Interviews conducted by me exclusively for this website! © Copyright all rights reserved.
Always looking to hear from other AC/DC affiliated personnel and associates who would like to feature an interview on this site! Road crew, studio or tour staff, record company associates, pre/post AC/DC related band members, family, former original AC/DC members, photographers, journalists, media, management, and those who were close to Bon. Anyone who has been a part of AC/DC's history... Please contact me!
AL COLLINS INTERVIEW (E-MAIL CORRESPONDENCE)
I've recently been contacted by Al Collins, who is the brother of the late John Collins, lead singer of the band THE SPEKTORS along side Bon Scott, who shared vocal duties with John (and drums) in The Spektors during the mid-late 1960's. Al was kind enough to share his story and memory about Bon and brother John during their SPEKTORS days, and gave me the go ahead to share his story with Bon & AC/DC fans around the world:
Hi-I’m Al Collins, brother of John Collins lead singer of the Spektors. In those early days Bon didn’t have a driver’s license and I drove him between gigs. Occasionally I’d get up on stage & sing with the band. Later I formed my own band The Sphinx. We made a bit of money but when Vietnam I enlisted.
When driving between gigs with Bon, we would buy a bottle of 33 OP rum & a bottle of Stones green ginger wine. I always carried an empty bottle and we’d half fill it with rum, top it up with Stones and make another bottle out of the remainder. That usually lasted the night but not always.
Bon would often eat at our house and my mother referred to him as “Wee Ronnie”. We were Scottish too.
Once when I ran out of fuel, Bon jumped a fence, produced a knife & bucket and milked a car so we could keep going. He was a rough little bastard but you couldn’t wish for a better friend.
The Spektors got a gig in Perth on channel 7, John sang “Every day I have to Cry some” & Bon sang Gloria. I still have the recording.
The trouble was John liked soft stuff ( his favourite was “Yesterday” ) and Bon liked heavier stuff. It was a perfect partnership with both doing as he liked.
John then pranged a “Berkley Jaguar” & mutilated his right elbow. The insurance money bought him a house & he married Marion Bennet.
While John was recovering, a talent scout came from the east coast & recruited Bon & Wyn Milson (rhythm guitar) so off they went.
You know the rest of that story. John settled down, had two sons & got a cushy job.
Every so often, Bon would turn up unannounced and after seing his mother in Scarborough, would come around for a feed, jam session and piss-up. There were no hard feelings & Bon & I would relive the old days till one of us passed out.
John died at 37 with bowel cancer & I just hope John & Bon are still jamming.
I went past his statue the other day & the thought occurred to me that Bon would piss himself laughing seeing himself singing to seagulls while they were shitting on his head.
That’s the real Bon.
MIKE FRASER INTERVIEW
Thank you Mike for taking the time to
do this interview and answer some questions for AC/DC fans around the world.
So, you have been working with AC/DC now since 1990, the first album being "The Razors Edge"?
Yes, Bruce Fairbairn produced and I engineered and mixed it.
Can you describe what it's like working with the members of AC/DC? They've always been known to be very easy going, how do they handle being in the studio?
The AC/DC boys are always a treat to work with. They are very low key and easy going. Very hard workers and a lot of the time in the studio it is all business, but we have a few laughs along the way. They are one band that sure knows ho to play together and the energy in the studio is amazing to witness.
How different has it been working with different producers: Bruce Fairbairn, Rick Rubin, George Young, and the latest being Brendan O'Brien?
Each producer brings his own style and personality into the process of making a record. AC/DC have their own distinct style and sound, so even though each of those 4 producers were different, none of them tried to change what AC/DC are. The band has their own very distinct sound and style and it would of been impossible to try to change it. Bruce was a lot like a coach with them keeping things organized and them vibed up, Rick saw and helped with the overall picture pointing out what things sounded great , George has a long history of making records with them so knew when and how hard to push them, and Brendan is a great guitar player so he could really talk their language and get the very best out of them.
Does AC/DC approach each album differently with different producers? or do they stick to the same method? I would imagine they would have been most comfortable with George, since they've worked with him so many times in the past?
AC/DC approach each record the same way. They write and then record the songs that they most like. They make the record that make themselves happy first and if the fans like it then that's a bonus. They don't try to follow trends or styles, they're just themselves.
AC/DC want a producer to just help them get the very best to tape, not to help them discover a new sound or develop a new style.
For sure they were comfortable with George, they have a long history together and he's their brother.
Can you describe how AC/DC approaches recording an album? Do they do a rough live track and then record each instrument separately?
AC/DC records most of the record live in the studio. We will run through he song 3 or 4 times, each pass will get better and more energetic until they peak. The only overdubs are the final lead vocal and background singing as well as Angus's leads and solo's.
How does Angus Young approach recording his guitar solos? Does a lot of the recording get done in a 'live' environment? or are overdubs usually done later on?
We record Angus's solo's after all the tracks have been laid down. He has a cup of tea and a smoke going, plugs in and away he goes. He's one of the most amazing guitarist I've worked with. the only trouble with working with Angus is trying to pick which solo to use. Every one he does is great!
So, Phil Rudd never uses a click track? People have referred to him as a human metronome, how is it working with Phil in the studio?
No, Phil doesn't use click tracks. The band will usually play a little bit of the song to find the tempo that feels best and then Phil will count off and off they go. He is a very steady drummer and is great at holding the feel. If a chorus needs to pick up a little for energy, Phil has a natural ability to speed it up a touch and then relax it back to tempo without the listener feeling it. And the combination of Phil and Cliff together is what makes it awesome. They both play as if they were connected It's quite remarkable.
Does AC/DC already have everything written and solid before entering the studio, or do they still typically work out some ideas during the recording process?
All of the song ideas are written before hand and most of the arrangements are done. But they don't even rehearse the record before coming into the studio because they want it to feel fresh. For sure there are a few arrangement changes and figuring out tempos and what not, but the bulk of the material is put together beforehand.
Did AC/DC have some songs that were recorded that they decided not to use for one reason or another for the final album cut? Some songs were discussed from the SUL sessions such as "The Cock Crowes", " "Rave On", and "Whistle Blower". Is this typical from each of the recording sessions, and then the band chooses the best tracks for each album?
Yes, there are usually 2 to 3 tracks that don't quite make the record for one reason or another. Sometimes it's because there are already enough songs it that tempo or key, or sometimes quite frankly the song doesn't live up to it's full potential.
Were any of the songs from the past AC/DC albums you have worked on, particularly "Black Ice", that were dramatically changed around from how they originally sounded when the recording
sessions first began?
No, I can't think of a song that changed a lot from start to finish. I remember Thunderstruck changed a little bit when Angus played that hooky riff in the intro. It was only supposed to be in the intro but as the tape kept rolling he kept playing. He ended up doing through the entire song and in the mix we left it in. Some spots we dipped the level down but if you listen carefully it's still there. That was the first take all the way through.
Did Angus consider a guitar solo for the track "Stormy May Day"? Any idea where the slide guitar idea came from for this song?
No. All along it was going to be a slide guitar. Angus had a slide guitar on the writing demo.
Brian recently mentioned a one take vocal for "Rock and Roll Dream" Can you tell us a little about that, or any other interesting stories that may have happened while recording the "Black Ice" album?
Brian came into this record in amazing shape. He's been doing a lot of car racing and you have to be in top shape for that. It really helped with his vocals. Brian did most of his vocals with Brendan in another o/d room while I worked with Malcolm and Angus on guitars so I didn't witness many of the vocal takes.
For "Black Ice", were any different recording methods used this time than they were previously?
No not really. AC/DC's sound is pretty straight forward. The only thing I needed to be concerned with was making sure I was ready for them when they were ready to do a take.
What was involved in mixing such releases as AC/DC's "Plug Me In" DVD and the soundtrack for the new AC/DC live "Rock Band" game? Were any overdubs used or added?
Plug Me In was a collection of previously recorded songs and no, there were no additional over dubs. We were only able to fiind mulit tracks of about 12 or 13 songs so those are the only ones I mixed for that. The other songs were only 2 track versions they could find. Sometimes it was off a love camera feed or something. For "Rockband" I remixed the tracks into what we call "Stereo Stems" Each instrument would be mixed onto its own separate stereo track. Drums, then Bass , Then 2 x guitars and a vocal one etc. That way the game makers could control when to dip out a certain part during the game.
I heard that you had kept your schedule open for AC/DC, even though it took them a long 8 years to record the new album. Do you have that same opening for some future plans with the band?
No, not at the moment. I stay in touch with the band and when it looks like a record might be in the works I start keeping my schedule more flexible. Right now they are too busy on tour to be thinking about another record. heheh
How long have you been at Little Mountain Studio in Vancouver?
I started working at Little Mountain Sound in late '78 and worked there until it shut down in '92 I believe it was. The last 4 years or so I've been mostly working out of The Warehouse Studio here in Vancouver. It was built and is owed by Brian Adams.
Any pointers you would suggest to someone who was just starting out in a music engineering or production career?
I would tell them to get a job as a lawyer!! hahaha. My only advice would be to work hard and love what you're doing. There are a lot of long hours for months on end, and if you don't love it it will drive you mad.
Each instrument and vocal on "Black Ice" is crisp and clear in the mix, a superb production and engineering job on this recording, the best in decades. Kudos to you and to Brendan O'Brien. If you
had to choose your favorite track from the new album, which one would it be?
War Machine is my favorite I think. That and Rock and Roll Train.
JOSHUA LEVY INTERVIEW
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview!
The concept for the new AC/DC album "Black Ice" is a very interesting one. Can you describe how this concept came about? Was it your idea, or did the idea come from the band?
We did hundreds of covers, most of them with the original title "Runaway Train"...Worked on it for months. Just before I was supposed to head out on Vacation (Pearl Jam Tour) they changed the title. I ended up working nights off of the road after seeing PJ gigs. I would get back from the show and work til 5-6am and email covers into the office at Sony. Early on Steve Barnett at Columbia mentioned that he really liked the Led Zeppelin Mothership cover, and I still had that graphic Illustrator style in my head.
The idea to do it all graphic black on black came to me close to the end of a show down in Washington DC. I was pretty high and I just broke out my little notepad I carry in my back pocket; started sketching out the yellow cover, which at first was red. Emailed it in and they asked if I can come up with 2 more different designs in different colors. Next came the black diamond aka black ice cover (white, and then the more tribal Angus in a straight jacket cover. Approvals all happened so fast that there really was
no time for tweaking. 4th cover happened after the photo and video shoots in london. I flew back, designed the deluxe, and in 2 days was already flying to Indiana to print everything. The Boys were absolute saints with approvals, but I still got no sleep.
What was AC/DC's first impression after first seeing the completed artwork to their long awaited new album?
Talk about impressions- Brian johnson does a mean Darth Vader impression! He's really funny. They can follow him around with a video camera for a day and have a whole TV series on Comedy Central. First Impression of the album design, They really liked it. Cliff called it "Brilliant". I told him "The album is Brilliant", so we're a good team.
Did you try to work the different song titles into the album cover in any way? Or did you just go with the title track and everything stemmed from that idea?
I actually had only heard maybe 5 songs at that point, not including Black Ice. This was a challenge cause I had no lyrics, etc. Now looking at the covers, I think That song fits the art the best, and maybe that's why they chose it over so many different styles and designs. I mean, we drew up everything from Angus as a giant ripping apart a train yard, to a pentagram made out of train tracks...we had some really cool stuff. I'm really happy the way it turned out.
Was there any reason behind using the "Angus" (fist in the air) sign from the Stiff Upper Lip album for the album cover?
I just thought it was great as a continuing icon.
You designed the artwork for the "Rock N Roll Train" single, "Big Jack", the Sirius Radio AC/DC Channel , amongst other AC/DC designs as well, correct?
Yes, pretty much everything. It was a huge undertaking and the whole process took more than 6 months...It's still going. Just did a logo for a new documentary series on the fans called AC/DC Fannation. Also just wrapped up the single design for Anything Goes, which is the first time Brian Johnson is featured on an AC/DC cover.
Did you also design the AC/DC artwork for the Wal-Mart advertisements? Can you explain what the Angus Fig 1., Fig 2., etc. were supposed to be representing?
No, someone at Walmart did their advertising. I pretty much did everything else...all the illustrations, design, photo shoot art direction, etc.
On the front cover of "Black Ice", can you describe what the Angus figure is doing? Some people have said it looks like he is in a straight jacket? Is that accurate?
The "Black Ice" cover as a whole almost appears to be the front of a train coming at you, is that really the case as part of your design? Or is it just a coincidence?
I never thought of it that way but yes I see what you are saying! Thats
How long have you been a graphic designer/artist? and what artists have you designed album artwork for other than AC/DC?
I graduated from School Of Visual Arts in 1998 and have been working since. For Ten years I designed Movie Posters. About 3 years ago I started working for Sony full time. I mostly design for rock bands. My current clients at Sony are AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, Buddy Guy, Love As Laughter, Modest Mouse,
311, Santana, etc. You can view all my work at http://www.joshuamarclevy.com/ .
Do you work as a freelance artist or do you work for a company?
Both. I am always working on something. The full time gig takes up most of my time but if something interesting comes along I work it nights and weekends.
If you had to give advice to artists who are just starting out, and are interested in getting involved with album design, do you have any good suggestions?
Hit up the record store every few weeks. You have to be really into music and really understand it, and then prove that. Catch shows weekly. If you think that someone's album art isn't what you expect or imagine it would be, then redesign or illustrate it yourself and make it better. But it Has to be better. Make a portfolio from those.
Also, just because you have a great piece of art doesn't exactly mean a label or band management will choose it. There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen with a lot of opinions. Its not as easy as you may think and you have to learn to amaze And sell it.
NOEL TAYLOR INTERVIEW
Noel Taylor was the second AC/DC Drummer in the bands early lineup, having replaced Colin Burgess, AC/DC's original drummer, at the same time that Neil Smith joined the band (having replaced original AC/DC Bassist Larry Van Kreidt). Noel was kind enough to answer the questions in this interview for me, and here I present it to you. (Special thanks also to Steve in Australia for all of the help! Cheers!)
Hello Noel and thank you very much for taking the
time to do this interview.
Thanks for the opportunity to partake of this interview. I will answer your questions to the best of my memories ability.
So in 1974, you were the drummer in a fairly new band called AC/DC.. can you tell us how this came about?
In early 1974, AC/DC's beginning for myself and Neil Smith came about by Malcolm Young sitting in on guitar with us in a band called JASPER. Malcolm then asked if Neil and myself would be interested in having a jam with his new band AC/DC. After a short discussion, we said OK.
Was there an audition?
We couldn't find a rehearsal room at short notice, so we rang the manager of
the Hampton Court Hotel, where JASPER had been playing recently. He said OK. We
set up in the front bar on Monday night. We played covers and jammed some of
their originals. When we were packing up the gear, the boss said we were great
and asked us to play at the pub. This made up our minds to give this lineup of
the band a go. Dave Evans-Vox, Angus & Malcolm- Guitars, Neil Smith-Bass, and
myself on Drums.
You joined AC/DC at the same time as bassist Neil Smith, correct? Do you recall who you and Neil replaced
at the time?
We replaced Colin Burgess-drums (BONFIRE note:: This makes Noel AC/DC's 2nd
drummer), and Larry Van Kreidt- Bass.
What bands were you in prior to AC/DC? Any albums or singles released?
What were typical AC/DC rehearsals like?
At this stage of the band, we used to rehearse at Malcolm & Angus' parents place in their bedroom all acoustic. I used a practice kit.
Do you recall the typical set lists/songs that were generally played during AC/DC gigs?
Our set list was very much the same as you hear on the bootleg recording of
covers and original material. This recording was done by me on an Aiwa portable
tape deck through its built in mic. Shame it didn't turn out better.
How often did you gig and what were typical gigs like?
We played one to two gigs a week. Pubs, police boys clubs, dances, and small
concert halls and a popular night club called Chequers.
What was it like playing at the Hampton Court residency? Were those tough times, being it was a notoriously violent area?
The gigs we did at the Hampton Court Hotel every week were great. Mostly did
2 sets, sometimes 3. We used to jam a lot and test out our new originals on the
audience; mainly of whom were drunk out of it, or prostitutes having a break.
Fun times had by all!
Was there any original material that was being worked on? Can you talk a bit about the songs/ song writing process?
Most of the original material was written by Malcolm, a couple with Dave
Evans. All of these were on the bootleg tape.
During this time, AC/DC fashioned a bit of an outrageous image- can you describe the outfits and what brought on this idea?
The bands dress code of fashion statement came out because at that stage we
were tossing around us the true meaning we were looking for of AC/DC. Power or
Gender. Power was the victor. Even so, we individually chose our costumes. As
for me I was a court jester.
After a very short time of these costumes (re:photos on the internet), it became
obvious that Angus in his schoolboy outfit stole the show. "Not bad guitar
Approximately how long did you remain in AC/DC?, What led to your and Neil's departure? Was it a bad split?
Even though Neil and myself spent a short time in AC/DC, we have no regrets.
In that time it was already on the long way to the top. As for Neil and myself,
well, we just didn't have the style the band were looking for. Nothing personal,
only playing and style.
Do you know who your replacements were?
I don't remember who replaced us, though there were a few rhythm sections
come and go until Bon Scott, Phil Rudd, and Mark Evans came on board. This good
hard rockin' lineup was my favourite lineup. After hearing this bunch, I thought
to myself...oh! I see what they were looking for. ("Too late for me I thought")
Aren't they great!!
After AC/DC, what other bands did you get involved with next? Weren't you part of a band called Speed Limit? Are there any studio album recordings that you have played on that are available? If so, what bands /albums?
After AC/DC , Neil and myself had the opportunity to rejoin JASPER. This only lasted a short time. In 1975, Neil and myself joined a band called BOBBY DAZZLER. This was full of talented musicians, lots of original material. Due to personality clash, the band split on the verge of signing a record contract in 1976. A year later, 1977, I joined ex Buffalo guitarist John Baxter to form BOY RACER. John was a very talented song writer, we had close to two albums worth of material. Songs about Love, Girls, and Cars. Problem was during the 2 years of the band, we couldn't find the right singer, so the band just ground to a halt. What a shame! Only recorded demos.
Soon after the demise of BOY RACER, in 1979 I had the privilege of joining
NOOSA. This band became a highly popular band, SPEED LIMIT, who recorded 2
singles, and had a 6 track album called "Breakin It". This album has been seen
in second hand record shops. SPEED LIMIT was heavily influenced by Thin Lizzy.
Though we had the capability of three part harmony guitar solos. Over 3 years of
its life, the band went from 6 piece to 3 piece- guitar, bass , and drums, and
was still a very powerful unit. Then in 1982, I managed the family music shop
which lasted another 21 years. Through this period in 1989, I was asked by a
mate to come and listen to his new Christian band. Something different I
thought. After a rehearsal I accepted the offer to drum with this band on the
strength of original material. Taking on the name WALK THIS WAY, we recorded an
album all original songs. Though the band lasted about 3 years, to this day, I
still think the album is very strong. Looking at the growing market of Christian
music, we now have in America and Australia, I believe this band was ahead of
its time. Then in 1992, I helped form REAL GONE CATS, a 50's Rock N Roll Band.
The Cats recorded 2 albums. 1 studio, and 1 live. Both albums consisting of
originals and covers. We lasted 10 years of solid gigging, and touring
Australia. Shame we didn't make it to America. Could have been very successful.
Even now in 2006, the Cats still reform to play selected gigs. Both CD's still
available through myself.
Who would you site as your main influences as a drummer?
The influences throughout my drumming career have been very diverse. From Ian
Piace, Neil Peart to Charlie Watts, Ringo, and Gene Cruper.
Are you aware of an unoffical live recording that has recently been in circulation with an AC/DC show from 1974 at the Hampton Court Hotel in Sydney with Yourself, Neil, Dave Evans, Angus & Malcolm? Any idea where this recording could have suddenly came from?
The live recording that's circulating at the moment, as mentioned earlier, I
recorded at the back of the room at the Hampton Court Hotel for my review of
style and feel of songs. I still have the original tape, which doesn't sound
much better. Who originated the bootleg copies I can only guess, as there wasn't
Do you still remain in touch with Neil Smith? He currently performs with a band "The Swinging Sixties" doing 60's covers...
As for Neil Smith and myself, we are still very good mates. He still plays in
THE SWINGING 60'S, which I was a member of for a year or so, just before I moved
into the 50's Rock N Roll scene about 15 years ago.
Are you still involved in the music scene? What projects/bands are you involved with these days?
Now in 2006, I'm playing a freelance drummer mainly in the 50's scene,
playing in mostly high profile bands. The most prominent would be "LEGENDS OF
OL55" OL 55 were around in the 70's and released quite a few hit singles, all of
which were top 10 hits. This band can still fill auditoriums wiith fans new and
old. So on this note, All I can say is "Rock N Roll will never die!!"
Thank you Noel for answering these questions for this interview!
I hope this information is of help. thanks so Much! Yours in Music- Noel Squizzy Taylor.
LARRY VAN KREIDT INTERVIEW
Larry Van Kreidt was the very first original AC/DC bassplayer during the formation of the band. Larry played bass with the band during their incarnation in 1973 through part of 1974. He also played saxophone on one number while Malcolm would take over the bass duties during some of AC/DC's early shows. Larry went on to become a professional Jazz/Blues/Funk musician, performing with several recording artists over the years, and is currently playing with his band "Larry Van Kreidt", as well as a Jazz quartet "The Larry Van Kreidt Quartet", amongst other band-projects he is involved with. He also runs a website business where he records and sells downloadable jazz backing tracks of jazz standards online. Thanks Larry for taking the time to answer this interview.
I'll try to answer your questions and add any bits of interest that I can.
In 1973 you were involved in the formation of a brand new band called AC/DC, can you tell us how this came about?
Yes. I moved to Sydney, Australia from San Francisco in 1969 when I was 15 years old. I owned a Gibson guitar and I loved to play the blues. I met Angus on the migrant hostal in Burwood where my family was staying and Angus lived not far away. He heard that I had a Gibson guitar and could play so he was interested in me. I showed him my guitar and played some blues licks and he was suitably impressed to invite me to his house to meet his brother Malcolm (and all the rest of his large family). I hung out at their house every weekend for about a year or so and was part of the circle of friends of both Mal and Angus. Our main interest and point in common was guitar playing and music. We drifted apart a little after that but still kept in touch. Then one evening in 1973 I had a knock on my door from a friend of Malcolm asking me if I wanted to come and jam with Angus and Mal. I had recently bought a bass and they heard this and wanted me to jam on bass. So I went that night and kept going each night after that and we rehearsed a bunch of Mal's tunes and a few covers and a couple of gigs floated in from here and there.
You were the bass player and also played sax in the band, correct?
That's right. I played sax on one number while Malcolm
Did you perform with the band at their first gig on New Years eve Dec 31 1973 at the Chequers club in Sydney? Any recollections of that gig?
Yeah, I was there. We had played Chequers a couple/few
times before that, I think. It was a late starting gig. You know, bands wouldn't
start to play till, like 11pm or so.
And that is just the first band. They would usually have 3 bands on one night. We were the first band to play when we played there. I didn't have a bass amp and we would ask one of the other bands if we could use theirs. Mal usually organized this for me. Thanks Mal! Anyway, New Years Eve... hmmm. I think that was the night that Colin Burgess may have walked off. There was a confrontation about his professionalism, I think it being NYE he had already had more than a few drinks and it was only the early evening when we were setting up. Anyway, I just remember him hobbling off with one heel having broke off from his high heeled boots... one of those rock 'n roll moments that have stuck with me. Angus and Mal's brother, George, played drums that night, if I remember right.
What were typical AC/DC rehearsals like? Did you work on any originals at the time?
Well, first I was usually picked up in the band van and
we'd go down to Newtown to this building where we had the same room every week
on the first floor. We worked on Mals tunes and some covers as well. Rehearsals
were loud. Sometimes, but not always, we'd take a break and go to the pub for a
few beers, then go back and rehearse some more. All the usual stuff that bands
do went on. Good rehearsals, bad rehearsals, creative moments, sometimes
arguments and even fights. It was pretty much Malcolm's vision and he was the
driving force behind it.
Approximately how long did you remain in AC/DC, what had happened that led to your departure?
How long was I in the band? I really have a hard time
answering this question. Time scales are so much different when you are 19 years
old. It seemed like a long time. But in reality it was probably a time span of
about 4 months or so.
On my departure, the reason I was given at the time was that the band had taken on a new drummer and bass player team who between them owned a large truck, a p.a. system and had all their own gear. That was what I was told by the band. I might add to that the fact that I didn't have a bass amp, and I had a 1 year old son to provide for. On top of that, I've always seen myself as a singer songwriter jazz/blues and sometimes pop musician and that wasn't the direction AC/DC was moving in.
Had you remained in touch with anyone from the band after this?
I saw Malcolm a couple of times after that. But they
kind of moved on. I think they based themselves in Adelaide for awhile and they
moved to Melbourne at some point. After that I think it was all world tours and
album recording. They were obviously a hard working band. I'm sure they still
A couple of years ago I got a nice email from Mal. But let me state right here and now that I would love to hear from both Angus and Malcolm at anytime.
After AC/DC what have you been involved with musically through the years? To clarify, did you play with the band The Eighty Eights? DFX? Any other recording acts?
Yes. The Eighty Eights started off in Newcastle,
Australia under the name 'Broadway'. We altered the line-up and changed the name
to 'The Motels'.
Then we found out a band in LA had the name and were just releasing an album so we changed it to 'The Eighty Eights'. After that I formed 'Non Stop Dancers' and released an album called 'Surprise Surprise'. The track from that album that gained the most recognition was 'Shake This City'
which was a hit in Australia and Japan. When that group folded I started doing some studio production work with Ricki Fataar. I was part of Def FX from it's beginnings in 1989 til about 1994. I did the programming and a share of the songwriting with them. I also played bass with the band for about a year when regular bassist Martyn Basher left. I formed a band called 'Afram' with Abdellatif Chkhaoui around 1995/1996. In 1997 we took the unprecedented step of traveling around the world selling Afram CDs from a suitcase on the beaches of Ko Samui and across Europe. We ended up in Morocco where we lived for over a year. We established Afram in Morocco with numerous television performances, charity concerts and lots of press. Afram was a fusion of North African and Funk music's. We left Morocco and lived in Spain (Granada), Paris before coming to England where I now live.
Currently what are you involved with musically? Are there any places/web links where people interested can order, purchase, and hear the work from your career?
These days I sing and play sax and guitar. I am
currently just about to do a series of gigs with my band 'Larry Van Kriedt'
doing mainly original songs of mine in a funk/jazz/blues/world format. I also
have a jazz quartet called 'The Larry Van Kriedt Quartet'. I also have a duo
called The LPs with bassist Paul Agbakoba who used to play with Moloko. We play
everything from jazz to folk to Soul and back again. He plays bass in my other
groups as well. I also play sax with some funk and blues outfits around
Sheffield where I live.
I also own and operate my own website called www.Jazzbacks.com where I record and sell downloadable jazz backing tracks of jazz standards online.
On top of this I teach music to private students.
At the moment there is no website where people can hear/order work from my career but soon there will be. I'll let you know.
Do you have any performing photos of yourself that you can reply, perhaps a then and now?
I've never seen a photo of the first AC/DC line-up. Probably one doesn't exist. Here is a photo of me playing in a jazz club called 'The One Eleven Club'. (photo above)
Thank you again for taking the time to answer these questions! It is much appreciated.
MARK EVANS INTERVIEW 2006
Mark Evans was the bass guitarist for AC/DC on such classic AC/DC albums as "T.N.T.", "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap", and "Let There Be Rock", so was definitely part of the band during some of their most important years of becoming an established band on their way to becoming international superstars. Mark parted ways amicably with the band in 1977. Mark took the time to answer some questions for me for this new 2006 interview. Cheers Mark- thanks.
Hello Mark, and thank you very much for taking the
time to answer these questions.
Through 3+ decades now- AC/DC, Finch/Contraband, Heaven, and presently Tice & Evans, amongst the other bands you have been in, you must have many stories about life on the road. Do you think you might ever write a book about it or a biography?
Yes, the journey so far has been very illuminating, to say the least. It's interesting that you mention a book, I'm well into writing my story and ,of course there will be a strong focus on my tenure with the guys but it also turning into a rock n roll primer.....I've been through many situations and I may be able to shine some light on the business of being in a band, the good and the bad.
If you could talk about one of the most memorable or outrageous memories of being on the road or on tour when you were in AC/DC, what would it be?
You'll be able to read all about the fun n games in the
When exactly did you join and leave the band Heaven? You were only part of the touring lineup, not any studio releases, correct?
I was with Heaven ( I joined with my drummer John Lalor
) for a number of US tours in 83/84, with Kiss, Black Sabbath and Motley Crue.
The Sabbath tour was an odd one, they had Ian Gillan singing and Bev Bevan (from
ELO) playing drums. It was rumoured that this tour was the seed of the Spinal
Tap concept. I didn't do any studio work with Heaven although there were
numerous live recordings.
Aside from the bands above, you also played on a single with Bob Armstrong and the Navigators, correct? What other bands have you been in during your career, past and present?
I have seen that Armstrong recording mentioned many
times but to be honest I don't have a clear recollection of it as there have
been stacks of sessions over the years. It's not uncommon to be called in to
replace bass tracks on recordings, in fact, I have been called in to replace
bass tracks that didn't quite cut it and I have been replacing myself.
So you're a fan of the Carlton football club? (Their logo being on your guitar picks...)
CARLTON ! Yes, I'm a Blues man and have been since
birth. Carlton play in the Australian Football League (AFL) and have won the
championship 16 times, a record. Carlton Football Club is 162 years old
outdating all the soccer clubs in the UK, I stand to be corrected on that, but I
believe that's the case. Although I must admit I have adopted the Sydney Swans
as they are the local team and the only AFL team based in my home town, Sydney.
In essence , I guess I have two teams now. Sydney won the premiership last
season ending a 72 year drought. My family flew down to Melbourne for the game
and it was a heart stopper. 92,000 people losing their minds, an amazing
experience for us.
The rock and roll hall of fame fiasco didn't pan out in your favor, unfortunately. But true AC/DC fans know you belong there, and who was in the band during those classic albums.
Had the organization given you a real explanation as to why they cut you even though they stated you would be inducted originally? Some fellow fans liked my idea of creating a petition...
The Hall of Fame thing was an unusual experience.. The band richly deserved the honour and I feel it was well overdue. To be honest, from experience I never expected to be included, that's just the way I thought it would be. I wasn't offended by having the nomination withdrawn as it didn't surprise me. I was quite moved by all the support I received and it was this support the influenced me to start writing a book as I felt there were fans that would be interested in what it was like in AC/DC with Bon.
The explanation I got from the Hall of Fame is that they did a review of their research and considered that I didn't qualify. Why they had to review the research, or what caused them to review their research, I do not know. AC/DC were nominated for three years in a row so you would have thought their research was thorough. It's interesting that Timothy Schmidt did two albums with The Eagles on bass and was inducted.
In the end, the main thing is that the band is in the
Hall of Fame, exactly where they belong. The idea of a petition is flattering
and thanks but was unnecessary as I have no issues with the way it has panned
Do you ever look back at old AC/DC videos, or perhaps on TV, and reminisce about the old days? Hard to believe it will be 26 years since Bon left us next month isn't it?
Yes, it is hard to believe that Bon has been gone that long. I feel he is still around though.
A lot of memories have come back via the writing of my
book but before that I really didn't spend a lot of time on it. I remember
walking my youngest daughter home from school when she was 6 years old and she
asked me if I used to be in AC/DC, as her teacher mentioned it to her. That
probably gives you an idea on how I place my time with the band...my daughter
didn't even know I was in the band. She was a little concerned I was one in the
school suit since she was aware of AC/DC, but not that I was in it during the
You have been busy with the band TICE & EVANS (with Dave Tice). What are your near future plans with this band, and anything else going on musically for you? You are playing guitar as well as bass now?
Tice and Evans is the main thing for me these days, plenty of shows to keep me occupied and easier on the ears because it's acoustic but don't be fooled by the acoustic thing, it's got plenty of kick and Dave has a huge voice. The live CD will be released in Europe in March '06 by Heurekord (Germany) www.hu.heurekord.com
There are plans to tour Europe and possibly the UK in July/August 06.
Tice & Evans is a duo so I'm on guitar but when we go
electric I get to play bass. Paul Demarco from Rose Tattoo has played drums for
us and Pete Wells and Mick Cocks ( also Rose Tattoo) have guested on guitars. that's it !
Thanks Mark, and all the best to you & happy new year 2006!
Thanks for all the support, watch out for Tice and
For further information about TICE & EVANS as well as booking information, please visit their website: http://www.davetice.com/davetice/tebio.html
Ron Carpenter was in one of the earliest AC/DC lineups circa 1974. Having replaced original drummer Colin Burgess, and to later be replaced by Russell Coleman, Ron was part of the early-Dave Evans era line up during '74, and had previously played in the band Bogislav. He later was with the band Aleph during 1976-77 and has since been involved in a variety other projects mainly self compositions and his invention of PLEX technology.
1974 ? – I’m not real sure. It was a period of 6-12 months somewhere between 1973 and 1975. I was teaching during the day and was invited to audition by a guy named Peter Panayi (I think) – he had something to do with William Shakespeare (see Alberts Vanda and Young) and owned a record cutting machine. He lived in Ashfield and I was teaching his son drums for free. I remember rehearsing in Town Halls around Haberfield and Croydon and a place called Cashmores (rehearsal studio) in Ashfield.
I had a van – a Ford Transit and used to pick up the guitarist and bass player from Kings Cross. I think their names were Larry and Steve/Peter. Dave Evans would meet us at rehearsals and I’m pretty sure this Peter Panayi guy used to organize the hiring and rehearsing arrangements. The PA was shit.
Band Members – I don’t recall who I replaced but I’m pretty sure the line up included Dave on Vocals, Larry and “Steve” on guitars. There may have been occasions when they added other guitarists (i.e.: 5 piece) but I can’t remember any band changes.
I was married, teaching in a High School during the day, building a PA prototype in the afternoons and composing and playing at nights. I did not”hang-out” with the other members -except for quiet rehearsals with the guitarists at the Cross. We rehearsed a couple of times a week and the repertoire consisted of mainly Free songs and boogie/blues numbers.
The band had a good feel although Dave was a screamer and had a limited range – a bit like Ian Gillan. The guitarist had a Gretsch and a Gibson and knew some nice jazz chords. The Amps and PA were very poor- probably Lenard Amps.
My background was classical piano for 15 years as well as playing drums with my parents dance band from the age of 11. I picked up guitar and other instrumental techniques along the way. I formed my first rock band in 1965 and played gigs all through High School and then for 4 years at University.
Both my parents were musicians and my Grandparents were musicians; my mother was an accomplished pianist. Both my sisters are musicians and we were raised in a country town where my mother’s talent was recognized far and wide. I started composing at 12 and was recording on 4Track tape recorders by 1966. I was able to listen to music from anywhere on a giant wireless that had shortwave. My mother could listen to a song once and work out the chords and melody, she played jazz and could improvise. I would orchestrate and transpose my father’s saxophone music from sheet music. He also played drums – pig skins that required soaking vellum’s in the bath, cutting and tucking around a hoop after you broke a skin and warming in front of the fire and wrapping in blankets before they were put in the car for a gig.
AC/DC was the first band I joined after the disbanding of Bogislav in 1973.
Bogislav played heavy rock (Cream Traffic Zepplin Mountain, Bluesbreakers, Chicago, Santana, etc) and a stack of Original songs. Bogislav included Don Walker who would form Cold Chisel in 1974 in Adelaide. They could cut it with any “Sydney” band at the time.
During school I formed “the Generation”, “Early Hours” and the legendary “Paddywak” with Peter Sheedy. The “wak” played Hendrix and originals and won numerous Battle of the Sounds in the early 70’s.
At University I became interested in computers and synthesizers. At the same time I realized the importance of sound in music. Electronics and digital technology would forever influence my future directions in music.
AC/DC was a part-time interest for me at that time.
Most of my spare time was spent with my 6 piece band Aleph – rehearsing an all original repertoire that included Mellotrons, moogs, Oberheim synths and elaborate guitar FX. Aleph consisted of ex-Bogislav members Dave Highett (Scot) and Dave Froggatt (English) as well as Joe Walmsley (Indian) and two female keyboard/synthesists – one of whom was my sister Mary-Jane.
At the end of 1974 I took Aleph to a recording studio in Currabubula and recorded 6 tracks over 3 weeks. I recall telling Peter Panayi that I would have to leave AC/DC for at least a month and telling the guitarists and Dave I couldn’t continue playing cover songs. The parting was amicable and I continued to see Peter Panayi over the next few years – Aleph blew up one of his trucks on tour to Melbourne in 1977!
The next time I came across AC/DC was in Albert’s King Street in 1975/76.
They were recording the first album and I’m pretty sure they were still changing their line-up –Angus was just starting to get a sound out of his SG and Marshals. This album was constructed by Harry and George who had a significant input into the songs, arrangements, sounds and eventual mix.
I suggest the “sound” created by Harry and George at King Street and the overall feel and intensity of those first recordings DICTATED the eventual live manifestation of AC/DC. The songs were constructed around Bon’s vocals and laid the aural blueprint for the eventual “line-up” to develop an effective and powerful live presentation further propelled by the rapidly improving and visually exploitive Angus.
Aleph performed with AC/DC at a large concert in the Haymarket in Sydney in 1975/76. Our singer had stuffed his throat in the studio at Albert’s all day and we did a shortened set. I recall AC/DC got a terrific reception from the crowd and Bon being in excellent voice.
I also recall thinking whoever their drummer was – he was a lot more disciplined and appropriate – because the music required it and I’m sure he still had Harry and George’s demands for simplicity ringing in his ears. AC/DC didn’t need a John Bonham – they worked better with a Simon Kirke or Charlie Watts!
I don’t think this line-up (with Bon and Angus) played many small pub gigs. They didn’t slog around the traps – Bon had for years – but Angus didn’t really get a lot of gigging experience with this line-up before they took off.
In the studio, George would show Angus a riff and they would both play it over and over – for many minutes. The room was concrete with Marshalls stacked against one wall- curtains back – the lift well in King Street used to shake when they were riffing. After 20 minutes of riffing – George would signal Harry or leave his guitar and go into the control room himself and record a few minutes of Angus. He’d then return to the studio and show Angus the next riff- the process would go on all day and night. After recording sufficient riffs Harry and George would mix/bounce them down to ¼ inch tape and then edit (splice) the arrangement – 16 bars of this -8 bars 0f that – middle 8 – 16 bar chorus – etc. The new song/arrangement would be presented to Angus the next day. Bon would then work the vocals with the band and they’d work on tightening the rhythm section ready for recording.
We spent a month recording the Album “Surface Tension” for WEA in the adjacent studio while AC/DC recorded their first. I was fascinated by Harry and George’s methodology and process. When I hear Bon and AC/DC I really hear the Easybeats reinvented.
I was never close to any of the band. The last time I spoke with Bon was sitting on some stairs at Albert’s King Street before they went to London again. Bon was having trouble getting his new teeth to settle and couldn’t get over how much equipment the band was starting to carry.
We talked about his time in Fraternity and I wished him good luck. At the time Albert’s had just installed a new Harrison Console and MCI 24 track and we were have a lot of problems getting them to function properly.
In 1976/7 Aleph toured Australia, lost a lot of money, failed to convince Warner Bros “Surface Tension” needed to be re-recorded and sought a release from their contract after it was released. In 1978 Aleph lost their singer to injury and had their custom PA repossessed. $400,000 in debt, I was asked to fill-in as drummer for Cold Chisel for a few months and organized for the members of Aleph and their families to move to Byron Bay.
A five piece, then four and eventually three piece Aleph performed almost nightly from 1977-83 on the North Coast and Gold Coast – repaying $300,000 in debt- taking no wages- carrying hired equipment in a double horse trailer towed behind an old Ford Station wagon.
Punk and new wave, electronica and rock – impeccable repertoire BUT cover versions – to get the work to pay the debts.
I started singing after we gave-up auditioning singers for the original repertoire – these included Colin Hay from Men at Work and even female singers. I sang only because we couldn’t find a better singer who would work for nothing, I sang and led the band from behind a drum kit that continually diminished….. I was learning to do more with less and started playing for ears…..not eyes.
In AC/DC I played a black Pearl/Rodgers/Tama/Premier custom kit. In Aleph I played a Billy Cobham 24” double bass drum kit with 12 toms and 9 cymbals. By 1983 I played with only a 20” bass drum snare, single tom, snare crash and hi-hat with a Roland SH-5 used for synth sound triggering.
During 1977-1979 I composed, performed and recorded original scores and soundscapes / music for film and television. ABC “A Big Country” and the award winning “First Contact”. I worked as a session musician on commercials at Music Farm Studios and composed and recorded “Crunch Time Snax” under the name “Takeaways” on a 16 track tascam recorder in an old shed in Byron Bay. This album contained a track “Russia Rocks China Rolls” all synthesized. A video of this track was shot at Channel 7 in Melbourne – I remember the shooting because it was the night John Lennon was shot. The local radio station banned Russia Rocks from airplay because it was all synthesized; I sought a release from my publisher Chappell Music.
In 1980 I was awarded a scholarship to study digital recording techniques and holography in the USA. In New York, Los Angeles and Bearsville I became interested in Holography and Laserology and returned to Australia in 1980 as a convert to the emerging digitalization of sound and music.
In 1984 I returned to Sydney and as singer/drummer formed “The Pound” with some ex Cold Chisel and Autumn players. Proficient with computers, synthesizers, PA technology, acoustics and audio engineering I discovered Ambisonics and the writings of Michael Gerzon. In 1987 I moved my family back to the country and developed a one-man band concept on the Atari 1040 platform utilizing MIDI.
I began performing as the definitive one man band. I pre-programmed complex backings and accompanied “myself” on Roland electronic drums, digital piano, synths, electric guitar and fx, bass and bass pedals as well as providing all the vocals via a headset mike. The sound of an 8 piece band and only one musician. Equipment could fit in a station wagon and for 7 years I held the unofficial title of “fastest band in the land” –averaging 130 kph and traveling up to 150,000 klm per year -solo. My composition now focused on “immersive” music and designing a recording, performing and reproduction system that would allow me to work in true three dimensional sound – to enlarge the soundfield from stereo to 360 degree spatialization.
The emergence of Google allowed me to keep abreast of technical and innovative developments in the multichannel audio field.
In 1994 we returned to Sydney and I continued to work as a “one-man-band” at nights and research the fields of Ambisonics, ambiophonics, B-Format, spatialization and related sonic matters.
In 1997 I rejected the use of commercial surround sound formats such as Dolby, THX and DTS and the 5.1 / 7.1 compression codec’s and built a customized 16.2 full bandwidth 3D system that incorporates height speakers and allows me to move and position sound sources ANYWHERE in a 3D speaker matrix.
By 2002 I had composed and recorded 8 hours of experimental music in a number of genres to conduct 100’s of hours of experimentation. In 2003 I secured sponsorship from Electro-voice (Australia) and demonstrated the system privately using sixteen SX300 speakers, two Dynacord 800 Sub-woofers, 2 kilometres of wiring and 60,000 watts of amplification.
As a composer I have total control of the soundspace. By employing wireless in-ear monitoring it is now possible to “spatialize a live band” – as long as each musician plays an electro-acoustic instrument so that NO sound is produced on the performance stage.
This system re-empowers the composer. The best music you have ever heard is usually composed by one person. The tunes that remain in your head until you die – are generally the creation of one person. I am not a good songwriter, for me, music is about sound – the brain is distracted by lyric.
While it is possible for me to convert my large multichannel sound files to Surround 5.1 and 7.1 formats I have refrained from releasing any music.
It is now 25 years since I released any music to the public and I have original material that covers 1980-2005 (the equivalent of 19 Albums) sitting on my hard drives – in 16.2 format, 10.2, 7.1, 5.1, 5.1MP3 surround, stereo, mono, MP3, real audio and windows media formats.
Plex is for live performance. It is best experienced by sitting. It is the antithesis of iPod! – its sound being experienced in a real time event – its sound (full range) that your body also experiences NOT compressed signals pumped through tiny speakers into the side openings of your skull.
I have approached only Cirque du Soleil – this is the type of experience that can best exploit the features and capabilities of live spatialized sound.
It’s now 30 years since I performed my own music in public.
If I could not afford to present (production) my music in the manner it deserved and I desired –it would not be released.
I am very stubborn – its goes with my uncompromising and independent nature. It’s my adventurous ear that sets me apart from my peers. I listen to anything I haven’t heard before- I don’t necessarily enjoy listening or listen like most people – I’m an analyzer and I listen critically and analytically – this has helped me to continue being creative and experimental. This is how I want to express myself because complexity (plex) is fundamental to living modern and future life – composers haven’t been able to afford musicians for decades now digital technology is enabling and re-empowering them. Sophisticated baby boomers might now appreciate one of them cared enough about his work and art to know they all deserved a better product.
I have never regretted leaving AC/DC.
In fact, if all our circumstances were revealed I would be surprised if ALL of them DIDN’T envy me!
It’s the money and fame Vs great family and artistic integrity scenario. In the context of my extensive career, my time with AC/DC is insignificant. I may have contributed to their existence by being on drums for that period but my own pursuits were given priority. I consider my departure over their lack of enthusiasm for originality and Malcolm’s realization that DE was stultifying and retarding the bands vision were significant contributors to AC/DC seeking the assistance of George and Harry. AC/DC could never realize my musical ambitions in 1974 though they provided me an opportunity to “play with city muso’s”, satisfy my performance ego and “keep my chops and ear in” while I worked on other projects and started a family.
In music I do what no one else can do. I compose and perform music in 3D and it has taken me 30 years to learn the skills required…to do it all myself. I have more than “paid my dues” to performance and continue to sing and play in the knowledge ALL of my talents and skills will be required to successfully “convert” traditionalists to spatialization and the concept of immersive music. The future is not stereo, it’s multichannel and live performance arts can exploit the opportunities presented by this technology.
If I’ve been wrong for the past 20 years so to be the inventor of MP3 – Karlheinz Brandenberg – check out IOSONO !!!!!
The Fraunhofer Institut works with Wave Field Synthesis and requires 100’s of speakers – my system is based on Vector Based Amplitude Panning (VBAP), requires only 18 speakers, less processing power and is a fraction of the cost to build and install.
Immersive music is not surround music.
The stuff on DVD’s at present is mainly stereo recording masters re-jigged for surround 5.1. The music was never intended to be reproduced in 3D or surround and therefore was recorded using stereo techniques. SACD and DVD-A offer better audio quality but it’s the CONTENT that we lack- music specifically designed and prepared for surround replay. Immersive music works best if the composer is integrally involved – from initial conception right through to the live performance or recorded product.
It is stereo that is artificial – humans hear sound from all directions – NOT simply from front Left and front Right! We need to skill young musicians and composers to fully exploit the creative possibilities of space. Sculpting sound in space with its psychoacoustic implications is a powerful tool.
I’ve been using German hardware and software by Creamware, Steinberg and Z Plane Developments since 1997 to build the platform for my system. I also remember Can, Gong, Kraftwerk, Klaus Schultz and Tangerine Dream – Klaus is still pumping out product!
I intend to have a web site up and running in the next few months.
No recordings were made during my time with AC/DC. There may be photos but I have none. If you Google Bogislav Paddywak and Aleph images you may get lucky!..... I’ve never bought an AC/DC Album and have never wanted to hear any particular track. These days they’re used to sell vehicles in radio and TV commercials. I’ve never played AC/DC as a cover – in fact I have never done a cover of any Australian artist or band. I have used AC/DC riffs to teach my students guitar but I find it most awkward when they Google my name and want to know why I left AC/DC – it’s a long way to the top only few can understand.
I hear the boys are releasing a new album this year, I really hope you enjoy it and get to see them on tour. They’re still fucking loud and kick-ass – not the sort of music that should be experienced through iPod earphones!
I cherish my privacy and underground status. It allows me to do what I want. I have been a band leader since I was 15, I was always the best musician in the band and drove all band members hard because they were playing my music. The machines do what I want and when I want it and can handle my intensity. I still act as musical director and conductor for musicals and revues – but that’s other people’s music. Until I can find the proper resources to showcase what I do best – the world must wait as I’ll continue to work alone. I have a studio in the garage of my newly rented home and my school holidays for the past three years have been spent locked up inside empty school halls and auditoria with a stack of sponsored speakers, amps and wiring. I’ve just upgraded the system to run on XP but refuse to patent my designs. I only built the system so I could continue my composition, it’s the content that’s important to me not the system. The Japanese have just finished work on their 22.2 audio system for HD (Google 22.2 sound system) AND it includes height speakers. If IOSONO and the money behind the MP3 developers can’t interest the world in immersive content and spatialization this year what can little ol’ me do? I am prepared to develop a one-man-performance that would showcase my unique talent and skills and entertain audiences of around 400 -600 seated within a 3D speaker matrix. My system is designed for me to occupy the stage of a conventional performance space and immerse the audience. I Do NOT need to be inside the soundfield or speaker matrix. I KNOW what the audience is hearing. Should I decide to incorporate musicians playing in real-time it is imperative they NOT make a sound on stage-except for vocals – the resultant mix can be spatialized – wrapped around and over the audience – rather than blasted from the front, mixed for the middle and too loud up front and too soft at the back. AC/DC can’t use a spatialized system – Kraftwerk can! The guitar back-pack lets Angus move around the arena whilst performing – the sound still pumps from the giant line arrays – with Spatialization you can focus the sound to emanate from where Angus is!- you can separate the instruments and harmonies- spatialize the delays – spread the sweet spot. The Chemical Brothers promote an ambisonic sound system – its loud but its only an 8 channel matrix system that works in the horizontal sound field reproducing dance music that has little need for the subtleties of dynamics.
Ron Carpenter January 2006
Chris Slade was the drummer of AC/DC from 1989-1993. He previously played with Manfred Mann, Uriah Heep, The Firm, and other artists, and more recently with the band ASIA, which he departed ways with in 2005, now to be playing with Pete Way's (UFO) DAMAGE CONTROL.
Interview kindly provided by Bob Anderson.
1) You are a very technical drummer, which is no doubt the reason you were recruited for The Firm. What was it like playing with legendary musicians such as Paul Rogers and Jimmy Page?
-I'm not really a very technical player compared to some of the drummers around today, I believe that feel and heart are far more important than flashing all over the place.
2) How did you get the call to work with AC/DC and what was your reaction?
-I got the call to audition for the band when I was playing with Gary Moore, everybody and their uncle was trying for that gig, the day before me Simon Philips auditioned, it was in a rehearsal studio in England, North of Brighton, and I thought I did very badly at it, so it just goes to show we're our own worst critics, they called my home before I got back to it (45 mins away) and told my wife I'd got the gig.
3) Did you have any input in the writing process for the Razors Edge?
-I had no writing input on the razors edge and neither did anyone else other than Angus and Mal, the songs were written before I joined.
4) The setlist for the Razors Edge tour was very extensive, was there any song in particular that you enjoyed playing?
-I really enjoyed playing Sin City and Shoot to thrill on the tour, but to be honest EVERY song is a buzz to play !! I used to be EXHAUSTED at the end of 2 1/2 hrs of AC/DC
5) What kind of drum kit do you play on?
-I've played Pearl drums since 1984 (the Firm days) and Paiste cymbals since the early '70s and I musn't forget to mention DW drums, been using their pedals since the mid '70s, just got some 9000 series double pedals off them last week, from the factory in Oxnard CA.
6) What can we expect from Chris Slade in the coming years?
-I've been playing with a few guys from LA as Thunderstruck and the band sounds like AC/DC so I get a similar buzz from playing with them, not the real thing though.
Mark Evans was the real "original" AC/DC bassist, from the first touring line up of the band from 1975 through 1977, and played on the classic AC/DC albums "T.N.T." (Australia), (which was also compiled and released as "High Voltage" as AC/DC's first album worldwide in 1976), "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap", and "Let There Be Rock". Mark parted ways with AC/DC in 1977 just before the start of the Let There Be Rock tour and was replaced by Cliff Williams, who remains in the band to this day.
Special thanks to Volker Janssen for allowing reprint of this great interview with Mark, which is from 1998. Special thanks also to Thomas Schade of the great AC/DC Fanzine Daily Dirt. Be sure to get the new issue due out soon!!
MARK EVANS INTERVIEW BY VOLKER JANSSEN:
Interview Mark Evans August/September 1998
When did you join AC/DC?
In March 1975 my mum and me lived in Prahran which is a suburb of Melbourne. A friend of mine who was sharing the apartment with us - I used to play football with him - knew a guy called Steve McGrath who became a roadie. He phoned me and told me these guys are looking for a guitar player. I had heard of the band, so I went for an audition as a guitar player because Malcolm was playing bass. There is a story that I met them at the Station Hotel in Prahran where I got thrown out of the hotel straight into Bon Scott. That’s not true, but it makes a great story… It’s also not true that I joined after a party for the launch of the High Voltage album at the Hard Rock Café in Melbourne. The Hard Rock Café in Melbourne wasn’t like a Hard Rock Café - it was just a rock club where the band used to play. I just met them through a mutual friend. They gave me some tapes to listen to - that was on a Saturday. On Sunday I went around and played in an audition. I first played guitar and we swapped over halfway through the audition. On Tuesday night I was working with them at the Station Hotel which was just 50-100m from where I was living. I just did one more rehearsal with the band - when we very first went to
England to make sure that the PA worked. The band never rehearsed, they just went on. All the songs were written in the studio - we didn’t have any money then, not a cent. Malcolm said “Do you have a bass? Bring it around, we’re working at the Station Hotel on Tuesday night”. I said ”Great, that’s just around the corner from where I live, I’ll come.” On Sunday after the rehearsal I went to the Station Hotel to see another band and got into a fight with the bouncer. So I actually got barred from the hotel. On Tuesday night I wanted to go back in, but they wouldn’t let me in and didn’t believe that I was working with the band. That’s where the story about me getting thrown out of the pub comes from. I actually
had to wait for the band to go in. And the band didn’t tell me I got the gig, they just said “We’re working there on Tuesday night”. So I just turned up to see the band. Then they said “Come on, tune up!” and I asked “What do you mean?”. Malcolm said “You’re playing bass.” I said “What do you
mean I’m playing bass?” and Malcolm went “You’re in the band.” I’ve never been asked to join the band, they just told me to turn up for the gig. I came straight from work (builders’ labour) and I was dirty so I played with a worker’s overall and big work boots. With a baseball cap on… We did lots of covers, lots of Rolling Stones songs like Honkey Tonk Women and Jumpin’ Jack Flash. A few other songs from the first album that were just taking shape, Baby Please Don’t Go of course. And a lot of
Elvis Presley songs like That’s Alright Mama, Heartbreak Hotel and Jailhouse Rock.
What did you do before you joined AC/DC?
Actually I had two jobs. My main job was working for the government, for Telstra before it was called Telstra - it was called PMG (Post Master General). It was an office job and it wasn’t me… I did it when I
was 16 years old and I knew it wasn’t me. At that time I took a four-week holiday and worked as a builders’ labourer during my holidays because I wanted to get some money to go to England. AC/DC was my first professional band. Before that I played in bands amongst my friends - I played half a dozen gigs at parties and small pubs, but nothing serious.
How old were you when you joined the band?
I just turned 19. I don’t know the exact date, but I joined in between 2 March (which is my birthday) and 31 March (which is Angus’ birthday). I remember joining the band and a couple of weeks later we had a party for Angus’ 20th birthday. Angus is actually a year older then me, he’s 43 now. I was the youngest in the band.
How did Bon get the idea of dressing up like a schoolgirl when you performed Baby Please Don’t Go on TV? He also played a business man during Show business…
It must have been March 1975 when Bon dressed up as a schoolgirl during Baby Please Don’t Go - that was done for a TV show called Countdown. It was my first time on Countdown, I was just watching… I couldn’t stop laughing because during the rehearsals he wasn’t dressed up like that. And no-one could find him before - it was done live to air - 20 seconds to go and no-one could find Bon! Bon was in the studio hiding because he didn’t want anyone in the band to see him. And then he came out and the place just fell to bits. We were supposed to be a rough, tough rock ‘n’ roll band and there’s Bon dressed up like that… He could do things like that - it was soooo funny!
Did Angus always wear his school uniform? I believe he also had a Superman and a Zorro dress…
When I joined the band, Angus had about five different identities: Schoolboy, Superangus, Zorro, Gorilla and Prisoner for Jailbreak. There is also a Countdown clip for Baby Please Don’t Go where he’s
in a cage as a gorilla and Bon is Tarzan with a little Tarzan thing swinging on a rope. But the gorilla suit was too hot for Angus… Each time we’d appear on Countdown we’d do Baby Please Don’t Go. I saw them performing Baby Please Don’t Go on Countdown before I joined them. The first time I did it was when Bon was wearing the schoolgirl’s uniform. Then, probably in April 1975, we did it again and Angus was in a cage wearing a gorilla suit. We also did one where he was dressed up as Zorro. It was on virtually every second week and everytime we’d go on as different characters. Bon would sing live, but the backing track was recorded from the record.
So he actually wore the prison suit on stage as well?
Yeah, but the schoolboy gradually took over. And the school suits used to stink - ah! Because he used to sweat so much… He used to drink so much milk and eat so much chocolate, he’d have a lot of gunk coming out. He’d wear a school suit… and sweat. After the gig he would put it into a suit bag and forget about it for the week. So, at the gigs on the Tuesday, Wednesday after it would still be in the suit bag. He opened the suit bag and the sweaty suits have been sitting in the back of the car for a week… He ended up having his own dressing room. Oh, you’ve got no idea what it was like… it was disgusting!
The famous Bondi Lifesaver doesn’t exist anymore - where was it?
The Bondi Lifesaver was knocked down in 1980 and was where the K mart car park is now in Bondi Junction. Straight across the road in Newland Street used to be a hotel called The Squire Inn - the hotel is still there, but it is called something else now. We used to stay there, so we used to go down the lift straight over to the Bondi Lifesaver, play and walk straight back. Perfect… my head hurts just thinking about it. The Bondi Lifesaver was very, very good. The first round of gigs I did with them, we did
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night - five 45-minute sets per night. Very hard work… We actually had the record there one night: 15-hundred and something, so it wasn’t big. It had an outside beergarden, so you could have a barbecue out there in summertime.
Which songs other than She’s Got Balls and the unpublished Dog Eat Dog were recorded at the Bondi Lifesaver in 1977?
I don’t know about that one because we’ve done so many recordings. What we did record though… our first tour back in Australia after being in England. There is this guy who is actually a film director
now, his name is Russell Mulcahy. He actually made a film of the tour and Alberts still have it, they haven’t released it. I saw the rough cut of it with the band, it runs for about two hours… and it looked good. It’s placed around a live concert in Melbourne, but they actually went on the road with the band for two weeks. They filmed everything - live and backstage. So there’s hours and hours of footage of the band with Bon - it’s never been released. It’s all done on 24-track, not on video. The tour was called
“Giant dose of rock ‘n’ roll”. The original name of the tour was “The little cunts are back” - it wasn’t our idea, it was the promoters’ idea, but they wouldn’t let us do it. We had a tour program that got taken off the market because we couldn’t sell it. It had a photo of each of us with a quote underneath. You know Rod Stewart? He used to have this beautiful wife called Brit Eklund… and I was in love with her. So myquote was “I like to make enough money, so I can fuck Brit Eklund.” They banned it, the police took allthe copies. The whole thing was geared towards not offending people but getting publicity. It wasn’t an all successful tour back here, it was a fairly quiet tour. I don’t know for whatever reason, but it didn’t
work. We only did about 20 gigs. That was a real low for the band here between November 1976 and January 1977.
Do you remember the Myer Music Store in Melbourne where you planned to do a series of free gigs inSeptember 1975, but the place was torn down by hysterical schoolgirls on the first night?
Yeah, we were supposed to do four days. It was a department store like Grace Brothers and we played in the girls’ clothing department on the first floor. We got halfway through the first song… and the place just got wrecked! Without trying to sound like a superman, I don’t get scared of anything - I just thinkof the best way to get out of it. But that was the only time in my life I thought we’re gonna get killed.
There were 2000 screaming people, mostly girls - these girls used to love us, I don’t know why because we were ugly. They were okay when we came out on stage, yelling and screaming. School days used to be our first song, but we didn’t get far… The girls in the back started pushing forward, and it went like a wave. So the girls in the front got spat up onto the stage - like a wave of people. We were pushed back into the amps and the amps went down… Bon ended up getting his clothes ripped off. His shoes were
ripped off and he got chased through the building. All he ended up having on was part of his jeans! Malcolm got his eyebrow cut. I remember a security guy getting me and putting me in a headlock, he dragged me out - I still had my bass on - and threw me into a cab and said “Fuck off!”. We were all split up until we got back together two hours later. The place looked like after a bombing - I didn’t see it afterwards, but there was a Channel 7 news crew who filmed it. It was just wrecked… About A$ 20,000 worth of clothes had been shop-lifted. The whole inner area was level - just smashed. It was like a warzone, people set fire to things and everything. They said “Here’s your money… don’t worry about coming back tomorrow”. That was the only time with the band I actually got scared that someone might get hurt. Now it’s funny, but at that time I just thought either we or some of the girls are gonna get hurt. With the band we used to attract a fair bit of violent behaviour - all the pubs we were used to work in were pretty rough. The guys who used to follow us were the same that also followed Rose Tattoo, they used to be a bit rough. Sometimes at pubs at 11 o’clock at night there would be fights and all that. But
that was just part of growing up in Melbourne in the seventies which was a very rough and violent place. So I was used to see people getting hurt at gigs and that was okay, but this was a different thing.
All these young 12-, 13-, 14-year-old girls getting hurt and squashed - that’s the thing that scared me. Not the fact that I was gonna get hurt, but all these girls… You could hear them screaming and all that. Not just screaming “Here’s the band” but screaming because they were getting hurt. I laugh at it now, but at that time it was a little upsetting - you just couldn’t stop it. It was crazy…
Do you remember the farewell concert at the Bondi Lifesaver before going to England in March 1976?
Is it true that this was the first time Angus dropped his pants?
Yeah, he actually took everything off - dancing around the stage like being stupid and shaking his skinny butt all over the place. He had no clothes on, just his shoes, duckwalking up and down the bar. Very unattractive… Angus is tiny - you pick him up and wave him around your head. He was six and a
half stone which is about 45kg and 5’1.5” [156cm]. I was the tallest in the band, I was about two inches bigger than Bon - he was fairly small, too. I was a giant… and I’m only 5’7” [170cm]! No-one really knew who you were because the band was so small. People used to think we were really tall. They had this idea of Bon being this big, but he was only 5’4” [162cm]. So we could go anywhere and no-one even recognised Bon. Except in Melbourne - where the band was from - we were recognised a little… Here in Australia they are very hard audiences to play to, very unreceptive audiences. All the time we worked in Australia I don’t think we ever got an encore - and we must have done up to ten gigs a week for about two years. We were playing and people just kept looking at us. So Angus dropping his pants started off as a “Fuck you”. It got us a lot of press because it got us banned from a couple of towns. So Angus just kept it in the act, but it started off as a frustration, without a strip. I think, originally it was during Baby Please Don’t Go, but it changed because Baby Please Don’t Go didn’t stay in the set anymore after going to England. Then it built up over the years and Angus began to strip - and it started being fun. It’s a fun thing, it’s stupid… You’re talking about a band that after 25 years still have got a 17-year-old schoolboy playing guitar… But it’s good fun. People call it a heavy metal band, but it has never been a heavy metal band, it’s a rock ‘n’ roll band… with a stripper at the front.
What were your impressions of England with the first gig at The Red Cow in London on 1.4.1976?
