It’s A Long Way To The Top (1990)

Published on April 19th, 2018

INSTEAD of Hot Metal firing the the questions, we brought Mat Maurer (Mortal Sin) and Mark Evans (ex-AC/DC) together to “rap” about their experiences in being in very successful rock bands. They enjoyed interviewing each other – so much, in fact, that we couldn’t get a word in edgeways! Take it away, guys…
Mark: “How is Face Of Despair selling?”
Mat: “I don’t know how many we’ve sold in Australia — I think as somewhere between 10/15,000. In Europe it’s been released for about three months but I’m not sure how many its sold there. It will be released in America in September and is on sale in Japan. So were getting it around to everyone, now we just have to get out and tour to the masses.” Mark: Are you mane on tour to Europe then?

Mat: “We’ve got a 93 per cent chance of being on the Black Sabbath tour of Europe. We’re just waiting for a few decisions from the record company.”
Mark: “I’ve spent three months in England and Europe and two months in the States on the road with Black Sabbath and if I hear ‘Iron Man’ once more, I think I’m gonna throw up!”
Mat: “When was the last time you toured?”
Mark: “Well, internationally, the last time would have to be the States with Heaven in 1984. The first time we went to England (with AC/DC) we had about six weeks off because we were going lc tour with Street Crawler which has headed by Paul Kossoff (formerly with Free). He died and then Bon got in a bar fight and got his jaw broken. So that stopped him from singing for a while, so we had six weeks off. But with AC/BC it was like go, go, go and I couldn’t do that again.”
Mat: “That’s basically what we have to do.”
Mark: “Well you’re gonna have to. The way you get there is hard work. You know, unless you get exceptionally … . well ‘lucky’ is a good word for it. Get lucky and maybe get a single across. That’s a short cut, to get a single over there.”
Mark: “That really pisses me off about Australia. It’s a lot more open in the States and in Europe because you get a lot of alternatives. In the States you’ve got college rock radio and you can make a career at the moment of playing on the college circuits. That’s how The Police got started. But the radio stations here just won’t back you up.”
Mat: “How did you get along with Bon?”
Mark: “Very easily. He had a image of being slightly crazed, of being a real tough, heavy sort of guy. Maybe it surprised a lot of people but the guy was really generous. He had impeccable manners and a great way with people. But you also had the other side of Bon, that you saw when he was doing the business side of things. There was Bon and then there was Bon – there was two different guys, not just the one that sung in AC/DC. His image was great. I really miss him, he was one of my best pals. I shared a hotel with him on the road constantly. Along with George Young he taught the band a lot.”
Mat: “I sort of find myself in the same situation as as him. He wasn’t a singer but he was told: ‘You’re the singer’. I found myself in that situation with Mortal Sin. Well not with Mortal Sin but with my first band. They just came up and said ‘you’re the singer’. Oh, OK. I am now the singer in Mortal Sin.”
Mark: “Bon actually auditioned at the start the drummer. He was quite a good drummer, and one of Jimmy Barnes. bass players, Bruce Howe, auditioned at the same time as Bon. Bon could sing so Dave Evans got the flick. Then they moved back to Melbourne and Phil and myself came into it.”
Mark: “What’s Randy Burns like to work with?”
Mat: “Randy’s a producer who’s done a lot hardcore stuff. Metal and hardcore have been associated for a couple of years now. But he’a also worked with Megadeth which is pretty big band at the moment. He was a perfectionist when he came into the studio. We recorded our first album, Mayhemic Destruction, off our own bat with our own money, produced it and did everything on it. We didn’t have the experience we thought we had in the studio. A lot of people don’t realise that you have to be a totally different band when you’re on the studio to record. So we got in there and had our arses kicked.”
Mark: “Do you like thrash? That’s a disease isn’t it?”
Mat: “No that’s thrush!”

