2014 marks the 30 year anniversary of the genesis of one of this country’s most uncompromising and heavy hitting bands, Adelaide’s The Mark of Cain. From their ‘Joy Division on steroids’ formative musical explorations through to their muscular riffing heyday and beyond, the band have consistently played the game strictly on their own terms, gathering a dedicated fanbase and high profile admirers such as Henry Rollins along the way. About to embark on a national run of shows which will be taking in the Gold Coast and Brisbane, bass player Kim Scott takes time out from home kitchen duties to chat with Anthony Gebhardt.
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Thirty years unbroken is an impressive feat when it comes to any ongoing endeavour, not least of which when it comes to the often fickle and fractious nature of bands and musicians. When it comes to the Mark of Cain though, they may have a bit of an advantage by birthright, as Kim Scott reflects wryly. “It was 1984 that John (guitarist, singer and brother John Scott) co-opted me into playing bass all that time ago, his concept was that bands with siblings last longer than just individuals and egos…well with us it’s proven to be true so far!”
“We often used to say, a hot summer in a tin shed rehearsing is a sure fire way to break a regular band up, with the inevitable arguments that occur. Whereas we survived because John and I are brothers and are close, being the only two siblings in the family. Even though we used to get argumentative about stuff, at the end of the day we’re still brothers and are somewhat immune to the types of bust ups that might break other types of relationships.”
With the Scott brothers as the constants, the Mark of Cain has witnessed a revolving cast of drummers across their existence – as many as 15 according to their Wikipedia page! Things has been somewhat more settled over the latter part of the band’s existence though, with internationally renowned drummer John Stanier (formerly with Helmet and now of Battles and Tomahawk fame) filling the seat as official sticksman since 1998.
When it comes to playing live though it’s been a different story recently, with John Stanier’s obligations with his other high profile musical projects necessitating a job-share type scenario, with young gun Adelaide local Eli Green filling in on the touring front for the past few years.
“The challenge we have is that John (Scott) and I in the past have had full time jobs that have kept us extremely busy, and then there’s John Stanier, who lives part of the time in the US and part of the time in Berlin,” Kim said. “His main earnings come from his other bands, he essentially does what he does with us because he loves playing our music and hanging out with us. But his other musical projects take priority and it’s a long way for him to get down here to do shows with us.”
“So for this run of shows we’re taking Eli out again. He did such a good job filling in last time and he’s such an incredible drummer….we thought about waiting until Stanier was available again (after the recording of the upcoming Battles record) but that might not have been until March next year or later…we will look to play live again with Stanier in the future, but for now we’d like to do some live shows right now with Eli.”
This run of shows sees them detonating their sound arsenal on some long unvisited musical outposts, as Kim embellishes; “This time around we picked a few places we hadn’t been to for awhile, Hobart we haven’t been to for 25 years, so we’ve decided to finally get back there again!”
“And we haven’t played Newcastle since 2002, we missed them last time (their last run of national shows 18 months ago) so we’ll be heading back there again for these shows. Most of the upcoming tour dates fall across weekends, as we tend to have to work around our day jobs. Friday and Saturday nights are great for people to get out anyway, as our regular crowd have often also got day jobs they’ve got to get to.”
Although when it comes to a Mark of Cain live audience in 2014, Kim is hopeful for a cross section of both seasoned fans mixed with a new generation of younger appreciators hungry for a more left field dose of heaviness. He said it’d be interesting to see if younger people come out to these shows.
“I think we have a uniqueness, in that not many bands here in Australia sound similar to us. And certainly what we hear from people when we talk to them, is that there’s been a dearth of heavier bands outside of the traditional metal genres, there’s not many bands around these days that do what we do,” he said.
So for those young and not so young who like their music dense, muscular and sweaty, be sure to get along and catch The Mark of Cain when they obliterate The Zoo on Friday 28 November, and the Coolangatta Hotel on Saturday 29 November.