We were going on the road with a band called Back Street Crawler. I was at the Red Cow one night -after we’ve done the first round of gigs there, it used to be our local pub where we used to go down and play dart. I was standing at the bar talking to this Australian guy… and he introduced himself as me! I said “How are you going?”, he said “Ah, you’re from Australia? Do you know AC/DC play around here?” I said “Yeah, actually I’ve heard…” and he went “Yeah, we’re doing some gigs around here. My
name is Mark Evans.” I said “That is quite a coincidence, mate… What are you drinking?” and asked how long he had been in the band. He replied that he hadn’t been with the band for long. Then I said “My name is Mark Evans and I’m playing bass in AC/DC” and the guy just went “Yeah…? Ah, fuck!”
Then he explained “You’ll like this, mate… Usually I tell them chicks and it works every time - I get to bone them. I’m just practicing here.” I said “Fine, use this. You just did it to the wrong guy, mate.” So I actually met myself at the Red Cow in London… Our first gig? We used to do two 45-minute sets and there were about 15 people when we started. During the break people would leave… We thought they hated us, but they would get their friends and bring them back, so by the end of the first night the place was packed. In England we did our first gig to no-one and six months later in October we headlined the Hammersmith Odeon doing four nights. The whole thing took off really quickly… I don’t know why. We probably sounded like a band that’s been on the road for years after all the hard work we did in Australia. We were pretty surprised that it all went so quickly. You know, we had a bit of a false start because Paul Kossoff from Back Street Crawler died, and then Bon went to a pub, got into a fight and
got his jaw broken. That put us back another six weeks.
Did you all live together in a big house in London?
We all lived in a nice big house in a suburb called Barnes which is on the western side of the River Thames. 110 Lonsdale Road was an upper middle class place just across the river from the Hammersmith Odeon which was only a kilometre away. We were all in there together - band and road crew - until Bon found an old girlfriend of his and moved out. In Australia all the guys lived in a house in St. Kilda whichis the red district of Melbourne, but as I was from Melbourne I lived in the next suburb (Prahran) with
my mother. We had an old bus - like an old Greyhound bus - and the front half was for the band. The back half was partitioned off and all the equipment went in there.
After regularly playing at the Marquee Club, how did it feel to play at the Reading Rock Festival in front of 50,000 people on 29.8.1976?
All we ever did at the Marquee was six Tuesdays. It was in August 1976 just before we hit the road with Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow. That was what kicked the band off. We started at small pubs like the Red Cow and the Nashville Rooms. The Red Cow was tiny - you could only get a maximum of 100 people in there. Then we were doing the Marquee on Tuesday nights, and it built from there. We got a lot of press. About 200m down the road in Oxford Street there was another club and the Sex Pistols would be going on at about 9 o’clock on Tuesday nights. We’d go on at about 11 o’clock, so people would see the Sex Pistols first and then come down to see us. So it was the Sex Pistols and AC/DC playing within
200m of each other. At that time nobody knew that both bands would become very big, so you could see them for one pound fifty each! The Reading Festival… they fucking hated us. We flopped. The closest I’ve ever been in that band to getting booed off. At the end of the first song - we used to do Live Wire first and we were banging and banging and Angus was going about - we stopped and there were 50,000 people just looking at us. Nothing happened, they fucking hated us. But we just kept on playing anyway…
Do you remember your first gig in Germany?
Yeah, I do. That was in Hamburg supporting Richie Blackmore. One of Angus’ and Malcolm’s elder brothers, Alex Young, lived in Hamburg. He moved to Hamburg in the sixties, he was a good friend of John Lennon’s, and he was a bass player and a sax player. We stayed in this rotten hotel in Hamburg - I can’t remember the actual name, but it was near the horse market. It was so bad we ended up staying at Alex’s place. We spent the first couple of nights at the Reeperbahn going through all the strip shows,
just being 18-year-old guys. That was the first gig of the German tour… after that I can’t remember much. Too many gigs and too many beers… I remember being in Munich for the Octoberfest - that might have been on the Black Sabbath tour. We were in this big bar with all these other people and a hump-pa-pa band. There were these guys wearing hats with big feathers and leather trousers slapping each other. Weird… There were these ladies walking around with all the liter things of beer, and we had
those long cigars. It was fantastic… except they kept giving us these things that made us sick. Ahm… rollmops. You got that and a beer and the cigars… and you would go green. But I like Germany a lot, good beer.
How much time did you normally spend in the studio recording albums? How did George Young contribute to the band?
To do the backing tracks it usually took four or five days. Then Bon would get the backing tracks and write the lyrics. T.N.T. and Let There Be Rock were done in about ten days, Dirty Deeds took about a week. Very quick… Everything was written and recorded within ten days, that’s why it sounded so fresh. Malcolm and Angus would have the bare ideas of songs and sit down with George on the piano - the whole three of them would fit on the same piano stool because they are so tiny, you know. They would work out the songs in the studio. George would pull the songs together and change them around. He’d just take the material and really produce it and get the best out of those ideas. Without George…the band’s not there. And now… They learned so much from George until they parted company, they can do it themselves now. George is brilliant, he’s the fucking best record producer. A really nice guy, too. It’s A Long Way To The Top was actually just one jam and George got the tape and cut everything in. The verses and the chorus are all the same. The song was never played in one piece in the studio - itwas all cut together from one big jam. That was George Young - the guy is a genius. He’s the guitar player from the Easybeats - he’s the most astute, the most intelligent musical person I’ve ever met. He hears things that are there that no-one else hears. He can play guitar, bass, drums, piano and sing. On some of the recordings he has made he played everything. He is still here in Sydney - Albert Productions is still going - but he spends a lot of time in London.
When you recorded Let There Be Rock you also recorded Carry Me Home which was later published on the Dog Eat Dog single…
No, Carry Me Home, Love At First Feel and Cold Hearted Man were recorded together at the Vineyard Studios in London later on - probably two or three months later - because they needed some more material. We had Let There Be Rock recorded before Dirty Deeds was even released in England. So there was a lapse, the original recordings were about 12 months behind overseas.
Did you record any other songs that haven’t been published yet?
Yeah, I think there would have been other songs recorded. Lots of different versions of songs - all the different versions of Whole Lotta Rosie - like on the Bonfire. I completely forgot about Dirty Eyes until I
heard it. A guy from America played it to me and asked me if I remembered it. I said “This sounds like AC/DC, sounds like Whole Lotta Rosie, like someone has ripped it off.” I completely forgot about recording it. I do remember now after I heard it. So there’s things you actually record you forget about.
I’ve seen film clips of songs and I can’t remember filming the clip. I’ve got jeans and a pair of red cowboy boots on… and I’ve never even seen this pair of red cowboy boots before in my life. They were fantastic boots! It was Dog Eat Dog and I was using a Gibson Thunderbird bass. It was recorded in England because there was a big Union Jack behind us, but I couldn’t remember doing it. You just do so many things and so many things happen so quickly, you forget things…
Is it true that George played bass on the High Voltage LP?
Yeah, absolutely. They didn’t have a bass player. George used to play bass in the studio quite a bit and work out the bass lines. Then I would copy what George had played - he’s a great bass player.
Is it true that George also played bass on the Let There Be Rock LP?
No, not really. George is on some of the songs and I’m on others. Sometimes I can’t tell who’s playing what because I ended up playing bass very similar to George, but I played most of the bass on Let There Be Rock. George played a lot of bass on Dirty Deeds, some of the songs were recorded when I wasn’t there, so George used to play bass. A lot of how I played bass I learned of George and I’d like to think I played bass a lot like George. He did a lot of work in the studio. He also played some of the
guitar, and he possibly could have been playing drums on a few tracks, too. He used to play everything.
But most of Let There Be Rock, that’s me. I can sort of tell because I got my own kind of style by then.
George is a swingier sort of player - more like rock ‘n’ roll - whereas I’m a heavier player. Things like Let There Be Rock and Dog Eat Dog, that’s me playing. You know, with Let There Be Rock the band started to sound like AC/DC.
Is it true that you played some bass on Powerage although you already left the band and Cliff got the credits on the cover?
Powerage is a little different because there were a lot of demos done for Powerage when we were recording Let There Be Rock. It’s hard to tell… I’m pretty sure that Riff Raff was recorded during Let There Be Rock. I remember a lot of stuff being left-over from Let There Be Rock ended up on Powerage.
And they didn’t record it again?
No. During Powerage Cliff couldn’t get into the country (he had a visa problem), so George also played bass on Powerage. I think, a lot of things recorded for Let There Be Rock ended up on Powerage and George played bass on the stuff recorded new. I think… I wasn’t involved with a lot of it at that stage because we had parted company by then. It certainly sounds like George playing bass to me… and Cliff wasn’t in the country. It’s hard to tell if I played bass on Powerage, too. I think Riff Raff, but George and myself play so similar. There’s a lot of things George has done. When we were out and George used to mix it, he would do all the backing vocals, too.
Was the famous concert at the Atlantic Studios in 1977 filmed on video?
I don’t know, that was with Cliff. It was the first tour of America and I have left just before that. I think that was Cliff’s first tour with the guys. I’ve certainly never seen a film of it, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been filmed because Alberts guard things very, very closely. They don’t let too much out and are very possessive of what they have. Like I mentioned before, there is a whole movie of a tour here in Australia that’s never been released.
Did Malcolm always have this vision of “We are gonna be big stars one day”? He is the boss of the band, right?
Oh yeah. There’s no question that it’s Malcolm’s band. Malcolm and Angus have always been very talent-visioned. I don’t think failure as a band was an option. They were very set in their ways and very good at what they did. Where they are now is exactly where they planned to be… and more. They’re great - I really like what they have done. We don’t see particularly eye-to-eye in a lot of matters, but I really admire what they’ve done. Except for Rose Tattoo, I think it’s the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world. To my taste Rose Tattoo is a little bit better. You know, the proof is in the pudding - AC/DC got to be one of the best. I don’t think that anyone plays that style of music any better. They were always gonna be successful. Absolutely, failure was not an option.
How was your relationship to the other band members?
Phil I got on very well with, Malcolm I got on well with. Bon was always a little bit separate from the band. I had a few clashes with Angus, but everyone did because Angus is very intense and very, very talented. Angus is not the easiest guy to live with and neither am I, so we used to clash a bit.
Did you feel like a full band member or just like having a working contract?
Absolutely a full member. The mentality of the band is that everybody has to be a full member. It’s a real us-versus-them mentality in the band. If you’re in that band, you don’t hate any other band, but you don’t regard any other band in the world as being important. That’s why it works…
That’s also why they don’t do any solo stuff…
Of course… No-one gets up and jams with them - forget about it. That band is just that band.
Brian did some jamming with Jackyl. I don’t know if they’re very happy about that…
I don’t think it’s the incentive thing. I’m very surprised that he would actually do that. I’ve never heard of anyone in the band jamming. I’d be interested to see how that went down with Angus and Malcolm. I know, when I was in the band and Bon had done something like that, it wouldn’t have been looked on as favourably. It would have been like “Who the fuck do you think you are? Mick Jagger?”
While touring you shared a room with Phil. When did he start his eccentric hobbies?
Yeah, I shared a room with Phil. Malcolm and Angus shared a room, and Bon used to have a room by himself or with one of the roadies. Phil was already a little eccentric when I was there. You could see that he was being a little unusual. Anything he did just got obsessive. He bought one of these old movie cameras and started taping movies - that’s all he wanted to do, film things. Then he got into those remote control model boats, so the house was full of fucking boats. Then the boats went and the house was full of this other shit. Then he ended up with cars… He is very obsessive about anything. He used to carry the boats down to where we used to live in Barnes and play the boats, get sick of it and just leave it there for some lucky kid to pick it up. He is very quiet. When he had a few drinks he used to come out of his shell a bit. He used to be a bit rowdy, but then he would get extra-rowdy. He can be a little bit withdrawn and doesn’t say very much. I haven’t spoken him for awhile, but that’s how he was when I knew him anyway. Very nice guy, a real angel, a very good heart, but very withdrawn. Sometimes he could be a little spooky.
Do you remember the concert at Sunbury in Melbourne in 1975 where you had trouble with Deep Purple?
That was actually before me when George was playing bass with the band, before High Voltage came out. It would have been on the Australia Day weekend which is on 26 January - six weeks before I joined them. The band was supposed to play after Deep Purple, and Deep Purple didn’t go very well, so they weren’t gonna let anyone go on except for two or three hours later. So AC/DC were all carting their own gear to the stage - they didn’t have any roadies. When they started putting their gear onto the stage, the tour manager for Deep Purple grabbed George Young and said “Listen man, you’re not playing.” George replied “Of course we’re gonna play. Fuck you.” The tour manager went “You can’t talk to me like that, I’m from New York City” - George just said “Fuck you, I’m from Glasgow” and boulded him. So they just punched the crap out of the road crew. The crowd saw AC/DC - Angus in his school suit - fighting… and they loved it! The band never played that night, but that’s how I first heard of the band.
These guys punched the crap out of Deep Purple on stage at Sunbury. The band got a lot of great press. That’s what actually set up the persona and the image of the band - like “Fuck, we’d fight these guys rather than play.”
In April 1977 you were thrown out of the European tour supporting Black Sabbath…
Geezer Butler pulled a knife at Malcolm. I wasn’t there when it happened - which was probably a good thing because if Phil and myself were there, Black Sabbath would’ve been looking for a new bass player… It was a bad thing to do. There was certainly tension between that band and us except for Ozzy. We got on great with Ozzy - the guy is a genius, he’s a lovely guy to get along with. But the rest of the band… I don’t know whether they were insecure or scared or whatever. So I wasn’t there, but I know the band’s side of the story. Geezer pulled a knife at Malcolm, and Malcolm just boulded him. And that was the end of it, that was basically the end of the tour. Malcolm didn’t get hurt, but Geezer did - he
didn’t wake up for a little while…
And there was a lot of fighting going on within AC/DC as well?
There was always a tension within the band, but there was no fighting in the physical sense. I never had a problem with Phil or Bon, but I remember Angus having problems with Bon and Malcolm being pissed off at… ah, there was just a general tension in the band. I don’t know why, but that was just the way the band worked. At any given moment someone may have a problem with someone else. It was just not the best atmosphere to work in, but it would be impossible to be in that band and it’d be a whole bunch of really nice guys who got on really well, then go on stage and do what they would do. It’s like Mike Tyson fighting someone and then before the fight going “Oh, hi! How are you going? How’s your family?” and then punching the shit out of him. It doesn’t work, you know what I mean? The personality in the band in general was an aggressive personality and that overflowed into the inter-band relationships. Except for Bon, Bon was just a hippie! He didn’t worry about anything, he just floated around everything.
But Angus had problems with Bon?
That was before we left Australia the first time. There was a very, very strong movement from a lot of areas to get rid of Bon as a singer. Any decisions for the line-up of the band were not Phil’s or mine or Bon’s area of decision, it was Malcolm and Angus. It’s very much Malcolm’s band, but Malcolm and Angus are the core of it. I remember, we were in a hotel in Canberra in late 1975. George came down, and there was a feeling that Bon may not be the right guy for a long term in the band because they felt that
he was involved in a drug thing that was a little bit too heavy. To Bon’s credit, he pulled himself out of all those problems, which was great. But there was a movement to a point of a guy called Adrian Campbell who was in a band named Raw Glory that used to work with us. They always used to support us in Melbourne and had the same manager, Michael Browning. He was here marked as the guy who was gonna take over. George was pushing for that more than anyone else, he was worried about Bon’s lifestyle. I remember the decision was made at one stage that Bon was gone. I don’t think Bon was ever told he was gone, people wised up before that. But Adrian was definitely picked out. It would’ve been a fucking disaster… But once we got over to England, things changed. Later the American record
company knocked back Dirty Deeds and they wanted a new singer. That’s fairly common knowledge, they wanted to get rid of Bon. But at that point the guys realised that Bon was obviously a very important part of the band. They wouldn’t have thought the band could continue without Bon at that stage. He was the spiritual heart of the band. Say, if the current line-up with Cliff, Phil and Brian would have been the start of the band, I doubt the band would be where it is now. I think you had to have Bon
at the front of the band doing all that hard work and then being strong enough to survive Bon not being there. I don’t think it would have worked with Brian from the start, if you know what I mean. Brian is great, but Bon is a different thing… He had a huge charisma.
So you had mostly problems with Angus?
You gotta realise the situation. All those years we were living out of each others pockets. Because the thing was so important to all of us, we used to take it very seriously. Therefore there were bound to be
tensions. I didn’t necessarily personally have any problems with Angus, but certainly there was a tension. Looking back on it - at the time it wasn’t that obvious - I think basically Angus didn’t like me. For whatever reason, I don’t know. To me it seems obvious now, but at the time I just thought “What the fuck is wrong with this guy?!” Sometimes I would get on with Angus really well - like he’s my best friend - and sometimes… He is a little bit moody. Guys that are as talented as that - and my god, he is super-talented - sometimes get moods. He would have rather large mood swings which could happen in the space of half an hour. When he had these mood swings, I found it pretty hard to get along with him to the point of saying “What’s the fucking matter with you?” Now I could manage it a lot better, but at the time I just couldn’t…
Was a big clash between Angus and you the reason you parted company?
It was a photo finish between me leaving and getting thrown out. I think, it was really a decision that was in the best interest of the band for me not to be there, whether it was my decision or not. It just wasn’t happening - it actually had become too hard, it was too diversive. So we agreed to part company. If I had stayed a little longer, I would’ve been thrown out. It became very obvious that my future wasn’t with the band - which was unfortunate because I still loved the band. It was a really tough period for me. In an ideal world I wanted to stay with the band, but it was just an untenable position. There was no way you could patch things over or make it work. It was just time to go, there was no final big bang. My
health wasn’t good at all because I was drinking too much. I don’t think I would have done permanent damage to myself, but put is this way… If I’d still be with the band now, I think something would have happened to me. I don’t know what, but something would have gone wrong. So it was the right thing for the band and the right thing for me.
When was your last concert with the band?
I never thought of it, probably somewhere in Europe. It must have been in May 1977, but I’m not sure. You probably know better than me - things like that… I don’t even know the year and the date that Bon
died. I just know he went. I remember what I was doing, and it still hurts to think about it. But I don’t know the date and year because it doesn’t matter - it’s just all over.
It was 19 February 1980…
There you go, now I know. I just know the way it affected me and the way it affects me still. I was in Sydney, I was living in Randwick. I was working with a local band called Contraband and my manager Brian Todd rang up and asked if I had been listening to the radio. I said “No, I’m just about to do some shopping.” He said “I’m just down the road, I’ll come around to see you.” which was unusual for a manager. He said “I need to speak to you. Do yourself a favour and don’t turn on the TV or radio.”
Then I realised something was wrong. About ten minutes later he came in with a bottle of scotch and said “This is for you, mate. We need to have a drink… Bon’s dead.” I said “Fucking bullshit”, took about two steps and - bang - I collapsed. Besides my father dying, the worst moment in my life. At that stage I hadn’t seen Bon for awhile. I was numb, just felt cold - I wasn’t upset until a few days later when it sunk in. Nothing could affect me, I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t upset - just like someone had
switched me off. See, everyone sort of used to say about him “If he’d die tomorrow, he’s had a fantastic life.” And everyone basically knew he was gonna go away early. No-one thought he was gonna die tomorrow or die when he did, but there would not be one peron that knew him that would have been surprised when he died. It would’ve been a shock, but you could see it coming. Some people aren’t meant to hang around and he’s one of them. I didn’t go to the funeral, I just couldn’t. I spoke to George
and the guys. I was invited to go over with them and do it, but I couldn’t face it. The guys didn’t want to go either, but obviously they had to. I regret it, but I just couldn’t do it. I went to the cemetery for the
first time only about two years ago and visited Bon’s parents. Sometimes, when I’m in the right mood, seeing Bon on TV looking straight at me can still freak me out…
Did you meet the band right after Bon’s death?
Yes, I did. I met Phil and Malcolm at the Millennium Hotel in Kings Cross - Phil was having a real struggle with it. He was having a hard time. Phil has always been a little unusual - even when I was in the band - but I think losing Bon gave him that little bit of extra push and he got a little too far out there. As you know, Phil had to leave the band for quite an extended period because he was not in good shape.
What did you do after you left AC/DC?
I came back here and played in a band called Contraband. We recorded three albums and then I really had enough of the touring lifestyle. So I got into music publishing and did that for quite a few years.
Gradually I got back into playing and then got into this vintage guitar thing that I do now (Jacksons Rare Guitars). Finch and Contraband are the same band, we just changed the name. I also did a single with The Party Boys and a lot of things with Swanie (John Swan). I played in a lot of things I wasn’t part of the band - just session work.
Didn’t you come back to Australia after the split and joined Rose Tattoo for a few gigs right away?
Yeah, at that time bands used to be continuously on the road. Mick Cocks was playing bass and they were doing it as a four-piece. When they would go to Melbourne - I was living back in Melbourne - I’d do the Melbourne gigs with them, so Mick could go back on the guitar. The guys wanted me to join the band, but I was too scared to get tattoos. I probably did between a dozen and 25 gigs with them. They wanted me to move back up to Sydney, but I just wasn’t prepared to get back on the road and - without
being too stupid - I wasn’t gonna get the fucking tattoos, forget about it!
Do you remember any highlights or any bad experiences touring with AC/DC ?
I didn’t really have any bad experiences at all. Or if I did, I can’t remember them. I loved touring Europe -
going to Germany and visiting places like Paris. The favourite part was working in Scotland, it was a knock out. When we got to the airport - the first time we flew into Glasgow - there were people with banners saying “Welcome home”… and we’d only been in England for about a month! People just knew that the band was basically a Scottish band. That was fantastic. Touring Europe was really great for me because I was always intrigued by London and European history, so I knew quite a bit about Europe anyway. Just being able to see all these places… I still love Europe - it’s intriguing with all the different languages. I couldn’t see myself living in Europe permanently because I love Australia so much, but I loved being in Europe. The only time people weren’t friendly towards Australians was when you were in Munich for the Octoberfest because they would get a lot of Australians and New Zealanders in there and they’d go fucking crazy - a little bit embarrassing. I really enjoyed living in London. England is
beautiful and so is Scotland. My favourite memory is touring Europe, for example driving through the Swiss alps, just seeing a lot of things that realistically I didn’t think I’d ever see. The only reason I ended up seeing them was because I was touring with the band. Then with other bands I ended up living in America and basically saw all of America when supporting Motley Crue with Heaven. The tour was about four and a half months long and we played in 40 states of America, so we virtually covered
the whole thing. To me the best thing about playing in a band is getting to see all those places. Not so much as being a tourist, but getting to meet the local people and hang out with them.
Now you don’t have much contact with the band members anymore. When did you meet them the last time?
I’ve seen Malcolm more often because he only lives 250 yards from my place. They always come back for Christmas, so I run into him at the supermarket, but we don’t talk much. We had some legal problems
that had soured the relationship, not on my side though. They’ve never been the happiest people I’ve ever met. I tend to be a fairly positive person and they’re a little bit not like that. I love what they do musically, but they’re really hard to live with on a day-to-day basis. The one I’m more likely to talk to is Cliff. I get on pretty well with Cliff. When they’re in Sydney, he always gives me a call and we might end up having a beer or something.
Tell me about Bon’s brother Graeme. He lives in Bangkok, right?
He’s got a club, a combined bar & restaurant, in Bangkok - I don’t know the name of it. He married a Thai lady and as far as I know he’s still in Bangkok. I meet Graeme once about every two years or so. He
always freaks me out at first sight because he looks so much like Bon. It’s a little bit disconcerting because he’s so similar to Bon, he laughs and smiles in the same way. He has always had long shoulderlength hair. Normally I think of Bon as having short hair, but the hair Bon had towards the end was like Graeme’s. So, if he comes towards me, hand stretched out and a smile on his face, I get the shivers.
Do you sometimes regret that you’re not in AC/DC anymore?
The only thing I regret about not being in the band anymore is not playing with the band. I still love the band, the sound of the band and the way the band is… with Bon. You know, if I’d still been with the band when Bon went, I would have left anyway. I wouldn’t have continued on without Bon. I’m glad the band did, but I personally wouldn’t have. I do miss playing with the band - the band is a great band- but no regrets.
Do you listen to new AC/DC stuff when it comes out?
Yeah, I hear it on the radio, but I don’t have many CDs. I’ve got a CD copy of Back In Black - it’s fantastic - and one of Highway To Hell. I think Highway To Hell is the best record, it’s just a knock out record. I don’t think I’ve got any other AC/DC stuff. The only people in bands that keep things are their parents. They keep newspaper clippings and all that.
Do you prefer the old vinyl or the CD?
CDs are more convenient, I think. You can carry them around in a discman. Records are a pain in the arse…
When did you start playing with Dave Tice?
After I came back from America - I was living in Los Angeles - in 1984/85, I think. Mick Cocks was playing with Dave in a band called Headhunters. They had a bass player called Joey (Joe Fury) and he
stepped aside. Strangely enough, Joey was Bon Scott’s peronal assistant in London until Bon had this girlfriend Silver Smith and Silver left Bon for Joey. That was in 1979 and it fucked Bon up. Obviously Joey was no longer Bon’s personal assistant after that, he became Ronnie Woods’ personal assistant for a while. Then he came back here and worked with Mick Cocks. He was the one that went with Silver to the hospital to identify Bon’s body. Now he’s here in Sydney. It might be worth talking to him…
You have been recording a CD with Dave. When does it come out?
Pretty soon, maybe October or November. It’s good fun, I’m really enjoying working together with Dave. Dave and myself have been working together for quite a long while, and I’ve always had in the back of my mind that at some stage I’d like to be involved with Dave on a business level. I’ve always enjoyed doing the business side of things - like doing deals and promoting things. We started playing together doing this about three months ago, actually we started at the Amazing Wok restaurant. We’re
having fun doing this and maybe we can grow it into something interesting. Dave’s sound is something really marketable, we just gotta find the right area for it.
When did you start playing the acoustic guitar?
These are the first acoustic gigs I’ve ever done. I played electric guitar in Heaven when I took over for Mick Cocks. Mick and myself followed each other around a lot, you see. Mick was working with Dave doing this and then I’ve taken over for him, but this has only just started.
Which acoustic guitar do you use?
Gibson J200 1972 and 1948.
What is your favourite bass brand and which bass strings do you use?
Fender Precision bass, absolutely. Then Gibson Thunderbirds. I use Rotosound Swing Bass 45-105 strings.
Is there anything in your way of playing bass that you would consider as being typically Mark Evans?
Yes, I learned bass from who I think is the best bass player ever, George Young.
Which song from your time with the band
do you reckon is the most complex in terms of playing bass?
None, they are all pretty straight forward.
Which is your favourite AC/DC song?
Definitely Girls Got Rhythm.
Neil Smith was in the 2nd actual lineup of the early AC/DC. In Australia, when the band first formed with Angus & Malcolm Young in 1973, Dave Evans on vocals, Larry Van Kreidt on Bass, and Colin Burgess on drums, and have performed their legendary New Years eve '73 gig at Chequers, soon after the rhythm section was replaced by Neil Smith on bass guitars, and Noel Taylor on drums.
Thank you Neil for being kind enough to share your story!
NEIL SMITH STORY by Neil Smith
Firstly I would like it noted that the fame of AC
/ DC is Malcolm and Angus's not mine. I had a very small part in a fantastic
I first saw the band when Alan Kissick asked us to come and have a look at a band called AC / DC at Chequers in Sydney one nite. The band had a lot of energy George Young was playing drums as the drummer for the nite was pissed and couldn't play according to Alan.
Malcolm filled in for our lead guitarist one nite ,the band cooked and the
next day Malcolm asked Noel (Taylor) our drummer and myself to join his band AC / DC.
After much consideration and a fallout with our lead guitarist we decided
to have a jam and see what it felt like..
It was a Monday nite and we spent a bit of time
trying the usual rehearsal
studios to have a jam but nothing was available.
I told Malcolm that our previous band called Jasper had just finished a
residency at the Hampton Court Hotel and we should try there as there wasn't a band playing there on Monday nite's.. I approached the manager of the hotel and asked him if we could set up in the lounge bar and have a jam. As I informed him that it wouldn't cost him anything he said go ahead.
We worked out a set of songs that we could play together and got on with it.
It kicked in strait away everyone was happy with the feel as the band was
cooking. After the first set I asked the manager of the hotel what he
thought of the band he loved it and gave us a residency for three months.
In those days Malcolm and Angus shared the lead guitar parts every song had at least two lead brakes.
Angus was so determined to make it Here are some quotes from Angus
" You must know that we are going to be one of the greatest bands in the
" It's a shame Hendrix is dead I wanted to blow him off stage"
He wasn't being a smart arse he was trying to let me know how famous the band
was going to become and how determined he was to make it.
Original songs we played
Can I sit next to you girl.
Rocking in the parlour
We played a stack of cover songs played our way.. A lot of Chuck Berry songs
and Baby please don't go.
Other gigs we played
Newcastle supporting a band called Sherbet
A school dance in Gosford
Victoria Park supporting a band called Flake.
After the Victoria Park gig Noel and myself where given the flock as it was obvious that we where going to take too long to get it together.
What am I doing now
I have a 60's cover band called The Swinging Sixties. A bunch of lads having a good time.
I have been selling new and used Musical instruments and Pro audio for
years. Check it out at
SIMON WRIGHT INTERVIEW
Simon Wright joined AC/DC in 1983 just in time for the Flick Of The Switch tour, after the departure of long time AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd at the time. Simon banged the thunder for AC/DC for the next 6 years, playing on the "Fly On The Wall", "Who Made Who", and "Blow Up Your Video" albums. Simon departed ways with AC/DC in 1989 to join DIO, and has been involved in a variety of music projects since, and has more recently rejoined DIO after Dio's reformation in 1999 and has been with the band since. Simon has a great personal website with info, photos, merchandise for sale(he has a new video! and other stuff available), and much more. It's worth checking out! LANDSHARK PRODUCTIONS Thanks very much for the interview, Simon!...looking forward to the next DIO album! Keep rockin'!.....
Hello Simon and thank you very much for this interview. You had recorded with bands previous to joining AC/DC- Tora Tora, AIIZ, and Tytan...so the music scene was something already familar to you. Can you give a brief history of these bands?
Tora Tora started from school. My friends, Paul Wheeldon and Pete North, we loved music and wanted to start a band. Paul & Pete both played guitar so after numerous bass players and name changes, it became Tora Tora. AIIZ were from south Manchester, we had a record deal with Polydor Records. Tora Tora was kind of at an end. I heard they (Girl School) needed a drummer so I jumped on board for a single and a tour with them; they had already toured with Iron Maiden and Sabbath. Tytan was from London, I moved there after AIIZ finished. They were the brainchild of Kevin Riddles who was the bass player with Angel Witch we finished off that album "Rough Justice". We did one show in Belgium and then they disbanded. Great Band though.
Lets go back to 1983. You answered an ad and it ended up being an audition as the new drummer for AC/DC...can you tell me a little about how this happened?
Dear Bill, check out the end credits on my new video for the entire story of my audition with AC/DC. (HTH: From what I know so far, Simon had answered an ad in the U.K. music magazine SOUNDS for 'hard rock band seeking drummer' and the rest is history).
When you first found out that it was for AC/DC, what was going through your mind?
I was excited and shitting myself at the same time.
Do you remember what the first live show with AC/DC was like? where it was? and what was going on through your mind at the time you sat behind the kit on stage?
The first show was in Vancouver, Canada. Everyone was patting me on the back saying have a great show Simon. I was shitting bricks but it went well and every show after that became easier, obviously.
What was the process before going on tour? did you have rehearsals and a setlist to learn and that was it?
We would rehearse first by ourselves, just the band and techs; talk about the set then do pre production with the stage set we were going to use and off we went.
Were you a fan of AC/DC before ending up in the band? of Phil Rudd?
Definitely, Phil was and still is a great drummer, great Rock n Roll drummer.
Your first recording experience with AC/DC was in 1985 for the Fly on the Wall album. Can you tell me a little about the recording and writing process that was involved?
Fly On The Wall" was a great experience for me. Most of the recording I had done before was always rushed and chaotic, we had lots of time to get things right. Malcolm and Angus had all the songs ready to go and Brian had the lyrics, we just banged it out.
How about the production process? and in the studio- how was it working with the Young brothers and Cliff and Brian for the first time in the studio?
Truly great down to earth people. It was a privilege and a pleasure to work with them.
Who made who...1986, the official soundtrack for the Stephen King Movie "Maximum Overdrive". Just 3 new songs, what was the whole vibe like at this time?
We were in Nassau in the Bahamas. Party time was the vibe if I remember right.
This was also produced by Harry Vanda and George Young this time...did that differ much from the self AC/DC produced album before?
There was a little more of a schedule with George and Harry that the whole band was happy with. Not much changed really, just go in and hammer it down.
Did you see the movie? what are your thoughts?
It was OK! Not quite "Saving Private Ryan", but OK.
Did you work with Stephen King at any point for this process?
What about the 'jamming' & bluesey music thats part of the movie soundtrack, but not on the album?
Cool stuff I think. Angus played some nice licks.
1988 brought the release of Blow up your video. was the writing and recording process much different from the previous 2 albums?
No, not really.
Did you record any songs that were never released from the Fly, Blow up, or Who made who sessions? Do you recall any of them?
I think we did, some extra tracks for " Blow Up Your Video" but I think they came out on B sides for "Heatseeker" and "That's The Way I Like My Rock And Roll" Too long ago, I'm not sure.
What was your most memorable moment while in AC/DC?
Donnington 1985 Monsters of Rock, England, 80,000 people, What a show.
Do you have a favorite AC/DC song you played on? album? what about live?
That is a tough one, I like "Hell Or High Water", "Go Zone" is pretty good I think but I like the old stuff, "Riff Raff", "Sin City" etc.
In 1990 you joined up with DIO for the Lock up the wolves album. Was your departure from AC/DC intentional? what exactly happened to decide this outcome?
I had become despondent with what was happening. I need to broaden my drumming. Ronnie who I had known from a previous tour was having trouble with his drummer so I took that step and did "Lock Up The Wolves". I enjoyed the change and decided to pursue it further. I think the guys in AC/DC sort of knew I had to go. No hard feelings, I hope.
How did you first connect with Dio?
Germany, Monsters Of Rock. 85 or 86.
After Dio, you had several projects during the 1990's. Rhino Bucket was a band that was very underrated(great sound!)...can you tell me a little about what projects you were involved with through this time?
After being in Rhino Bucket, I did an album with John Norum from Europe called "Worlds Away" then UFO with Michael Schenker for 3 years.
1999 marked your return to DIO for Magica, and you have been with Dio since...Killing the dragon the latest release(great!)...what are the next plans?
More Dio albums and tours.
Tell me a little about your website and what is offered there?
My web site has all the information on my career from my fist gig to my set up. You can also find merchandise like t- shirts, autographed sticks and one of a kind art work from me.
It also has something which I am very proud of which is my first video in ten years. It's called "Life On 'the Road with Simon Wright." My video follows me around on the road and shows what life is really like on the road. It also has a slide show of band members, drumming and production stills and music never released before by me.
Landshark Productions www.landsharkprod.com
BOB DEFRIN INTERVIEW
Bob Defrin was the Vice President and creative art director for Atlantic Records for 19 years. During this time, was the time AC/DC was affiliated with the Atlantic label. Bob is responsible for creating the now classic AC/DC logo, and has been involved in designing AC/DC album cover art for such albums as "Powerage", "Highway To Hell", "Back In Black", and "Ballbreaker". Special thanks to Mr. Defrin for taking the time to answer a few questions.
How long were you involved as artdirector for Atlantic records?
I was vice president and creative director for about 19 years.
When creating cover art for albums, overall, did the band have the general say of what they wanted, the record company, or yourself? or a combination?
Usually the covers were between me and the band.
You designed the artwork for AC/DC albums such as "Powerage", "Highway to Hell", and Back in Black", some of the best selling albums of all time, what are all of the AC/DC sleeves that you have done besides these?
I don't remember all of them offhand, but the last one was Ballbreaker.
What was it like working with AC/DC? & was it a band thing, just Angus, Bon, or the management?
The band was great to work with. It was mostly Angus and Malcolm, never Bon.
Where did the idea come from for the now classic AC/DC logo, first seen on the album "Let there be rock" in 1977? (This is one of the greatest logo designs of all time if you want my opinion- AC/DC fan or not- it stands out and draws attention to the eye.)
Thanks for liking the logo...1977 was a long time ago you know.
The cover for the album Powerage is brilliant. This was a painting over an actual photo, correct? can you tell me a little about the idea behind this sleeve?
Powerage was retouched over an existing photo of Angus. The idea is about electricity and power coming out of Angus.
Highway to Hell...also a photo originally? Why the different artwork for the Australian release?(flames and guitar neck)? Was this intended for the original cover worldwide?
Highway To Hell also retouched, I am unaware of a different Australian cover.
(HTH: I will assume this was done by Albert productions)
Back in Black- simple, but says it all. I assume this was the general consensus for the cover at the time?
Back In Black was the band's idea.
For the Fly on the wall album, the 'looey' the fly' idea was originally an Angus drawing? how did you work with this to conceive the final cover?
Fly was also the band's project.
Were there ever any AC/DC albums that you had other cover designs or ideas that were not used? if so, were they very different?
No-every concept was used (it's true)
How do you design covers normally? rough drafts/outlines, do you play with different ideas?
I never design covers normally.
(HTH- I like that answer) :-)
What are some other artists that you have designed covers for?
Other artists, the list is too long but include Aretha Franklin, Foreigner, Robert Plant, Blues Traveler, Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue.......
SAM SEE INTERVIEW
Sam See was a member of Aussie progressive rock band FRATERNITY from 1971 until the band broke up, which featured Bon Scott on lead vocals. Sam came aboard as a piano and guitar player in 1971 and performed on their classic Flaming Galah album recording. Thanks very much for sharing your memories of your early days with Fraterity, Sam!
Approximately when did you come aboard to join the band Fraternity?
Sometime in winter, 1971.
What band(s) did you play with before coming into Fraternity?
Sherbet and Flying Circus
How did you hook up with Fraternity in the first place?
Fraternity were the house band (the guvnors!) at a club, Jonathans, on Broadway. Sherbet auditioned several times and eventually got the gig as the junior house band. I loved Fraternity, which I thought was evolving a unique style and was inspired by the way they were using dynamics. I don’t know remember who was pushing that barrow in the band, but it used to blow me away. (The guy, who ran Jonathans, John Spooner, was a big proponent of dynamics.) I used to listen and learn. Often, Sherbet would get a better reaction from the punters, because we were a pop band, and improving at it. I used to give Bruce Howe, the bass player, heaps about how we’d blown them off stage but we both knew they were trying to do something original. I’d been hanging out with the guys in the Jersey Road house in Paddington in ‘69-’70, before I went to Canada with Flying Circus. Bruce and I had become mates and were trying to write tunes. We wrote “Somerville” and “Jupiter Landscape” together, two pretty undistinguished songs, which were recorded on the first Frat album, “Livestock”.
You were a keyboard player, correct? Replacing original member John Bisset?
Half right. I always wanted to be a guitar player. I played keyboards, which I had sort of learned as a kid, in a couple of bands, because there were better gigs going as a keyboard player. I was in Canada with Flying Circus, which had made a small ripple in the Toronto high school scene. Bruce contacted me to ask if I wanted to join as John Bisset, their keyboard player, was leaving. I was into it but had a commitment to do a Flying Circus farewell tour of Oz. They decided to hang out until I’d finished that. In the meantime, JB changed his mind about leaving. It was decided I would play piano and guitar and he would focus on organ. I’m sure we were both a bit apprehensive about it, although it meant we could cut Band songs pretty well!
How long did Fraternity remain intact after you joined?
I don’t think the band, as I’d known it, was intact really, things had devolved in the year or so I’d been away. As I recall, there’d been three new songs added to the repertoire in that time: Seasons of Change, written by John Robinson from Blackfeather; Getting Off by Mick Jurd and If You Got It by JB. I was a bit disappointed, no, a lot disappointed, to see what had happened since the band had moved to Adelaide. They were the kings of Adelaide, to be sure. There was too much big fun being had to knuckle down and do the work of writing and recording new material. Where I was living (on Hemming’s Farm), there was a half-arsed beginning to a studio, where it was anticipated we would record our oeuvre. It was too easy to cover another act’s stuff and get away with it in the pubs. (We did a bunch of songs by The Band, about five, as I remember. WhammerJammer by J Geils and Goin’ Down by Freddie King, used to be faves). Mebbe because of the gigs we were doing in Adelaide, mostly large teen dances or beer barns, the Fraternity approach to dynamics had changed and probably, as Mick Jurd would have said, there was a mid-range roar coming off stage. Adding yet another keyboard player wouldn’t have helped. Most of the guys had changed their set-ups and therefore their sound. Perhaps owing to their manager’s (Hamish Henry) largesse, Mick had moved from the Strat to a Les Paul; JB had switched from Hammond to Lowrey and Bruce had changed from some Acme Jap Bass (?) to a Gibson EBL-3. When I heard the band again, I was wondering what the hell had happened, those guys had their very own thing on their original instruments. For example, Mick was the first guy I ever saw doing swells with his volume pot on the Strat – you can’t do that on a Les Paul. You’ll have to take my word for it; JB was awesome on the Hammond. It wasn’t that he had the best chops you ever heard, but he used to colour the music with the drawbars in a unique way.
Nonetheless, the band had won Hoadley’s Battle of the Sounds. First prize was a trip to England, so there was reason for much optimism. For Australian bands then and now, the only way was out. I remember trying to persuade Bruce and Hamish to go to the US or Canada but, predictably, lost out on that one. So, we duly ended up in the ghastly house in Finchley in 1972.
Did you participate in any of Fraternity's recording sessions?
Following the lack of national recognition of “If You Got It’ recorded in Adelaide in a rather primitive but quite representative way, it was decided we would record the new album, “Flaming Galah” in Melbourne at Armstrong’s, then the Oz Mecca of studios, with John Sayers engineering. Besides, it was part of the prize for winning the Battle of the Sounds. I remember the sessions quite vividly. We tracked everything live, replacing vocals only, but didn’t set up like we did on stage, so the result feels a bit stilted to me. I had lost my slides, made from the chassis of our manager’s racing car and there are some particularly ordinary bottleneck moments from moi on Welfare Boogie. I apologise to posterity. The whole record was done in three days, two recording and one for the mix.
Did you participate in any songwriting with Fraternity?
On that reccud, I wrote Welfare Boogie (with Terry from Flying Circus), Hemming’s Farm, a biographical piece about where we lived in Adelaide, and we reprised Somerville. See what I mean? Not enough writing.
