Angus Young told The Pulse of Radio why it felt like time to use the word 'rock' in a title again. "Well, 'Rock Or Bust', it's a good, strong title and it's got the word 'rock' in it, you know? [laughs] 'Cause everyone says, jeez, you know, how many songs have they got with 'rock' in the title in it," he said. "But they've got to cut us some slack — I mean, we've made 16 albums, you know."
The song opens with a combination of guitars from Angus Young and Malcolm Young's replacement Stevie Young. Brian Johnson said he toyed with the idea of calling the album 'Man Down' in reference to Malcolm Young's absence, due to dementia. He said, "But it's a bit negative and it ('Rock or Bust') was probably just straight from the heart. I like that."
The song's music video was shot on October 3-4, 2014 along with the clip for "Play Ball." It was filmed by director David Mallet at Black Island Studios in Middlesex, England.
The visual finds AC/DC, playing in the round to some of their fans. Phil Rudd was unable to attend and Bob Richards of Shogun filled in for him on drums. Brian Johnson told the audience that Rudd was occupied with a "family emergency" at the time. It later transpired that he was answering murder allegations, which were later dropped.
Bob Richards told Rhythm magazine he was contacted and asked if he could make his way down to London for the video shoot. "I received a call on the Thursday evening asking if I could step in as Phil was unavailable, so I filled in at the last minute," the Welsh drummer recalled. "It was all hands on deck. I got my kit sorted out and then an early start to London."
"I heard the songs an hour or so before we went on to the set to start the filming," Richards concluded. "I played it over several times and did a bit of air drumming to it."
"The band were fantastic," he concluded. "They made me so welcome and we had a great time shooting the videos. They were very encouraging. I could just enjoy the experience."
Angus Young told Rolling Stone this song's swinging-thunder riff was something, "I kicked around for years in different forms."
Rock or Bust was AC/DC's second album in a row with producer Brendan O'Brien, following Black Ice. This was the first time the band had used the same producer on consecutive albums since Mutt Lange on 1980's Back in Black and the following year's For Those About to Rock We Salute You.
Brian Johnston told Shaun Keaveny and Steve Lamacq of BBC Radio 6 Musi of O'Brien's production. "Seven days a week, [Brendan] kept the adrenaline pumped all the time and he calls everybody by both their names. He never says 'Brian' or 'Angus.' He's, like, 'Angus Young. C'mon! I want you in here now. Let me get that magic from you. What do you got for me? Brian Johnson, downstairs now. Sing, baby, sing.' And it turned out wonderful. We were excited, and I think that's great, 'cause it comes through in songs. If you sing a song twelve times to get it right, you can tell. If you sing a song just a couple of times, like I did, you can tell it's fresh and it's new. And it was the same for Ang, and it was the same for everyone. [Brendan is] wonderful to work with."
Angus Young added: "He keeps everyone moving, so nobody's sitting around, going, 'What am I doing next?' Once we had a track down, he would go, 'Right. I'm gonna take this. I'm going down with Brian.' He'd get Brian up. 'While I am doing that, you guys get this track together and start knocking it out. Know all your bits.' So when he'd come back out, we would more or less [have] the track all in order and ready to go."
Speaking to Lochlin Cross of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada's 100.3 The Bear radio station, Angus Young explained the Rock or Bust meaning. "The title pretty much sums up AC/DC," he said. "I mean, whatever we did, it was a case of, you went for broke. And that's how it's always been. It's been the way of the band for a long time. I mean, when people would say, 'You should be doing this,' we did [something else]. When [they would say], 'You should be doing this,' we did it our way. We stuck to our guns. That's always how we've been. So 'Rock Or Bust' sums us up. Go for broke."
AC/DC, who were snubbed by Grammy voters until 2010 when they won Best Hard Rock Performance for "War Machine," opened the 2015 ceremony with a performance of this song, followed by "Highway To Hell."