This story is over 5 years old.


Listen to Australian Punk Pioneers The Scientists Live at Adelaide University in 1983

We chat to Kim Salmon about a time when the band were at their antagonistic, belligerent and brilliant best.

By mid-1983 Australian punk pioneers The Scientists were a hard band to pin down. Their style had changed from the poppy garage of their early formation in Perth in the late 70s, but had yet reached the full swampy, psychedelic-tinged rock found on their Blood River album.

Though neither garage nor goth, they were definitely wild. Longhaired wild men who played loud music about getting wasted, driving around in hotted-up cars, being trapped in crap jobs and paranoia.


Their live shows could be antagonistic, indifferent and brilliant, often all within the same 50-minute set. During a 1983 Sydney gig opening for pub favourites The Angels, the foursome were booed and bottled off stage by an audience who didn't take to lead singer Kim Salmon’s fuck you attitude an forays into Beefheart like jams. They were eventually lead offstage and out of the club by a team of bouncers fearing for their well being.

It was the same year that the band sidled into the Adelaide University Bar and played a ferocious set.

A recording of the gig, taken from sound desk, appears as part of previously unissued set that comes as part of the A Place Called Bad box set that is being released by The Numero Group.

The release includes studio recordings, live recordings, unpublished photographs, and a old out Perth punk family tree. A deluxe mail order only version includesa previously unissued Cheap Nasties 7" EP, the proto-puunk band Salmon formed before the Scientists.

Listen to a version of “Set It On Fire” from the Adelaide Uni Bar gig and read a quick chat with Salmon about the show below.

Noisey: Do you remember much of this gig?
Kim Salmon: I remember that people got arrested for ‘illegal dancing’ and that there was a band called Grong Grong supporting. In some ways what that they were doing was easier for the audience to understand than what the Scientists were trying to do. I say ‘trying’ because it might sound conceited or arrogant to suggest we were playing something beyond what the audience could get. God forbid that the Scientists appear arrogant. Ha!


How did your shows normally go in Adelaide?
I think there was a bit of variation in our reception. In the Mach 1 Scientists days when we trekked over from Perth to play our poppier material like “Frantic Romantic”, we made a big impression. Dave Graney and Steve Miller from the Moodists were at those gigs and inspired to do stuff they tell me. I think the first time the Mach 2 Scientists arrived we killed it but the next time was that Adelaide Uni show and, as I said, a few people were more into the more obviously outrageous punk schtick of Grong Grong. We just felt ‘whatever’ we’re gonna do exactly what we do and if people get it that’s great, if not that’s cool as well. I think the next time the Scientists came back was with the Human Jukebox line up and people were disappointed that there wasn’t more of the Swampland era sound happening.

At this time would you normally play with the Dagoes and the Greasy Pop bands?
We played with the Dagoes on our 79 trip and on the next trip in 82 if it wasn’t the Dagoes it was a Greasy Pop band with Doug Thomas in it [The Spikes] Doug was a great help to the band and instrumental in our move from WA if we give credit where it’s due.

Blood Red River was recorded later in 83. How was the song being received at shows?
It went down great. I think by that stage we’d largely gotten through to our following not to expect us to do the same thing over and over. It even got to the point when some punters would complain that we didn’t have new songs at every gig.

The new retrospective is a great album both in terms of packaging, liner notes, photos etc. What do you think of looking back on the band. You are still doing your own thing. Can nostalgia become annoying to a musician that is still playing?
That is exactly the point I made in another interview recently. That it’s like me at nearly 60-years-old competing with my match fit 24-year-old self! That analogy falls down because it uses sports terminology and punk rock is not sport but ,believe it or not it’s ‘Art’!

'A Place Called Bad' is available Aug 19 from the Numero Group.