What were typical live Fraternity shows like?
I think it’s too bad we didn’t record the band live, it was when we were at our best, notwithstanding my earlier remarks about dynamics. Australian bands were very hot and tight because of the amount of gigs we did, and I still think we were one of the best. We should have had a sponsorship from Cleland’s Liqueur Brandy. Everyone drank at least half a bottle a day, enough to trouble your liver and enough to get a real fire in the belly. We were intense on stage.
I recall doing a tour for the Arts Council of South Australia. Bon showed up with a whole bunch of blotting paper acid, which I think had been distilled (?) by some genius at the Uni. It was very good but because blotting paper acid is an inexact science, you never really knew how much you were taking. Most of us sussed out to take just enough to get upstairs but not really peaking. Bonnie showed no such caution. Touring for the Arts Council meant that were quite a few civic receptions after we played. I remember the Lady Mayoress of Waikerie offering us some scones and Bon freakin’ out because he could see them dancing on the plate. We were playing bloody great though.
Do you also recall some of the other bands you toured with?Who were some of them?
We did a gig with Status Quo in Bournemouth. All we knew of them was “Pictures of Matchstick Men”. We thought, with typical Fraternity arrogance, we were gonna cream ‘em. We were sitting outside the Bournemouth Odeon (?) in our bus. (Our manager had had our bus shipped over to England in a tactical blunder not equalled since Gallipoli! We’d often be trying to get somewhere in London and find the bus couldn’t make it down the tiny streets. Who knew?). Two Bentleys pulled up in front of us and these foppish guys hopped out in their Kings Road finery. Much sniggering on the bus. We went on and played and the audience kinda liked it, nobody threw anything. In the meantime, Status Quo had changed into their denim stuff, cranked up the PA and absolutely destroyed us. I remember the bus trip back to London being pretty gloomy, maybe a bit of abuse maybe a bit of a dust-up. In retrospect, it was probably the defining moment of the end for a few of us. We hung around for a while, doing a couple of positive tours in Germany and assorted gigs round England to no great effect. JB was coerced into leaving, although our versions of those circumstances and the protagonists differ. We now had no organ and the sound changed to a leaner, more r’n’b, less distinguished thang. When Flying Circus offered me my gig back in Canada, I took the escape hatch gladly. On the bus, someone said, very drunkenly, “a rat deserting the sinking ship…” I said, ”I didn’t fuckin’ steer it onto the rocks”
How do you remember Bon Scott? Any interesting or fond memories of Bon you would like to share?
Not to tarnish his Highway to Hell image, but I always found Bon to be a lovely bloke. He did a lot of the dark stuff for which he is a legend, but he would also make cups of tea, y’know, normal stuff. He was a contradiction in that way. I think he struggled to connect in his intimate relationships, but as a mate, you couldn’t ask for better.
What was the whole scenario regarding the band name - change to Fang in the later days?
NFI. I had returned to Canada by that stage, but I think it was an attempt to be more commercial.
Do you recall supporting the U.K. band Geordie at that time? What can you recollect about them? Yes, I do remember doing a gig with them but I don’t remember much about them, they were pretty ordinary.
What would you say is your favorite Fraternity song and why?
It’s more like, which bits of songs? I liked If You Got It, mainly the chorus and the groove, which was a little different for that sort of boogie thing. The pieces, which inspired me to join the band, were Relief from a Lighted Doorway (Jurd), Raglan’s Folly (Jurd/Scott) and Patch of Land, which I think was written by Matt Taylor and John Bisset. Fraternity didn’t record Relief, I think the Clefs did, or Patch of Land. Raglan’s Folly was way better live at Jonathans than you’d hear it on either album, but the chord progression and the theme reminds me of what the band could have been, mebbe.
Many AC/DC fans discovered Fraternity's music by tracing Bon's roots, and many of us appreciate the bands music in general, sort of a cult following even to this day- a progressive rock outfit from Australia from the early1970's...now in 2002 still gets played in homes worldwide. Does that surprise you?
Yes, haven’t people got lives to get on with?
What do you think of the various Fraternity re-releases and compilations that have been surfacing over the past few years or so on CD?
I sometimes wonder where the liner notes emanate from, full of misinformation. For example, I believe the Flying Circus anthology is almost libelous. I could have sued if I could have given a stuff. Fraternity was never captured on record and I have never received a royalty statement.
Do you receive any sort of royalties from any of these?
No, I should get my publisher to address that!
As a musician, who do you site as your major influences?
As a guitarist, too many to list, I love Jeff Beck, Steve Morse, Ry Cooder, Sonny Landreth nah… too many to list. Keyboards...too many Garth Hudson, Leon Russell, Dr. John, Longhair.
Did you keep in touch with Bon over the years after he had joined AC/DC?
Infrequently. He seemed to make an effort to connect with everyone on his last trip here before he died. Although it sounds a bit cosmic, maybe he knew the jig was up. He told me he was tired and was going to buy a pub somewhere and chuck it in fairly soon.
Do you ever speak with any of the other Fraternity members, or know what they might be doing nowadays?
Not for years. As far as I know, Bruce, JF and Uncle are in Adelaide, in various degrees of retirement. JB is back in New Zealand. I have written to him about some of the issues he raised in your interview with him, which perturbed me.
What music projects did you pursue after the Fraternity split?
I went back to Canada and did one record, Last Laugh, which was all too prophetic. Terry and I joined a big Canadian band, called Lighthouse, which did a last album Good Day. Talk about the kiss of death. I then went on to the Ontario bar circuit for a couple of years before hooking up with an Australian guy, Greg Quill, who had moved to Canada on the strength of Flying Circus’ success (?) We could not get the act arrested, although I was once in Ottawa. We came back to do a tour in Australia and I discovered what I’d been missing. I formed Stockley, See and Mason, which had one live album, of which I am quite proud. It’s a genuine record of what we were like and sounds better than most studio efforts I’ve done. That band was too early or too late for the times. Since then, I’ve done assorted music director gigs and/or production and/or guitaring with a huge range of artists including John Farnham, Goanna, the Black Sorrows, Ross Wilson, Daryl Braithwaite, Brian Cadd, Swanee, Broderick Smith, Rose Bygrave, Olivia Newton-John, Tina Arena, Glenn Shorrock, Dale Ryder, Debra Byrne, Brian Cadd. Thelma Houston, Men at Work, Marie Wilson, Jane Saunders and Joe Camilleri.
What are you up to nowadays?
Anything, everything. Gigging with local blues monsters, the Hornets and Rose Bygrave. Recording music for film and advertising. I am about to release my own record, “Sam See…unhinged” which is a collection of acoustic guitar oriented pieces.
Vincent Lovegrove pictured with The Valentines, 1969
Vince Lovegrove was one half of the duo of singers of the late 1960's pop band The Valentines, the other half being the Legendary Bon Scott, who later fronted the one and only AC/DC. Vincent and Bon founded the band The Valentines together in 1966, which lasted until 1970, and became, and remained good mates until Bon's untimely death. Vincent has remained in the music industry ever since, managing a variety of bands, and writing for the music scene as an active journalist. Thanks very much for your time, and the great interview, Vincent!
How long did you know Bon Scott?
I knew Bon from around 1966 until his death.
Yourself and Bon founded the band The Valentines? 1967?
He was in a band called the Spektors and I was in a band called the Winztons. We were the top two bands in Perth, and Bon and I were both unhappy in our respective bands, so one very drunken night he and I decided we would form a band together. Bon was the drummer in the Spektors and he wanted to sing. We both loved Sam and Dave, two black r&b singers from America, so we thought why not form a band with two singers-he and I. We asked the guitar player and bassist in his band, and the rythm guitarist and drummer in my band, thus forming the Valentines.
Who were the original members of The Valentines?
Wyn Milsom and Bruce Abbott, Ted Junko/Ward and Wawrick Findley, Bon and I.
Where did the name "The Valentines" come from? were you called that from the beginning?
We were called the Valentines from the start. The name was suggested by a radio disc jockey called Alan Robertson who really liked Bon and I. In fact, he kind of managed us for a while.
Both you and Bon traded off lead vocal duties? What did the other do while one of you sang lead? backing vocals only?
Yeah, to start off with vocals were about 50/50, with the other one providing harmonies. If a song we did had no harmonies, we would ensure we created a harmony for it.
Who were the Valentines biggest inspiration/influences? I've noticed alot of your songs were covers of Easybeats songs? Your second single was "she said" an Easybeats song, correct? *
Influences were a mixed bag; Sam and Dave, Bee Gees, Rolling Stones, Soft Machine, Beatles, Small Faces, Santana, Traffic, Easybeats. We covered a few obscure Easybeats songs, and they wrote She Said especially for us, at the Perth airport terminal the day they left for England.
Did you know Harry Vanda and George Young?
We were fans of theirs, and they like us. I think they liked our potential rather than how good we were, because when we first met them we had only just begun and were not all that good. We were 18/19. But then as time went by they must've liked us a bit because they got us to support them a couple of times in Australia.
The Valentines released singles only? no full length albums at the time, why just singles?
At the time in Australia, not many bands had albums. It was a single market at that time in Australia. By the time we got around to start recording an album, we broke up.
Who sang lead on the Valentines songs listed below, you or Bon? Any words of interest on any of the songs in particular? Also, which ones were actually original Valentines compositions, v.s. cover songs?
Did I miss any? Are there other songs you have done as a band that were never released or never finished?
There were lots of tracks we had started for an album, all original, but they were never released. When we split up, Bon and I wiped all the tracks. What would you say is your favorite Valentines song? and why? *I reckon my favourites were never recorded. We did some good stuff towards the end, but disharmony, acid, hash and different aims and directions stopped us from recording them.
Did the Valentines perform any other songs during their live sets that you can recall?
Oh yeah, lots of stuff, from the Bee Gees' Words to Santana's 'I'm a Man'...our main thing, it should be remembered, was not our recording output but our liver performances. We were, at our peak, a very wild band, me and Bon jumping from amps, inciting the audience lots of fireworks and pyrotechynics, smokescreens, our main push being an exciting stage act.
What was it like recording in the studio as The Valentines?
The recording process was a tedious one for us because we hadn't really found our proper direction so in the studio we floundered.
How fast did the success of the band seem to be happening? you were a hit in Australia in the late 60's werent you?
We were a confusing and confused band. We wanted to be a wild act, with a wild repetoire but it never transferred into recordings, altho we had several hits. My Old Man's A Groovy Old Man was our biggest hit a national number 3 record, scoring number one in some cities. other top 20 hits were Peculiar Hole In The Sky, Ebeneezer, Nick Nack, Love Makes Sweet Music. We were one of the big bands in Oz towards the end of the 60's, for a short period the hottest band in the country, the next 'big thing'. But it was also the time of bubblegum music and we made the mistake of trying to appease a young audience for about 18 months, and then found it hard to break back into what we were actually all about. We were stuck by our own teenybopper hype. Strangely enough, we all got busted for drugs in 1969, but by 1970 we had split. The drug bust actually increased our popularity and broke the 'teenybopper' mould that we had placed ourselves in, but by then it was too late. The seeds had been sown for us to implode. Bon and I, just like we starrted the band, also finished the band. One drunken night we decided to leave the band. When we told them and our manager we were leaving, they told us that we couldn't. I guess this just sured up our resolve.
The Valentines appeared on Australian TV, didn't you? Do you still have any of the TV appearances?
I haven't got any clips of any appearances we did, but I am sure they're around somewhere...someone will make money from them. Since we split our songs have been poackaged into so many albums and none of us has made a penny. Others have made all the money. And there has certainly been more of our records sold since we split than when we we were together.
What was a Typical Valentines live show like? What was it like touring Australia in the late 60's?
I think I have described our live shows in another question. The thing is, that we had a massive teen following and the kids were wild. It was a wild era for Oz music. Kids used to storm the stage for us, rip off our clothes and all that stuff. We toured every one horse town in Australia in a kombi van, equipment and all. It was absolute wreckless, irresponsible, drug-hazed, sexual fun.
What sort of Lineup changes were there during the years with The Valentines? do you recall all of the members and their replacements during the years?
The changes are well documented on a couple of the AC/DC sites. We had several changes over the years, but the nucleus of Bon, Wyn, Ted and myself stayed the same throughout. We had several drummers and bass players.
Do you keep in contact with any of the members anymore? know what any of them are up to nowadays?
We all went our own ways. The only guy I kept in touch with was Bon because we were truly mates. One of our old drummers, Paddy, lives in Africa or France. He's not allowed back into Australia because he was busted after the band split, for importing drugs into Australia.
What led to the eventual breakup of the band?
I think I have answered this in a previous question.
What's your fondest memories of Bon Scott?
I have so many fond memories of Bon. We had a genuine sympatico.
Did you keep in contact with Bon after he Joined AC/DC? Do you recall if he mentioned his outlook on things at the time with his decision to join this "new" band?
Oh yes, as I said, Bon and I were genuine mates. I introduced him to Malcolm and Angus. In fact I had an agency in Adelaide and he was staying at my home, after recouperating from a motorbike accident in which he almost died. He needed some money and I gave him some work...painting the office, generak work. He was a capable handyman. It was during this period that he was also breaking up with his wife, Irene, and he began writing songs in earnest. It was obvious that music would be his life...and ironically, his death. Having made friends with George Young many years before, I booked AC/DC into Adelaide many times. I loved them, but nobody else did and they worked a lot in Adelaide. George asked me to look out for them and I did. They had a dubious manager and singer. George told me they were looking for a singer. I suggested Bon. I told Bon about them and he had become a serious musician and thought they were to young to know what rock'n'roll was all about. I suggested Bon to Malcom and Angus and they said Bon was too old. Anyway, one night I took him out to Pooraka, a satellite city in Adelaide, to see AC/DC. Bon said they were OK, but was not overly impressed. Anyway, I took him backstage to meet them, they sneered at each other, jokingly, and decided to have a jam session in the basement of a mutual friend, Bruce Howe. The next day, Bon came home to my house where he was staying, and told me he was joining the band. That day. He packed his bags and left Adelaide for Sydney. And the rest, as they say, is history.
After the Valentines, did you keep up with Bon's music through the years with Fraterntiy, AC/DC? What did you think of his pursuits?
I always kept up with his music, and he always kept me updated as to his latest exploits and music. I was very involved with Fraternity on a number of different levels, including musical. I released a couple of solo singles and they were the backing band. Bon and I hooked up in Atlana, Georgia, just before they broke. They were supporting an American band called Cheap Trick and it was then thaht Bon told me he had had enough of touring the world. He wanted to settled down, not give up music, but just stop touring. He was also having problems with a girl called Silver at that stage. Eighteen months Bon was dead.
Whatever happened to Bon's wife(ex) Irene?
She lives in Melbourne with a guy in Melbourne, and their son.
Bon's girlfriend at the time of his death(I forget her name off the top of my head this moment...). but once grievings passed, and time went on, has she ever spoken of Bon and his intentions for the future with his life and AC/DC? did you know her?
I KNEW BON'S WIFE (IRENE THORNTON) VERY WELL AND CONSIDER HER AS A LIFELONG FRIEND. WE SHARED MANY MOMENTS TOGETHER AND I THINK SHE'S A GREAT, GREAT GIRL/WOMAN, BEAUTIFUL TO BOOT. LIKE ALL FRIENDS WE HAVE REFLECTED AT VARIOUS TIMES ABOUT THE PAST, BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER BON. I KNEW IRENE BEFORE SHE MET BON.
Do you stay in touch with Bon's brother Graeme and his mum still? do they ever reflect back on old times with you?
I HAVEN'T BEEN IN TOUCH WITH GRAHAME OR BON'S MOM FOR MANY YEARS. THE LAST TIME I SAW BON'S MOM WAS IN 1990 AT AN AC/DC CONCERT. GRAHAME, I BELIEVE, LIVES IN THAILAND.
Have you stayed in touch with the youngs? Angus, Malcolm, George?
In a word, no. i kept in touch with george a little more than a decade ago. we didn't have a lot in common, except memories from the past. angus i found short and judgmental about me personally, which i don't need, really. i thought malcolm was the guy with whom i felt the warmest. generally, though, they're millionaires and i'm not so we don't exactly mix in the same circles if you know what i mean. we haven't a great deal in common with each other. i am sure they don't have any need for my company as i have no need for theirs. my personal link with them, as distinct from my professional link with them, was always bon, and when he left them, so did i, really.
Have you seen AC/DC live with Brian Johnson singing? what did you think?
yes, i saw and met brian johnson singing with ac/dc on their first ever tour after bon died. i didn't like his singing in the band he was in pre ac/dc (geordie i think, i i didn't like his singing in ac/dc, i still don't like his singing, i don't like his lyrics, i don't like him as an entertainer, i don't like him as a person. i disliked him as much as he disliked me. but that was a long time ago. i'm sure he's such a fab guy now!
You knew Fraternity as well through your manager(?) Hamish Henry, correct? Did you ever see them perform live? what was that like?
Hamish Hnery wasn't my manager, he was a friend of mine, but he was Fraternity's manager. Fraternity were a bloody good, world class band, but they were also their own worst enemies. They believed the hype and imploded eventually, after Bon left them.
What's your opinion on all of the Valentines LP's, and CD compilations that have been resurfacing as releases of the last decade and a half or so?
I am pissed off with the leahing maggots who have ripped the heart out of our work and mad a lot of money from it. But hey, that's life and I guess that's the closest those kind of people ever get to the real thing.
You released a single of your own "Livestock"/"Rent Room Blues"? Livestock any relation to the Fraternity song? Did you release any other music other than with The Valentines? and any other music that you've done or been involved with since The Valentines?
Livestock was written by John Bisset from Fraternity. They backed me on the song. Bon didn't sing harmonies, I double tracked my voice and sang harmony with myself. Music has been my life since then. I have managed bands from Australia like Cold Chisel, the Divinyls, who had a hit in the UK, and have written about music, produced documentaries and etc, and have helped a lot of acts get deals and etc. But I have never made serious money, just a modest living. Once a band goes from its early days into automatic drive I lose interest. The initial build is what turns me on. Once a band has made it or got close to making it, the thrill is no longer there for me.
Did you keep many memoires and things from your past musical achievements with the valentines, and other?
MY MOM AND SISTERS USED TO KEEP A LOT OF STUFF WHICH THEY PASSED ON TO ME, AND THEY'RE ALL IN STORAGE IN SYDNEY. MY OWN DAUGHTER HAS THEM NOW I THINK.
What is your opinion on Clinton Walker's Book "Highway to hell, the life and times of Bon Scott"?
I think it is an honest attempt by a fan to capture in words the real Bon Scott by portraying his personality as opined by his friends. I think he captures the essence of a part of bon, the good part which attracted everyone to him, but fails on the darker side. this is quite possibly because clinton is a fan of bon scott. this is quite possibly because he did not spend as much time delving into the broader side of bon, but rather spending most of his time trying to unravel the gossip, a trap i know all of us biographers fall into in some way or another. as for the rumours, a lot of things like that happen in one's life, and i have no doubt his lyric book was stolen, i have no doubt a lot of toher things that are insinuated in clinton's book happened. i am just as sure that a lot did not.
What are you up to nowadays?
I live in London, am a single parent, and a freelance writer. I have also written two books and contributed to many.
DAVE EVANS INTERVIEW
Dave Evans and Angus Young on stage in early 1974
Dave Evans was the Original Lead singer, frontman, and one of the founding members of AC/DC back in Australia in 1973, and recorded the very first single with the band "Can I Sit Next To You Girl" b/w "Rockin' In The Parlour", released on the Albert productions label in Australia that year. Dave gives is story of his days with AC/DC, and his other bands over the years, including Rabbit, Hot Cockerel, Dave Evans and the Thunder from down under, and his recent gigs with Australian AC/DC tribute band "Thunderstruck". Thanks again for the great interview, Dave!
Can you give a brief run down on how the original AC/DC was formed?
I answered an advertisement in a local Sydney newspaper looking for a singer into Free, Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart etc and Malcolm Young answered my enquirie. He had played guitar in the Sydney rock band "VELVET UNDERGROUND" which I had also been lead singer but Malcolm had left the band before I joined replacing their original singer. We had heard about each other through mutual muso friends so he invited me to jam with two other musos he had recruited. We agreed to form a band as yet without a name.Malcolm's younger brother Angus auditioned about a week later as his band Kentuckee had broken up and was accepted immediately. It was later that Malcolm's sister in law Sandra suggested the name ACDC which we all agreed would be our name.
Weren't you involved in the band Velvet underground,and the Ted Mulry backing band before AC/DC?
Yes they often backed Ted after we supported him. We also did gigs in our own right too. We finally broke up after Ted offered the musicians a permanent gig with him as the Ted Mulry Gang. Hence I was out of a band and answered the ad in the paper which led to the formation of ACDC.
Who were the original members of the very first lineup?
Dave Evans, Malcolm and Angus Young, Colin Burgess and Larry Van Knedt.
How often did you rehearse?
After we got together we rehearsed twice a week for about 6 weeks before out first gig at Chequers Nightclub in Sydney on New Years Eve 1973/74
When was the first single recorded? do you recall where it was actually done?
Can I Sit Next To You Girl / Rockin in the Parlour were recorded in mid Feb at EMI studios in Sydney
Were any other songs recorded at that time?
No but we did record Rock n Roll Singer and Soul Stripper later for the first album. These songs were re-recorded and released with Bon Scott. The originals are still in the vault somewhere.
What was that like- recording in the studio, the very first single?
