Transcript of 1994 interview with Kim Salmon
KIM: I'm a little sleepy I just woke up.
Congrats on the movie thing:
KIM: Oh yeah! That's great, isn't it?
What's directly ahead music-wise?
KIM: I'm so tired because I was just up all night with
Tony Cohen listening to him do a mix of one of the songs--a couple of em.
We've been recording for the last--well, I've been mixing all this week
and we did the recording a coupla months ago for the new Surrealists
album--we haven't finished it but we hope for February.
KIM: Well, we're certainly working on it and certainly
Difficult to track down yer stuff here, yknow. .
KIM: Yeah, I've heard it is absolutely impossible,
that the only thing people there knew about was some Scientists material.
I'm pretty hopeful about it (getting signed). I'm not counting on it too
much but I think it'll happen. It seems like there's a hell of a lot more
things to yknow go through as well, like A&R people--I mean, we got
em here, but like that sort of thing seems to be taking a long time as
well. Finding all the right people and all the connections and getting
everything linked up.
What does the new stuff sound like?
KIM: (LAUGHS). . .I was at this festival last week
and this guy who edits for Rolling Stone Australia asked me that question
and that was like, yknow, I was at a festival and in the festival mood,
lotsa festivities, and it was at the end of the day as well and I think
I said, "Oh, it's kind of more sexual." And he said, "Great!"
That would be true about it. The last record had a certain amount of funk
of it, and it's a little bit that sort of funkier--the funk's a little
bit funkier, the hard edges are a little bit harder, the soft bits are
a little bit softer. It's more defined in that way, ummm, and at the same
time it's more approachable, I believe, this is what I'm told by people
that were used as guinea pigs.
This is my perspective and it might be off, but
. . .
KIM: Well, my perspective is gonna be way off, you
know, I'm right here with it.
. . .but it seems to me the Scientists and the first
three Surrealists albums all sort of had a certain jagged, abstract feel
to 'em, which I don't sense as much on Sin Factory and later material.
KIM: Yeah, that's true. I've sold out (laughs).
Well, I'm just saying that it seems like there's
more of a classic hard rock feel going on these days, Sin Factory, the
last Beasts . . .
KIM: Yeah. Like you say about perspective, it's very
hard for me to have one on it. For me it's all been not just a sort of
continuous thing but it's an expanding sort of process, writing songs,
and I don't really wanna be limited to any one style or direction, especially
now as I get older. But I would venture to say that maybe uhh, some of
that early feel, as you say abstraction, I fancy returning to a bit in
the future. Just because of the challenge of it. I like to be challenged
by the idea of writing a song or writing a piece of music and uhh words,
and just by the ideas. And I like the process of creating to be different
each time, not just a matter of doing something over and over again. To
move on. If the stuff I'm doing now is kind of like more structured and
formalized rock, well that's just. . .I've tried to use that genre and
make something with it. You'll always find that there'll be some little
perversion in my songs, anyway, whether it be a play on words or some chord
that just shouldn't be there. There'll always be something there. It's
not even really that I always want it that way. I just can't help it. I'm
a pervert. A musical pervert.
That'll make it hard to sell out completely, Kim.
One common thread throughout all of your material--it
doesn't seem like it's good times music really.
KIM: (Long pause). The old heart of darkness. Yes.
A lot of what I sing about had to do with the way people respond to one
another, i.e. human relationships, whether that be done in metaphor like
"The Cockroach" -- are you aware of that one? ("Oh, yeah.")
Or whether it's just done in a totally literal way and generally it's sort
of more interesting to write about people screwing up (laughs). You know,
things decaying--there's more to write about than everybody living happily
I agree. And what I said was certainly not a criticism.
KIM: I know, I know. That's just a question I've had
plenty of time to ponder. I've probably got a lot in common with the average
country and western songwriter. They tend to sing about families and couples
and divorces and generally hard times. Either that or trucks. Like 'Hey
Believer.' You know, that one's abstract, it's got the sort of abstract
form, or lack of form.
Who inspired you early on to make the transition
from the tennis racket in the mirror to the electric guitar?
