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January 11, 2024

The Mark of Cain look back at a classic

It takes more than a serious bicycle crash to keep Adelaide's hard-hitting The Mark of Cain off the road.

  • Words: David Simmons
  • Main photo: Brett O'Malley

A bone-crunching accident in late 2023 put the band’s bass player Kim Scott out of action. This pushed back a planned national tour and festival appearances, but the Adelaide alt icons are again hitting stages around Australia following Kim’s recovery.


This article first appeared in our Summer Nights edition, which is on streets now.

While COVID put plans to tour the Adelaide band’s seminal third album Ill At Ease for its 25th anniversary on ice, they’re now touring and playing the classic in its entirety.

The record – produced by punk figurehead Henry Rollins – has been re-released and gained its first-ever vinyl pressing. The album was released in 1995, putting them on the national map in the CD era. A live recording of their appearance at Livid Festival in 1996 has also been issued on vinyl.

CityMag sat down with The Mark of Cain’s vocalist and guitarist John Scott ahead of the tour to talk about Ill At Ease and the Adelaide scene in ’95.

CM: How has Kim pulled up?

John: Good! He fractured his pelvis, broken ribs, broken clavicle, and he’s got a little pelvic brace on (since removed). But he’s good – he’s recovered a lot, and I think he’s realised he’s not going to be riding the bike anytime soon.

TMOC guitarist John Scott.

CM: It has been 28 years since Ill At Ease. Why did you decide now was a good time to revisit and remaster the record?

John: Literally because of the anniversary. It was nice to revisit it because at the time when we did it, vinyl wasn’t really being pushed in the 90s, so it’s nice to put it on vinyl.

CM: What’s the process like in remastering an album?

John: I suggested that if we were going to remaster we would see what we could do to the snare, because I was never that happy. I love the recording, but the snare sound… I always wanted it to be a little bit less wooden, so we did some messing around with that. The mix itself is still the mix – it’s produced by Henry Rollins – so what we’ve done is just underneath the snare we’ve made it a bit more solid.

TMOC bassist Kim Scott is back on stage after breaking lots of things in a bicycle prang.

CM: What was it like in 1995 when you were playing gigs in Adelaide?

John: ’95 was really good for us. We were in that moment in time marked by pre-Nirvana, post-Nirvana. We had done pretty well in Adelaide, and at that time the headlining major big act in Adelaide was probably Exploding White Mice. We were getting to the point where we could pull as big a crowd as they could, and we supported one another. That whole time, there were lots of places to play – the pokies hadn’t really shut down venues – and there were myriad little venues and pubs in Adelaide that could cater to 100-200 people. It was fertile, there were lots of bands around and a lot of people in multiple bands.

It was a watershed moment for Australian music, because all of a sudden Triple J went from having 1000 or 2000 listeners to suddenly being all across Australia. By that time we were getting more and more recognition for what we were doing – I think we were even dragging Silverchair around with us when they were like 14/15. It was a really great time for bands in Australia. It was a renaissance.

CM: Even in Adelaide?

John: Especially in Adelaide. Adelaide has always had its own scene and done things the way that Adelaide wants to do it.

CM: What can we expect next for The Mark of Cain?

John: We keep talking about not wanting to flog a dead horse. While there are people who want us to do some shows… I don’t want to overstay our welcome. While there’s an audience we’ll do it.

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