Power of Metal.dk Interview

Interview with
Dave Evans, April 2014


Dave Evans was the first vocalist of AC/DC (colloquially known as “Acca Dacca” in their native Australia…so I’ve been told) and he helped lay the foundation for a band that was to shake the world of Rock and Metal. 40 yeas later Dave is still writing quality Rock material. The guy’s a trooper worthy of utmost respect.

In the interview that follows, Dave retraces AC/DC’s first steps and passionately relives his own career just before releasing a brand new solo EP, tellingly called “Nothing To Prove”. When he answers my phone call from Australia (I’m phoning from England), I reckon it’s probably best to start from the very beginning…..

Dave I’ve got a lot of questions for you but let’s start in chronological order. You were actually born in Wales and emigrated to Australia when you were very young, right?

Dave: Yes, that’s right. I left with my family for Australia when I was a little boy.

When did you form your first band?

Dave: When I was 17 years old in North West Queensland, I formed my first band and we were called In Session. We played there for about 2 years until I left for Sydney by myself.

How did the members of AC/DC’s first line-up come together?

Dave: I briefly had a band in Sydney called Velvet Underground [not to be confused with their namesakes featuring Lou Reed, and who are from U.S.A.] and I answered an ad in the paper after we had broke up. It was Malcolm Young at the other end of the line and it turns out that Malcolm had been in the Velvet Underground before I had joined them. So I knew of him and he knew of me but we had never actually spoke until then. He told me he had a couple of guys that he was jamming with and wanted to form a new band. So he was looking for a Rock singer who was into The Rolling Stones, Free and those kind of bands.

Right away I met Malcolm and the other musicians. Colin Burgess was the drummer – he had previously played with Masters Apprentice, who were a very famous Australian band at the time. The bass player when we first jammed together was Larry van Kriedt. We practiced several covers of bands such as The Rolling Stones and at the end we felt good about that jamming session. A week later, at another rehearsal, Malcolm said he was bringing his brother Angus into the band. So the band became a quintet. That’s how we all got together.

What do you remember of the time you were with AC/DC?

Dave: My memories of when I sang with AC/DC are very vivid. It seems like it was yesterday. I remember our rehearsals very clearly. I remember one of our first gigs in Sydney when I took my shirt off and carried Angus around the stage on my shoulders

And, in AC/DC’s first gigs, what was a typical set-list like?

Dave: We were playing songs by Rolling Stones, Free, The Beatles…some Chuck Berry songs…you know, 12-bar Rock N’ Roll…we played a couple of original songs too. So that was the kind of music that we were doing.

So it was mainly covers…

Dave: It was mainly covers when we first started but we went into a recording studio very shortly after we got together…right after our very first show in fact.

Our first gig was on the 31st December of 1973 and about 3 months later we entered a recording studio, which was owned by George Young - another brother of Malcolm and Angus - and Harry Vanda. Before that, George and Harry used to play with a famous band called The Easybeats but at the time they worked as producers for a label called Albert Records. One day George came down to a rehearsal, he liked what he heard and offered to put out a few of our songs.

[With Dave Evans on vocals, AC/DC recorded the single ‘Can I Sit Next To You Girl’. It was produced by George Young and Harry Vanda and released in Australia in July of 1974.]

Around the time that you ceased to be part of AC/DC, quite a large number of musicians joined and left the band. Why was that? What was happening within the band’s ranks?

Dave: By the time I split from the band around twelve months after its formation, we went through our 3rd bass player, 3rd drummer and 3rd manager. What can I say….Colin Burgess, our drummer collapsed behind the drums one night when we were playing Chequers Nightclub [in Sydney]. He looked like he was on something so Malcolm decided to sack him on the spot. Colin always said he was drinking…well, that’s what he said. Anyway, we had already recorded our first single with him.