KIM: There was originally people like T-REX and Beatles
and the Stones and whatever. The electric guitar sound and the way rock
was sung. Jagger. But just seeing it on TV the pop show called 'Happening
71' it was a four-hour show on Saturday mornings and they had a lot of
Australian pop as well as international stuff--whatever, they didn't have
videos in those days, well they had some, but they had to bulk it out with
a lot of live i.e. lipsync bands in the studio and it was sort of strange
stuff but it looked really easy -- the idea of just getting up there, growing
your hair and singing and waving a microphone around and posing - it'll
looked a lot easier than doing my homework.
Was there one seminal influence?
KIM: Uhh, there was a few things then. An Aus band
called the Master's Apprentices and they basically captured my imagination
at the time. I guess there was band called Chains, a really heavy sort
of blues-influenced thing, in the heavy metal sort of way.
The Missing Links?
KIM: They were before my time, really. I became aware
of them later. But it was their sort of spirit that I felt kindred with
or whatever. I felt some affiliation with. You can pick the right choice
of words there for that little bit.
On the topic of links, how 'bout Link Wray?
KIM: Oh, yes! Of course! He's been a real great inspiration
as well. But I didn't get to hear Link Wray til I was about 20 or something
like that. The time period I'm talking about was 14, when I was first trying
to make the transition, as you say, from tennis racket. I originally felt
like I could be a singer, cuz it looked easiest. I dunno, I had a go at
it and I think...I didn't really feel like I could once I had a shot at
singing, I think my voice wouldn't really go where the notes were, the
way my brain told it to. So I figured guitar would be the next choice.
I learnt singing really from knowing the music and knowing the guitar and
following that. But I mean, I really like singing and find it really natural
It seems like singing is a really vulnerable thing,
hard to start out doing.
KIM: Yeahhhh. But at some point I found that the frustration
in trying to communicate musical ideas to other singers, especially mine
because there's a lot of fucked up notes in them, a lot of sort of blue
notes, wrong notes, scared notes, and things with a sort of perverted melody,
getting singers to get the right sort of nuance and handle on that sort
of thing can be really hard. So I found it a little easier to do it. And
consequently I've learned to sing. And I think I've done a pretty good
job of it.
I can see your progression as a singer over the
KIM: Uggh. There oughta be a huge amount of it!
KIM: That's right. He somehow found out we needed a
new drummer when we were going to get rid of our other one.
Yeah, what happened with Tony?
KIM: Uhh, drugs. Our concepts of truth and honesty
and friendship kind of diverged a little bit, so we had to let him go.
So Greg found out at the right time and made himself available and by the
first audition he knew every song, he knew it. The first gig we did with
him was when we still had Tony. We'd flown up to Sydney and Tony was gonna
fly out of Perth at this stage, he was supposedly trying to dry out. Tony
couldn't make his flight, he thought he'd miss his original flight and
get a stand-by flight across Australia, and this was leaving things by
lots of chance and he didn't get it, so he wasn't able to make the flight.
He thought he'd save money. So we were stuck doing this really important
gig supporting, umm. . .
Was it the Banshees gig?
KIM: Yeah, well, it doesn't sound that important
(laughs). But it was a big gig. And we had to ring around Melbourne and
find who was basically at home to answer their telephone to play
the drums. Greg was the one who was able to. He had a gig he was supposed
to play that night in Melbourne and was prepared to jump on a plane, go
straight to the gig, do sound check, play the gig, and fly home and do
his other gig. So we thought he was dedicated and showed some spirit and
bravery and GUTS, yknow, true grit, basically (laughs). We felt like this
was the person for the job! His first gigs were with the Banshees and with
U2. He had had about 20 gigs with his other band under his belt, not major
international support, just playing in pubs and clubs. But he's a very
down-to-earth sort of guy so he was able to handle the reality of the situation.
He's been good, able to handle it. He's just got a grip on the whole lot.
I read a quote in some interview that his drumming
style is so different from Tony's that it's almost taken the band in new
directions. Is that accurate?
KIM: Well, it sounds like you've taken some statement
in a new direction (laughs). It is different from Tony's--he's a lot more
concise and he doesn't fill out as much space with it, and that gives the
sound more punch and drive in a lot of ways. So our sound might have contracted
somewhat (using these sort of visual terms for sound which is hard) and
I think it's got more direction to it. But as far as taking it in a totally
different direction I don't think that that's really gonna happen. It's
my material, really. It's gonna take my material in a different direction
slightly but I wouldn't think that it would totally change things. I could
be wrong, though. But judging from the sound of our new record I'd say
the direction is very similar to Sin Factory-- there's just more of it!