Mark: “Oh right. No I definitely don’t like thrush. I think of a thrash hand as being like Motorhead or something. I lose the labels, I just listen to bands. I sort of distance myself from it a bit these days.”
Mat: “Well, yeah. That would be a perfect example for you to understand the label.”
Mark: “Thrash to me is just really fast. The songs with thrash bands, never seem to be great. But even with some of the so-called American heavy metal bands like Bon Jovi, as much as they make some people sick, some of their songs and actual records are great records They are aimed at radio. But that takes away the renegade and outlaw element of heavy metal. It’s making it clean and that’s the thing I don’t like.”
Mat: “That’s where thrash comes into it.”
Mark: “Oh right, so Bon Jovi couldn’t write songs the would be thrash.”
Mat: “Mate. we’ll have to give you a listen to our new album. Very technical, very intelligent.”
Mark: “Mate, you’ve lost me on both counts. Technicalities and intelligence is not my strong suit I’ve got to tell you. You’re talking to a bass player.”
(A brief intermission occurs as as refreshments are once again served)
Mark: “What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?”
Mat: “The the widest thing I ever did? In the band, we did a show up in Queensland, our test show in Queensland. We did three songs, it was at a punk club and after the third song I got hit in the face with a can. Everybody was getting hit with cans. I jumped out into the audience and started throwing punches and I got decked. The show was cancelled. I got hit from behind and I’ve still got the scars from it. It was Mick’s first show after we got rid of our first guitarist. We took Mick up there and…”
Mark: “Welcome to the band. yeah.”

Mat: “What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done, Mark.”
Mark: “I’m trying to dodge this one but … maybe not the wildest but one of the strangest things that ever happened was the way I actually joined the band. I’m from Prahran in Melbourne and there’s this pub down there Mor in Melbourne where a lot of the bands started from. It was almost like a little corner pub called the Station Hotel which is probably 50 yards from where I used to live. Skyhooks started there and so did a lot of Ross Wilson’s bands. AC/DC used to play there. I saw them on TV and heard they were playing at the pub this Friday night! Thurston night I was in there and we ended up – me and a couple of pals I used to play football with – getting in a brawl with the bouncers and being barred from the pub, which used to happen about once every month anyway. I was 17. So what happened the next night? I’ve walked in past the bouncer and he’s said ‘what are you doing here?’ I said ‘I’ve come to see AC/DC and he’s said ‘you’re banned from here, you can forget it. You and your mates can piss off’. So we’re going to brew is up again, we’re gonna belt these guys again. It all starts and then, all of a sudden there’s only two of us there, myself and this guy who was living with us who was actually roadieing for AC/DC at that stage, and I got catapulted straight out of the pub. They got me just like you see in the cartoons. I went flying out of the oub and hit this guy. I can even remember the car. It was an old EH Holden. I hit this guy straight over the bonnet of the car and it was Bon. He said ‘what the fuck do you think you’re doing?’ I said ‘listen, I’ve just come to see the band and these pigs have thrown me out.’ He said, ‘which blokes?°, I said ‘bouncers’. He said ‘Come with me son’. And that’s how I joined the band. I actually got thrown out of the pub and straight into it. It was great. I got lucky that day. If I hadn’t belted the bouncer the night before, I wouldn’t have got in the band! From a guy you knocked over in the street who’s really pissed off. When I told him I’ve come to see his band, it was ‘OK, you’re with us’.”

