INTERVIEW AND LIVE PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
Mark Evans is an Australian musician and the current bass player of the classic Aussie rock band Rose Tattoo. He was an early member of AC/DC from 1975 to 1977, and he performed on the band’s classic albums: T.N.T, High Voltage, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Let There Be Rock, and ’74 Jailbreak. After AC/DC, Evans played with numerous other groups, including Finch (a.k.a. Contraband), Cheetah, and Heaven. Evans joined vocalist Angry Andersson’s lead Rose Tattoo in August of 2017. The renewed line-up, where Angry is the only remaining original member, performed at the Sweden Rock Festival in early June 2018. There I had the honor to sit down with Mark to discuss the status, and the future, of Rose Tattoo and some old stuff. Read on!
First of all, I want to thank you for the brilliant show you did with Rose Tattoo tonight!
Mark Evans: Thank you!
You joined the band in August of 2017, but you have known Angry Anderson for a long time. How is your history with Rose Tattoo, and how does it feel to be a part of this classic rock band?
Mark Evans: Oh, it’s great. I’m very, very happy because Rose Tattoo has– I’m on record. I can say Rose Tattoo is my favorite band. If the Beatles could ask me to join them, I’d say, “No. I’m playing with Rose Tattoo.” I saw Rose Tattoo’s first gig ever, with Bon Scott, at a club in Sydney called Chequers, and they did their first gig on New Year’s Eve, 1976. It was Rose Tattoo’s first gig. Ironically, three years before at the same club, on New Year’s Eve, was AC/DC’s first gig. Same club, three years apart. And Bon loved Rose Tattoo, and he went to George Young and Harry, said, “You’ve got to sign this band.” And a few months later, they were signed, so yeah. And there’s a connection because Geordie was playing bass by that stage, and he was in Buster Brown with Angry and Phil Rudd. So, it was all sort of a small circle. Yeah. But yeah, with Rose Tattoo, I’ve just loved them, and then it’s just now that the time has been right to join the band. And it’s very important to me because I’ve had a lot of very good friends of mine have been in Rose Tattoo, Pete Wells, Ian Rilen, Mick Cox, Digger, and I’m really honored to have the chance to continue on that heritage because it’s very important. It’s not just joining a band; it’s joining Rose Tattoo because I’m continuing with Angry what he set out to do, but with my friends that aren’t around anymore. God bless their souls. So, it’s a big deal to me. Very, very important.
You mentioned many names who are not among us anymore. I think there’s no other band, besides Lynyrd Skynyrd, who has lost that many band members during the years as Rose Tattoo?
Mark Evans: Well, yeah, and if you go back right to the start, Angry is the only surviving member of the band from the original line-up. We’ve lost them all in the space of, sort of, over the last 20 years. Yeah. It’s just one of those things, but they’ve left a fantastic legacy. It’s a great band to play in, man. I could not be happier. To me, personally, it feels like only the second band I’ve ever been in. It’s a pleasure, and it’s an honor too. And now we’re here at SwedenRock, and we’re promoting the BLOOD BROTHERS album, which, as you know, was released in 2007. It’s been re-released, and yeah. That’s great, man. I’m a very happy man. Very happy.
I am happy for you, Mark. But I have to say that the last time I saw the band was in 2001. I went through my old photos I realized three of those guys are already gone. I was like, wow!
Mark Evans: Yeah. It happened really quickly. In hindsight, it happened quickly, but not– such is life, my friend. We can’t do much about it.
BLOOD BROTHERS AND NEW MUSIC
As you said, you’re currently promoting the re-released album, which came out originally in 2007.
Mark Evans: BLOOD BROTHERS, yeah.
But do you have plans to make some new music? I think you have a fantastic new line-up. There’s a lot of talent and potential in this band so, it would be interesting to hear what you could create together?
Mark Evans: Yeah. I think we have plans to do recordings. We need to get the time to do it because we’re very busy at the moment. We do finish this tour, then we’re back to Australia for some more dates, and I think we’re back here in Europe and the UK in September.
Oh, already then?
