When Mark Evans first got the gig to hold down bass for Australian hard rockers AC/DC, he knew very quickly the group was serious about hitting the big-time. “From the first jam with the guys, I got the feeling of, ‘This is where I’m supposed to be,’ because I could tell these guys were so dead serious,” Evans, who joined the band in 1975, told Gibson.com. “Their vision and intent was amazing. You have to respect that kind of intensity.”
Evans played with AC/DC through their early releases, including T.N.T., Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Let There Be Rock and the ’74 Jailbreak EP. Those experiences are captured in Evans’ new memoir, Get Lit: Dirty Deeds – My Life Inside/Outside of AC/DC (out on Bazillion Points Books), which arrived in the U.S. last week. The meaty chapters spill plenty of details about the then-newbie rockers’ early days. Gibson.com caught up with Evans to chat about the memoir, his best memories from AC/DC and his favorite Gibson basses and acoustic guitars. For more about Evans, check out his official website.
What made the time right, at this moment, to put out a memoir?
The motivation came from a few things. I’ve been asked for the last 15 years a number of times, by publishers to do it. But, I had some things happen family-wise in 2007, and then I had the idea to do it, because it became obvious to me that it was the right time. I sat back, took a breath and took stock of what had happened in my life, so far. My other main motivation to write the book was that over the years, people have come to me and asked, “What was it like being on the road with AC/DC?” I feel like this is a way for me to repay the fans for all the support I’ve gotten over the years. They’re so genuine and interested in what happened, so I thought it would be a good thing to put them inside the band. I’ve read so many different things about the band in different books, and there have been a lot of inaccuracies printed, because the band is so secretive. So, I wanted to set the record straight.
What’s your best memory from your time with AC/DC?
There were a lot of amazing things that happened! Overall, the thing I look back on and that still amazes me was how quickly the band moved. I joined them in 1975, and I was told the band would be in England in 12 months. I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Well, we were in London in 12 months and 5 days. [Laughs] I remember how quickly the band generated a following. When I first started working with the band, we were playing small bars and pubs, playing to 15 and 20 people a night. Then, in the first couple of months, we picked up airplay, were on national TV and in six to eight weeks, we were playing to full houses.
You were only 19 when you joined AC/DC. What was it like experiencing everything at such a young age?
You know, when you’re young, you don’t know it. You know you’re 19, but you think you’re so grown up and know everything, so you don’t have that feeling of being young. Now I’m 55 – and a very well-preserved 55, I might add! – but I see 19-year-old people now and think, “They’re just kids!” In hindsight, I look back, and it seems like an amazing situation to get involved in. It was a steep learning curve for me. I learned so much from those guys, and they were a great bunch of guys. I learned about work ethic and commitment from those guys.
What was the most exciting part of writing this memoir?
The biggest blast was seeing the final product and physically having the book in my hands. It was amazing! It’s similar to getting the first record you’ve played on, and you look and say, “I can’t believe this happened.” Physically looking at it, seeing all the photos in there and having the book in my hands was surreal.
Would you say writing the book was cathartic?
Yeah. I’ve been very fortunate, because interesting things have happened to me in my life. I had an unconventional childhood, too, so the whole story of my life is in there. It’s an interesting thing to do. I’m at the point in my life where I’ve had a lot of great things happen to me, and on a personal level, there have been some things I wish had never happened – real nightmares. They’re all in there. It’s a good thing to go back and recount what happened. It gets dark, but it also gets light. It was a really cathartic thing to do.
I’ve heard that you like Gibson J-200s and Gibson Rippers. Good choices!
I love Gibsons! I recorded a lot of the AC/DC stuff with Gibson Ripper basses. I love the J-200s, too. I’m doing a lot of acoustic blues roots music with Dave Tice, and we just released a new record called, Brothers in Arms, where I used my Gibson acoustic. I’ve loved Gibsons ever since I saw Elvis Presley use one on “Jailhouse Rock.” They sound beautiful.
What makes Gibson guitars special?
Oh, boy! If I knew exact what it was, I’d be making guitars myself! A lot of it has to do with the heritage of company, in that it’s been around so long. But, I think it’s also the workmanship. I have quite a few vintage Gibsons, but I also have newer guitars that I’ve bought over the past five years, and the Gibson guitars they’re making now stand up to the vintage ones extremely well. The way they put together the guitars is unbelievable. Gibsons are beautiful guitars, and they’re put together with a lot of care and love.
Photo credit: Ginnie Evans