Larry….well Malcolm decided that Larry just wasn’t up to it. After that we got our second bass player and drummer. Neil Smith came on on bass – he’s passed away now, from cancer. We also recruited Noel Taylor to play drums. Our record was soon coming out so we recruited them very quickly. We were set to play at Chequers Nightclub for the launch and it was going to be an important gig for us. So yeah, we recruited them in a hurry but they weren’t up to scratch I suppose. So instead of them we recruited another 2 guys.

The record was released of course and it was a big hit for us. On the wave of its success we ended up playing all the biggest venues, such as the Sydney Opera House. It was fantastic – our record even entered the charts in the top 5. We were named as the best Australian band of the year and I’m very proud of that.

What was your reaction when you first heard Bon Scott sing with AC/DC?

Dave: I was surprised, really. When we played in Adelaide, Bon used to drive us around and hang out with us. He knew the older brother George Young as well as Harry Vanda from the 1960s. He had recorded ‘My Old Man's a Groovy Old Man’ with them when he was with The Valentines. So he knew them from back then. Bon was also a lot older than us when he joined the band. He was 29 then which was old when you consider that the rest of us were 21. And he used to hang around with us, he loved the band, especially ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’.

So being older than the band and coming from those 1960s bands, I was surprised that Bon Scott had actually got the job after I had split with them. Before AC/DC, Bon had also been with Fraternity, which was a hippy band. I had heard The Valentines but I didn’t really know much about them. He was just hanging around with us [AC/DC], driving us around to get some…er…some hamburgers.

After departing from AC/DC it wasn’t long before you joined Rabbit. How did that come about?

Dave: I was at Chequers Nightclub about 4 or 5 months after I split from AC/DC with my good friend Ted Mulry, who also passed away now. Ted used to play with me in Velvet Underground. Anyway, he asked me if I was looking for a band. I said I was but there sort of wasn’t much around that I was interested in. And he mentioned a band called Rabbit, from Newcastle, just north of Sydney. They were also friends of his band, the Ted Mulry Gang. And I had seen them [Rabbit] at Chequers and they were really good. They were a very exciting band.

So I got in touch with the guys from Rabbit through a contact of Ted Mulry, we had a chat about it and I decided to join the band. About only 9 months later we signed a record deal with CBS Records and then the band moved from Newcastle to Sydney.

Were you happing singing with Rabbit?

Dave: Oh yes. It was a fantastic band. We were all wild on and off the stage. It was a fantastic time. They were great guys and we’re still good mates to this day. In fact Rabbit’s guitarist Mark Tinson produced 2 of my solo albums: “Judgement Day” (2008) and “Sinner” (2006) and also played guitar on them.

Why did Rabbit come to a premature end, then?

Dave: It was 1977 I think and Disco hit really it big around the world…you know, the Bee Gees, John Travolta…Saturday Night Fever…all that kind of stuff. Disco became huge and what happened with half the venues was that they just put a DJ who put on Disco stuff. And they saved a lot of money and trouble [that was involved…] with bands I suppose. Consequentially the top bands in Australia all split because we all had the same venues, the same roadies, the same trucks, the same accommodation. Sherbert, Hush, Ted Mulry Gang…..we all went under as a result.

We [Rabbit] just couldn’t sustain the cost of the show. So we split up. AC/DC were overseas at that time – they had already gone to England. The other bands that were around at the time were the support acts and they didn’t have costs that we had and remained on a bit longer and some of them even got signed later on and eventually became bigger bands in Australia.


So if you were around in 1977 you’ll remember John Travolta….

Unfortunately I was around back then and I do remember John Travolta! I’m suddenly feeling older…

Dave: Disco wiped the top bands out. I remember the record label rep telling us “Hey guys, we’re in trouble and I don’t see any way out of it.”

It’s funny you’re saying all this because at that very same time in England, Punk was exploding and heralding a new age of Rock and the birth of Metal. From what you’re telling me, it seems Punk wasn’t really felt in Australia, right?

Dave: That’s right. There were 1 or 2 Punk bands but the Punk scene wasn’t very big here in Australia at the time. There’s not a lot of costs involved in Punk, really. The stage act is really basic, for example. Just plug in and play. But we [Rabbit] had pyrotechnics and all sorts of things that cost us money just to put on a show. And we couldn’t just go and play in the local pub instead – everyone knew us, we were regularly on TV. So we just broke up.