(laughs). It's more so, like I said, the hard edges are harder, the soft
bits are softer, the sexy bits are sexier (laughs).
I also read somewhere that you were most proud of
KIM: Yeah, certainly. I am proud of the Hey Believer
one too. Although it's only been released for a month--I'm doing the promotion
for it now, but it's about a year old, that recording, and I'm just equally
proud of that one. And the Low Road--I'm sort of equally proud of all of
em, although obviously I've got more -- I'm equally proud of my input in
all of those things and to be associated with them. Obviously the two things
that have got my name on them are gonna fill me with more satisfaction
because there's more of me in them.
Your Sour Mash tunes are odd, by the way.
KIM: Well, that's very old. My songs on that album
are, well, fairly abstract (laughs). Possibly I think as songs or versions
of songs they didn't really work as well because the band was getting a
handle on that kind of stuff back then. They're good things to do, like
Playground and Flathead and whatever else was on it, but it was really
a means of stretching the band in directions that it maybe wouldn't have
There's a greater variety of material on that album
than the Axeman's Jazz, I think in large part due to your contributions.
KIM: Well, the Axeman's Jazz was just done like, we
went in there and just consumed a lot of stuff.
That's a great album too, don't get me wrong. .
KIM: Well, I don't even remember recording it. That's
how consumed I was with the project (laughs). I remember being in
there a little while, and the last thing I remember was walking out onto
a road and Tex grabbing me and (laughing) stopping me from walking in front
of a car.
Well, that slide guitar on Love and Death is just
out there. . .
KIM: Oh, well, uhh (laughs). Is that the partic. .
.Yeah, yeah, that's me. There's one that Spencer did that's really out
there too, he wanted a shot at slide guitar--I knew it wasn't me when I
listened back to it later. But his is Lonesome Bones. There's a lot of
stuff on there where I wouldn't know who played what.
As far as history is concerned here, do you feel
the Scientists got the credit they deserved?
KIM: History's a funny thing, isn't it? It is totally
up to people's perception of it and it depends on who's recording it, who's
writing the history books, really. So it's really up to us now, you and
me (laughs) to just sort of put the record straight, at least the way I
think it should be. But who's deserving or not I couldn't say, actually.
I know that we did a lot of things that I've heard subsequently--whether
that's due to us or not I really couldn't say.
I've heard an awful lot of bands, Australian, American
and English, that I think at least captured a part of the Scientists. .
KIM: Yeah, a part of it. . .We had our own particular
angle on things that hasn't really been touched.
Certainly a lot of these bands don't understand
the concept of space in music.
KIM: Yeah, well that's the thing we did have and a
lot of bands in their sound kind of explode when we were actually imploding.
We do have a lot of space, there's a lot of open air in the sound of the
Scientists. Something like Revhead off Blood Red River is as dense as they
get in points, the dynamics there so things get really strung out--it's
something to do with coming from Australia I think. I initially come from
Perth and there's a hell of a lot of space there--it's a very flat place
and buildings tend to be very far apart. It is a modern-looking city and
quite big and it's got quite a lot skyscrapers. In fact, it is very modern
because they tear down buildings after 15 years (laughs). There's no past,
history's being re-written all the time and I go back there and feel like
my memory's been erased -- I don't know what the hell's happened
but (laughs), but there's certainly a lot of space in Western Australia
and it's like a long way from any other place geographically. So I'm sort
of used to it. I'm sort of used to looking out and not seeing buildings,
I'm used to seeing. . .blue. And that does have an effect on a person--it
has an effect on the way you think, and the way thoughts fill your head
even. I sort of feel that, uuh, I live a lot in dreams. I don't know why,
but I can kind of relate a little bit to the aboriginal culture--because
I'm living in that kind of space a little bit. It sounds like I'm romanticizing
it, which I am, but it is true. Every time I've gone back to Perth I've
felt very differently there, even uncomfortable. I'm not used to space,
but I think with the Scientists there is a real sense of it, especially
in records like Blood Red River, that you don't get in, say, on a Mudhoney
record. A Mudhoney record's a really dense sort of thing. A good thing,
a good thing! But that's my perception of it.
Now Mudhoney is a band that's gone on the record
and said a big part of there sound comes from the Scientists. . .