Mat: “What happened? Did you tell him you’re a bass player?”
Mark: “They were actually looking for a bass player and/or a guitar player at that stage ’cause the band was a four-piece. Malcolm was playing bass. I met the guys and went around to their place the next day and they gave me a copy of the record they’d been working on. I learned bits and pieces of that, which was actually “Baby Please Don’t Go’ – that was recorded prior to the rest of the album. I had a play and said ‘I’ll have a go, I play bass’ and that was it. The next gig was the next Tuesday night at the same place, the Station Hotel. Malcolm said ‘come around and have a couple of drinks before the gig. No-one’s asked me to join the band so I said alright. So I turned up and had a few drinks with Malcolm and he said ‘what time’s your gear getting here?’ and I said ‘what?’. He said: ‘you’re in the band!’. He said ‘well, you play bass, so you can play tonight’. So that’s how it was for a few years. I was never actually asked to join the band. It’s not exactly wild but that’s the story.”
Mat: “What’s the wildest thing you ever saw Bon Scott do?”
Mark: “Bon never had much respect for other Australian bands. We used to get stuck on weird situations before we went overseas, like playing on Countdown. There was one time we got roped into playing on TV Week’s King Of Pop and we played live to air. Daryl Braithwaite won the title that year and after we finished playing we went to the reception and got stuck into the grog. There were these horrible posters of Daryl everywhere and this stack of TV Weeks. Bon ripped them up and pissed on them. When Daryl arrived sometime later, Bon got hold of this turkey and filled it up with champagne and started drinking out of the turkey’s arse. He made Daryl drink some of it but little did he know that Bon had pissed in it. He still doesn’t know ’til this day.”

Dirty Deeds

Mat: “What happened at the other end of the scale?”
Mark: ‘The other end of the scale would have been a few years later in Europe. I think it’s easy to talk about it now, because I’ve gone a lot of years with people asking me what happened. I must have told 500 different versions of the story. But what really happened was we were going to start our first tour of the States and we were flying straight over from Helsinki to New York. It got canned because our record company over in the States didn’t think Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap was up to scratch so they didn’t release it and didn’t release it until after Bon died. I may be wrong with that. So we had a few weeks off. It is Malcolm and Angus’s band — no matter what anyone else says, its their band — and I was having a few clashes with
Angus at the time, Angus being a very volatile guy. The guy is a genius, but like most geniuses, he tends to be very volatile. Lucky he’s not big enough to hurt anyone, because he would have been up for murder before this. We used to have our occasional sort of rave-ups because Malcolm and myself would go out drinking. Angus wouldn’t drink – he’s a teetotaller and only has a glass of wine occasionally. I think that is at the basis of it. Angus used to get a bit funny about relationships inside the band, and as I wouldn’t see eye to eye with him, we’d argue. We’d have a few words, swing a couple of punches and then all of a sudden Malcolm would be there. There were just by personality clashes. I was getting pissed off I with it, and to be honest I wasn’t putting in 100 per cent. If it hadn’t gone on backstage I might have stayed three or four weeks and I would have got the sack anyway. My heart wasn’t in it and the guys picked up on that. The one thing you had to be with that band was 150 per cent. I talked to Phil about it, I talked to Bon and Phil said ‘listen, its on the cards. You’re going anyway’.”
Mark: “How did Metallica’s crowd react to you as the support band?”
Mat: “Well, we’d never played to anywhere near as big as when we played with Metallica, like 6000. Before the show they were just calling ‘Mortal Sin! Mortal Sin!’ and I just said, ‘no. this is not happening’. We didn’t realise we’d underestimated ourselves.”
Mark: “How did Metallica react to Mortal Sin?”
Mat: “When we got to Melbourne we waited until after the show to talk to them ’cause in Adelaide they had to fly back to Melbourne straight after the show. Kirk came out and the first thing he said was ‘hey guys, you really played fucking good tonight. Me and Mick were there and we just said ‘wow, thanks a lot’ and it really boosted our confidence. Lars was standing behind Wayne for the whole show and sort of saying ‘go, go, go’ and the were getting right into it. And I said to James (’cause I get compared to James, everyone says I sound like him, which is a load of bullshit) Anyway I told him ‘everyone says I sound like you., and he just said ‘you believe that shit?!’ and he says, ‘well forget it, don’t worry about it’. So that was cool, that sort of broke the ice. We were just talking after that and got on fairly well. I mean, they’re our idols. It would be like 10 years ago and we supported AC/DC — the same situation.”

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