Can I speak to Dave?
Yes. Is that Mark, is it?
Hi Mark, how you doing?
Hey, how are you?
Oh, I'm all right, thanks. I'm getting over a rotten flu at the moment, but I'm getting there.
How did you end up in Texas?
Well... I suppose it was through friends in Europe when I was touring over there. My friends live in Texas, in Dallas, and I wanted to come and do a few shows last year. And through connections, I got in touch with some of the musicians here in Dallas, and I flew over from Australia last year.
Oh, you've only been here for about a year?
It's very hot down there, isn't it?
Um, it's cold at the moment! But not as cold as up where you are, I guess. Are you up in New York?
Yeah. It's freezing up here right now.
Oh no! I've been to New York in the summer, and it was really hot then. It was over 40 degrees... it was over a hundred degrees; 40 degrees Celsius, I mean. But it's cold here, you know what I mean?
Yeah. So, do you still play music?
Who are you playing with now?
A band here in Dallas called the Badasses. They're my backing band. But the boys are not all from Dallas. One of the boys is from Boston and is living here now; Seattle, one of the boys is from Seattle; another one is from Portland, Oregon.
Is it just straight hard rock?
Yep. Straight hard rock.
What's the scene like for that in Texas where you are?
Well it's more of a scene, I guess, down in Houston, round that way. I'll be getting down to Houston very soon. But obviously I'd like to branch out into doing the other areas of the US, like Florida. There's a hard rock scene down that way as well. We'll see what happens in the future. But I'm going to go back to Australia in February. There's a special concert in Perth - Perth, Australia - a Bon Scott Celebration Concert. It's to raise money for a statue of Bon.
In Fremantle, which is just outside of Perth, in west Australia. That's where he grew up as a young man after immigrating to Australia from Scotland. The cream of Australian rock will be there. We'll have this huge concert, probably the most significant concert of hard rock in Australia for many, many, many years. I was invited to perform as the founding member and original singer of AC/DC. So it'll be interesting, because the band that will be backing me in Perth are a band called The Party Boys that includes Alan Lancaster from Status Quo, a few guys from The Angels, and also Mark Evans - no relation to me...
Oh, from AC/DC.
Yeah, he will be there as well. Now, he was in AC/DC after me, so we've never actually performed together. So this will be a first for the two of us, being ex-members of AC/DC performing on stage together. It'll be a unique experience. There's a lot happening.
How did you get mixed up with Angus and Malcolm Young anyway? Did you answer an ad, or did you know them, or...?
Well, I was in a band in Sydney called Velvet Underground, which was not Lou Reed's Velvet Underground, of course; it was Sydney's Velvet Underground. When I joined the band their singer had left, obviously, but also one of the guitarists had left - a guy called Malcolm Young. I'd heard of him, but I hadn't met him. And he was also the younger brother of George Young, from the Easybeats band. Anyway, we finally split up the Velvet Underground, and I heard a knock on the door a little bit later on, and Angus Young was there. I hadn't heard of Angus. He introduced himself as the younger brother of Malcolm, and his band Kentucky was looking for a singer and he had heard of me through the grapevine. But the music that they were playing was very heavily guitar-oriented music; there wasn't a lot of vocals involved in the stuff that they were doing at the time, so I declined that. Then not long after that I did actually answer an ad in the Sydney Morning Herald for a heavy rock singer. And it was Malcolm Young! So I told him I was in the Velvet Underground, and he said, "Me too. Have you kept in touch with the other guys?" And he told me he had a couple of guys that he was jamming with, like Colin Burgess from the Master's Apprentices, which was a big band in Australia that had broken up, and another guy called Larry Van Kriedt. The object was to form a band, and he had heard of me from the other boys in the Underground, so he invited me over to a suburb of Sydney, Newtown. And I went over there, met the guys -- I was pretty excited to meet them, especially Colin Burgess -- and we jammed. We were all very happy, we all shook hands, and we played and we had a band. Anyway, a week later, Malcolm, at our rehearsal, said that his younger brother Angus' band had split up and that Angus would actually audition for us. Angus came along to the next rehearsal and we jammed with Angus, and we were happy with that too, so we had five. That's what happened. And then later on we started calling ourselves 'AC/DC.'