To tell you the truth I was in ecstasy. A dream come true and to be working with George Young and Harry Vanda the producers who were from The Easybeats - one of my favourite bands from my early teenage years - wow!
What lineup was present during the recording of the first single?
The founding members all played on the first single except George Young erased Larry's bass playing and did it again himself. Larry wasn't told about it.
How many lineup changes were there? any specific reasons behind Colin Burgess and Larry van kreidt ending up leaving or being replaced?
Colin and Larry were replaced by Noel Taylor on drums and Neil Smith on bass but they only lasted about 2 months and were also replaced by Peter Clack on drums and Rob Bailey on bass. Peter and Rob appeared in the film clip of Can I Sit Next To You Girl but did not play on the single.
How often did you gig? what was it like playing shows around the Australian club circuit in the 1970's?
We would played about two or three gigs a week first up at the top Sydney Venues and as our popularity grew and the single was released it was up to three gigs a day at times just before I split with the band. There was a lot of competition in those days as the live scene was very healthy with venues having up to three bands a night playing one after the other at the same venue. You had to really stand out to get to the top.
What was your typical setlist like? what sort of cover songs did you perform?
We did covers of Free, Rolling Stones and a lot of Chuck Berry who Angus stole the duck walk from and still uses it to this day. We also did original songs of course.
Did you generally play as a support act for other bands at any larger venues?, or did you do headline shows at local clubs?
We headlined straight away at our first gig at Chequers which was Sydney's premier nightclub because of the reputation of Velvet Underground which Malcolm and I had been members.
What was your most memorable moment with the band?
The Sydney Opera House gig on the main stage which was the beginning of an gruelling Australian tour.
What actually happened to cause your final split with the band? were you the first out of the clack/bailey/young/young/evans line up to depart? or if not, who was in the band at the time of your departure?
Clack and Bailey were with the band when my split came with the band. Their were a lot of issues niggling all of us especially the lack of money we saw even though we had a hit single and playing at the biggest and most prestigeous venues in Australia. I did not have any time for our manager who in my opinion acted like he was the star of the whole show. It all came to a head at the end of the Australian tour.
As a singer, and performer, who would you say are your biggest influences?
Paul Rodgers of Free and Bad Company, Rod Stewart, Robert Plant and Ray Charles.
How was it to work with the Young brothers in the studio and on stage?
After Bon Scott joined the band, did you ever bother to go see them perform? or listen to the records? if so, what did you think then?
I saw Bon only once and he didn't go down too well with the Sydney crowd as they expected to see me. The band then moved to Melbourne to regroup and then came out with the classic rock songs Long Way to the Top, Jailbreak, TNT etc which really took them to the top and they have stayed there ever since.
Did you ever meet Bon?
Yes he was a friend of George Young from the sixties when Bon recorded an Easybeats song - My Old Man's A Groovy old Man. Bon met us in Adelaide and was an instant fan of the band who used to help out our roadies and bop along in the front row when we played. We did meet again after he joined the band and had a private conversation and shook hands - no hard feelings and the best of luck.
The next band you formed was called Rabbit, correct?....tell me a bit about this project?
Rabbit was a new exciting hard rock shock band that I joined after ACDC and moulded the mage into a rock version of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE with tights and braces and boots and a gang attitude. It was the first real in your face band in the country. I also had by this time been influenced by the band SLADE.
Rabbit released 2 albums? A self titled one and "too much rock n roll"?
Yes Too Much Rock and Roll was released throughout Europe - not Britain - and Japan as well as Aust and New Zealand
What happened that eventually led to Rabbit disbanding?
The late 70's suffered from Saturday Night Fever and the disco ducks took over many venues and with a country the size of Australia many bands split because they could not afford to travel the same distances with the same expensive stage shows and trucks and roadies etc with the income now halved. Rabbit was even more popular with the fans at this stage but we also succumbed to the economic realities in Australia at the time because of the disco craze.
What was your next project after this?Hot Cockerel? can you tell me a bit about this band? wasnt this 1984? what were you up to between Rabbit and Hot Cockerel? Didn't Simon Croft (from the ac/dc tribute thunderstruck) also play with you in this band?
Dave Evans and Hot Cockerel was a very heavy rock band combining sex and aggression . I discovered Simon Croft as a nervous teenager in a garage band who had a ton of ability with his guitar and great attitude in his playing.
How about DAVE EVANS and thunder from down under? when was this project put together? you released just the one, self titled album, correct, which was later rereleased?
This album was a muisical combination of my heavy two guitar musical roots and synth, brass , and strings even french horn. It gave me a chance to exploit my music and writing ability.
what have you been up to for the years since the thunder from down under project?
I was a publisher of different magazines in Sydney until I got sick of it.
Your last release was the live album "A hell of a night" with the ac/dc tribute band Thunderstruck, how do you like the final package?
I love it as I designed the artwork with Jim Kellam and the live recording at the Edwards Tavern of that incredible night in my opinion is outstanding. All the reviews have been good so I'm satisfied
How have things been going with promoting the new CD? any tour plans?
I hope to tour o's this year and if people have trouble ordering they can order from my website at www. daveevans.au.com
you've been doing local shows in Australia with them still?
Yes the combination is great as Thunderstruck is the closest thing you'll get to ACDC anywhere.
Did you see AC/DC live with Brian Johnson?
Only on TV.
Have you had contact with Angus or Malcolm over the years?
Not since they left Aus to live overseas.
Whatever happened to Peter Clack and Rob Bailey, or the other former members of AC/DC? have you kept in touch, or know what they might be up to, or have had done since leaving AC/DC?
No I haven't kept in touch with them but I used to bump into Mark Evans - no relation - when I lived in Sydney before last December. I also had a drink with Noel Taylor and Neil Smith. We also went out to dinner together a couple of years ago. I haven't seen Colin Burgess for many years but we have kept in touch by phone as recently as a few months ago.
Any plans or goals for the future?
I am writing more songs for a new cd and I want to get over to Europe and the USA this year.
PETER HEAD INTERVIEW
Peter Head was a founding member, writer, and keyboard/piano player of The Mount Lofty Rangers project in Australia in the early 1970's. The Rangers was comprised of many of the Rock N Roll warriors from other bands(such as Fraternity, including Bon Scott). Bon played with the Rangers during 1973-74, before, and during the time he had just joined his new band AC/DC. Peter gives his recollection of memories from those days, and what he's been up to lately. Thanks for the great interview, Peter!
Dear Bill, In answer to your questions...........
I knew Bon Scott from about 1970 to 1973. It was in Adelaide, South Australia.I was playing keyboards in a band called Headband, Bon was singing with a band called Fraternity, and both bands were managed by a young entrepenuer called Hamish Henry. Hamish lived in a big mansion in North Adelaide, and the back stables had been converted to a art-gallery/booking office, which I ended up looking after most of the time. Fraternity and Headband were the only two bands from Adelaide chosen to be in this management stable, and it was a unique and exciting opportunity.We were considered to be the bands most likely to be successful, and also we were on the cutting edge artistically.We also shared a relationship with a remarkable artist/photographer/ all-round genius by the name of Vytas Serelis, who was also involved with Hamish, and did our posters and publicity photographs. We felt that we were more than just musicians: we wanted to present a total package of artistic excellence, and retain control of our futures by setting up a system to finance it. It was a brave experiment,and it almost worked! ....up to a point. Both bands became very popular in Adelaide, and even ventured forth to Melbourne and Sydney for occassional recording, t.v. and live performances, and we took it in turns to win "Hoadley's battle of the sounds" Fraternity actually formed from the remnants of the Valentines( Bon and Vince Lovegrove) and the Levi-smith Clefs (Barrie McAskills backing band in Melbourne).
I only saw the Valentines on t.v., and they were considered a good pop duo, but a little lightweight musically compared to the heavier sounds that were creeping in. When they broke up, Vince came to live in Adelaide,and started a booking agency which worked in closely with us and other bands at the time. He also wrote articles for magazines such as "Go-set" and "Rolling Stone", and compered a t.v. rock show called "Move". Fraternity were a "serious" rock band, in that they were the cream of the musos available, all totally dedicated, original and brilliant. They worked hard, and they played hard.They rehearsed furiously, and I sometimes watched them come to blows arguing about a musical arrangement, or a wrong chord, or a vocal inflection-little things that most musos would let go by- these guys nailed right down to the last detail. So they were very impressive musically -powerful songs, great improvisations, great sounds, and a HUGE loud P.A. system .If anything, they were maybe too good....too serious. They had respect, but little fame or fortune. Bon was impatient for success, but out of reverence for the ability of his musical mates, he hung on for years hoping that Fraternity would finally make it. We toured as a double act in the big black bus Hamish bought, and made a few singles which got a bit of play on the local radio stations, and then Fraternity finally went to England to try their luck. They eventually broke up in the end of "73 and returned to Adelaide to lick their wounds.
At about the same time my band, Headband, also broke up in Sydney, and we also returned to Adelaide to lick OUR wounds.Both bands had been to the metaphorical top of the mountain, looked over to see the Promised Land, and then come tumbling down in a resounding crash. Close, but no cigar! Bon took a day job as a labourer for the Wallaroo Fertiliser company, while I worked part-time selling paintings from Hamish's Art Gallery., and night times we'd sometimes get together for a few drinks and smokes and a bit of a jam-session.So it was basically a re-union of old rock'n'roll warriors.
Adelaide is a unique place. 1/2 hour to one side of the city-the sea, and 1/2 an hour to the other side - the country. And in particular, The Mount Lofty Ranges, the group of small hills and mountains that that encircle the city. We were a small group of elite, unique, experienced, world -weary, dedicated and still ambitious individuals- musos, artists, writers, promoters journalists, etc. I think it was Vytas who first had the vision of putting all this energy together under one name "the Mount Lofty Rangers". But we all thought it was a good idea at the time- and basically for the next few years I became the Musical Director, Vytas was the artistic director, Vince was the booking agent, and whoever was available on the night from Fraternity or Headband and a few others of high musical repute were hired to do the gig for the night.
Our only guidelines were,It was never the same band twice, and we always played original music written by the members. We ended up working 2 or 3 nights a week for years, everywhere and everywhere - it became a source of comfort and union to many people, and over 200 people eventually worked and played under that name. We all had a good time, and made a bit of money on the side, and more importantly, there was a vibrant interaction of ideas and talent, not to mention sex, drugs and rock'n'roll.
It became a bit of a legend, and the rumours were self-perpetuating.Regulars included Chris Bailey (ex-Headband, later the Angels and Gangajang) Glenn Shorrock (just before the Little River Band) and Robyn Archer (later to become the director of the Adelaide Festival of Arts, as well as an outstanding artist in her own right,) Trev Warner (banjo virtuoso) Brian Porter (violin with the Symphony Orchestra), Phil Cunneen (keyboard genius from channel 9), Steven Foster,(songwriter extraordinaire), and many, many others.WE played mainly goodtime country rock style music, although it could often stray into blues, jazz, funk , indian music, gospel r'n'b and ballads, anything, really, as long as it was interesting.
Bon sang many times as our lead singer, and always seemed to enjoy himself. Twice he came to my house after shovelling shit all day for the Wallaroo Fertiliser Co, and asked me to help him write songs for the band. He had written all the words during the day--now he just wanted me to write a few chords on the piano or guitar, and finish them off so that they could go into the Ranger's song book, and be played whether he was there or not!
We did "Clarissa"( a beautiful country ballad about a ballet-dancing girl Bon had met), and" I've been up in the hills too long" ( a very funny blue-grass tune.Both songs became favourites in the Rangers repetoire, and were sung by either Chris Bailey or Vince or myself if Bon couldn't make it.There was remarkably little ego involved- it was just fun!In return for me helping him out on his songs, Bon offered to sing any of mine that he could, live or on record. Unfortunately, the only two songs that ended up on tape were "round and Round" and "Carey Gully" And that was only because I found $40 one day and managed to hire Slater Studios (8-track) in North Adelaide for a few hours. Just to do a demo, and see how it sounded, nothin' serious. "Carey Gully" was just me on piano, and Bon singing. We did one take, and then Bon sang a harmony with himself (perfect, first take) Then we had lunch, a few drinks, a few joints, rounded up a band of John Freeman(drums), Chris Bailey (bass) phil Colson (guitar) me on piano and Jan Berg and Loene Furler on backing vocals, and knocked of a version of "Round and Round". And then put it away and forgot about it for 23 years!
Soon after, I got involved with a small local theatre company, and talked them into producing a show called "Lofty", about a fictictious bushranger from the colonial days, who robbed people, and then entertained them with his band, called, naturally, The Mount Lofty Rangers. It was a comedy, lots of fun, and lasted for a week on stage. Bon's song, "Been up in the hills too long" was the raucous finale, and we wanted him to play the part of Lofty, but he was busy rehearsing with a new band called ac/dc.......
There was a big place called the "old Lion Hotel" in North Adelaide, run by an enterprising character called Ron Tremaine, who hired the band to play regularly on Sunday nights in the cellars.It was underground, in small cavern-like areas, and we had a good time, and built up a small crowd of faithful followers.One afternoon Bon came in rolling drunk to rehearsal, and seething with anger about an argument he'd had with Irene (his wife) He was too mad to rehearse, and before anybody could stop him, he suddenly run upstairs, jumped on his bike, and roared off. We tried to stop him ,because it was obvious that he was too pissed to ride, but he got away, and sure enough, a few blocks later, he was in a horrendous crash, and ended up in hospital with most of his teeth missing, and lots of broken bones., but lucky to be alive. That was the last time I saw him for a while. He eventually recovered, and then disappeared with ac/dc, interstate and overseas, and on to a different lifestyle.
At the time, most of us thought that Bon had "sold out" to commerciality by joining ac/dc and forsaking his serious musicality for simple 3 -chord rock, but we also understood that he was simply a talent that couldn't be held back anymore, and it later became obvious that Bon was actually in his element by writing the songs, and performing his outrageous antics live on and and off stage, and in the film clips. I didn't see him for years, until I got a call one day, and then he turned up at my door in North Adelaide, and came in and talked about the fact that even now that he was a world-famous rich pop star, he really missed the comraderie of the old days, and was sorry that he had never gotten a family together. Then we went out to a party down the street, and both got blind drunk.All I remember is we both woke up next day in ajoining rooms with strange women in bed, crawled out with a hangover, said goodbye ,and wandered off down the street. It was the last time I saw him alive.
A few months later I was playing one of my first solo piano-bar gigs at the Riverside Hotel in Alice Springs. Half-way through the night , I got a call from my wife Mouse, who told me that Vince had just rung with the news that Bon was dead. In shock, I walked out , and told the audience I couldn't play anymore that night, and why. The whole room, comprised of locals, tourists, cowboys, aboriginals and even a couple of cops, all trooped out and went to sit in the river bed for the rest of the night to drink and wail , and mourn our fallen warrior.
Twenty three years later, I was playing in a nightclub called "Round Midnight" in Sydney's King's Cross, when an old friend stopped in to listen. Ted the Head, a guitarist/record producer started talking over a few drinks, and we discovered that we both used to know Bon at different times.Then I mentioned that I thought I might still have a couple of dusty old tapes of Bon singing a couple of my songs, and before I knew it, Ted was on a mission! He transferred the old tapes to a new digital master, and then., after isolating Bon's vocals, started again. About a year later, He had painstakingly produced an entirely new version of "round and Round ", by begging and borrowing studio time and equipment from various sources, and coercing a large band of musicians to individually overlay the backing again from scratch.Then I wrote a string quartet arrangement for Carey Gulley, and we hired musicians from the opera House to record it. So now we have Bon singing r'n'b with a big band, and a country ballad with strings.I expect that a lot of ac/dc fans will hate it, but it seems that quite a lot get turned around by it, and Ted and I are sure that Bon would have enjoyed it, as he liked many different styles of music, as long as they were honest and had "soul".So we offer it simply as another side of Bon Scott. Carey Gully was and is still the home of our mutual artist friend Vytas Serelis, and was a place where we would often go to on a Sunday afternoon to sit and talk and play and write, and it was a place of peace, inspiration and comraderie for us.
I wish I could have saved more of our efforts on tape. I'm sure there's a cassette out there somewhere of Bon singing "Been up in the hills too long', or the beatiful "Clarissa" But I can't find them, and neither can anybody else, so far.I intend to record versions of both of these songs later myself, but Ive only done rough demos so far. Soon!
My record co. partner David Woodhall and I thought it would be good to try and make a video for round and round,and we chased up channel 9 in Adelaide for some 3 minutes of footage they had filmed during a documentary on Fraternity of Bon riding his trail=bike in the hills.We made a demo video, and it worked perfectly- Bon riding Round and round on the bike, falling off, laughing, and then getting back on again. It was meant to be financed by a GERMAN LABEL, METAL BASTARD, BUT HE RIPPED US OFF, FLOGGED OUR C.D. IN THE THOUSANDS, AND NEVER SENT ANY MONEY! WE WENT BROKE, AND CHANNEL 9 WONT LET US USE THE FILM FOOTAGE UNLESS WE PAY THEM A FEW THOUSAND DOLLARS, WHICH WE DON'T HAVE, so it remains an unfulfilled ambition.
I thought Clinton Walker's book was fairly well done, and I'm just glad that someone did it. It makes me proud to think that my old mate was worth a book.
Vince Lovegrove, Bon's other old mate from the Valentines, was also an integral part of the Mount Lofty Rangers, and was involved with agency, publicity, t.v. production and interviews. He and Bon were always very close, even after the Valentines. In fact, Vince used to sometimes employ me and Bon to go around putting up posters for other bands for a few bucks to keep us going. So we paid our dues in many ways.Vince is now based in London,working in an internet/travel/fashion/music/ news situation, and has just had published a book on another fallen rock hero, Micheal Hutchings. Out of the Fraternity band, Uncle, john and bruce are all still in Adelaide, and don't play any more,Mick Jurd came to Sydney and we played together for years until his unfortunate death from cancer a few years ago, and I occasionally hear of Sam See playing around Sydney still.I didn't know what had happened to john Bissett, and I'm glad you let me know you had been in touch.
Myself, I'm still a professional musician, although I don't play with bands very much these days. I tend to work solo-piano bars-just vocals, piano and sometimes midi-files as well, and now my beautiful daughter Loene often comes to sing with me. Also I have a computer-based midi studio at home, and I wish I had it back then! Maybe a few more of those dim memories would have been turned to real music. My son Joshua also plays guitar, and runs a hot band called professor groove and the booty machine, and it gives me great pleasure to think that life goes on-everything in the future has been influenced by events of the past,..and I wouldn't swap my experiences for anything. -Peter Head
JOHN BISSET INTERVIEW
John pictured with Bon Scott.
Keyboard extroidinnaire of Australian progressive Rock band FRATERNITY from 1970-1973. Fraternity was led by frontman Bon Scott at the time. John gives his in depth outlook on his times with Fraternity, with Bon, and what he's been up to over the years. Thanks again John for the great interview!
Can you tell me a little about the band "the Clefs"?
I went to Sydney from New Zealand with a Motown-style band called 'The Action' in 1967. During a stint as resident band at the 'Hawaiian Eye' night-club, the Action broke up. I turned up for work one night and none of the others were there. The club's manager informed me that they had decided to form another band that didn't include me. I had been jamming occasionally with the Clefs who were resident band at the 'Whisky A-Go-Go' in Kings Cross. The Clefs offered me a gig on keyboards - their keyboard player wanted to leave. (He went on to become a founder member of 'Tully', who became very big in the acid-rock scene of the time.)
when was the original band formed? and who were the members and what did they play? You played keyboards, correct?
Yes - I played Hammond organ with the indispensable 'Leslie' rotary speaker. I don't know when the original Clefs were formed. Barrie McAskill was the lead singer and band leader. He came from Adelaide. I suspect the Clefs originally came from there. They had been resident at the Whisky for some time and had gone through many line-up changes by the time I came along. I think other members of Tully had also spent time with the Clefs. At the time I joined, Barrie was lead vocalist. A lady called Inez Amaya did some lead and backing vocals. Inez had some sort of independent arrangement - she never toured or recorded with us. She babysat for me on at least one occasion. (My son Brent was an ankle-biter at the time. He is now 33 and a 'Program Manager' at Microsoft in Seattle.) The other three were Bruce Howe on bass, Mick Jurd on guitar and Tony Beutel on drums. Bruce also came from Adelaide, Tony came from Queensland and Mick was from Glebe in Sydney. Bruce (later dubbed 'The Dingo') was to become my mentor and friend for many years. He was extremely bright and very good at dealing with people. Mick was by far the most accomplished musician and had played jazz guitar previously. His jazz influence can be heard on the title track 'Empty Monkey' which he wrote and arranged. I think the track still stands up and is by far my favourite track on the album. Tony was a staunch Queenslander, Carlton (VFL) supporter and bluesman. The Clefs continued as resident band at the Whisky for a year or so then we cut the umbilical cord and went on the road.
You released one album as "the clefs"? Was it put out independently, or on a label? >what sort of recognition did you receive at the time?
The album was called 'Empty Monkey' and was released on the Sweet Peach label and distributed by Phonogram. The producer was Jimmy Stewart and the engineer was Spencer Lee. It was recorded at United Sound Studios in Sydney. Doug Ashdown and Jimmy Stewart wrote at least one of the songs - they also wrote some of the songs on the first Fraternity album. Doug was a respected singer/songwriter in a similar mould to Bob Dylan. The title came from them as well. I gather it was a reference to the saying 'a monkey on your back' - an empty one being less of a load. The album received little or no attention from the Australian rock press and public as far as I recall.