Earlier on you mentioned “Sinner” – your first solo album. How did that materialise?

Dave: I had done an album called “Dave Evans And Thunder Down Under” in the 1980s. Then in the 1990s Grunge music happened. For me the 90s were a non-event really, as far as Rock music is concerned. So during that period I was working in the advertising industry and doing some acting in a few films.

Around 2000 I went to Germany and lived in Munich for a while. While there I worked with an AC/DC tribute band called Overdose. Many people might not know this but [while with AC/DC] I sang on some early AC/DC songs such as ‘Can I Sit Next To You, Girl?’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ The Parlour’. For me Overdose was a great opportunity to get to go to Europe. So they would do mostly the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson stuff and then I would enter and sing the early songs including some AC/DC rarities. Anyway the reviews were fantastic, the crowds loved it and everyone kept asking me “When are you going to do your own material?”. And I would say I’ll think about it when I go back to Australia.

Finally, when I did go back to Australia, I gave Mark Tinson a call. He had already read the reports of my European exploits. So the first thing he told me when I called him was “When are we going to do the album, Dave?” I told him “Funny you should ask because that’s the reason I called you.”

So he suggested I go up to Newcastle, which I did. I already had some half-written songs by then and when we got together we completed 18 songs. From those we chose the best ones, then we entered a studio and put down an album which became “Sinner”.

The album received a lot of critical praise. ‘Sold My Soul To Rock ‘n’ Roll’, taken from that album, was nominated as the best Rock song by the Los Angeles Music Awards in 2007.

Last year (2013) you did a mini-tour of England. What made you want to travel half way round the globe to do a handful of dates?

Dave: Well, I lived in Texas for about 6 years and recorded an album called “Revenge”, which was released last year, with Texas legend and former Alice Cooper guitarist John Nitzinger. John also did some famous Blues Rock records in the early 1970s and played with well-known bands such as Bloodrock. He’s been around for a long time, for sure.

But Europe is where Rock is, really, so after I recorded “Revenge” I got in touch with Rocksector Records and they put out the album and I came over to play in the UK. I’ve been working with a German label as well. It’s been great, they love Rock over there and I’ll be going back to Europe again later this year.

That’s great news.

Dave: We tried to get a record deal in America but most labels just seem interested in Rap and that kind of stuff nowadays. To sign with a major label you have to be a band that has been around for 34 years and have a huge fanbase. And it’s the same thing in Australia – the Rock scene and the labels just seem interested in AC/DC, Aerosmith or The Rolling Stones. So since they can’t make a living with original music, I’m seeing a lot of Rock musicians just playing in INXS tribute bands or The Kinks tribute bands.

Luckily enough, they’re still interested in me because of my connections and because I’ve been rocking for 40 years. I’ve just recorded a new EP, called “Nothing To Prove”, which Rocksector Records wanted me to do. They gave me the title and I wrote a few songs with the help of guitarist Chris Appleton.

Once you’re mentioning this EP, can you describe the tracks in “Nothing To Prove”?

Dave: Well, it was recorded very quickly – I had less than a week to go before my tour of England and Wales finished, which was straight after some dates in Norway and Sweden. So in the space of a few days Chris and I came up with 3 new songs. Then Rocksector also wanted me to do ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’.

I guess that song has a special meaning for you as you were already singing that song when you were with AC/DC, right?

Dave: That’s right. It was one of the show-stoppers when I’d get Angus [Young] up on my shoulders while he played the solo and I sang the chorus. And I’ve been singing that song ever since at my own gigs. I was about to record that song with the band….I had already put down quite a few tracks with AC/DC…such as ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer’, ‘Soulstripper’, ‘Little Lover’….then Bon Scott had re-recorded them for AC/DC’s first album. I was about to do ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ when I split with the band and I never had another chance to record it. Of course there are live recordings all over the place with me doing it. It was a particular show-stopper during my UK tour as well.

