Joe Daly of The Nervous Breakdown recently conducted an interview with former AC/DC bassist Mark Evans about Mark‘s new book, “Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside/Outside AC/DC”. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
The Nervous Breakdown: Your new book, “Dirty Deeds”, focuses on your time with AC/DC but covers your whole life. What compelled you to release it now?
Evans: Over the years I’d been approached by publishers a number of times to write something like this, and it was obviously going to be an AC/DC thing. Now with what’s happened with me over the past couple of years, family-wise, it seemed the right time to sit down and take stock of what’s been going on. I needed something to immerse myself in and it just struck me as the right time to do it. I figured I’d sit down and write a few stories and see what happens. So what I did was I started writing about a few episodes in my life, the AC/DC stuff, and it became apparent to me pretty quickly that I could do it — that it was going to work. So I showed it to an author friend of mine named Peter FitzSimons, who’s a well-respected author here in Australia, and he said, “Man, you gotta do this.” Not that I needed anyone to green-light me on this, but personally it felt like the right time. The other side of it is that over the years I’ve had so many punters come up to me and say, “I really dig the old AC/DC stuff. What was it like being in the band? What was Bon like?” So to me, it’s a way to repay all the support I’ve had over the years, because the fans of that band and the fans of my other music have been really, really cool, to a person. They’re really genuine, you know? So it’s nice to be able to come back and put something in the pot after all the support I’ve been shown over the years.
The Nervous Breakdown: When you joined AC/DC, it sounds like they made it clear to you that they were hell-bent on world conquest. Did you believe the band was capable of that when you joined?
Evans: Right at the outset. I was getting dropped home by one of the road crew after my first jam with the guys, and he basically said, “There’s two things you’ve got to remember: number one, it’s Malcolm‘s [Young, rhythm guitar] band; and number two, we’re gonna be in the U.K. in twelve months.” And that was after not even playing a gig with the band. So it was put on the table from the start that this thing was moving ahead. When I got out of the car after the roadie told me that, he may as well have said to me, “Remember that it’s Malcolm‘s band, and we’re gonna be playing on the moon in twelve months.” I just took it with a grain of salt. But it didn’t take me very long to realize, and it would have been in the first couple of weeks, that these guys were deadly serious — particularly Angus [Young, lead guitar] and Malcolm, and with Michael Browning, the new management, that they intended to pick up all the marbles. And you got infected by it. Angus and Malcolm‘s vision for that band, and particularly Malcolm‘s vision, was always that the band’s the band, straight down the line, and we’re gonna do it. And more credit to him, but it became apparent to me very early on that along with George Young [Malcolm and Angus‘ older brother and the band’s early producer], that the band expected to be big. It wasn’t expected to fail, it was going to work. And we all knew it was going to take a lot of work too, which it did, but there’s never been anything wrong with that band’s work ethic. It was amazing. But yeah, it became plain to me that world domination was the only option.
The Nervous Breakdown: You got to play with Bon Scott. Where would you rate him among rock’s great frontmen?
Evans: Oh, the best. He’s the gold medalist, man. I’m biased, of course, because I knew what Bon was like. I knew the guy, you know? His lyrics are just second to none. He was a great frontman. When he was in AC/DC, he was very much the frontman. I think that once Brian Johnson took over, Brian is still the singer of the band, but I think the focus became that Angus was the frontman of the band, you know? When Bon was in, Bon was very much the frontman of the band and Angus was riding shotgun. Angus was his little mate on stage — his little partner-in-crime. I think that says a lot about Bon‘s stage presence and charisma that he was still very much the frontman. But like I said, I’m biased because I knew the guy. The guy was a very warmhearted guy. Sure, he could get out of control and stuff, but the guy had impeccable manners and was just a real warmhearted soul. I think, no I don’t think, I know that he did feel a very strong responsibility and a duty to the image of Bon Scott, which would probably cause him to push the envelope a bit too far on occasion, you know? But he was just a great guy to work with and a very warm soul, and when you looked at him, there was this hard-assed rock and roller, but inside there was a hippie, lemme tell ya… There was a lot of hippie about the guy. But he was just a wonderful, warm guy and I miss him very much to this day. He was just a cool guy. And he could be a hard-ass when you wound him up! He was a tough guy, I’ll tell ya. He was a softie at heart, but man, if you rattled his cage, he could fight, lemme tell you. He could protect himself and a lot of people around him, lemme tell ya…
The Nervous Breakdown: What would you say is your biggest takeaway from the AC/DC period? For you personally.
Evans: That’s an unusual question. I don’t think about my time in AC/DC in that fashion, you know? I just think that probably… (pauses) This is going to sound like an arrogant thing to say, but probably the credibility that it’s given me over the years, being part of that band being on the ground floor of the band when the band was starting and working on those early albums. Being part of that, when we started hitting it here in Australia and then when we went to Europe and the U.K. I think that the regard of doing the hard yards with the band and the credibility that comes with that, and from working on those early records like “It’s A Long Way To The Top” and “Dirty Deeds”. I cherish those memories too, and I think a lot of people look back, particularly bass players, and they say, “Your playing’s influenced me a lot,” and that’s good to hear, you know? It’s nice to think that you’ve switched people on to playing music. Or switching people on to playing bass — that’s a really cool thing.
Read the entire interview from The Nervous Breakdown.