What were they like back then? Did you get a sense for what kind of people they were? Were they just totally into the music, or...?
Well we were all totally into music back in those days. A lot of people, at that time, were putting bands together and dedicating themselves fully to that life. I'd been singing for quite a few years. Music was everything, for everybody. Music was a total lifestyle. That was it. Nothing else.
Was it normal back then to -- I mean, you guys put out a single pretty quickly, didn't you?
Yeah, we did. There was a lot of interest in the band to start with. Our first gig, on New Years Eve 1973-1974, was at Chequers Nightclub in Sydney. That was the top nightspot in Sydney. The buzz had already gone around that Colin Burgess was in the band, from the Master's Apprentices, and that the two younger brothers of George Young - who was very famous - were in the band, so there was a lot of interest in the band from the word go. That's why our first gig was at the top nightspot. But also we were lucky enough, I suppose, that George Young and Harry Vanda -- who was also in the Easybeats -- had just been appointed the A&R managers for Alberts Music. And they were bringing out a new label, Alberts label, and George came along to one of our rehearsals to check it out, and he liked what he heard. And he said, "Right, I'll be recording you guys." That's how it happened so quickly, I guess. The talent was certainly there to start with, but we were lucky enough to obviously have the older brother be the artist and repertoire manager of a new record label.
Did Colin and Larry play on the first AC/DC album, or were they gone too by the time they did an album?
No, they played on the first single, and also on the B-side, of course, "Rocking in the Parlour." But it was not long after that that they were both gone from the band. We then had another drummer and bass player -- that was Neil Smith on bass and Noel Taylor on drums -- and they played with the band for maybe a couple of months I suppose. They actually played at the first gig where Angus had his schoolboy uniform on. Because we wore jeans and t-shirts up until then. Then it was Malcolm, I suppose, who thought we needed some gimmick as the single was coming out. And we just wanted the band to look different than all the other bands around Australia at the time - jeans, T-shirts, long hair and all of that. And George declared that Angus - because he's only, Angus and Malcolm are only just a touch over five foot tall, they're not very tall - that Angus was going to wear a schoolboy uniform and short pants, and we thought that was a great idea because he looked like a kid, you know what I mean? And Malcolm was gonna wear like a silky jumpsuit outfit kind of thing, more like what they were doing in Britain at the time, actually, and he asked me to think of something weird to wear. Neil Smith, the bass player, came up with wearing a crash helmet, like a motorcycle cop kind of thing.
Now, this is before Village People, before.
And the drummer wanted to be like a court jester, and he wore like a top hat and a harlequin outfit, that kind of stuff. And they asked me to think of something, so I decided to look like the most outrageous rock star, sort of Rod Stewart with his jacket and stuff, that scarf, and also Slade - an English band - wore platform boots, which were pretty new back then. Platform sort of boots and sort of tight pants. So I put both those together and it looked pretty outrageous. We had outrageous outfits. But by the time we went to do the film of it, Neil and Noel had also gone, and we had two other guys playing bass and drums.
Why did people keep leaving?
Well, they weren't leaving as such. They were just getting sacked.
Well, Colin unfortunately - well, I'm just going to finish the story up.
So by the time we did the film of it, we had our third bass player and drummer, Peter Clack on drums and Rob Bailey on bass, so they appear in films of it and a lot of people think that they played on the single. But they didn't. It was two drummers and bassists ago! But yeah, Colin, he's a good drummer and a great guy. I saw Colin a couple years ago. He arrived at Chequers one night, we do the gig, and I don't know what's wrong with him, he just seemed all out of it or whatever. But he did this great drumroll at the end of one song, and he just kept going and fell off the drum stool and just lay on the stage.
Prone, you know? Anyway, they sort of dragged him off, and next thing I heard was that Malcolm had sacked him. And Larry, even though he played on the single, George Young then had gone back and played bass over his parts. So they obviously didn't think Larry was good enough to keep on the single, so I imagine they thought, "Well, we're getting rid of Colin, so we'll get rid of Larry at the same time." So Larry went as well. The other two I mentioned before - Neil and Noel - I loved those guys, but they just weren't really up to it. So then it was the third drummer and bass player, that kind of thing. It went through a number of different personnel over a fairly short period of time. That's just the way it sort of goes.
