Headliner Kim Salmon: No fish out of water. Campbell Manderson photo
Every time I go to Melbourne, something elbows me in the ribs and, somehow, things don’t go according to plan. The last few weeks have been short pay weeks, so I didn’t have quite enough dosh as I expected.
Of course, I had also completely forgotten that hotels now want a deposit against impromptu extra day stays and so forth, just in case you take the toaster into the shower or, to settle an argument, see how just far down the emergency stairs you can surf on the bed.
So, somewhat impoverished, I set off for St Kilda, a once-magical place of genteelly-crumbling art deco, dread gangsters (the real kind), assorted equally impoverished students, musicians, dealers and migrants and so on and so on. The event is the 16th A Day By The Green, a long-running Melbourne rock and roll institution.
Leanne Cowie (nee Chock), Boris Sudjovic, Kim Salmon and Tony Thewlis. Collectively known as The Scientists.
Ever have an attack of the stupids?
No? Must be me then.
See, The Barman asked me to do this interview with Kim Salmon to mark an Australian Scientists tour with the classic "experimental" line-up. A phoner. I wrote back saying, I couldn't, I'd be in Melbourne.
This was the weekend that Hugo Race and Kim Salmon played separate shows in Adelaide on successive nights. At first glance, there might seem little to compare the two. But there’s plenty.
Both guitarists, both swimming against the stream writing songs which are, essentially, written as much for the ages as us. Both Hugo and Kim are touring professionals who love playing live, giving to a crowd.
Arguably, both also make the kind of music which seems to endlessly slip between the cracks in a modern world so devoted to novelty (rather than a trend) and the appearance of substance or significance, as opposed to any depth or meaning.
For many years now I’ve been damn glad I don’t live in Melbourne. There’s more quality musicians there per square metre than almost anywhere you can name. The worst of it is, see, I don’t like to go see a brilliant band just the once. No, that’s not how you’re called to music.
Here in Adelaide, I would relentlessly follow - and record - my favourite local bands. The Lizard Train, Bloodloss, I couldn’t get enough of. There were others I liked, but not like this. If I lived in Melbourne, I’d have to have myself cloned.
Kim Salmon, expat Perthian (we think they’ve stopped worshipping Baal, we know they no longer eat their young at Easter but the inbreeding remains a problem) and one of a handful of musicians with the strongest and most extraordinary creative imperative in the country, plays here tonight with a pickup band (the only way the gig would work).
Mark this one in your diary: Kim Salmon is taking the late period line-up of The Scientists out on the road in Australia for just four gigs later this year.
Guitarist-vocalist Salmon, bassist Boris Sudjovic, guitarist Tony Thewlis and drummer Leanne Cowie (nee Chock) were the 1988 configuration of the band, based in the UK and responsible for some of the band's most striking and harsh music. They'll be hitting Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne in October and November.
Contrary bugger that he is, while this hasn’t quite been released, quite a few radio shows are playing tracks; this is probably because the DJs have all contributed to Kim’s crowdfunding site and have been snaffling the thing. And no wonder, because My Script is a ripper of a CD, all raucous yet bedroom-y, intimate and deafening by turns.
It’s also quite clear that this is Kim’s first "real" solo LP, allowing us to see the full gamut of his talent. Miles Mumford is in the production chair, in between contributing poignant soundscapes.
On the back cover, “All Rights Reserved” is followed by “All Wrongs Righted”. In a way that’s typical of the man Salmon; I mean, yeah, it’s bit of flung-out wordplay, but imagine setting out a task so hopelessly impossible to complete…
The Palais & The Prince of Wales, St Kilda, Melbourne, October 26, 2013
I have a lot time for the All Tomorrows Parties as a festival, it is ultra-cool. Awesome vibe. In fact, my festival going was a dim memory since the late Nineties until the ATP Sydney Cockatoo Island of a few years ago. It a lineup of was The Saints, Rowland S. Howard and Bad Seeds. No brainer really, It was an awesome day. Nor, was it a no brainer to get down to Melbourne for another dose of ATP with a lineup that included Jesus Lizard, Television, Scientists, Breeders and the Roland S Howard tribute Pop Crimes.
Organisers have announced the line-up for the seventh annual River Rocks festival in the Victorian city of Geelong (aka Gee-troit) and it's a good 'un.
Heavyweight stoner rockers Tumbleweed (pictured), rock royalty Kim Salmon & The Surrealists and Brisbane's peerless HITS head a gun line-up of 20 bands over over two stages at the Barwon Club on November 15.
Expectations are one thing. Outcomes are another. The Scientists reformation (as in 35th anniversary of the original line-up) show at Sydney’s Factory Theatre failed to deliver for any number of reasons.
Pro Tools were bloody good. Drums bass guitar. Bassist I've seen before. Guitar is now Pete 'the Stud', who is a ridiculously talented, good natured show off. And damn good value. See them if they come to town, track them down and invite them if that society wedding promises to be a bit dreary.
In early May thieves broke into Dan Sullivan's Johnston Street recording studio in Melbourne and stole guitars, effects pedals and recording gear worth thousands of dollars.
Despite the best efforts of friends and fellow musicians, the equipment and gear has yet to be recovered, leaving Sullivan and James McCann personally and financially devastated.
The studio has recenty been used (for free) to record tracks for an upcoming Spencer P Jones tribute album.
On Sunday, 22 May members of the Melbourne music community will come together at The Tote in Melbourne to raise money to replace the missing gear. The event will feature performances from Kim Salmon, Garry Gray & the Sixth Circle, James McCann & the New Vindictives, Penny Ikinger, Midnight Scavengers, Fraudband, Los Dominados, Claire Birchall & the Phantom Hitchhikers, Jules Sheldon, Helen Ryder and Tex Napalm.
Come along and see some great music, while helping out some hard working members of the Melbourne music community in a time of need. Keep an eye on the Facebook event for playing times and to spread the word.
Tony Thewlis and Kim Salmon fronting the Scientists at Sydney's Southern Cross Hotel in 1982.
The Scientists at their peak were unmatchable. A glorious collision of droning, caustic, fuzz guitars, minimalist bass, anguished lyrics about alienation and ominous, funereal rhythms, they created something unique after landing in Sydney in 1981.
Originally ragged New York Dolls-inspired popsters back in Perth, the re-constituted Scientists stripped their music back to its darkest roots, concoting their own brand of psychedelia and incorporating influences like Suicide, the Stooges and Captain Beefheart.
Too big for their own Surry Hills backyard, the band moved to the UK in 1982 and, in typical expatriate Australian underground band fashion, starved before going on to influence countless other acts into the ‘90s and beyond.
Kim Salmon’s creative productivity knows no bounds. While he occasionally looks backwards, re-visiting his Scientists and Beasts of Bourbon history in the live sense, for example, the overwhelming sense with Salmon is one of overwhelming momentum.
That’s the case with “True West”, his latest project which pairs him with late period Scientists drummer Leanne Cowie (nee Chock) to be his most vital sounding record since “Sin Factory”.