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INTERVIEW: Dave Evans, Ex-AC/DC – March 2014

| 18 April 2014 | Reply

INTERVIEW: Dave Evans, Ex-AC/DC – March 2014
By Shane Pinnegar

Original AC/DC singer Dave Evans sang on the band’s debut single, Can I Sit Next To You Girl, and helped define the early image and stage show of the band before being replaced by Bon Scott in late 1974.

Evans went on to record with his subsequent band Rabbit and as a solo artist, and still tours to this day. Earlier this year the fit and gregarious sixty year old released his latest EP – Nothing To Prove, a collection of ballsy rockers that will undoubtedly go down a treat live.

Dave Evans 01
Shane: Hey Dave, how you doing mate?

Dave: I’m good mate. How’s your self? Are you all right?

Shane: All good. Congratulations on the new EP. It’s a balltearer, man. I reckon it contains some of your strongest material yet.

Dave: Thanks very much for that Shane. It was funny because they only gave me a short window to write the bloody songs. I’ve just toured in Norway and Sweden, and the UK, and even in Wales it was quite a gruelling couple of shows there. Just before we finished, about five days or something before the UK tour finished, my record label spun it on me and said, ‘We’d like to do an EP with you.’ Of course I went ‘okay.’ I didn’t really have any ideas at the time. I was busy touring and I only had a short time to do them. It took me a couple of days to recover from the touring and I had about four or five days to write the new three songs with Chris Appleton. I knew they had to be corkers because with a title like Nothing To Prove, you’ve got to back that up, you know what I mean?

Shane: Absolutely.

Dave: I just put my head down really and just let it come to me. I didn’t try to write anything – I just sat around and let the tunes come to me. As the ideas came I just wrote them down and just let it happen. That’s how it happened, they just sort of came to me, and I worked with Chris and he wrote a couple of good riffs, so it had it’s WOW point. Between the two of us we put them down, and of course Baby, Please Don’t Go – I’ve been doing that ever since AC/DC. That’s my own particular version there. We went into the studio in Rochester, just north of Manchester, and just put them down and hoped that everyone was going to like them. Do you know what I mean? The reaction out there has been brilliant so, I’m very, very happy.


Shane: Excellent – it’s really, really good. I was going to ask about the songwriting process. I mean, something like I Believe, it’s an anthem that, well, they just don’t write them like that anymore. It’s a real ‘70s/early ‘80s fist in the air rocker.

Dave: That’s right and it’s the classic hard heavy rock that we really made our own here in Australia back in the ‘70s and we got the idea from bands like Slade when they came out. They taught us how to do it, how to control the crowd, stamping their feet, clapping their hands, stomping in with big choruses. They taught us. Slade was such a huge influence on us. We took that in Australia to the tough country towns and that kind of stuff, and hence Aussie Rock came about.

It’s classic all over the world. People love that music. It doesn’t matter where you play it – in any country they love it and there’re only a few of us left actually still writing this kind of material, who understand how it works. I just happen to be one of them Shane, and I’m still rocking and still having the opportunity to write and release albums and this is my latest effort, so it’s good.

Shane: The title, Nothing to Prove, it’s a real statement of intent. Is this indicative of where you’re at in your life?

Dave: Rocksector Records came up with the title, and I was very pleased because over the years, of course, you get the knockers all the time from all around the world. People that believe my separation from AC/DC was because I wasn’t good enough, well that isn’t the fact. We had a hit record on our hands when I split with the band. It was named the best Australian group rock record of the year. You can’t get any better than that. So, I split from the band for different reasons. I’ve got the knockers all around – everyone’s got the same problem. Brian Johnson has got them too.

Dave Evans 02

It doesn’t matter. I’ve been going around for years now with my own music releasing it, getting brilliant reviews, if I say so myself. I don’t mind saying it. My albums like Sinner, Judgment Day – the last album I did with John Nitzinger, a Texan legend, Revenge, top reviews, five star reviews everywhere. Of course the shows that I do all around the world, five star reviews for my live shows. I’ve been doing it for ages, and Rocksector Records have been right there with me. They came up with the title because I suppose they’re saying ‘now stick this up you, and forget the bullshit because it’s too late.’ The albums are out there, my music is out there and people have seen it so you can quit the knocking.

But I still have to come up with songs to back that up, of course. You can’t rest on your laurels, as it were. You’ve got to keep doing it. So, I went in there and hammered these songs out and as I said, I’m just so pleased mate that the reviews for this EP are just outstanding.

Because I was the original singer for AC/DC, I always get massive scrutiny, probably more than any other singer in the world. It’s the way of it. I don’t mind that of course, because it means people listen to my music, and all I’ve got to do as I’ve done for ages, is to prove it, which I have done. I suppose Nothing To Prove, means I’m over it, and the knockers, you [should] get over it too.

Shane: Talking about all that bullshit, you’ve had that stigma put on your back for 40 years now. It must get pretty bloody tiresome.

