Adelaide heavy rock behemoth The Mark Of Cain are about to resurface after a four year hiatus, to mark the occasion of the 30th anniversary of their debut album, ‘Battlesick’, a blunt force sonic impact statement of the highest order. Hailed as the forefathers of heavy riffing titans such as Helmet and the Rollins Band, the bands reach and touch-points transcended such narrow definitions and bled into elements of post punk, hardcore and punishing noise rock..think Joy Division playing Big Black and you might be getting close to Battlesick’s core resonance.
Like many releases that have gone on to achieve ‘seminal’ status, the album was subject to relative indifference at the time it detonated in 1989, it’s dense wall of sound and intense subject matter being very much a case of right sound, wrong time during an era when the underground was largely embracing decidedly lighter fare.
Over time the albums resonance and the reputation of its protagonists has grown ever stronger, with this upcoming run of shows seeing The Mark Of Cain performing ‘Battlesick’ in its entirety, together with an encore selection of highlights from across the bands three decades. In addition, Washington DC three piece The Messthetics will be along for the ride, featuring the rhythm section of exalted punk icons Fugazi.
In the lead up, Mark Of Cain singer and guitarist John Scott took time out to discuss the bands current trajectory..
It’s been about 4 years now since you last played a run of live dates. What’s been happening in the world of The Mark Of Cain during this extended hiatus?
We don’t really run the band as a full time thing – Kim (Scott, John’s brother and Mark Of Cain bassist) works, I work, so life goes on in that regard and the band is very much secondary. We started rehearsing for the anniversary last year in anticipation we’d probably go out to celebrate Battlesick’s 30th anniversary in 2019.
Out of all your albums, there seems to be quite a reverence attached to ‘Battlesick’ in particular, with it being an oft-cited fan and also critical and fellow muso fave (eg. Rollins and his love of the record). Why do you think it’s played out that way? And did you sense something special about it when you recorded it all those years ago?
I think we thought it was a record that reflected what we were doing, reading, watching and absorbing from the world at the time – and I’m unsure if we thought of it as special – but the fact it reverberated with the likes of Rollins, someone we hold a great deal of respect for personally and professionally, was significant in that it somehow validated us for other people.
We knew it was different from what was current at the time. We were fortunate that it rang true to people like Rollins who saw us play it and then asked if he could release it on his label 2.13.62, which we did.
How has the lead up to the tour been for the band – have you had to go back and re-learn some of the less obvious album tracks? Or are you a well oiled machine in that regard!?
It hasn’t been too hard – we had to go over a few tracks like ‘Suppression’, ‘Visions of Love’ and ‘The Last Judgement’, ones we hadn’t played in a long while. Sometimes it came back as muscle memory and sometimes it took a few listens but they are all sounding great.
For Fugazi fans it’s also exciting that you’ve got Messthetics onboard as your tour support! How did that come about – do you have a personal connection with the guys?
Just weird happenstance, I’d been listening to their new album and our agent was in contact with them and it all came about as kismet. We played with Fugazi a few times in Australia, but we weren’t in personal contact with them.
Have you been working on any new material at all over the past 4 years? And if so, will you be slotting any into your encore set?
No new material – just plenty of old stuff. It’s ‘Ill At Ease’s’ 25th anniversary next year by the way…
So there you have it – a juicy hint to the year 2020 for Mark Of Cain fans, maybe!? In the meantime though, there’s no need to feel ill at ease about getting along to one of The Mark Of Cain’s upcoming performances of ‘Battlesick’:
Thursday 17th October 2019 – The Triffid, Brisbane QLD
Friday 18th October 2019 – The Factory, Sydney NSW + feedtime
Saturday 19th October 2019 – The Basement, Canberra ACT
Sunday 20th October 2019 – Small Ballroom, Newcastle NSW
Thursday 24th October 2019 – Rosemount Hotel, Perth WA
Friday 25th October 2019 – The Gov, Adelaide SA
Saturday 26th October 2019 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC