SCIENTISTS INTERVIEW EXTRA!

bloodredriver

With Australian punk icons THE SCIENTISTS set to play a one-off show in London this week, Vive Le Rock spoke to Kim Salmon and Tony Thewlis from the band for our Rough Guide feature in the latest edition of the mag. As a special online-only bonus, here are the rest of their responses….

How did the reissue deal with Numero Group come about? Did they approach you? Had you been seeking a back catalogue reissue initially?

KIM: My manager Andrew got that one. I’m always open to these things but as an artist who is still producing work I find that doing that takes up most of my energy.

What can we expect from the Scientists’ set?

KIM: We’ve been discussing doing stuff from Blood Red River and things like ‘Murderess…’ and ‘Leadfoot’. We might look at some obscurities like ‘Perpetual Motion’… but essentially expect – dare I say it? – classic Mach 2 Scientists.

TONY: The Scientists playing a selection of Scientists songs that we imagine people would expect us to play, plus a few obscure old songs and possibly a couple of old covers that we used to play, just to keep it fresh and interesting to us and hopefully exciting for everybody else.

I understand it was a request from Mudhoney that sparked the 2006 reunion. How easy was it to accept?

KIM: Not difficult at all as we had already reformed 4 years earlier for an Australian national tour in 2002 to promote some of our CD reissues.

TONY: We actually did a reunion tour of Australia in 2001 when I happened to go back there for a holiday. The last gig was in Adelaide and that was supposed to be our last ever show. It didn’t really occur to us that anyone would want us to do anything again, but the tour (and a show we did for Australian TV) was fun and we all enjoyed playing together again, so when we were asked to do some ATP gigs by Mudhoney it was no hardship to say yes.

Robert Coyne, who’s currently on drums, has played in the band previously. When was this and how did you recruit him?

KIM: He played a show in 1985 when Brett Rixon first left. He was great, and all of 16 years old, but when we asked him if he’d join he said he couldn’t because of his loyalty to him and his brother’s band ‘Sliver Chapter.

TONY: Robert was playing bass and keyboards in a band called Silver Chapter who used to come to Scientists gigs as soon as we landed in London. In 1985 we needed someone to take over from Brett and we considered asking Silver Chapter’s drummer, but then Kim helped them with a recording session and realised that Robert was a Brian Jones type of whizz-kid who could play any instrument he touched, and his style was very much like ours. He drummed with us at a few gigs in London but we didn’t ask him to join permanently because: a) we didn’t want to be responsible for ruining Silver Chapter by stealing one of their members, and b) Robert was only 15 and too young to be legally allowed in most of the places we played!

In 1987 Kim did some gigs as a duo with Nick Combe, playing some new songs he’d written, and I did some demos of my songs with Robert on bass and Kevin Rooney on drums. When we recorded The Human Jukebox we used a combination of those songs and personnel (which is why Rob is playing bass on It Must Be Nice). I think Kim’s left-over songs went to the Surrealists, and most of mine went to The Interstellar Villains.

When I moved back to London in 1992 Robert kindly let me sleep in his living room for a few weeks and eventually we started talking about forming a band which became The Scoundrelles. We both also played together in Venus Ray and Chris Wilson’s Groovin’ Flames. And to balance things out I play in Roberts own band, The Robert Coyne Outfit.

So it is very fitting that we have him back on the Scientists’ drum stool seeing as Leanne isn’t available for these shows.

What are your memories of you spell in London during the 80s. Do Australian bands who’ve spent a prolonged period over here ever compare stories?

KIM: I think I’ve talked about those times with Dave Graney and Clare Moore but to be honest, the Scientists distanced themselves from other Australian bands…in fact other bands generally. I remember being poor but I got to like London a lot and was actually homesick for it when I went home to Perth in 1987.

TONY: We didn’t hang around with any Australian bands in London. Although we didn’t really hang around with any Australian bands (apart from the Hoodoo Gurus) in Australia, either!

What are your thoughts on a new record from The Scientists?