Dave: It does but as I say, it’s been brilliant with the Internet out there and people can get my music all the time. They can get all my music on YouTube, whatever, there it is. The proof is in the pudding. I don’t have to worry about that. If you like rock, you’re obviously going to love my music. That might sound like an ‘up myself’ statement, but it’s just a fact of life. If you love hard rock this is it. Also, I’ve been doing live shows for many years too now, so the fans love my music. They love my live shows and that kind of stuff.

With the Internet and that kind of thing, people can still keep trying to do the old campaign of trying to put you down, but the cat is out of the bag, the horse has bolted. The music’s out there, I’m out there, so they can put up or shut up as far as I’m concerned.

Shane: It’s a good attitude to have, mate.

Dave: Mate, it’s the Aussie attitude!

Shane: Too true. The Young brothers, they’ve notoriously given you very little acknowledgement for your part in the band’s history and the formation of the band’s iconic sound. Thankfully a spate of recent books, most recently Jesse Fink’s and Mick Wall’s books have featured your role in the band a little more prominently and respectfully. It must feel good to see that in print finally.

AC/DC circa 1973/4. Dave Evans second from left.

AC/DC circa 1973/4. Dave Evans second from left.

Dave: It’s about time the truth is out there. As I said, with the Internet, people can find the truth and the funny thing is, Ross Young, which is Malcolm’s young son. He’s a friend of mine and he’s a huge fan of mine. He loves my music and we’re good mates. Can I Sit Next To You Girl is probably his favourite AC/DC track. He’s loved it from the first time he ever saw it when he was a kid, and he always talks about it when I see him. He loves Baby Please Don’t Go, which is great – my version of it. He’s a great fan. He even calls himself now Ross ‘Badass’ Young. So we’re good mates. I think if Malcolm’s son, it’s good enough for him to love my music and be good mates with me, the knockers, as I say, put up or shut up.

Shane: Why do you thing the Young’s are so distrustful, perhaps even hateful towards anyone who’s played a role in AC/DC’s career?

Dave: I don’t know. Ross tells me that Malcolm always speaks well of me. That’s nice to know. Ross tells me constantly that Malcolm respects me, which is very nice to hear first hand. It’d be nice for it to be out there in print obviously.

But as I say, it’s nice for me to hear that from Ross, because Ross lives with his Dad. He talks to Malcolm all the time. He’s a very respectful young man and that’s great. I’m very pleased with that.

Shane: Getting back to the EP, Chris Appleton pitches into some blazing guitar work that really helps those songs sound so vibrant. How long have you guys been working together? For three or four years now, is that right?

Dave: That’s right. For about four years I suppose. He’s a lead singer and lead guitarist for a British metal band Absolva. The other two boys that played on the album too, Danny Bate and Martin McNee, they’re also in Absolva with him. When I’m in the UK, they become part of my UK band and also last year, I worked with Chris Needham on guitar as well.

The two Chris’ grew up together. In fact their dads were in a band together before that. So, they grew up together and Chris Needham is just as good a guitarist as Chris Appleton. I had both of them in the band and I tell you what, what a band. When we did Baby Please Don’t Go, they both got up there and blistered together, so it brought the house down, which is fantastic because I did it originally with AC/DC.

That’s the song [during which] I used to get Angus up on my shoulders, originally. Of course Bon copied that and Brian copied it afterwards. When I did that it was a showstopper, because I used to do the voice ‘question’ and Angus would do the guitar ‘answer’ with him on my shoulders – that’s how we did it. It’s been a showstopper for years for me. I’ve got quite a few different live versions out there on YouTube. I was just about to record Baby Please Don’t Go with AC/DC when I split with the band, and Bon recorded it faithfully, as I used to do it. He used to come and watch us, he loved us AC/DC, and he loved the way I did Baby Please Don’t Go with Angus on my shoulders and that.

This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to actually go in the studio and finally record it. This is the way that I do it. So I’m very pleased – Rocksector Records particularly wanted me to do that, which I was pleased to do and of course with the three brand new tracks it’s a good package I think.

Dave Evans live

Shane: Yeah, absolutely. I really love the version of Baby Please Don’t Go on the EP. I also love it not just because it’s a really good version but because the whole EP isn’t just a copy of what AC/DC have done. Do you know what I mean? Your sound isn’t just ‘oh look, I’m Dave Evans, ex AC/DC, I’m going to put out an EP that’s all AC/DC sound-a-likes.’

Dave: That was the original sound with them, you’ve got to remember that, and Bon when he came on the scene, he knew what was required. He used to watch us and he got Angus on his shoulders and took his shirt off and stuff like that, like I used to do. He recorded some of my songs and they sort of evolved from there really into the Bon Scott-era sound. I’ve been doing my own music for many years after AC/DC and it doesn’t sound anything like AC/DC. I write my own music. I write from the heart but it was still with the Aussie hard rock sound. That’s what we invented all those years ago. I don’t want to get away from that. That’s what we love.