That third bassist and drummer, did they play on the first album?
I don't think they did, because shortly after my split from the band, Phil Rudd was on drums and Mark Evans was playing bass. So I think they played, or maybe George played bass or something on the first album. But I'd already had a few tracks down for the first album, and when Bon Scott joined the band they actually re-recorded those songs that I had already recorded for the first album. Obviously because I wasn't in the band anymore.
Do you remember which ones you sang on?
Well, obviously the single, but "Rock and Roll Singer" is one, and "Soul Stripper." And I'd already written a couple of songs with the band as well, one big ballad called "Still In Love." They kept the music, of course, but Bon changed the lyrics to the song "Love Song," something like that.
Then there's another song I wrote called "Sunset Strip," which had a 12-bar rock'n'roll feel to it, and Bon changed it to "Show Business."
Changed it to what?
It was originally called "Sunset Strip."
Gotcha, OK. So why were you let go? All I've heard is something about you supposedly being too much of a glam rocker.
Yeah, that's bullshit.
What was the reason they gave you?
Yeah, that's a bunch of crap. Malcolm had said that as an excuse for me not being in the band. But the thing is, if you go to my website, you'll see Malcolm in his blue and gold silk glam outfit in all its splendor - and that's in one of those new books that has come out too.
Yeah, there are a couple of new ones out I saw.
Yeah, there's one of them, "Maximum Rock and Roll" or something like that, you'll see a photo of Malcolm in his silk glam outfit. So I would say when he points the finger at me he's got three fingers pointing back at himself.
What excuse did they give you, though?
It's a long story. But mostly jealousy really, I guess. We were all young guys, and I was very popular with the fans, especially the female fans, you know what I mean? It was just a jealousy thing. I remember Malcolm pulling my hair one day. We were backstage at one of the gigs, I was cuddling a beautiful girl, and he pulled my hair. I turned around and he said, "What are you going to do about it? You want to come outside, mate?" It was just jealousy. It was a real jealousy thing. And I was very popular with the crowds, especially the girls, and it just escalated over time, like "You're a rock star!" Or "You think you're a pop star!" And that's one of the reasons why they didn't like Colin Burgess, because Colin had been a big rock star. When Colin was with us, sometimes we'd go out on the town in Melbourne when we were playing, and often Colin would turn up with a girl on both arms. He was a bona fide rock star. And Malcolm would snidely go, "You're a bloody rock star," and shit like that. So he was always a jealous guy. Especially towards the rock stars. And when Colin went, then I got it. So that's the reason. I mean, we had a Top 5 record at the time. It was racing up the charts with a bullet. It was a hit record, know what I mean? There was nothing bad as far as performance was concerned, because we were doing well, and I was popular. That jealousy thing. I had nothing against those two boys at all. I was having the time of my life. It just started with all that sniping. In fact, when we stayed in hotels in those days, Malcolm used to share a room with me. We used to room together; we were friends! But then over time, he just started to resent me.
Oh. Hey, I'm on your site now, and I just found the picture with the crash helmet outfit and all that. That's a great shot! The drummer with the big hat on.
Yeah. That was the very first gig at Victoria Park in Sydney where we came out with our outfits, the very first time that Angus wore his schoolboy uniform. We had a lot of our fans in the crowd when he came out, and they were waiting, and when we walked out like that, we could hear the crowd - it's like, "W-w-w-what the hell?!"
And we just went on. And by the way, Angus didn't really have much of a stage act up until then, and that schoolboy uniform did something to him, because he just ripped the stage up.
Oh, he didn't really do much before that?
Not really. He played hard and he had a lot of energy, but he didn't really do much, no. And at the Victoria Park show I was completely taken aback, because once he had this schoolboy uniform on, he just ripped up the stage! He was running and jumping up and down. I remember thinking to myself, "Boy, this is fantastic!" So that schoolboy uniform really did something to his psyche and shaped what he does. He's a fantastic performer. But up until then, he wasn't a great performer. But that schoolboy uniform certainly did something to him, because he started ripping the place up.
