Ted Mulry Gang co-founder and drummer Herm Kovac recently rediscovered early recordings of his previous band with Malcolm Young before the formation of AC/DC.
Herm and TMG guitarist Les Hall had a band called Velvet Undergound (not to be confused with Lou Reed’s band) with Malcolm before the Ted Mulry Gang and AC/DC had started.
“A lot of people don’t realise that Les and I were in a band with Malcolm Young for almost three years. I produce records now and have a recording studio,” Herm Kovac tells Noise11.com. “When we all lived at a house in Mona Vale and Malcolm still worked for Hestia fixing sewing machines in the Hestia bra factory, he stayed with us in the house on the weekend. I built a studio in the house and just recently found five songs that I recorded with Malcolm and Velvet Underground and you can hear the genesis of AC/DC and TMG in the rock songs. There are three songs Malcolm plays lead on. He was a great lead guitarist”.
Wait, lead? Yes Malcolm Young was the lead guitarist in Velvet Underground (again, not to be confused with Lou Reed’s band) before he became the rhythm guitarist in AC/DC where his brother Angus played lead.
Herm says the songs did get to completion stage. “There’s a song called ‘Crazy Woman’, there’s a pretentious song about a town in the Bahamas. Malcolm and Les (Hall) play twin guitar. All the songs were finished but they were all recorded live to two-track. Back then there were no multi-tracks around. You can all the instruments, the guitar riffs, the leads, the vocals. I’m not putting this in the same bag as early Beatles or Stones or Who, but when you hear their early recordings it has that same sound about it”.
These early Malcolm Young recordings may be a release one day. “I recorded it and I am the only one who owns the tape so I own the copyright on those recordings,” Herm says. “I could do what I want with them. It should come out one day. There is an historic value to it”.
So why was there an Australian band called Velvet Underground at the same time Lou Reed had a band called Velvet Underground in New York? “We ripped the name off,” Herm says. “I’ve got two chapters of my book left to go and there are three chapters just on my life with Malcolm. A lot of people have never seen the side of Malcolm, how generous he was.
After a while we just dropped the word ‘Underground’ and called ourselves Velvet. Then for about three months we changed it to Pony, which was named after a Free song called ‘Ride On Pony’. That line-up had Dave Evans in it. Malcolm just didn’t like the guy. He was hopeless. It astounds me why Malcolm got him as the first singer for AC/DC. It’s all connected”.
Herm had a chance to play on AC/DC’s first album ‘High Voltage’ but didn’t. “That first AC/DC album, Malcolm rang me and asked me to play on it but I’d just packed my bags and was about to go on tour with Hush. We all kept in touch and went to each others gigs. I stayed in contract with him. I hung out with him at the AC/DC concert before last, before he got ill, which was great. I was parked up the road and he had his limo driver drive me to where my car was parked two blocks away. In the early days on nights off in Melbourne we’d go to the movies together. I remember one night at the Melbourne Hotel there were members of TMG, members of Hush, members of Sherbet and members of AC/DC all playing Canasta, all playing cards. You can’t see that happening with bands now. Back then Sherbet, Hush and TMG were Glam bands and AC/DC were Denim but we all hung out together and stayed in the same apartments in Melbourne”.
Ted Mulry Gang will play at Wanstock on March 16 in Melbourne. “We do a tribute to Malcolm Young,” Herm says. “We do ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’. With the two Marshalls on stage, and we were part of Alberts, it’s a pretty damn good cover. We are from that same era. We play with that same attitude. Those bands came from Alberts. A lot of people who aren’t from the era do ‘It’s a Long Way To The Top’ in the wrong key and with little Fender amps and it goes nowhere”.
TMG will performa at Wanstock on 14 March 2020.