The album I did with John Nitzinger, Revenge, is completely different. That’s Texas rock blues meets Aussie hard rock. It’s a unique album and five star reviews around the planet that was a great experience to record in the United States in Texas with all the American boys with all that Texan influence. That was brilliant, and of course to record this one in the United Kingdom, that’s fantastic there as well. I’ve recorded now in Australia, USA, and the UK so it just gets better.

Shane: Did it lower your opinion of Bon Scott when you saw that he was pretty much doing your stage show and had adopted that cheekiness of the lyrics that you had pioneered with AC/DC?

Dave: Not really. It’s what was required. That’s what we did. That’s why we were so popular. That’s why we had a hit record. That’s why we pulled huge crowds everywhere. We did it in Sydney Opera House and Festival Halls. We did the biggest gigs in Australia, and he was washed up really. He was trying to get Fraternity back again, and he’d had a bad motorbike accident too and he was trying to get over that. He saw the opportunity. I would have taken the opportunity myself. Anybody would with a band that was on the rise with a hit record. You’re crazy if you wouldn’t take that opportunity. I was just surprised that he got the gig because Bon was 29-years old when we met him. When you’re 21, around that age, 29’s ancient. He’d been with Fraternity and The Valentines in the ‘60s, so I was very surprised that he got the gig, but of course he really made it his own. Do you know what I mean?

When I went they moved from Sydney where we originated. They went to Melbourne, regrouped down there and reinvented the band. Of course, as I said, he did a fantastic job. He wrote some of the great songs with AC/DC, A Long Way To The Top, that’s a brilliant song. The lyrics are just so true there. So he wrote some really great tracks and Let There Be Rock for instance, what a great song that is. Songs that are still loved all around the world but it’s a hard life being on the road, lonely away from loved ones. I know. I tour all around the world like they were doing and unfortunately for Bon he didn’t make it. He sort of burnt out, poor bugger, in London so it was just sad.

Dave Evans 03

Shane: Yeah and what a sad way to go hey?

Dave: Well as I say people don’t understand what it’s like. I love touring but the highs are really high. As I said, you do get lonely, and all the backslappers and all the people that tell you you’re wonderful, sometimes when you really need real friends, they’re not there. Bon unfortunately found out the hard way there.

Shane: How have you avoided going down that same road?

Dave: I was just mindful of it. I really enjoy performing and enjoy touring and that kind of thing. I learnt the hard way, mate. I grew up hard. I was living at King’s Cross when I was 16. I left home when I was 16 so I grew up tough. Working through all the really hard stuff in my teens and living at the Cross, I was pretty streetwise by the time I was 20, 21. Even though you look at Can I Sit Next To You Girl, I look fresh-faced and boppy – well, that was what was required from the record label, that’s what they wanted. I’d done the hard yards before I got to AC/DC, mate.

Shane: When you look back at AC/DC’s career through the ‘90s and 2000’s, their albums were pretty average during that period. Does it irk you to see that you were getting five star reviews for your shows just playing small venues, whereas they were putting out pretty much tired old rehashes of what they did before, and playing arenas around the world, and making millions of dollars?

Dave: That’s obviously a matter of opinion. I’m not going to give my opinion on that as you’d expect me not to. When you’ve got a huge fan base, you can put out anything and the fans are going to buy it. I remember the Beatles when they were absolute massive when I was growing up as a kid and I said if they put out Mary Had A Little Lamb it’d be a hit – and they did, and it was. In fact I Am The Walrus, if you listen to the lyrics they’re just nonsensical, and Lennon did that on purpose. They didn’t mean anything. He just made up any old rubbish because he said they could do anything and it’d be a hit. That was one of his biggest hits they’ve ever had, I Am The Walrus, and Lennon just proved the point.

They were that big it didn’t matter what they did. You get to that point, and AC/DC are massive all around world. They could put out Mary Had A Little Lamb, and they’d have a massive hit on their hands too. It’s just a brand thing and I understand how that works so it didn’t hurt me – it’s just the way it is.

Shane: What’s the plan for the rest of 2014 once the EP comes out. Are we going to see you in Perth this year?

Dave: In April, May, June, and July, I’m going to be in Europe and the UK touring over there, then I’ve got a month off I think. I’ll be in the United States – I could be involved with a movie over there. That’s what they’re talking about but we’ll see what happens. Then September/October I’m in South America, in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. My two albums Sinner and Judgment Day were released there late last year on Hellion Records in Brazil, and they’re touring me over there. After that I’m back to Australia for an Australia and New Zealand tour. This year’s pretty much mapped out.

Shane: Fantastic. It doesn’t sound like you’re work shy at all mate.

Dave: It is great and it’s just great to see that people are tuned in to my music and my performances and I’m still rocking hard mate and the crowds are rocking hard with me. It’s great.


Category: Interviews

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