Kim Salmon on getting The Scientists back together for their new record, ‘Negativity’

Kim Salmon on getting The Scientists back together for their new record, ‘Negativity’

Photo by Andrew Watson
Words by Benjamin Lamb

We caught up with the iconic musician ahead of the release of The Scientists’ new LP.

The Scientists have found worldwide success with their unique brand of punk rock. Their seven studio albums have garnered much commercial success, with few even making their mark on the UK Indie Charts. 

Kim Salmon has been at the helm of the influential post-punk band since 1978, with a number of lineup changes taking place over the years. Though their upcoming album, Negativity, sees the return of the band’s original lineup, marking the group’s first full length studio release in 34 years.

The forthcoming album is chock full of that classic Scientists flavour fans have come to love over the years, but Salmon notes there is definitely a freshness to their new music.

Keep up with all the festival news, reviews and interviews here.

“We wanted to build on what we had and make it new, not just make it a rehashing of the past. At the same time, we weren’t really trying to be retro, even though we sort of went back to the start to create what we did, it was always a forward looking thing,” he says.

The Scientists have been a constant of the Aussie music scene across their 43 year career, with countless successors listing them as an influence. But once a group reaches this status, it can become difficult to find inspiration themselves.

Salmon agrees, noting that influences come by a little differently nowadays.

“With a band like The Scientists, the thing of it becomes a lot more internalised,” he says. “We’ve existed for a while, so the things that concern us are all the problems we have.”

“It was fun to problem solve the writing bit in a different way, even though it’s the same band, but it’s a different concept.”

Salmon was joined by Leanne Cowie, Tony Thewlis and Boris Sujdovic in Perth to get the album down, which he notes felt like old times, just in a modern setting.

“In the old days, the process would be gigs and other stuff like that, then we’d go into the studio and record it. That was just a matter of being young kids who had trouble earning money to do it, but then just scraping it together to do it,” he says.

“Whereas nowadays that’s not the issue, technology has enabled us to do most of it anyways. That was kind of like old times, just with Pro Tools.”

The iconic Scientists lineup has been touring for a number of years, but Negativity marks their first LP in a significant amount of time.

“Things first started to happen in 2017, we went on tour in 2018… I thought we’d just do singles, then we did a tour of the west coast, then the plan was to do the east coast and the south, and on this second tour we released 9HO.SiO₂, which means nine parts water one part sound.

“So we were like, ‘Let’s just throw some things together because we’re going out on tour.” 

“When we were on those tours, they persuaded me that we can do an album with a band from the past.”

The idea of releasing an album after a number of years was met with hesitation from Salmon, but after a few enjoyable single releases with the group on In The Red Records, he was in.

“I was pretty trepidatious about that whole thing. I was pretty much against it, but they persuaded me, perhaps. And the band, you know, we could do it. So we’ve given it a go.” 

“If you just do stuff [without a label] and put it out there again, even The Scientists would get lost. So In The Red helped with that.”

So where does Negativity sit within The Scientists’ catalogue?

“I think time will tell. At the moment I think it sounds great. I think it sounds like the same band, I’d say it was a little more produced than something like Blood Red River, which was a very raw sounding record indeed,” says Salmon.

“Every time we go into a studio and throw ideas around for the band and record, it comes out sounding different. And you try to not get too compromised, so you retain your ideas. I think that’s happened with Negativity.

Negativity drops on June 11 via In The Red Records. Grab it here.