So I was very happy to put down ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ for posterity. At last, after 40 years, I managed to record it.

About time!

Dave: [laughs]

You’ve been doing music for so many years that the term ‘Heavy Metal’ didn’t even exist when you started out. Are there any Metal bands you particularly enjoy listening to?

Dave: I’m not really into Heavy Metal to tell you the truth - I’m a Rocker, a Hard Rocker. And that’s one of the reasons why it was interesting to work with Chris Appleton. He’s also the lead singer and lead guitarist in British Metal band Absolva. I had liked working with Texas guitarist John Nitzinger, putting my Aussie Rock sound together with Johnny’s particular Blues Rock. So it was great to work with a British musician after that. It was an interesting experience that I enjoyed but Metal itself I’m really not into.

By the way, what is your opinion of Brian Johnson?

Dave: I’ve never met him really. He seems like a nice fella. He’s always smiling – every photograph I’ve seen of him he seems to be having the time of his life. He’s done very well for himself of course, he’s been with the band [AC/DC] for…around 33 years I think. 33 years is a long time and that’s a fantastic achievement. Bon was with the band for 6 years and I was with the band for a year. So he [Johnson] can’t be doing anything wrong.

Are you still in touch with Angus, Malcolm or George Young?

Dave: Not really but I’m very good friends with Malcolm’s son, Ross. He’s a big fan of mine and calls himself Ross ‘Badass’ Young. We spent some time together over Christmas and I took him around all the historical sights where myself and his dad and the band had performed, where Angus has first worn his schoolboy uniform, Chequers nightclub…..and he loved that. I even got him up on stage with us. It was great to sing a song or 2 with him. So I performed with his dad and I performed with Ross. He’s just gone back to England now but he speaks to his dad about me. Malcolm’s not very well as you probably know so it’s nice to liaise through Ross and Ross also speaks to me about his dad. He says his dad has got nothing but respect for me, which is wonderful to hear. And Malcolm is very happy for Ross to hang out with his ‘Uncle Dave’.

Dave Evans, what is your proudest achievement?

Dave: Well, a couple really. One is that I’m still going on after 40 years. My first record with AC/DC was done in 1974 and my first gig with AC/DC was in 1973. The fact that we were named as Best Australian Rock act of the year even though we were a very young band – I’m very proud of that. Another is that ‘I Sold My Soul For Rock ‘n’ Roll’, from my “Sinner” album, was nominated as Best Rock Song at the Los Angeles Music Awards in 2007. Those are a few very proud moment s of my life. I enjoyed performing at the famous Sydney Opera House with AC/DC. That was amazing.

But really the great reviews still keep coming in and you only have to check my FaceBook page for comments I’ve been getting for “Revenge” and even for my new EP “Nothing To Prove”. Even my performances have been getting great reviews. So to have been doing it for so long and still getting that type of feedback is something I’m really proud of.

Dave, it’s been a real pleasure speaking to you. I hope to see you performing in Europe sometime later this year. And I hope to hear a lot of new music from you in the near future.

Dave: Thank you very much for the interview. Good night from Australia!

And good morning from London!

[Both laugh]



Dave Evans - Nothing to Prove

Label: Rocksector Records

Link: www.daveevansrocks.com.


Discography (albums, expect when specified):
2014 – “Nothing To Prove” (EP - solo)
2013 – “Revenge” (Dave Evans & Nitzinger)
2008 - "Judgement Day" (solo)
2006 - "Sinner" (solo)
2000 - "A Hell Of A night" (Recorded on the 20th Anniversary of Bon
Scott's death)
1984 - "Dave Evans And Thunder Down Under" (Dave Evans and
Thunder Down Under)
1976 - "Let Me / Kiss Me Goodnight" (Rabbit - single)
1976 - "Too Much Rock N’ Roll" (Rabbit)
1975 - "Rabbit" (Rabbit)1974 - "Can I Sit Next To You, Girl? / Rockin' In The Parlour" (AC/DC - single)


Interviewed by Chris Galea