Scientists - The Human Jukebox 1984 - 1986
"This is the lineup of Scientists that took the Cramps’ reverb-soaked deconstruction of trash culture and fused it with the stark minimalism of Suicide while tossing away any self-indulgent tendencies of either; then filtered the final product through Australian swamp water. After a quick spin of “Atom Bomb Baby” you’ll know the likes of Mark Lanegan or Kurt Cobain coulda never torn themselves away from their self-conscious navel-gazing long enough to rock so righteously." ~ TheePope R.Y.M.
Everett True (Journalist): "Wasn't grunge your fault?"
Mark Arm (Mudhoney): "Obviously, I didn't make that up. I got it from someone else. The term was already being thrown around in Australia in the mid-'80s to describe bands like King Snake Roost, the Scientists, Salamander Jim, and Beasts of Bourbon. In fact, Tex Perkins was crowned the High Priest of Grunge in some local magazine. If anybody said that to him then, he would beat the shit out of them. I guess the only difference was that in Seattle we kind of took to it".
The tumult of the Scientists' move to London in the 1980s ended in the industrial noise of their last album The Human Jukebox, rejected by record companies for being too much of a departure but probably a natural evolution, and a subsequent final Australian tour in 1988.
A lot of articles about Kim Salmon introduce him as the man who should be as respected as Nick Cave. The Birthday Party looms over much Australian music from the early 80s, and Kim Salmon's band, the Scientists, never shook off the comparison. But the Scientists, based in Sydney during their most influential period, were more American, more guitar-driven, than the Birthday Party, who came from Melbourne and seemed more European. A convenient explanation might focus on the different international aspirations of those two cities. Another explanation might be because Nick Cave's career follows a consistent path while Kim Salmon switches track so many times his fans and critics get lost. Maybe it's because the Scientists originally came from Perth, Western Australia, the most isolated city on Planet Earth.
"Reading about a far off place called CBGB in NYC and its leather-clad denizens, all with names like Johnny Thunders, Richard Hell and Joey Ramone, got me thinking" (Kim Salmon).
In September 1981, Kim Salmon and Boris Sujdovic (ex Rockets) reformed Scientists, with Brett Rixon on drums and Tony Thewlis (ex Helicopters) on guitar, and prepared to move to Sydney. For this version of the band, the musical direction of the band turned more towards psychedelic-tinged rock'n'roll that often resembled what would later be known as grunge, as well as incorporating the influence of bands such as the Cramps, Suicide, the Stooges and Captain Beefheart.
The ultimate goal was minimalism, to pare things down to their primal essence and to avoid pretense at all costs -- to the extent of writing purposefully "dumb" lyrics, as Salmon has described them. The result was primitive, psychotic, feedback-drenched swamp blues with a hint of twang (Hank Williams' legacy had also worked its way into the equation).
By the end of 1983, the Scientists were one of the most popular Australian independent bands. Deciding to move on to new horizons, they left Australia to move to London in March 1984. In October 1984, the band supported the Gun Club on their European tour. Scientists also toured with Alex Chilton, the Jesus and Mary Chain, The Sisters of Mercy, Souxsie and the Banshees and Alan Vega (from Suicide) while in Europe.
By this time, the band's music had left the Cramps-like sound behind, becoming much darker and harsher and coming more uniquely into their own. This lineup returned to Australia in April 1987 for the Human Jukebox tour. The band toured Australia in November 1987. Their last show was at the Shenton Park Hotel, Perth on Saturday 27 November 1987.