be interested in going to Atlanta, Georgia to audition and potentially fill in for this next round of dates that we’ve got?’”

With a mix of surprise and excitement, Cester decided to seize the opportunity: “I think I’ll say yes just for the life experience,” he recalled, though admitting that he never expected to actually bag the gig. The offer came on the heels of his performances with Muse in 2010, particularly his rendition of ‘Back In Black’ (watch above) which caught the attention of AC/DC’s camp. “I called Matt Bellamy and said, ‘Hey, thanks for that!’,” Cester joked.

Recalling the nerve-wracking audition process, the JET frontman also described being pushed to his limits in the cramped confines of the Black Crowes’ rehearsal studio in Atlanta. “They were set up there with the enormous backline and I remember watching AC/DC and thinking, ‘There’s no way all of those amps are on’. Let me tell you, they were all fucking on! It was the loudest thing I’d ever heard in my entire life,” he reminisced.

At the helm of the audition was Angus Young, who rigorously tested Cester’s abilities: “Angus put me through my paces,” Cester reflected. “Everything was a test to see how I’d handle it – the volume and him going, ‘OK, let’s do this song’, and I didn’t know [some of them] off the top of my head so he’d just go, ‘Go over there and learn it’.”

Despite the intensity of the experience, Cester also acknowledged Young’s professionalism in pushing him to excel. “It was pretty intense, but I realise now Angus was a super professional guy and he wanted to push me to my absolute limit to see how I would react.”

He also admitted to struggling initially replicating Johnson’s distinctive singing style. “I remember trying to practice and I was like, ‘How is he doing this?’,” he said. “It’s a very unusual way of singing… he’s whispering directly into a microphone with this enormous volume behind him so it sounds like the loudest thing in the world but it’s not at all, he’s barely pushing out.”

Ultimately of course, Acca Dacca hired Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose for the job, before Johnson himself made a glorious return to the fold in 2019, powered by a new anti-hearing loss device.

But as mentioned above, JET fans have plenty to be excited about in 2024. Head here to peep their full Australian touring itinerary across May and June and here to read all about their forthcoming new album.

Jet Shares Untold Stories Behind ‘Get Born’, Fame, and Aussie Rock | Triple M

Further Reading

JET Are Working On A Comeback Album, Releasing In 2025

Jet Add Heaps More Shows To ‘Get Born’ 20th Anniversary Run

AC/DC’s Brian Johnson Is Starring In A New Documentary Series

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