Mark Evans, Formerly of AC/DC Talks About His “Dirty Deeds” - Interview

Recently I got the chance to talk with former AC/DC bassist Mark Evans about his new book, “Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside/Outside of AC/DC.” He was a fascinating interview. I can’t wait to read his book. The interview was a long one so let’s get right to it.


Mark Evans: Hey Bob, how are you doing man?

Zoiks!: Pretty good, thanks for taking the time to do this.

ME: No, thank you very much.


Z!: I’m really excited to read your new book “Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside/Outside of AC/DC,” what made you decide to write this book?


ME: One of the main motivations for writing “Dirty Deeds” was that over the years while I’ve been playing, so many guys show up at gigs and have shown me so much support over the years and always ask, ‘what was it like being in the band? What was Bon Scott like?’ These people are genuinely interested in what went on in the early days of AC/DC. They’ve been supporting me for so many years, I thought I’d write the book and put them on the inside as to what it was like back in the early days when the band was starting off, touring here in Australia and touring the UK. It’s just me putting something back into the pot for all the kindness I’ve been shown over the years.

At the time when I was writing it I needed something to immerse myself in, it was a project I could just throw myself into and I’ve been approached by a couple of publishers saying, ‘I want you to do this.’ Initially it started off as me writing a book about my time in AC/DC, but it’s grown into a complete memoir of my life. I’ve had a fairly unconventional childhood and some interesting stuff has happened anyway. So yeah it is a full memoir and it was just a real interesting/intriguing period writing the book.


Z!: How long did it take you to write the book?


ME: I did in bits and parts really. If I did it in one long stretch it’d probably take me the best part of eighteen months to write it to do it. It’s written straight out of my memories and feelings. Like I said it’s an amazing process to go through.


Z!: When you were in the band, could you feel that massive world wide success coming?


ME: I don’t know if you could be as definite as that, but I definitely knew the band had big things in front of it. I don’t think anyone from when I was with the band would imagine that we’d still be talking about them 35…best part of 40 years later. No one in their right mind would think the band…we knew the band was going to work and we were really confident to the point of being arrogant about it. No one would have thought that in 35 years the band was going to be the biggest back catalogue-selling band in the world, bigger than the Beatles. You’d say get out of town. We were all very confident. We were certain the band would work. From the first day I sat down to play with the guys, you could feel it. I just knew what it was suppose to be. We knew it was going to work, but to the scope of how it was going to work, no one could have guessed that.


Z!: You were in the band from about 1975 to 1977?


ME: Yeah about two and a half years, a relatively short time in the timeline of the band.


Z!: You released three albums during that time frame, did you ever leave the studio?


ME: (Laughs) That’s interesting you say that. One of the first things that come to my mind when I think about AC/DC is our work ethic. We worked hard man. We were always gigging, always working, pretty much constantly. The way we recorded the albums I worked on, there was an album here in Australia called “TNT” which made up half of the “High Voltage” album internationally, “Dirty Deeds,” and “Let There Be Rock.” All of those albums were recorded under the same situation. Each album was recorded in a two-week block. The first week the tracks would be recorded and written in the studio. The second week would be for mixing, vocals and guitar solos. Some bands take longer than two weeks to record a track these days.

The first week when we’re recording the backing tracks the songs were actually written. We’d go into the studio and Angus (Young) and Malcolm (Young) would have some guitar ideas, some riffs, Bon might have some lyrics prepared, the songs were actually written in the studio. We never actually did any demo recordings either. We would record the whole album in a two-week period.


Z!: What was Angus and Bon like in the studio?

ME: For the first week when we were recording the backing tracks, we didn’t see too much of Bon really, because he’d be sequestered away in another part of the building working on lyrics. We’d get the ideas down on tape and he’d take a cassette and start thinking up the lyrics.

With Angus, he was exactly like he was always in the studio. The guy was like a real live wire; he had plenty of energy dancing around the place. When we were in the studio it was business as usual. That band’s work ethic was full on and in the studio it was a harder situation too because of the tight schedule. No one really changed going in the studio, we were all pretty much the same. We were all part of AC/DC and it was the only band we wanted to be in, I can tell you that.


Z!: AC/DC has a very definitive sound. Was that something Angus and Malcolm consciously worked towards or did it just kind of happen?


ME: That’s an interesting question. The only way I can answer it, I think particularly Malcolm and Angus had an idea of what they wanted to produce, but the way AC/DC sounds is the way they played, it wasn’t manifested or constructed in anyway, that’s just the way we play. Angus and Malcolm are an amazing two-guitar set up; I don’t think there is a better guitar duo in any other band. I’m a little biased of course, but that’s just the way we sounded, there was nothing manufactured about the band, there was no bullshit about the band. I think you can really tell when a band is being dishonest. That’s why the band draws so many fans; it’s a straight rock n roll band without any crap. It’s a very honest band, that’s just the way we sounded. Sure you can pick the direction to go in, but that’s just the way the band sounds man, that’s just AC/DC, always will be.