Did you know Bon Scott from his previous bands?
Not really. I'd heard of the Valentines when I was younger, when I was a young teenager in the late 60s. The Valentines had a song out called "My Old Man's a Groovy Old Man," and it was a hit in Australia. But I didn't know until later on that that was an Easybeats song, right? And he and Vince Lovegrove were the two singers for that band. But I didn't know that he was in the band, I'd just heard of the Valentines and had heard the song, you know? And later on there was another band called Fraternity, which I had heard of and I had seen them, that was sort of a fairly well-known band in Australia and Bon was with them, too. So I had heard of the two bands on the scene, but Bon was a lot older than me, you know; he was like from the 60s more than the 70s, OK? And when we were playing in Adelaide, our record was number four on the charts or something huge, a hit in Adelaide. Vince Lovegrove was now a booker there, he was booking us in South Australia, so he got in touch with Bon Scott - who was living in Adelaide - and told him that AC/DC, which everybody knew had a big hit, that two boys, the two guitarists in the band were the younger brothers of George Young. And as you know, they had recorded that song, "My Old Man's a Groovy Old Man," which is an Easybeats song. So Bon came to meet us and introduced himself as a friend of the older brother, George, and he used to hang around with us at gigs; he'd be backstage with us and that sort of thing. And he'd always be out in the audience whenever we were playing, he'd be out there rocking along as well. So I got to meet him that way. But he was more friends with Angus and Malcolm because of the connection with the older brother. That kind of thing. I did meet him again after he joined the band. I was recording an album with my band Rabbit at the time at Albert Studios, and AC/DC were down in one of the other studios recording one of their albums. And I saw Bon seated in the tea room, coffee room, and we had a conversation, the two of us, and then we shook hands, said "Good luck," that kind of stuff, and that's the last time I saw him.
When you first heard it, what did you think of his singing style? It's a lot different from yours. I mean, you sound like a singer; he sounded like...just a guy. Or something.
Yeah, I know. I didn't really sort of like it that much when I first heard the first stuff that he was doing. Because he was doing a lot of songs that I'd done already. And we've already talked about that. But by the time he got to do the second album, he'd really developed. He'd written songs with the band, and some of the great rock songs were starting to be written, like "It's a Long Way to the Top," "Jailbreak," and "TNT," these kinds of songs. And he put his own style into those. It was different than me, but I think they're great songs. And Bon did develop a unique style of his own; it's distinctively his own style and it was really good.
Were you amazed that they managed to stay together all those years?
Yeah, I was, actually. After Bon died, I thought that would probably be the end of it, you know? They had a second life after me, because they moved from Sydney to Melbourne, and basically Melbourne - most of our following was actually in Sydney, because we were a Sydney band. Once they sort of stepped themselves into Melbourne, they got a whole new following down there. And then they branched out from Melbourne, and that was cool. But after, when Bon died, it's hard for a band to come back, especially with someone with as distinctive a style as Bon had, you know? Then when they came back with Brian Johnson -- bang! Off they went. "Back in Black" is still their biggest-selling album. And that they're together after all these years, it's pretty fantastic, really, because it's the type of rock that I do too, hard rock. And it's been great for hard rock, because over those thirty-odd years, there's been all types of music that come and go. You've got new wave, grunge, you name it, disco, whatever. But AC/DC have remained the same. It's remained hard rock -- the same, distinctive, AC/DC hard rock sound, which is the Australian rock sound. Which I play too. So AC/DC has been fantastic for hard rock fans, and also for people like myself who really enjoy playing music. So people like myself who promote hard rock have a lot to thank the band for as far as that goes.
How long was it after you left AC/DC before you had Rabbit together?
Not long, probably about six months. Maybe not even that long; maybe five months or so. It didn't take me long before I got fidgety and wanted to do something. I went to Chequers Nightclub one night -- we used to hang out there on Monday nights, the auditions would be on Monday nights -- and I ran into a friend of mine and he was like, "What are you doing, man? Are you looking for a band?" And I said, "Yeah, I am." And he mentioned Rabbit, who were from Newcastle, which is a big city north of Sydney. And they were a really good band, although I didn't think much of the singer. So I went up and joined them in Newcastle, and we put together our first album. Then I brought the band to Sydney, and we did our second album, "Too Much Rock N Roll." It was great. I really enjoyed Rabbit.