KIM: It’ll never happen again! Why would I want to throw away perfectly good songs when they won’t have a hope in hell in any comparison with the ‘legend’. It’s the same with any reformed band. No one is EVER EVER really interested in new stuff from them. Also the Scientists ran their course back in the day. A reformation can only exist in a controlled environment if you’ll pardon the ‘scientific’ pun. If you bring a band back to life it’ll pretty quickly find its way back to the point when it imploded. Even when people have matured they tend to revert back to their old modes of behavior in a familiar old situation. And who’d want a band like the Scientists to be a bunch of psychologically ‘mature’ blokes anyway ha ha!

TONY: People seem to like our “legacy” so it would have to be something very extraordinary in order to not sully what we did before. There aren’t many bands that can pull that off, including bands that we admire like Big Star or The New York Dolls, who obviously thought they could pull it off. Their reformation albums have had some ok moments, but nothing that touches what they did originally. And if they can’t deliver what we expect from them, what chance have we got? That said, though, I just recalled that The Pirates made some entertaining and rocking “new” records, post-Johnny Kidd, so if Kim or Boris came up with something that they thought needed “The Scientists” on it I’d be happy to oblige. Although it would probably be better to call it something else and have people think “Wow. This sounds a bit like The Scientists…”.

It’s similar to how I think about remakes of TV shows – it would be much better to have a new show that you enjoy and then suddenly realise why – “Wow. This new show is great, it’s a bit like a modern, Jeremy Brett-era Sherlock Holmes!” rather than being bombarded by a load of hype and then discover – “Oh dear, this is actually supposed to be Sherlock Holmes? It’s nothing like Sherlock Holmes! Why didn’t they just leave it alone?”

Kim, you’re quite a prolific songwriter. What situation do you find most conducive to writing?

KIM: A deadline. I actually don’t ever write unless I have to. Generally its for some musical project eg Kim and Leanne, or the Runaways record I did with Spencer P Jones or my new one My Script. I think the only difference with My Script was that I had been feeling guilty over the last few years about my slackness with writing and had put the odd sketch on my iPhone memo to make myself feel better – so when producer Myles Mumford approached me about making a record I had something to start with. I still had to write them once we got into the studio however. So…. a deadline and being guilt-ridden are the two situations most conducive to writing songs for me.

The 80s, seen from overseas, was an unusually creative wellspring for Australian underground music. Discuss.

KIM: I’ve always said that Rock and Roll since it started, has had its epicenter somewhere in the world, be it Memphis, London, Manchester or Sweden. For The 1980s I’d argue that it was Australia. In those post punk times England got too caught up in fads and it was assumed that punk had been just one of those. Therefore rock became passé. Naturally a whole generation of Australians had gotten excited about the punk thing and then didn’t want to be told that it was passé. In the 80s the touring circuit of Europe was dominated by US and Australian punk. Younger US bands were actually looking to Australia for inspiration. Then of course once those younger US bands started blossoming it was the end for us and our European touring circuit gravy train. I knew something was up when reading the name Mudhoney on bandroom walls on a Beasts Of Bourbon tour in Groningen or somewhere.

TONY: A lot of Australian bands from that time seem to really strike a chord with rock-and-roll loving Spain. I’m not sure there was anything special about Australia, maybe that was just the place you happened to look and happily found exactly what you were looking for! There was stuff coming out of America at the same time (The Gun Club, The Cramps, Alex Chilton, The Panther Burns, The dBs, etc), and slightly later a flurry of stuff like the Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, The Oblivions, The Reigning Sound, etc. Has anyone checked to see if perhaps there is currently a similar (and as yet undiscovered) wellspring in Croatia?

Of all Kim Salmon projects, what has been the most rewarding, or unrewarding, if you like?

KIM: They’ve all had their rewards. Actually I think my career has been amazingly rewarding for me. I’m really lucky! Some projects have had higher levels of toxicity than others, but I’ve weathered it or walked away before I got too damaged.

thescientist

The Scientists play The Lexington, London on Saturday 25 June, with support from BLACK MEKON. Tickets are available here.

The retrospective A Place Called Bad is available to pre-order through The Numero Group.

Read the Rough Guide To The Scientists feature in the latest edition of Vive Le Rock!

Check out ‘Solid Gold Hell’ on YouTube.