Z!: Angus, Malcolm and Bon and then later Brian (Johnson) have always sort of been the face of the band. Phil Rudd has always been an underrated drummer. What was playing with Phil like?

ME: I’m glad you called him underrated I think he is too. I think Phil is indispensible. Phil is just an amazing drummer. To me he’s the greatest rock n roll drummer I’ve played with for sure. I’ve seen the band a few times without Phil in there. No disrespect to Simon (Wright) or Chris (Slade) the guys who were playing in the band while Phil was taking a break. Listening to the band without Phil in there doesn’t necessarily sound like the band to me. I’m probably the worst one to comment on it, because whenever I hear the band in my head it’s always got Phil playing. Phil was just the heartbeat of that band. There’s no better rock drummer around…Charlie Watts maybe? Simon Kirke who used to play in Free is another great rock drummer. I know Simon Kirke when he was in Free and Bad Company he was a really big influence on Phil. You’re exactly 100% correct, Phil is an amazingly underrated drummer. He’s the pulse of the band.


Z!: What was your relationship with Bon Scott like?

ME: It was good. It was pretty much impossible to dislike Bon, he was just a really warm character, a real gentle soul, a very well mannered…just a cool guy. He could be a handful when he got a few drinks in him, let me tell you. I think Bon, no I know that Bon felt a responsibility and a duty towards his image to the Bon Scott persona, the hard ass, heavy drinking, knock around sort of guy, and that was definitely part of him, but it was only a part of him. I’ve heard Bon say quite a few times that he was a great bunch of guys and he really was. He’d become that bigger than life character on stage, but off stage he was very ready to split from the band and get off and do his own thing.

He was ten years older than me, when you’re nineteen and someone is twenty-nine, that’s a big gap. He was from a different generation; he was a bit of a hippie. He may have had the denim and the leather and the rock n roll boots on, but there was a hippie inside that guy. He was a wonderful, warm human being. As far as singers go, he’s the front man of the band. When you’re the front man of AC/DC and Angus is riding shot gun for you, that’s an amazing thing. When Bon passed on and Brian’s done an amazing job, but Angus has become the front man of the band, and that’s great. When Bon was here, Bon was still the front man and if you can manage that you’re doing really well, you’ve got a strong character there. Great guy man and I miss him dearly.


Z!: You mention that he was a different generation than you guys and you mention in your book that he considered doing a solo album, was that something he ever brought up with the band and what do you think that album would have sounded like?

ME: I don’t think he ever mentioned it to the rest of the guys in the band. If there had been a band meeting where Bon brought up that he wanted to do a solo album…I would have liked to be a fly on the wall for that one. That could have been explosive (laughs). Actually that would have been interesting. When he did mention the solo album idea to me, I must say it was after a really big dinner and a night out and it was really late/early in the morning with quite a few drinks in us. I don’t know how far along he was with developing it. He certainly had in mind the guys he wanted to play with. From what he was telling me was that he definitely had a couple of guys he had spoken with to play on it.

He really loved bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, those southern rock bands. He would have made an album somewhere in between Lynryd Skynyrd and AC/DC. There would have been plenty of guitars, but there would have been a touch of southern rock in there for sure. I wouldn’t think he would have mentioned it to the rest of the guys in the band, maybe to Phil in passing. It was something he wanted to do and he felt he was at the stage where he possibly could get that done, but yeah it would have been a great album man, would have been very interesting in deed.


Z!: What was your relationship with Angus and Malcolm like?

ME: It was pretty much the same as anyone else. There was a stage mentality around that band. When you joined the band you took on the persona of the band which basically meant that you didn’t really think too much of any other bands around. Our social circle outside the band was pretty tight, that sort of came from the way that Angus and Malcolm did things. They tend to be fairly private individuals. Once you’re in the band you’re close to them. At the start it took a little while to get to know the guys, but they’ve never been the most outgoing guys and that’s just the way they are, their personalities are like that.

I think over the years, while they really do respect their privacy, I think it’s been misconstrued sometimes. They’re in a business where privacy is usually sought; you’re usually out there promoting or something. Those guys wanted to do it their own way and their in a business where privacy is not usually the norm, but that’s the way they do it and they do tend to be a bit reserved. What they’ve done is a winning formula, they’re just amazing and I have all the respect in the world for them.


Z!: I was trying to do research for this interview and I was trying to figure out why you were kicked out of the band and the only thing I could find was that you were too nice. Do you know the reason why you were kicked out?

ME: (laughs) I’ve read that quite a number of times. When the split came there was a fair amount of tension in the band. We were on the road doing a European tour supporting Black Sabbath. Ozzy Osbourne was still in the band. If you want an interesting night out being in a rock n roll band and touring Europe and you’ve got Ozzy Osbourne in one band and Bon Scott in the other, there were a couple of late nights we had there.