Mark Evans: Yeah. Yeah. So, we do a UK tour, and there are more dates in Germany. I don’t think we come this far north. I don’t think we come up to Sweden again, unfortunately, or Finland, but yeah, we’re back in Germany, and there are more dates in France and Dutch. And then we go back home for Christmas, and we’re doing some dates over there, and then in February, we’re in America. In the US, we do Monsters of Rock cruise, the one out of Miami, and then there are more dates after that in the States. I think there are quite a few club dates. I think there’s some stuff in New York and the Whisky in LA.
It sounds that Rose Tattoo is a hard-working band still. There are not too many breaks there.
Mark Evans: It is. It is a hard-working band because the heritage and the history are there. And like I said before, for me personally, Angry has been a good mate of mine for over 40 years, and he knows how important this is to me. And I know how important it is for Angry to take it through this next stage of the band and pay the correct respect to what’s gone on in the past. But we will be, I can’t tell you all about it, but I can tell you we will be recording, and I can tell you it’s going to be very interesting. It’s going to be good. Yes. It’s going to be good, man. And you will, when you see it when it comes out you’re going, ha [laughter]. You’ll say, “I should have guessed that [laughter].” But it’s going to be good, man. It’s going to be good. But BLOOD BROTHERS now, it’s been repackaged and rereleased and that. Typically, we do a couple more songs from that album live, but today there we had to compress them a little bit because it’s a festival show. We had to leave some songs out. But there are some great things like “One of the Boys,” and “Rock and Roll Outlaw,” “Bad Boy for Love,” “Nice Boys,” “We Can’t Be Beat.” Oh, man. There are just so many songs, so many great songs we got. We couldn’t play them all today.
MORE ABOUT ROSE TATTOO AND LIFE
You have plenty of great material, but maybe the most important thing in this band is Angry himself. He’s definitely one of those true original frontmen, and there are now too many left anymore.
Mark Evans: There’s only one. There’s only one Angry.
Lemmy was another great one for sure.
Mark Evans: Yeah. Yeah. Well, see, yeah. There’s no one like Lemmy, and there’s no one like Bon Scott anymore. But by the same measure, there’s no one else like Angry. And he’s great. There are quite a lot of similarities between Angry and Bon. There is. They got on remarkably well too. They had…
Can I guess? Did they share the same sense of humor?
Mark Evans: Yes, humor. There’s humor. Yes. That is exactly right. They’ve got an interesting way of looking at things, both are very smart men, and both are great with words. They were just great. Angry and Bon were very good friends. Also, Mick Cox was very good friends with Bon also. But Angry and Bon– I’ve seen a lot of similarities between Angry and Bon over the years.
It was so fun to follow you on the stage today. At times it seemed that we were kind of far-away mentally, and I mean it positively, you got the feeling, right?
Mark Evans: Yeah. I feel I was just enjoying it. But like I said– I’m laboring the point, but it’s so incredibly important. But I love the band. Emotionally, I’ve got so much invested in it now. It means a hell of a lot. Hey, you could come worse, come over to play Sweden Rock, get treated wonderfully well, play to a great crowd, sit down, have lovely food, drink beer, hang out with your mates and play music. That’s life, a great life. And I’ve just got married. I just got married five weeks ago.
Congrats Mark! We just discussed the age thing off the record, so can I ask how old she is? “Laughs”
Mark Evans: Younger than me “laughter.” Oh no, not a lot younger. That’s so funny. There’s about 20 years difference. But so funny. I talk to people about Sharon, my wife, and I always say, “Well, there’s a 20-years’ age difference.” And they say, “Oh, really.” I said, “Yeah, but she looks really hot for 82.” She’s not 82. Bad joke “laughter.” No, no. It’s great. I’m in a period of my life now where I’m 62 and bring it on. It’s great. It’s a great period, and I’m a very happy man now.
THE TIME FLIES
If you think back on your life for a little bit, do you remember what you were doing this time of year in 1976? Were you 20 years old then?
Mark Evans: Yeah, I remember. I was playing gigs here in Sweden. It’s 42 years later because, this time of year in 1976, we were doing some shows here in Sweden. We did these things called family parks because it was all tied into a deal for ABBA, because ABBA went to Australia and the Australian Musicians’ Union said, “Well, okay. If ABBA does six gigs in Australia, we have to get an Australian band to go to Sweden”. That’s why we ended up coming here. But yeah, 42 years ago, this time of year.