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DAVE THE GRAVE! DAMNED EXCLUSIVE!

dave

DAMNED frontman Dave Vanian’s spell working as a gravedigger added to the vocalist’s dark mystique and passed into the punk rock mythos. In an exclusive add-on to our 40th Anniversary feature, he tells Vive Le Rock‘s Dick Porter how he got the job…

 

“I was trying to be a commercial artist of some kind. This was from late 1973/74 up to ’75, I was basically drifting around trying to get work as a commercial artist. At that time it was a very cutthroat business and there were plenty more artists than I, even though I think I had the talent, which I was told a few times, I just didn’t have the qualifications that were needed to get the jobs. I couldn’t even get into the bottom end of it and just start in a small way, and it became quite obvious that that wasn’t going to happen. I was always going into London all the time, because you’re young and you’re looking for something that’s happening. Things were changing; the sixties were dead, but then you had all that great music that came out of Roxy Music and all that kind of stuff. There was lots of things happening but it was a transitional time and I somehow wandered into it.

“I actually had to plead for a job as a gravedigger because they thought that I couldn’t do the job. It wasn’t just grave digging, I used to dig huge beds, it was a gardening job as well – I used to do the whole thing. It was hard work, but I chose it. Before the Damned, I was in lots of odd jobs, I couldn’t get the job I wanted and the work was drying up. I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to sign on’, but I didn’t want to sign on. I went down there once or twice, and when I walked down there from where I lived, it was down a hill past an old cemetery. One day I was walking by and I saw this older chap on his own in the middle of it, digging away. I thought, ‘If I was to do that job, it occupies no brain capacity whatsoever – You do the work, get out and get to London, get things done’. So, I basically went into the office and said, ‘Do you need somebody?’ And they did; two fellas who were completely useless had just left, so they were short. So I talked my way into the job, and then ironically, when I did leave, they didn’t want me to go – they offered me loads of incentives to stay. It served its purpose perfectly, to bridge the gap between what I had been doing and getting into London and meeting people and trying to work out what the hell I was doing with my life.”

Read our mammoth 14-page Damned 40th Anniversary feature in the latest edition of Vive Le Rock!

 

 

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VIBRATORS 40th ANNIVERSARY THIS WEEKEND!

The Vibrators

As THE VIBRATORS gear up for a tour-de-force show celebrating 40 years of the band, including appearances from the classic line ups, original guitarist John Ellis takes Vive Le Rock back to his formative days as an aspiring musician.

“I was a lover of music, the thing is probably my mum actually, she was a big Lonnie Donegan fan; every time we were on holiday, in places like Great Yarmouth, at that time bands used to play those kind of gigs, summer residences, on the pier. Cliff and the Shadows had been around a long time as well, so I saw Cliff and The Shadows do pantomime, so I was well into the twangy guitars! And also the Beatles were coming through when I was eleven or twelve, and that was pretty amazing. But prior to that I’d seen Lonnie Donegan live a few times.

“Now I teach blues guitar workshops and I’m a massive fan of the blues, it’s one of the main musics for me; but what I didn’t realise when I was a young man, eight or nine years old – and why would I have done – but I was actually witnessing the birth of the British blues boom. Lonnie Donegan was almost single handedly responsible for creating what you could call that blues revival, him and Alexis Corner, and those few people were responsible for bringing over those blues greats. And out of those little bands, you’ve got your Eric Claptons and your Jeff Becks and your Jimmy Pages. You’ve got your burgeoning birth of the British blues. And of course British blues went on to become rock music and then went on to become, eventually, punk and everything else.

“That was my background as a musician and I’d fiddled around with a guitar – my gran had bought me a guitar and everything. But I never really got into guitar (until) I started Bazooka Joe with my friend Daniel. You’re probably talking about ‘68, we were probably doing those Hampstead Town Hall gigs. After I left (Daniel) carried it on, so he’d have much more understanding of the history of the band, and of course Adam Ant became a member of Bazooka Joe – and the first ever Sex Pistols gig was supporting Bazooka Joe!”