We got kicked off of the Black Sabbath tour; there was a problem between Malcolm and Geezer Butler. I wasn’t there and all I really know is sort of hearsay. There was some sort of punch up. We got kicked off the tour and at the end of the tour we were going straight from Helsinki to the states to promote “Dirty Deeds.” It got derailed a bit. At the same time our American label decided not to release “Dirty Deeds,” they rejected the album. We got kicked off the tour and within a day or two the American tour got canned because there was no label support. So we’re back in London sitting on our butts and there was a lot of tension in the air.

If I can point to one thing about why I got sacked from the band, I think it was that my commitment to the band was questioned. That was pretty easy for them to do. If you’re Angus and Malcolm their whole point was to make AC/DC, that was what they did. Their commitment to the cause was/is amazing, it’s the ultimate. So if your commitment doesn’t match with their level then you appear to not be committed at all. I was committed. I never wanted to leave the band, but that choice was made for me. What I come back to and I have a philosophical view of this, if I was the right guy for the band I’d still be there and obviously I wasn’t the right guy for the band pure and simple.


Z!: I think your attitude towards the band after all of that went down is very respectable. How do you keep such a positive attitude towards those guys?

ME: That’s just the way I am. I’ve never been one to look back on a missed opportunity and burn myself up on it. I’d rather this had not happen of course, but you’ve got to learn from it. I’m not a great believer in fate or anything, but in the back of my head I’ve got this notion that everything happens for a reason. There have been a few things since getting sacked from the band that have happened in my life on a personal level. When you read the book you’ll read that I’d have much rather not had that happen, but there are something’s in your life that are out of your control and I don’t see the point of burning yourself up over something that was out of your control, it’s in the past and you can’t change the past. What you can do is take something from it and get back up, dust yourself off and keep on going. That’s just the way I am. At that stage I think the split was always coming, I’d rather have not had it happen when it did, but I think it was inevitable that the split was going to come in some way. In essence I try not to let things like that bother me, certainly it hurt, but you have to get on with things.


Z!: You played in probably the most important era of the band, because without “High Voltage,” “Dirt Deeds” and “Let There Be Rock” there wouldn’t have been “Highway to Hell” or “Back in Black.” When AC/DC got inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, you were initially going to be inducted with them but later on you were excluded from the induction, do you know what happened there?

ME: The explanation I had from it, although the explanation is somewhat scant, it was from the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. What happened from my side of things, I believe the band was nominated three years in a row and on the third year the band was inducted. All along there the nominations were for the current lineup and rightfully so and also with Bon. I was fairly surprised when news got through to me that I was part of the nomination. It would have been a bit uncomfortable, because at that stage I hadn’t had any contact with the band; I still don’t for that fact. We’re moving in very different a circle, that’s just the way it worked out. My first inclination was to knock back the nomination, because it was going to be difficult, so I thought I’d just get everybody off the hook and knock it back. A couple people got to me that use to work with AC/DC who are no longer with them saying, ‘hey this is great’ and whatever. I was swayed to let the thing run. In hindsight that was the wrong move.

What happened was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame got in contact with my manager and everything was going all right, then they got back to us and said, ‘what we’ve done is we reviewed the nomination and The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame criteria and you don’t qualify.’ It was a bit embarrassing at the time, because basically it had gotten out. The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame put it on their website, it had made the news. It was just really uncomfortable for it to happen in that way. That’s basically the story. After about five or six weeks after the nomination was made public they reviewed.

Why they would review it after all that time, I’m not sure they’ve never really given me an explanation for that. That’s basically what happened, they rescinded the nomination, but in closing on this thing I’m fine with it. The only thing I take exception to, is that I think AC/DC should have been inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame the first time they were nominated. The end story is that AC/DC deserves to be in the Hall of Fame with the current line up and Bon involved. I’m fine with that; I was just made uncomfortable in the process. It was unpleasant, but once again that’s life and I have no issue with that at all.


Z!: That’s not the first time Rock n Roll Hall of Fame has dropped the ball either (both laughs). I really enjoyed talking with you and I can’t wait to read your book. Thank you so much for the time, I did have one last question.

ME: Yeah sure, absolutely Bob, no problem.

Z!: When you think of AC/DC what is your definition of the band?

ME: Greatest rock n roll band ever. I love the band man. I’ve got two favorite bands in my life. Both are bands that came out of the Alberts Prodcution here in Syndney, there is AC/DC and another Australian band…I still call AC/DC an Australian band, that’s just from my time with them. The other band is a band called Rose Tattoo. Both bands, they’re just great, bands that had their roots in 1970’s Australian pop rock, great guitar bands. I think of rock n roll man. When someone asks me what I think about AC/DC I can’t help but think about Bon Scott. Bon Scott to me is linked inseparably in my mind to AC/DC. When I think of AC/DC I think of Bon Scott.


Z!: That’s awesome, thanks again for time this was a lot of time.

ME: Hey Bob, thanks very much for taking the time to give me a call I appreciate.

BYLINE:

Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.

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