I didn’t know about that ABBA thing. That’s an amazing story! “Laughs” And now you’re here again!
Mark Evans: It’s a true story. And it’s amazing. If you guys said to me, “Okay. 42 years later, you’ll be playing in Sweden again with Rose Tattoo, and you’ll be talking about AC/DC,” I’d say, “Well, you’ve gone mental.” But the heritage of both bands is brilliant. It’s so strong it’s just strong, and I think there’s a similarity between fans of AC/DC and fans of Rose Tattoo. Obviously, there are a lot more AC/DC fans, but we’re working on it. And it’ll be interesting to see what AC/DC are…what Angus does now, too. Because Angus, he’s the guy now. He’s the only guy that’s been there all the time, so he’s earned the right to do exactly how he sees what he wants to do. I’ll be very interested to see what he does, what he comes up with, and all the best wishes in the world for him. The last few years were awful for him.
I can only imagine that. Speaking about the awful things, you were also at Malcolm’s funeral, right?
Mark Evans: Yeah. Angry and myself went to the funeral, yeah. We were invited. It was just really sad, man. Well, that was a bit of a celebration, but it was tough, man, because I know Malcolm’s son, Ross, very well. He lives very close to me in Sydney, and yeah, he’s– but I think in times like this, you have to think about what Malcolm’s left. He’s left an amazing legacy, and he’s just a great guitar player, and it’s just one of those awful things that happen in life that are so incredibly unfair. But it is life, and he certainly achieved amazing things during his lifetime. To leave that heritage and legacy is just brilliant. He was a great guy too. I used to feel tall when I was in that band. I was the big guy even I’m only five-foot-six tall.
NO MORE HALL OF FAME TALK
This is a bit of old news, but when AC/DC was introduced to the Hall of Fame in 2002, you were first going to be included, but in the end, you were uninvited to the ceremony. There’s talk about it in your book “Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside/Outside AC/DC” (2011). What you think about that decision now, several years later?
Mark Evans: I think that the decision was right. I don’t know what was– all I knew at the start was that they got in contact with me, and I was invited to go. And they told me they reviewed their decision, and I didn’t, in fact, qualify, which is fine. I think that the thing is– this is old news, but I think the band with Cliff, Malcolm, Angus, Phil, Brian, and Bon, is exactly the way it should be. That makes sense to me. That was just like it was– I didn’t put the press release out saying I was nominated. The Hall of Fame put it out, and people were ringing me. Say, “Well, wait and see you know.” It’s one of those things. There was a misunderstanding, so it’s not a big deal, but I think they got the decision right and the band as it was, with Phil, Malcolm, Angus, Cliff, and Brian. And Bon must be there too because Bon was such a huge part of it. I mean, I was there a fairly short period. Five albums, I think? I don’t know because all the albums are in different territories. But, yeah, I think they got it right. No, no. No hard feelings or just, yeah, no bother.
It’s past, and that’s about it.
Mark Evans: It’s past, but, yeah. They got the decision right, I think.
As you said, it’s going to be interesting to see what Agnus is going to do next but if, this is a hypothetical question, but if Angus decides to come back with an all-new AC/DC line-up with no other originals but him, would that be a right thing to do or not?
Mark Evans: Well, I don’t think that– yeah, I don’t think I’m in a position to say it is right or wrong. My opinion is the same as everyone else’s. Everyone has an opinion. My point is Angus is the guy who’s made it. He’s the guy that’s been there all along. He’s done every gig. He’s the guy that’s left to do and to carry on what Malcolm and George did. He’s earned the right to do it exactly how he should want to do. I think we should respect the opinion if he continues with it. If he doesn’t continue, I think we should respect that opinion too. He has the right to make the decision, but me personally, whatever he goes with, fantastic.
I agree with you, and I think that the band did terrific work with Axl Rose on vocals on the last tour, so in fact, anything seems to be possible, but after all, everything is up to what Agnus decides to do.
Mark Evans: Yeah. That’s the thing, though. Because the AC/DC fanbase is so strong, all those who have followed them, some of those people might have started following the band from the very start, well over 40 years. AC/DC fans are invested emotionally, and they feel like they have some sort of ownership in the band because they’ve been fans for that long. And so that’s why people are so passionate about it. Angus would appreciate people being impassioned about it. But you have to think everyone has different opinions and everyone’s view would be different. My point is Angus has earned the right to– he will make the right decisions. I’m sure he will. And what’s right for him, you know? If you think the band, Agnus and Malcolm were brothers and they were always together. He knew Malcolm all his life. Now when Angus first started having memories, he shared a bedroom with Malcolm. So, he was there all the time. And then when the band kept on playing, it wouldn’t have been till probably the mid-’80s where they spent any sort of time apart. So, it’s not just like, “Oh, I think I’m a band.” It’s his brother’s band too. So, there are all those complexities about it. So, his decision carries a lot of weight. Whatever decision he comes to, do you know what I say? Bravo. Well done. Whatever it is.
BACK TO THE AGE QUESTION
If we go back to Angry Andersson again, he has lost his old bandmates but decided still to carry on with this new line-up and keep the name Rose Tattoo alive. The band is great, but my question is, what keeps him still doing it? What is his primary motivation to carry on with the new guys after all these years?
Mark Evans: Well, see, Angry lost a lot of guys. Me, personally, nothing would make me happier… if I came all the way over to Sweden, I would buy a ticket to see Rose Tattoo with Ian, with Peter, with Mick, with Digger, with Angry. Nothing would make me happier. But unfortunately, that is not possible. That’s kind of the same question for AC/DC fans. I want to see Brian. I want to see Cliff. I want to see Mark, whatever. But if it’s not possible, you have to accept it. That’s the same thing with Rose Tattoo. Of course, it’s not on the same level as AC/DC, but it’s basically the same thing. It’s similar. I think Angry is, and I’ve told him this many times; he needs to be congratulated because he feels he wants to continue on. Obviously, we can work a finite amount of time because Angry is now 70 years old, but he’s great. And he wants to continue on because you know what? He fucking loves it. He loves being in Rose Tattoo; it’s so pure and simple. He loves being in Rose Tattoo, man. And he is Rose Tattoo now. We’re helping him. It’s a great band to play in, Marko. I fucking love it.
I can see that, Mark. It’s time for the last question. We love all these great bands; Deep Purple, KISS, Aerosmith, Scorpions, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, all those guys, everybody is soon or are already in their 70s. They’re going to quit soon. They have to. So, what’s going to be left, for example, in five years? I thought that because there are many festivals like the festival Sweden Rock, who will headline these festivals a few years from now?
Mark Evans: Hopefully, as time goes on, people come from underneath and take up those places. You think of, say, Metallica. They’ve been together – what? – 30 years?
Is it something like that? I have heard that they are going to continue for another ten years.
Mark Evans: Well, that makes sense. But Angry is a very good 70 years old, though. See, I don’t think it’s easy to put a finish line to it because so many things can happen when you’re 69 when you’re looking forward. It’s not like being 19 and looking forward to when you’re 22. A lot of things can happen, good and bad. I hope he gets to 72 and goes, “Oh, you know what? Three more years.” Who knows? But I think it’s a danger to put a finite age on it. Hey, I hope I die before I get old. The whole thing is me; personally, I don’t feel any different now than what I did when I was 25. I know I can’t run as fast. And I think music keeps you young. I’m lucky. I’m healthy and good. But I think being in a band, you do tend to keep a younger perspective on things. When I first joined AC/DC, I was 19 years old. I was fucking horrified. I was working in a band with Bon Scott, who was 29. What am I working with that fucking old man? It was extremely old then. And if you had asked me if I was still doing this at 62, I’d be going: are you crazy? But I love it. I think this is like breathing to me, so. Right now, I’m happy. I’m incredibly happy. We’ll just say that, to be honest, I’m selfish. I want to be happy. And everything comes after that, but I try to make others happy as well, but I’m the priority [laughter]. I never say that to anybody.
I got the point, Mark. Thank you for this interview, and good luck with Rose Tattoo in the future.
Mark Evans: Thank you, Marko.