What do you think of both those albums now? How do they sound?
The Rabbit albums?
The first one, I listen to it and sort of go, "Yeah, OK." We did it in a hurry. We got through the whole thing in a week. And some of the songs, they had already written before I joined them, so some of them I'm not really mad on, you know what I mean? But the second album, which was the album that I had equal input in the band, I wrote a couple songs, and by that time we had a definite image, because what I wanted the band to be was like the Droogs out of the "Clockwork Orange" movie, "A Clockwork Orange." The Droogs, the ultra-violence. I don't know if you've seen "A Clockwork Orange" or not.
Yeah. Well, that's the sort of image I wanted. Now, this is before KISS, understand, and we were already out there with tight spandex pants and high-heeled boots. Actually we'd sort of already done the glam rock thing in a sense, with AC/DC. But with Rabbit, we went out and bought bowler hats and outfits like the Droogs, the gang members.
This wasn't that long after the movie came out, was it?
It was a while after. I think the movie had been out for five years, something like that. It had been out a while. But the movie had a cult following, and it was a fantastic film, and it had been banned in Britain. I think it might still be banned in Britain.
But it's a great film! I saw it again about four years ago, and even though the film might have gotten a bit scratchy, it's still a fantastic movie. But I just loved the film, and the mood of the Droogs and that kind of stuff, and that was the image that I created for Rabbit for the second album, which is more what Rabbit really was about when I was in the band.
And why'd you guys stop Rabbit?
Well, a lot of bands broke up in the mid-70s, the late-70s. Australia's a big place, as big as the USA, and our cities are far, far between, so we've got a lot of traveling to do if you're going to Melbourne, to Sydney, to Brisbane, to Adelaide. You're traveling long distances, and it costs a certain amount of money, you know, a truck, a van, or some combination of. But John Travolta and the Bee Gees brought out all that disco, and half the venues closed and became disco venues.
Oh, that's awful!
Yup. So, we still had to go from Sydney to Brisbane, or Sydney to Melbourne or Adelaide, or whatever, same amount of crew, same amount of whatever, but for half the gigs. And it wasn't just Rabbit. A lot of Australian bands, top Australian bands, broke up because of the economics. We just couldn't afford to go to Melbourne or Adelaide for half the gigs when we still had to hang around for the same amount of time. Like, say, in a week you might only have two or three gigs, whereas before maybe there's a week you'd have five gigs. So you're poorer. So a lot of us broke up. But it's funny, because when Rabbit broke up, we were actually playing - when we WERE playing - to the biggest crowds that we played over the years.
Oh! That's so depressing.
It was depressing! It was shocking. So if anybody asked about disco, we said we hated the bloody stuff. Ha!
How long did you wait before you got the bug again and started a new band?
I guess it was -
By the way, were you able to make a living from the bands, or did you have to work?
No no, we made a living. We had our albums out, we were on the television programs and that kind of stuff. We were professional.
But in between bands, I've sort of worked in the advertising industry when I've had to. Which is fine, I enjoy that, but it's not my true love. So, yeah, I spent three or four years I suppose before I sort of got the bug again and things started looking healthy, before gigs started to appear again. Disco sort of had its big crest prior to the early 80s. Then the 80s sort of happened and all of a sudden there was more rock and that kind of stuff. Then there were more and more venues that started to open.
Was that Hot Cockerel? Was that your next band?
Yeah, we got Hot Cockerel together. And after that, Dave Evans and Thunder Down Under; there's an album with that band.
Did you like how that album sounded? Or did that have too many keyboards or anything?
Well, actually, I liked the way it sounded although it was not how I planned it. Because originally, I would work with two guitars, bass, drums. That's the normal rock sort of lineup. But in the 80s there was a lot of synth stuff around as you remember, and there wasn't very many guitar solos in a lot of songs. So I got with a record label -- it was actually owned by a friend of mine, he loved my stuff -- he said, "Look, keep the two guitars, bass, and drums, but can you add piano, some synths, some strings? Do a compromise kind of thing, you know?" And I said, "Well, as long as I don't have to lose my two guitars. I can build on top of that, I don't want to take it away." So this is what I did. I personally loved the album, the Thunder Down Under album. I had a lot of fun adding the other instruments, because I recorded the first dub with the two guitars, bass, and drums just like normal.
