INTERVIEW: MARK EVANS, Blood, Sweat & Beers – September 2017

INTERVIEW: MARK EVANS, Blood, Sweat & Beers – September 2017

By Shane Pinnegar

It’s not every day you get to interview a former member of AC/DC, so when I learnt that BLOOD, SWEAT & BEERS were making the trek out West to play the Canning Vale Market City Tavern on Friday, 6 October, and The Ravenswood Hotel on Saturday, 7 October, I leapt at the chance to interview bassist Mark Evans.

A member of AC/DC through their most important years, from March 1975 to June 1977 – only 27 short months. In that time, he played on the pivotal Australian albums T.N.T., Let There Be Rock, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, moved with the band to London and toured the world, before falling out with Angus & Malcolm Young and being dumped from the band. 

From there he played with Finch, Contraband, Heaven, The Party Boys, Cheetah, did session work for Albert Studios, and has more recently teamed up as a duo with former Buffalo and The Count Bishops singer Dave Tice as Headhunter or Tice & Evans. Evans published a wonderful biography in 2011 called Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside/Outside of AC/DC, and this year has joined the ranks of the reformed and rebooted Rose Tattoo alongside Blood, Sweat & Beers comrades Angry Anderson and Dai Pritchard (with The Tatts since 2007), and ex-Finch, Skyhooks and The Angels alumni Bob Spencer, and drummer John ‘Watto’ Watson. 

As you can imagine – we had a lot of ground to cover in our allotted twenty minutes.

100% ROCK: Hi Mark – thanks so much for your time today – we’re a bit excited that you guys are heading out West.

Mark: Oh, yeah. I’ve always liked getting over there – I even based myself in Perth for a few years, in the early ’80s. I really liked it. My grandfather was from Geraldton, and I’ve got a sister over there. 

100% ROCK: Ah, so it’s a bit of a family reunion when you come over? 

Mark: Absolutely!

100% ROCK: Fantastic. It’s pretty exciting times for you at the moment: you’ve got the rejigged Rose Tattoo line-up in rehearsals. How’s that coming along? 

Mark: It’s great, ‘cos we’ve got a long history with them. Their very first official show was at Chequers in Sydney, a nightclub where AC/DC had their first gig too. It was at New Year’s Eve in 1975. Bon Scott & myself went and saw the band, their first gig, and I pretty much fell in love with the band right then. And then Bon was very influential in pushing Rose Tattoo on to George [Young] and Harry [Vanda at Alberts Studios] and they took them on.  So I’ve known Rose Tattoo right from the very start. I’ve always had some real, real good mates  been in the band, and unfortunately the ranks have thinned through the years, but you know, I’m on the record – this is not a newsflash – but Rose Tattoo, they are my favourite band on the planet! So I’m excited to join the band – It’s like Christmas! It’s fantastic. 

100% ROCK: It must be pretty awesome for you sitting there at this point in your life going, ‘wow, I’m now a member of two of the most iconic Aussie rock acts ever.’

Mark: You know something – it’s funny, but I never thought of that point until a week or so ago, a very good mate of mine said, ‘well, you’ve been the bass player in AC/DC and now you’re in Rose Tattoo!’ And then I thought, ‘shit yeah – that’s pretty cool!’

I really like the heritage of Rose Tattoo – and it’s great ‘cos I’m working with Angry and Dai also in Blood, Sweat & Beers, so that’s helped things along too. I’ve always had good nights with Angry – it’s been like that for over 40 years. 

100% ROCK: My first pub gig – aged 16 – was seeing Rose Tattoo in The Old Melbourne pub here in Perth – the night after a riot kicked off outside the pub! Angry ended up in court for that, charged with inciting a riot. Crazy, crazy gig for a naïve 16-year-old! 

Mark: Yeah [laughs], there’s been no shortage of raging in Rose Tattoo and AC/DC, I think. And I just love that heritage, too, of the Albert’s thing. There was a period there with George and Harry where they’re on fire. AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, The Choirboys, and of course, the original Angels stuff was out of the same building too. 

100% ROCK: You did a chunk of session work for Vanda & Young and Alberts, didn’t you? I know you played on the Cheetah album.

Mark: Oh yeah, I did. I’ve always been – well, it’s hard to keep in CLOSE contact with George because he no longer lives here in Australia, but he’s great. I have so much respect for him. He’s the most astute person I’ve ever met music wise and what a killer bass player, man. He’s just crazy.

100% ROCK: I think people overlook what great musicians Vanda and Young were. 

Mark: No doubt. And the ideas that they came up with! They just have a real understanding of the primacy of rock and roll music. It has to speak to you. It’s more a feeling or an attitude than anything else really.

100% ROCK: Absolutely. And what a body of work. Fucking hell!

Mark: Oh yeah! Who else could write a rock-pop song like Friday On My Mind. 100% ROCK: Amazing. I get chills every time I hear it. It’s just amazing. 

Mark: It’s one of those few songs from that period, [which have that effect.] Few other songs hit me like that one does. Maybe Waterloo Sunset. It takes you to a time in music… that’s the great thing about music, though – it can do that to you, and that’s sort of the joy of it, isn’t it?

100% ROCK: Absolutely, man – couldn’t agree with you more. So anyway, let’s get back on to Blood, Sweat & Beers…

Mark: Blood, Sweat & Beers, it’s been great. They capture The Screaming Jets, The Angels, Rose Tattoo and AC/DC, and there’s a thread through all that music – the great Australian rock and roll guitar bands. And it goes back – you see the lineage right back to The Easybeats.

