FEATURE > MARK EVANS
Evans and AC/DC playing the Nashville pub in London on June 3, 1976, during their first tour of the UK. Photo by Dick Barnatt
You’ve got it exactly, man. When we were on the road gigging, AC/
DC’s work ethic was just amazing. There was never any gut-aching
about a particular gig—you just did it and had to be committed to
the nth degree. Sure, there would be some punches thrown on the
road, too, but that’s part of being in a band [laughs]. You just can’t
play at that level, in that type of band, and play that type of music
without getting fired up. But any issues we had on the road would
end the moment we stepped onstage.
It sounds like there wasn’t much time for the studio, given the
relentless gigging. What was the songwriting and recording process like for all those classic albums?
Anytime we’d go in to record an album, our manager would basically try to get as much time as our schedule would allow. The
three albums I worked on with the band—T.N. T., Dirty Deeds
Done Dirt Cheap, and Let There Be Rock—were each recorded in
less than two weeks. That was as much time as we could afford
to take off the road. So we’d go in the studio, where Angus and
Malcolm would knock together some guitar bits, but we wouldn’t
be presented with much more than a soundcheck where we’d mess
around with a couple of grooves.
All the songs would be written during the studio time—[back
then] I didn’t even know about the concept of demo recordings.
The first week, Malcolm, Angus, and George would get all the
songs written, and then we’d go into a band situation to get the
structure of the grooves right. So everything would be written and
recorded in a period of a week—which is pretty mind numbing,
when you think about how things are recorded today.
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The second week would be all about vocals and guitar solos,
which was the favorite part for Angus, of course. He’d love having
a couple days in there to just do solos—and he’d be itching and
scratching to get in there, man. The whole process really says a lot
about how the three brothers worked together. To have a mentor
and record producer like George Young, you’re blessed, and I was
always a bit envious about their working relationship. You’d look at
them working and think, “That’s a gang I want to be part of.” That
said, there was certainly a wall around them, and it was apparent
you weren’t going to get on that team, y’know? But George Young
is a hero of mine, man. Great bass player, too.
Did you contribute your own bass lines, or did the Youngs
take care of that?
They used to work out all the parts on the piano, including the
bass. There would always be a grand piano in the recording room,
and the three Young brothers would sit alongside each other to
work the songs out. It was so funny, because they’re such tiny
guys. Seeing Malcolm in the middle, Angus on the right, and
George on the left, plunking away on the piano, was like something from the Marx Brothers.
Wow—most of us would have never imagined AC/DC songs
being composed on piano!
It was a good way to get the bass parts going, and then the
chords. Phil and I would be around in the studio, so we would
definitely get the flavor of the songwriting beforehand. Phil
would get on the drums, Mal and Angus would grab their guitars,