When did the band change its name from The Clefs to Fraternity?
It was not a case of the band changing its name. In a somewhat cruel and regrettable fashion (common in the rock scene) we conspired together and abandoned Barrie to form another band. The same had been done to me by the other Action members so I guess I felt justified somehow. Barrie re-surfaced with another Clefs line-up soon after. We were on a collective ego-trip and keen to follow Tully into the avante garde acid-rock scene of the time. With the benefit of hindsight I can see that that scene was just as big a wank as the night-club scene but 'hindsight is a wonderful thing'. The split happened during a Clefs's Melbourne tour of duty. We moved back to Sydney and rented a house in Sydney's Eastern suburbs. I think the name 'Fraternity' was Mick's suggestion. It was 'safe' yet had something of an acid subculture connotation as well.
who were your biggest influences(personally), how about Fraternity as a whole- who was Fraternity's biggest inspiration musically?
I was a John Lennon-style rhythm guitarist and vocalist who took up keyboards when it became clear that the writing was on the wall for rhythm guitarists. At the time of the Clefs I was firmly under the spell of Mark Stein (I hope I got his name right) of Vanilla Fudge. I loved Fudge's grandiose blending of classical melodies with rock and their dynamic mix of intensity and emptiness. I also loved the Hammond/Leslie sound - and still do. Pre-Bon Fraternity were very much into Vanilla Fudge, Deep Purple and The Nice. 'Shotgun' on the Clefs album is a cover of the Fudge version. We were all blown away by Joe Cocker's 'With a Little Help From My Friends' ( The Clefs performed an emotionally 'over-the-top' rendition of it on Australian TV.) During a season at a club in Newcastle we discovered the 'Music From Big Pink' album by 'the Band'. The Band were our major influence for the next couple of years. I wrote the Fraternity single 'If You Got It' at the height of our 'Band' era.
How did Bon Scott become the singer of the band?
Bruce Howe brought Bon on board. Bruce must have approached Bon when we were in Melbourne. I had seen Bon in the 'Valentines' but it had never occurred to me that he was frustrated with the pop scene and wanted to get into heavier stuff. Although the pop bands of the time (like The Valentines and Zoot) were probably better off than us in terms of fans, finance and exposure, I felt comfortably superior to them because we weren't pandering to the needs of a bunch of teenyboppers. I first met Bon at Fraternity's Sydney house. I went along with his recruitment with a little scepticism at first but was soon won over by his personality and talent. The first song I remember him singing at a gig was 'Take Me For a Little While' - a Vanilla Fudge classic. He did it great. I wish it was on record. We went on to become good friends and drinking buddies.
What were the line-up changes (that you recall) in your time with Fraternity?
After the initial break from Barrie, Bon was the first addition. We fell out with Tony after a few months and he left after an argument. We recruited an Adelaide drummer that had jammed with us - John Freeman. A young Adelaide millionaire, Hamish Henry, was very supportive of local talent and he took us under his wing. We moved base to Adelaide and much better accommodations provided by Hamish. Our roadies, Bob and Rob, got a mini greyhound bus to play with. We even took it to England. A harmonica player used to jam with us regularly at our Sydney gigs - 'Uncle' John Ayers. Bruce eventually brought him on board as a permanent member. Bruce also bought guitarist and keyboardist Sam See on board before we went to England. I felt threatened by his recruitment and gave notice that I wasn't going to England with the band. Bruce talked me out of it one night when I was particularly 'upstairs' (Fraternity-speak for being out of it on acid or the like) I was the next change. I left after about a year in England. Things were really bad. 17 people (band, roadies, road manager and partners) in one house in Finchley. Little work, uninspired rehearsals. We were in the wrong country at the wrong time. It came to a head when Sam See (who didn't like me and thought I was crazy) tried to get the band to vote on which one of us should stay. I was too insecure to put my fate in the hands of a vote, so I left. When I got sacked after a short, inauspicious stint with Mungo Jerry, I left the rock scene and eventually became a computer programmer. I stayed on in London in that capacity until 1981 (except for a 12 month contract in Saudi Arabia in 1978.) . Sam also left soon after and 'Fang' was born. I didn't have much contact with the guys after I left but I gather that Fang was a mean and lean version of Fraternity - designed to appeal more to the rock audiences of the time. Fang packed it in and returned to Australia about late 1973. I only know a little about what went on there. Bon had a serious motorbike accident that nearly killed him. Soon after the accident he joined AC/DC. The first I knew of his becoming famous was during a programming contract I was on in Saudi Arabia. I saw Bon's face on the cover of a AC/DC tape cassette in a soukh in Riyadh in 1978. The rest formed Fraternity Mark 2 with Jimmy Barnes on vocals and his half-brother John Swann on drums. Amazing line-up.
what was it like recording in the studio with Fraternity? How long did it generally take the band to write and record an album?
We were an amazingly self-indulgent and lazy lot. It is a wonder we ever made any albums at all. Recording in the studio was just an extension of our everyday life. Priority number one was always 'getting out of it' on whatever was available. Booze was a staple. We were all heavy drinkers. Some handled it better than others. Being pissed was called 'downstairs' in Fraternity-speak. Cheap South Australian brandy was popular, especially on the road. Weed was also ever-present. In the early Clefs days we used a lot of speed but fortunately that didn't last. Acid, mescaline and magic mushrooms were also on the menu when they were around. Anything to avoid being 'straight'. 'If You Got It' had an interesting history. I wrote the lyrics after an extraordinary acid trip at a NSW beach. I felt I had found something and tried to express it after getting some ideas from Aldous Huxley & co. I also worked out the melody and arrangement prior to presenting it to the band at the house in the Adelaide Hills. They liked it so we rehearsed it at the house. The whole band was on magic mushrooms that day. 'Twas the season for gathering mushrooms. We played it live for some time before recording it the next time we were in the studio. (in Melbourne as I recall) Some pieces were put together in the studio. Unfortunately we never used our stage experience to determine what we did in the studio. We were like two bands - a studio one and a stage one. The stage band rocked - it had to rock to survive. In the studio we didn't rock. We did a lot of arty, experimental, grandiose and ponderous stuff that we hardly ever (in some cases never) played on stage. There were a few exceptions but generally speaking, we would have made much better albums by sticking a mike in front of the stage on a good night. I am being a bit hard on us I suppose. We were inexperienced and trying to do original stuff - quite groundbreaking in Australia at the time. We didn't spend a lot of time in the studio. It was too expensive. As far as I remember the albums were cut in a few days.
Who did most of the songwriting? or was it an entire group effort?
I contributed a song to the Clefs album ('Lisa') and Mick wrote two instrumentals - 'Empty Monkey' and 'Relief From a Lighted Doorway'. The whole band contributed to the original arrangements of 'You Can't Do That' and 'Shake and Finger Pop'.
Doug Ashdown and Jimmy Stewart wrote 'Who Is It That Shall Come One Day'. 'Shotgun' was a cover of the Vanilla Fudge version and 'The Hunter' was a fairly standard blues number. Fraternity's songs tended to be sourced from the various living abodes;
Mick (who usually lived separately with his wife Carol) was the main contributor for 'Raglan's Folly', 'You Have a God' and 'Grand Canyon Suites'.
I also lived separately with my wife and son and wrote 'Livestock' (which was intended as a down-under pisstake of Woodstock) and 'If You Got It' .
I co-wrote 'Cool Spot/Annabelle' with Mick while on the road in Melbourne.
Bruce, Bon, Sam and Uncle lived in the same place. I think Bruce and Sam were the main contributors to 'Sommerville', demonstrating the 'Band' influence with references to the US civil war. Bruce was genuinely deeply interested in US history.
I think Bon contributed to 'Getting Off' and 'Jupiter's Landscape' which was inspired by a large piece of modern art on the wall at the Sydney house. It was 3-dimensional with a red raised relief which looked like an alien landscape. (It was also close to the spotting element on the stove).
Sam and possibly Bruce and Bon were the major contributors to 'Welfare Boogie'. 'Hemming's Farm' was mainly Sam's (it includes references to his girlfriend, Mick's dog Francie and my dog Clutch, who was featured on the back cover of 'Flaming Galah').
'The Race' and 'Why Did It Have To Be Me?' were written by Doug Ashdown and Jimmy Stewart.
'Question' was a cover of a Moody Blues song.
'The Shape I'm In' is a cover of a Band song.
'Seasons of Change' was our version of a Black Feather original written by John Robinson and Neal Johns. Our version went to number one in South Australia. Black Feather's was a hit in NSW and Victoria.
what was the typical Fraternity live show like?
It depended on the crowd to a large extent. If the crowd rocked, we rocked. Needless to say we were often booked in gigs which were totally unsuited to the Fraternity culture. Mick got into trouble at a teenybopper gig in Melbourne by saying 'bullshit' during his preamble to 'Sydney Cold Smorgasbord' - a pisstake of a popular soul number which I can't remember the name of. (The word 'salad' or 'stew' was in the title). He would introduce each member of the band and that member would commence playing. Mick's semi-drunken monologue's were hilarious to us and the few people who were onto him. We got a great reception at 'Berties' the first time we played there with Bon. Berties was the trendiest Melbourne club of the time. We opened with 'Chest Fever', a Band song with a great organ introduction that allowed me to star madly for a while. I can't remember the rest of the numbers we did though 'If You Got It', 'The Shape I'm In' and 'Seasons of Change' would have been among them. Bon's recorder introduction to 'Seasons of Change' always got a great reception. Several of the band, including myself, had dropped some mescaline after the first gig for the night. We used to do three one-hour spots a night in Melbourne on the weekends. Once the mescaline was tempered with some wine and weed, we were ready to blow away any audience. Berties was the last gig for the night, and the best. We all helped hump the gear on such nights. It is interesting to note that we managed to drive to each gig, unload the gear, perform, reload the gear - all while we were on various mind-altering substances. Mick used to call the gear-humping procession of people 'the snake'.
did Fraternity every perform any cover songs? during rehearsals or otherwise?
We did covers of a lot of Band songs on stage. We covered the Moody Blues' 'Question' on record but rarely, if ever, played it live. 'Seasons of Change' was a cover though Black Feather didn't release their version as a single until after our version was a hit in South Australia.
what was it like touring throughout Australia in the early 70's with Fraternity?
It was a party. We partied at home, on the road and at gigs. We drove vast distances leaving a trail of empty Foster's cans and brandy bottles in our wake. We once drove the 1000 miles from Sydney to Adelaide in 14 hours. I was with Mick in his Ford Falcon GT on that occasion. He raced a Mazda rotary most of the way. On another occasion I was driving Bruce's Valiant on a Sydney to Melbourne trip. My international licence had expired and I was arrested and jailed in a small town, Holbrook I think it was. I spent the afternoon in an outside cell with a bucket for a toilet, awaiting my trial by kangaroo court. I was found guilty. The judge asked how much I had on me and then fined me that much. We travelled from Adelaide to Perth by train once to do a series of gigs. The train trip took two days and a night. Some of us dropped some windowpane acid on departure from Adelaide. Later in the train's bar we were all accosted by a bloke who passed into Fraternity mythology as 'Vietnam Vic'. He had just returned from duty in Vietnam which according to him, included machine gunning women and children. He was pathologically drunk - as far 'downstairs' as anyone I have ever seen. He was squinty and vicious and personally confronted nearly all of us with aggressive questioning. He confronted Uncle and asked what kind of trips we had on LSD. (Uncle looked like Mahatma Ghandi so he was a sure bet to have dropped acid). When Uncle responded with 'train trips' we all cracked up - risking instant death by Vic who proclaimed that he could kill everyone in the bar in 10 seconds. He probably could have. He confronted Bruce and I with 'What's your scene?'. Bruce responded with 'We're just trying to have a good time' which about summed up Fraternity. We did a tour of South Australia's smaller towns not long before going to England. We would all head for the nearest pub on arrival at a new town. We initially copped a lot of 'log-haired poofdahs' type comments but we usually won the locals over after downing copious quantities of the local brew and cleaning them up at pool. I got so pissed at one gig I was arm-wrestling with members of the audience in between numbers. Bon won over the kids at one town by jumping off a tower on a pier into a mass of jellyfish that had invaded the surrounding water.
Do you remember the performance on Live TV that was done by Fraternity? how did that go?
I don't remember a live TV performance. Channel 9 (I think) did a Fraternity documentary which included footage in the recording studio and at the Adelaide Hills property (Hemmings Farm). Bon was filmed on his motorbike during that session. We performed at a concert with a symphony orchestra in Adelaide but I don't think it was televised. The 'Battle of the Sounds' final in 1971 may have been televised. We won that. The first prize helped finance our trip to England. We supported 'Deep Purple' and 'Free' at a concert in Adelaide. We also supported 'Black Sabbath' at an outdoor festival near Adelaide. There may have been television cameras there. I don't remember. I remember jamming at a pub with some of the Black Sabbath guys after the gig.
Did Fraternity record any other "promotional videos" other than for "Seasons of change"?
I don't remember a promotional video for 'Seasons of Change'. It may have been lifted from the Channel 9 documentary studio footage.
Yes, actually, the "Fraternity TV special", where the "seasons of change" clip must have been pulled from…
I don't have a copy of the Fraternity documentary which was aired on South Australian TV. I think it must still exist somewhere because the odd clip from it turns up. I asked Bruce Howe to try and get me a copy last time I spoke to him (maybe 5 years ago) but he was not very together at the time and never got back to me. The Adelaide TV channel (9 I think) should have it in their archives.
Where there any other Fraternity songs that remained unreleased on album?
'Sydney Cold Smorgasbord' was never recorded. Although 'Chest Fever' was a cover of a Band song, we should have recorded it. It was a repertoire regular for a long time. I think it was recorded during the TV documentary studio session but probably hasn't been among the re-releases because Bon didn't sing it. Bruce and I did. I can't think of any others.
When Fraternity went to England to tour over there, what was the general outlook on the bands future at the beginning of the tour?
The general outlook was initially optimistic. We were confident that we would make our mark. We got brought down to earth very quickly. We had a lot to learn, particularly in the area of PA systems. We had a big PA by Australian standards of the time but it was pitifully inadequate compared to the bands we supported. Status Quo blew us way at our first support gig. We soon improved our PA but still had problems with clear sound reproduction. With seven members we tended to become a 'wall of sound' with no separation and dynamics. We also had material and direction problems. We had been veering toward country rock for some time but really had no clear identity. Our originals were not simple and powerful enough. Bon later told me how relieved he was with AC/DCs approach to originals. Unfortunately Fraternity never mastered that art.
Was this the time that Fraternity decided to change the band name to Fang? or was that later? why the band name change?
I was out of the band when they changed the name to Fang. I think the name change signalled a new simplicity and power in their material but it was perhaps too little too late.
what went wrong with that tour? how did the English crowd react to the band?
We went over quite well at our English gigs. The Poms were fascinated and somewhat sympathatic toward us I think. There was a small core of Londoners who befriended us and attended our gigs and plied us with booze and drugs. We went over much better in Germany. Bon won the audiences over by trying to announce songs in German. They loved to rock there and we responded accordingly. We also played that table-soccer with the Germans. It was more popular than pool over there.
what was the final downfall that caused the band to break up for good?
I don't know what happened after I left. I think the problems of identity and material, and the resulting lack of success and money, were probably the main underlying cause.
do you recall supporting the U.K. band Geordie at that time? what can you recollect about them?
I don't recall that gig. It may have been after my departure.
Didn't Fraternity get back together again after the break-up with another singer and drummer?
Yes - back in Adelaide. I was still in London at the time. They were called Fraternity Mark 2 and featured Jimmy Barnes on vocals and John Swann on drums. Jimmy and his later band 'Cold Chisel' are now living legends in Australia and John also made a name for himself with 'Swannee' and 'The Party Boys' with Kevin Borich.
what is your most memorable moment of Bon Scott?
I was described in Clinton Walker's book as a 'troubled' person. I was certainly pretty screwed-up in those days. I was depressed and paranoid most of the time switching to boisterous and aggressive when drunk. I fitted the description of a full-blown 'Jekyll and Hyde' alcoholic personality which I now know that I was. The 'real me' was virtually unreachable but a few people succeeded over the years. Bon was one of them. Bon and I scored some acid in Adelaide once, loaded his trail bike on the back of my ute and drove to a beach beyond the Adelaide Hills. I was planning to sit in acid-induced meditation on the beach but Bon would have none of it. He insisted that I get on the back of his trail bike. He then roared off down the beach. I was expecting him to slow down as we approached a broad tidal stream that was running across the beach. He sped up. The water hit me like a fire hose. Just beyond the tidal stream the beach gave way to huge sand dunes that steeply rose up about 30 feet above the beach. He didn't slow down - just rode straight into them. The bike stopped instantly, half-buried in the side of the sand dune, and the two of us were thrown 10 or fifteen feet through the air. I was soaked to the skin and covered in sand but seemingly in one piece. I looked up and saw Bon sitting further up the sand dune, grinning at me from ear to ear. I tried to be angry but couldn't help but see the funny side of it. The whole thing was a set up - a practical joke. Bon said "I knew you would either hit me or laugh but I was sure there was a normal, happy bloke in there somewhere". I'm glad he did it and I'm glad I laughed.
What Fraternity album is your favorite? Livestock or Flaming galah?
I don't have a favourite album really. There are a few tracks on both of them that I like.
what would you say is your favorite Fraternity song and why?
I like 'Seasons of Change' the most I think. It is an excellent song , Bon sings it well and the arrangement is well-suited to the Fraternity line-up.
what do you think of the various Fraternity re-releases and compilations that have been surfacing over the past few years or so on CD?
A friend of mine first brought them to my attention in the late 80s. The "Bon Scott - Seasons of Change 1968-72" album (on vinyl) appeared in a local record shop. I rushed out and bought it. I had been starved of even the teensiest bit of fame for many years. Now I had proof that it all really happened! (I hadn't kept any of the original albums myself.) My sister discovered the "Bon Scott & Fraternity - Complete Sessions 1971-72" cd in a catalogue in one of her women's magazines. She ordered a copy for us both. I think they are great. I have even renewed my membership of APRA and have since received a humble (though welcome) royalty cheque for 'If You Got It'.
Did you keep in touch with Bon over the years after he had joined AC/DC?
Not a lot. I was living in London and occasionally caught a glimpse of him in the music press or on the record shelves. I remember seeing a shot of Angus 'mooning' an audience in England when they were on their 'long way to the top'. I was on contract in Saudi Arabia in 1978 and could afford to fly around the world whenever I had some leave. On one such journey I flew to New Zealand and Adelaide to catch up with family and friends. By sheer coincidence, Bon was also in Adelaide for a few days at the same time. Bon, Bruce, Uncle and I went nightclubbing then crashed at Uncle's place. I remember us singing a hungover rendition of 'House of the Rising Run' the next morning. My last job in London was in the city with Shell from 1979-81. My ex-wife Cheryl (who had known Bon for as long as I had) told me that AC/DC were in town for a concert at the Hammersmith Odeon. I somehow reached their management office and left a message for Bon. He rang me at work later and said he would leave 5 free tickets at the door if we wanted to attend the concert. I went with a bunch of my workmates. AC/DC hadn't quite made mega-stardom at the time but they had a good crowd and turned on an amazing performance. I went around the back of the theatre after the show in the hope of having a word with Bon. He was chatting with someone at a back doorway. He saw me and waved me in. I had a beer with him in the band room and was introduced to Angus. Bon said of Angus's stage antics that 'it was mainly a matter of keeping out of his way.' After a few minutes they were whisked off by their tour manager into a limousine which drove off into the night. The next time Cheryl called me about Bon was to inform me of his death.
Do you ever speak with any of the other Fraternity members, or know what they might be doing nowadays?
I saw a lot of John Freeman and Uncle when I first returned to Sydney in 1981. They both helped me find my feet for the first few months. I later saw Uncle and Bruce in 'Mickey Finn' when they played in Sydney. Since returning to New Zealand in 1983 I have had occasional telephone contact with Bruce but nothing for several years now. The last time I spoke to him he told me that Mick had died, of cancer I think. Bruce was touring with an Aerosmith tribute band at the time but God only knows what he is doing now.
what are you up to these days?
I am 'in between jobs' as they say. I am trying to set up shop from home with a few pet projects. I live in a suburb of Hamilton, New Zealand with two dogs, Bonus and Rosie. I never fitted in well as a '9 to 5 ' office worker so I am fairly happy to be doing stuff at home. I returned to New Zealand in 1983 after suffering a severe psychotic breakdown in Sydney during my final attempt to make the rock big time with a band called Diamond Cutter. I quit drinking alcohol in 1984 and haven't had any since. I recently taught myself Visual Basic (with the help of several 'Dummies' books) and am developing a punting system for gallops races in New Zealand. I also do a bit of web development and the like for a friend who has a small export business. I rediscovered my love of electric guitar in the late eighties and learnt how to play electric blues. I was initially inspired by Eric Clapton. He is still among my favourites who also include Peter Green, The Kings (BB, Freddy, Albert), Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, Albert Collins, Robert Cray and SRV. I genuinely rate Angus Young as a blues guitarist and reckon that he should put out a blues album. His playing is very much rooted in the blues (in my opinion) and at times is reminiscent of Peter Green in his younger days. (have a listen to 'Drifting' on 'The Original Fleetwood Mac' album.) Angus's solo on 'Ride On' is superb. I don't get to play very often but really enjoy it when I do. I have an old Gibson L6S guitar and a small Marshall amp.