Yup. Then we went, "OK, let's put this on it, and that on it, and this on it, and that on it" and whatever. And it headed that way. So it's still a heavy album, and as a band, we were still a heavy band; we just had a lot more people on stage. A keyboard player, and a sax player and whatever. It was a big sound. And everybody was singing as well. So it was a big, heavy sound. Yeah. That was an interesting exercise.
How did this "A Hell of a Night" AC/DC tribute CD happen? How did that come about?
Well, I was living in Sydney at the time, and one of the guys that was in Hot Cockerel before was now in a -- he was doing other projects, but he was also in an AC/DC tribute band in Melbourne called Thunderstruck, and he rang me after Christmas in 2000. So we said, "Hi, g'day mate," and all that stuff. He said, "We're doing a very important gig coming up in February," which was about six weeks away, five weeks away. He said, "It's actually the 20th anniversary of Bon Scott's death." And I said, "Twenty years? Where did twenty years go?" I couldn't believe it, to tell you the truth. And I went, "Oh, wow." And he said, "Yeah, we're advertising it and all that sort of thing, and it's doing much better than we expected, and we're gonna make a big thing out of it. Why don't you come down and do something?" And I knew Bon Scott, and as far as I was concerned he was one of the fallen, you know what I mean, one of the fallen soldiers of rock. So I said, "Sure, I'll come down. How many songs do you want me to do?" He said, "Well, how many you want to do?" I said, "Let me think about it." And I really thought about doing something properly, you know? So I wanted to do four songs that I did with AC/DC, including the two songs that I recorded with AC/DC and he re-recorded, and then four of his songs as well. And once I sort of realized that it was eight songs, I realized that there'd probably be a lot of hardcore AC/DC fans that would be at this concert from around the world, and they would probably love to have this in their collection. So I rang Simon back and told him what I was going to do, and I said, "Look, I want to record it. I'll get the best crew available down there in Melbourne and do a live recording of this, and I'll see if I can get a label to put it out for any of the hardcore fans that might want it." And that's what we did. We recorded the whole thing live. And as a live recording, it's fantastic. It really came out unbelievable. It rocks.
When you were in AC/DC, I know you knew you had something, because you had a big hit and you were getting big crowds. But could you tell by the way that Malcolm and Angus were writing songs that they would have longevity like this at the time? Or was it too early?
Well you never think a band's gonna have THAT longevity.
Yeah, that's true.
I mean, even with the Beatles, when I was a kid, I loved them. I mean, I thought they would last forever when I was 13 and 14, you know? And they broke up. And when you think about it, they weren't together that long when you think about the Rolling Stones and other bands, you know? So longevity was how long? I suppose that the longest band that has been going is the Rolling Stones, and even they broke up at one point. But to go this long? No, no. Of course not.
Did you like what Brian Johnson brought to the band? I know, again, it was really different.
Well, to me, it's sort of a lot the same. Because Malcolm is the songwriter, really, as far as the music's concerned. It's his rhythm that everyone hears - that rhythm sound, that great sound, that's Malcolm Young. So no matter who's going to write songs with Malcolm, it's going to have Malcolm's sound, and so it's up to a singer to come up with choruses or lines and lyrics to go with Malcolm. So, really, it's been the same sound the whole time. And Brian's done a great job. Because he wouldn't have been there for so bloody long if he didn't do a good job! His record with the band speaks for itself.
Did you ever speak to Angus and Malcolm again?
I saw them once. There was a big show called the October Festival in Melbourne when I was with Rabbit, and all the pop bands were playing at the time. And they were in a more decent time slot than us, but we were at the showgrounds and I saw them there and I chatted with them. It was quite friendly. "How you enjoying Melbourne?" because I was new in Melbourne and Rabbit had just come down from Sydney. And I was like, "Yeah, I like it here in Melbourne," and that sort of thing. That was it, though.
OK. And what about "Sinner"?
