Posted March 29, 2007
Story by THE BARMAN
Live photos by RICHARD SHARMAN of Blackshadow Photography
Kim Salmon's down the phone line from Melbourne in his midday break. No pun forthcoming from this quarter but if any contemporary Australian muso deserves to be called a legend in his own lunchtime in a positive way, it's probably him.
Be it in one of his solo guises, in power trio mode with the Surrealists, as a member (very much past) of the Beasts of Bourbon, as half of the Darling Downs or fronting the six-guitar monster that is the mostly instrumental SALMON, the man has a startlingly consistent back catalogue that's marked by pushing envelopes.
But it's his reverting to the 1980s that we're talking about today, in particular the re-animation of the Scientists.
There are two Australian gigs (Saturday, April 7 at the Annandale, Sunday, April 8 at the Esplanade's Gershwin Room) to be discussed, as well as a European tour marked by an appearance at The Dirty Three-curated All Tomorrow's Parties festival in London.
There's also an astonishingly good live album called "Sedition", of which there's a tale that involves ironing, of all things.
"Last year the Scientists were approached to play the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in England, so we got back together in our 1985 line-up. We played a couple of shows prior to that in London," Kim explains.
"At one of those shows, where we were supporting Mudhoney who were curating the festival, a guy I knew as a bootlegger came up and asked if he could record the gig.
"He told me he was going to record Mudhoney and very politiely asked to do us too. We said, 'Go ahead, just give us a copy'. A couple of days later he gave me a CD, (and I) promptly forgot about it.
"A couple of weeks later, I'm back home...my wife's doing the ironing with a CD on...which I didn't recognise right away. It was some instrumental passage.
"Anyway, it was us and it sounded pretty good."
Mrs Salmon's suggestion the show be put out came to fruition and the rest, as they say, is history. Speaking of, does it take much effort to re-visit the past and reincarnate the Scientists?
"It is easier with three of us (Kim, bassist Boris Sudjovic and drummer Leanne Chock) living in Australia and we rehearsed recently as a three-piece," Kim says, with the band's other guitarist, Tony Thewlis, still to fly in from London.
This same line-up, which was around in the latter days of the band in the 1980s, convened for three songs only back on the 2002 reunion tour of Australia. A subsequent European tour saw Leanne Chock behind the kit but with other players filling the ranks.
The Scientists circa 1985....
...and in more recent times.
As to the prospects of live shows parlaying into something like a new studio recording, Salmon is brutally honest when he says: "It would probably only happen if a record company came along and offered us a shitload of money.
"The trouble with re-uniting is that some of those things that made a band split up in the past would also re-surface. That's why bands have finite lives.
"I do have some songs written but I'd have to say it (recording) is unlikely."
Salmon adds that reunions should not be be dismissed out-of-hand but judged on a case by case basis.
"You can't just say it works because this person is in or it's a particular line-up," he says.
"Jeffrey Lee Pierce did an Australian tour in the '80s that was essentially just him and a band but it was very good.
Kim says the Stooges' live reformation worked but he steered clear of catching the New York Dolls as they swept through Melbourne this week.
"It would have taken Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan to get up there to get me out to that. I was more into the Heartbreakers thing anyway."
While we're on the subject of the past, there is another live album potentially seeing the light of day, culled from the 1985 Sedition Festival at the Sydney Trade Union Club which was recorded by the entity now known as 2JJJ.
"There was a plan to put them out, under the hand of the ABC (the national broadcaster, for overseas readers.)
"If that happens it would have to be called 'Sedition 2' to avoid confusing people."
As to other projects, down the track you can expect another album from the Darling Downs (for which songs are being written) and there's the just released SALMON long-player on Bang! Records, "Rock Formations".
In what must be a first, SALMON bandmate Dave Graney convinced a Triple M announcer to play the album's most grating, noisy cuts on air recently.
Which is surely an act of sedition in itself.
"Sedition" is out now on ATP/Remote Control.
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