100% ROCK: You’re playing these iconic AC/DC songs 40 years after you recorded them – it must be fantastic for you to stand on stage and see the euphoric reactions you’re getting back?

Mark: I come back to that word surreal: how does this happen? One of the most unusual foibles of the whole thing is that probably the most iconic AC/DC song, it seems to me, is It’s A Long Way To The Top, right? If we played it when I was with the band [it was] 20 times live, that would be the most we ever played it. It was never a certain part of the set list – but now if you ask someone, particularly here in Australia, name an AC/DC song, chances are they are going to say either Back In Black or It’s A Long Way To The Top, but for some reason, it didn’t find a place in the live set [in the early days], you know? [Blood, Sweat & Beers do play It’s A Long Way To The Top – and it brings the house down every time – Editor]

100% ROCK: Absolutely. You’ve known Angry forever. How important is it that when you’re touring and playing, it’s with a bunch of guys you get along with and it’s a fun experience? 

Mark: You don’t always get it, but getting on with Blood, Sweat & Beers – we tinkered a little bit with the line-up at the start, but with the six guys that are in the group now, we’re all the same opinion: you gotta be kidding to call it work, what we’re doing. You’re going out at night and you do a sound check and then we’ll go out and have something for dinner somewhere. Then we go back and do the gig and have a few drinks and maybe a few after and you get paid to do it. You’ve got to be kidding me. It really is, I hate to use the cliché, but it’s a labour of love. ‘Cos there’s all mutual respect for what we’ve done. It’s just a great group of people to work with, and I use that word ‘work’ in very loose sense.

And, you may not know this, but back in the day Angry got introduced to Stone’s Green Ginger Wine by Bon Scott. Bon used to always have a bottle with him. And actually now, Stones Green Ginger Wine’s parent company are now Blood, Sweat & Beers’ sponsor. I can see Bon having a good laugh about that, man.

100% ROCK: Tried it once and never again!

Mark: You can just get the bottle and – so it doesn’t cost you too much – you just don’t open it and what you do at the end of the night, you just get the bottle and whack yourself on the top of the head a few times, and the next day you feel just the same as if you’ve drank it!

100% ROCK: Dead right. Horrible memories. [laughs]. You’ve worked with a veritable who’s who of Australian music and I imagine you’ve still plenty more stories to tell. After your book a few years ago, you were thinking of writing a follow-up volume – how’s that coming along? 

Mark: Well, there’s a lot of stuff there. The original draft of what became Dirty Deeds was about 130,000 words. It was a big book and the publishers [wanted] more like 85,000 words. We did a really strong edit on it and it came back to just about 100,000 words and I said, ‘the book reads really well as it is – if we take anything out of it after that, it just wouldn’t be balanced.’

There’s still talk of a second book, [and] I’m not ruling it out. I’ll do it when the time feels right. That’s the same way I did it with the first book. It was the right time to write it and I’ll know when it’s the right time. There is a lot of stuff in the can. 

100% ROCK: You’re still out on the road. You’re still making stories, man. There’s still more stuff to be written. 

Mark: I started playing in bands when I was say 15 or 16… it doesn’t seem all that far away, but it’s actually coming up to fifty years, which is astounding, you know? I must have done something really good in a former life, or my karma must be really good, to get dealt a hand like this, man. I’m telling you!

100% ROCK: Well I really enjoyed your book when I read it a few years back: it was full of honesty and humility and there was a really good lesson in there, I think, that you’ve got to savour the moment and make the best of where you’re at and what you’re doing.

Mark: Well, thank you. Surely that’s the way ato do it! The thing that really warms me from people who have read the book is – if they know me well enough, they say, ‘the book sounds like you.’ ‘Cos I tried to write it in that conversational sort of way, just like we’re talking now. If you’re going to do something like that, it’s gotta be you – otherwise, you’re bullshitting people, you’re bullshitting yourself.

100% ROCK: Absolutely. So what are the chances of seeing some new music from you, be it with Rose Tattoo or Blood, Sweat & Beers or solo? 

Mark: I’d say the most likely would be Rose Tattoo. It’s not my decision – I’m not driving the ute around the block, but yeah, for me personally, I’d love to see a new Rose Tattoo album. We’ll see how it goes. Anything is possible I’m sure. 

100% ROCK: Your ex-band AC/DC have had a rough couple of years: Malcolm’s health problems, Phil’s legal issues, Brian getting the boot and then Axl/DC! Then your replacement Simon Wright resigned after the last tour…

Mark: We’d call it in ‘a state of flux’, I think. 

100% ROCK: Yeah. That’s a good way to put it. Would you step up if Angus asked you to do a tour?

Mark: You don’t know how many times I’ve been asked this [laughs]. I’ve got a lot of respect for the band – I love the heritage of it… and I would do it, but I would only do it on one condition… 

[pauses for effect] 

If Bon does it, I’ll do it. 

 

BLOOD, SWEAT & BEERS play the Canning Vale Market City Tavern on Friday, 6 October, and The Ravenswood Hotel on Saturday, 7 October, 2017.a

INTERVIEW: MARK EVANS, Blood, Sweat & Beers – September 2017

Filed Under: Interviews

About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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