"Sinner," yeah. I was touring Germany and Europe, Austria, with a show called "In the Beginning." The fans wanted to see me in Europe, so I put together a show called "In The Beginning" for the fans and I sang. The first half of my spot was songs that I actually sang with AC/DC, so the fans could hear virtually how AC/DC sounded in the beginning before Bon Scott - which of course they loved. Then I did a few of Bon's songs to finish off the set. While I was touring Europe, the fans kept going, "When are you doing your own music?" And also the writers, the magazine writers, would ask, "When are you doing your own album? We like the AC/DC songs, but when are you doing your own?" And I said, "Oh, yeah. When I get back to Australia I'm gonna do a new album." So I was of course making that up; I had some songs written, but no plans to record a new album. But I thought, "Shit, the interest is there. I better do something about it!" So when I got back to Australia, I actually got in touch with Mark Tinson from Rabbit, and he said, "Oh, I hear you're touring around Europe, blah blah blah," and I said, "Yeah." Then before I could say anything, he says, "How about doing an album?"
And I said, "Funny you should mention that, Mark. I've been telling everybody in Europe that I'm coming back to do an album." I said, "You got any songs?" He said, "Yep. You got any?" And I said, "Yeah. I've got a few." So I flew down to Melbourne, I listened to his ideas, he listened to mine, and we picked out ten or twelve songs - a couple of them were virtually written, others were just ideas, know what I mean? And so we rang around the boys; Dave Hinds from Rabbit was available, we got Simon Croft who was in Hot Cockerel with me and played in Thunderstruck, and a couple of other Newcastle locals, and we just flew up to this studio up there in Newcastle and just got into it. And as Mark said to me, you know, "How hard can it be, mate? This is our music." That's how it happened. We got up there and put it down.
How has that sold?
How's it sold?
It was on the Cultural Minority label in Europe, and Heart Attack Records in the States. You can get it from Amazon, iTunes, or directly through my web site.
Is there still a market for Rabbit's music? Would you be able to get that on CD?
Well, a lot of people have asked me about doing Rabbit's music on CD, but the thing is we recorded that with CBS Records and Sony bought them out. I think they deleted the Rabbit stuff; it's not on the market. I suppose it's worth me and Mark Tinson looking into that, because a lot of people are saying, "Where can we get it? Where can we get it? Where can we get it? Where can we get it?" And there were a few videos around on YouTube -
Oh! Are they still up there?
Well they're not now. But they were until about two weeks ago. Mark is sending me the film clips in a couple of weeks time, and I'll be putting them up on my website. But while they were up on YouTube, fans kept going there and they love the Rabbit stuff. So it's worth pursuing. It's pretty good stuff. That's something that Mark and I are talking about right now.
And somewhere on the web I found something that says there's a bootleg of you with AC/DC called "In the Beginning."
Do you have a copy of that?
Yeah, I do, actually. I got sent a copy. I was actually given a rough cut about four years ago, I suppose, by an ex-member of AC/DC. I didn't even know it existed. He said, "Oh, yeah, it's when we did the Hampton Court Hotel in Sydney, at King's Cross." He'd hooked up a cassette player next to one of the guitar amps and recorded the whole night, the whole thing. And he said, "Oh, you can have a copy," which he gave to me. I brought it home, and it's pretty hard to listen to, really, because it was stuck right in front of a guitar amp so all I can hear is one guitar. It was pretty bad. I didn't even listen to the whole tape, to be honest. I'm not interested in that sort of thing, so while I was touring in Germany I gave it to a friend, and he went, "Oh, oh, I can't wait to listen," and I went, "It's crap! It's not worth listening to. I haven't listened to the whole thing myself." Anyway, I gave that away to him a few years ago. So that was one copy. There's a couple of other copies floating about too, but that's it. So all of a sudden there's a double album out of Los Angeles, I think, of these tapes. I was told that they got a copy somewhere, and I wonder, "Was it the one I had? Or was it the one the other guy had in Sydney?" But they apparently sort of digitally enhanced it or - I don't know, done something to it, whatever. Anyway, I got sent a copy. I haven't played it because I haven't got a record player, but it looks good!
Oh, that's good.