The Vibrators play the O2 Academy Islington on February 27th.

john ellis

John Ellis on Facebook

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NO PEACE FOR THE WICKED: THE RETURN OF PETER PERRETT

Peter Perrett Only Ones

With a short series of live solo dates scheduled over the next couple of months, ONLY ONES frontman PETER PERRETT revealed to Vive Le Rock his intentions for some forthcoming new material:

“The tentative plan is to get an album recorded, hopefully ready to release for February/March. All I’ve done so far is one day in the studio with the band (STRANGEFRUIT) doing backing tracks; five backing tracks and then three or four days doing overdubs and vocals. And there was two songs that I was happy with, to release. Since then, the bass player – Peter, my son – and the drummer (Jake Woodward), who are both at college doing a music degree, they both finished their finals half way through June. It’s really intensive, music degrees, they really work you hard, they’re having to play, every night, things in 9/8 and things, it really is intense – I couldn’t really call on them! So, after they finished, we had four days rehearsal before going to Amsterdam.

“And so, every day it went up a level, the way we were playing. Although I’m happy with the two songs I thought I was going to (release), I was going to go back into the studio and mix them… but, part of me enjoyed playing the other new songs that I did, so much that I thought, ‘If we have a few more days rehearsal…’ – although they’re great musicians, it doesn’t give the songs enough time to develop. I just felt it went up a level, so… Jamie (Peter’s younger son, guitar) was a bit upset, because he spent loads of time editing everything ready to go in and mix it, and I said to him ‘Ah, I want to redo it!'”

While further Only Ones activity is by no means out of the question, Peter will be backed up by Strangefruit for his upcoming shows. Fans can expect a balance of old and new material on the night:

“The band are a really tight band, cos they play together as Strangefruit, but we haven’t had that much rehearsal time doing my new songs. We did a gig in Hebden Bridge where we had some rehearsal time, but that was mainly learning Only Ones songs, because that’s what the audience expects. In the nineties, I had a band (The One) and I wanted to not trade on my past, I wanted my new songs to stand out, so to begin with I did a third Only Ones songs, two thirds new songs. But the last gig (The One) did, it was in the Roadhouse Manchester, and someone put the setlist on line, and first song, ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’, get that out the way, and all the other songs were new songs; that’s the way I used to be then.”

“Now I understand, from a fan’s point of view, because I’ve been in the audience since then, seen people, and I quite like it when I recognise the song. From a fan’s point of view, especially people that’ve never seen you play the old songs, you’ve got to be a bit more giving. I used to think it was like taking the easy way out, playing the songs that everyone knew and wanted to hear, I always cared more passionately about new songs, and thought maybe it was playing the game too much, being a bit more like a cabaret or a nostalgia trip, or a heritage band or whatever they call it… I used to think that that was somehow selling out.

“Now I realise that maybe I’m a bit too radical in my ideas as to what a performance and a gig should be, and they should be a bit more give and take. There’s nothing wrong with playing old songs. So to begin with they had to learn the Only Ones songs so I could function giving the people the songs they’ve liked over the years. But really my passion is about getting them to learn the new songs as soon as possible.

“Really all I want to do is record. To begin with, I thought it would be a distraction doing gigs; but it’s been good, because when you’ve got a gig it forces you, ‘Oh I’ve got a gig next week, I’d better rehearse’; so four rehearsals in a row, I actually started feeling like a musician, and so I wrote four songs over the three week period. Without feeling like a musician, I don’t want to write new songs, because I’ve got a bunch of new songs that aren’t recorded yet, ones that were played over the Only Ones (reunion) time, and other ones as well, and I’ve got this dread that I’ve got these great songs that I’m proud of that’ll never get recorded… and so it’s a deterrent to writing!

“The thing of having a gig to do is you think ‘I’d better get into musician mode, I’ve got to walk out and be a musician’, and so feeling like a musician, rather than someone who used to be a musician a long time ago, I’ve actually started enjoying writing again. And the feeling of writing a song and three days later playing it with a band, and it happens… sometimes songs take a while, but occasionally there’s a song that is just so simple, and that’s why I did this new song ‘Living In My Head’ in Amsterdam, cos as soon as I started playing it with the group, it just sounded amazing.

“And it just gave me a buzz, and inspired me to write more songs, so since I got back from Amsterdam I’ve written two and a half songs. Which is quite a lot for me, after going years and years without…”

See next month’s edition of Vive Le Rock for more from Peter. The revised edition of Nina Antonia’s The One And Only biography is available now through Thin Man Press. Peter will be playing live on:

24 July, Garage, London

8 August, Rebellion Festival, Blackpool

15 August, Ruby Lounge, Manchester

29 August, The Fleece, Bristol

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