So, yeah. I don't know where they got the tape from - whether it was from the guy in Germany I gave it to, or the guy in Sydney.
Whatever. But it's there for posterity, and as far as I know they all got snapped up pretty quickly, so maybe I should've done it myself and made a few dollars. But I couldn't even listen to it myself!
Yeah, that's a drag. You get something that rare, and it turns out to be unlistenable.
Well, for the sake of the people that've got it, I hope that it sounds better than the tape I had. Maybe the bootleg label did something to it. No idea.
How would you compare your singing voice now to what it sounded like when you first started? Or, not when you first started, but, you know, in the early 70s?
Well it probably doesn't sound the same, I would say. Because if you hear "Can I Sit Next to You Girl" when I sang it with AC/DC, and then you hear "Sinner," you wouldn't even recognize it's the same singer. My voice has gotten stronger and stronger and bigger and more powerful over the years. I remember speaking to my father about opera singers. My father's into the opera - when I was a kid I had all the great tenors and all that kind of stuff - and I remember him telling me that the great tenors, they don't start maturing until around 40. Their voices get bigger and stronger and that kind of stuff, you know? Most people in pop music are out of the business by the time they're 30, so you never get to hear how their voices would potentially sound. But since I've been singing all this time, my voice has gotten bigger, stronger, and more powerful. And I remember what my father told me about the great opera singers. They were about 40 years old when their voices really matured.
Yeah. Great, great singing. Because I guess the body grows, you know what I mean? So when I hear "Can I Sit Next to You Girl," it's a nice song, it's a great hit, people love it, and there's nothing wrong with my singing either, but it doesn't sound like "Sinner," which has sort of a big, strong, rock and roll singer.
So when you do shows with the Badasses, do you play stuff from all your different bands, or just new material, or...?
I just do "Sinner" and a couple of new songs that I've written. We're doing a new album. And also, as an encore, if they want to hear a couple of AC/DC songs, I'll do "Baby Please Don't Go," "Can I Sit Next to You Girl," "Soul Stripper," just a few songs. Because people know who I am and they want to hear SOME AC/DC, so I do that when I get the encore. But not before!
Not before. And I don't have to rely on the AC/DC material, because the songs on "Sinner" are as strong. But yeah, I'll do some for the crowd as an encore, as a thank you.
How does the crowd react to your new material? I'm looking at a "Sinner" review on an AC/DC web site called "Rock and Roll Damnation." This guy LOVES it.
Yeah, that's a pretty killer album. Killer album. If you like AC/DC, you'll love this.
Awesome. And people can buy that on your website?
Yeah. Or they can go to Amazon.
Amazon, OK. Very nice.
All right. I'd better - God, I've kept you for almost an hour now!
Doesn't seem that long.
I'd better let you go. Is there anything else you want to mention? Again, when are you doing the upcoming Bon Scott tribute?
Yeah, that's in February. The 25th, I think it is. That's in Perth. It's the Bon Scott Celebration Concert to raise money for a statue for Bon, and the cream of Australian rock is going to be there. If you go to "Bon Scott celebration concert," if you do a search on that, you'll go straight through to their website.
All the information is there. But if you put that into Google itself, you'll get a billion sites that come up. It's world news.
OK. Do you think you'll be staying in Texas, then, for the long haul?
Well I have to be back in April, so that's up to my booker. I've got someone booking me out of Houston.
I hope to be back.
Oh, you hope to be back. Gotcha.
By April. My booker in Houston is working on booking April for me right now.
Oh, OK. So you're not actually living in Texas then?
Well, I'm here in Texas at the moment. I've still got a home in Melbourne.
Gotcha. All right, gotcha.
I'm still an Aussie.
Yeah, I was wondering! That's such a strange move, to go from there to Texas.
Yeah, well, you know. When I was in Europe, I lived in Munich!
That was where I lived. I traveled all over Germany, Austria, Holland, Switzerland, that kind of thing. But I had a flat, a little apartment in Munich.
Oh, OK. All right. Well, again, thank you very much for your time.
No, thank you Mark. You asked some interesting questions. I hope your readers will enjoy my answers to them.
Yeah, I'm sure they will. Well, have a good evening!
See you, Mark.
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