KIM: Well, yes, ummmm. It's good that a band is prepared
to say something like that (laughs) because with people like the Scientists
it seems like not too many people want to admit it. I admire their courage
I heard you played We Had Love onstage with them.
KIM: Yeah, I did at a couple of Big Day Out shows.
How was that?
KIM: Ahhh, fun!
They didn't mangle the tune or anything. . .
KIM: Awww, of course they did! I wouldn't have it any
other way! And they wouldn't have it any other way! (laughs)
I do have the Set It On Fire tribute.
KIM: All right. I don't. I do have a little bit of
a problem with tribute albums in general. (Says something inaudible about
a "wide berth").
I liked the Monomen's Swampland. The vocals were
off on that but the music was OK.
KIM: All right. I seem to recall having heard a very
strange version of "Frantic Romantic" which actually I didn't
mind, because they mangled it a bit (laughs). They treated it with a total
lack of respect. But you know there's nothing wrong with that -- that's
actually a form of showing respect. Funny thing is "Frantic Romantic"
is a song that's been covered quite a few times on record, I mean for me.
The Beasts and people have their songs covered but it hasn't happened a
lot to me. But that thing's been recorded about 15 times -- it's an amazing
amount of times. A lot of versions out- I don't know, I'm just picking
a figure out of the air but there's a lot of them.
What did you think of the Philistines version of
KIM: Not too bad a version, I think.
I thought it was an odd choice because what I've
heard of the Philistines is very busy, notes all over the place . . the
Scientists seemed to have been in diametric opposition to all that.
KIM: What do you mean by 'notes all over the place'?
Just that the Philistines own material is very cluttered,
sometimes with too many notes.
KIM: Yeah, right. Uhhhh. That wasn't the Scientists.
I mean if we were busy it was busy making chaos maybe. Not really notes
Sorry to keep harping on the Scientists, but just
a few personal questions if you don't mind. What is it you're screaming
at the crescendo of Backwards Man?
KIM: That's what I'm doing, I'm just screaming! (laughs).
Well, whatever I sing in the chorus, "you've got the power to tear
down this house. . ." ummmm, what is it, uhh, ". . . love for
and all that I want." I probably could be singing that or I could
be just howling. I don't know--it's been a long time since I even touched
I guess so. That seems like a hard song to reproduce.
KIM: Thank God for that.
I love that song, by the way. I actually wrote a
very long paper on that song when I was in college.
KIM: God. Did you get a good mark?
Yeah, I actually did. And I gave a copy of the song
with my paper to the professor. It was a music course and the theme of
the paper was dissonance.
KIM: All right!
And the best use of it I could find, I thought,
was Backwards Man.
KIM: What did your tutor or whatever, your lecturer
that gave you the mark think of the song?
Ummm, he's a classically trained music professor.
He was puzzled. Even though he's a music professor I don't think his forte
KIM: Right. Hmmm.
Well, I think puzzling a music professor is an accomplishment.
KIM: Yeah, that's what I was thinking. God! That's
weird. . .
Also, there's something about "the gun I brought
with me" on the song Blood Red River that I can't figure out.
KIM: Yeah, that was by my girlfriend who later became
my wife-- I'm separated from her right now. Umm, I just wrote the chorus,
you know, "This is the blue that I want from you when I fell down
the blood red river to your heart." She wrote the rest of that. Something
about "here's the gun that. . . " Ummmm, it really doesn't make
sense unless you hear the rest of it. It kind of had a sort of feminist
slant to it, that song. A lot of people haven't picked that up about me
because it's not said clearly enough.
Well, I never got any misogynist feel from any your
stuff, though. . .
KIM: Well, that's something that I wanna point out.
It's probably not the right time to be PC about things but I've always
sort of tried to steer clear of misogynist leanings in my lyrics, you know?
It sounds pretty sexual a lot of the time, blatantly so.
I've never gotten that vibe from any of your material.
Now the Birthday Party, on the other hand. . .
KIM: (laughs). Well, you know, I don't hold it against
people to be honest about that. I mean, people have those feelings, it's
natural to divide the sexes, to have a certain amount of, ummm, maybe mistrust
of the other or members of it. Bad feelings are just sort of natural, but
I've tried to be as positive as possible in that . . .oh God, I'm blowing
my own trumpet in some really (laughs) .
Well, speaking of that, are you comfortable with
what Rollins said about being a national treasure?
KIM: Yeah, well. . . It's a nice, touching thing, I
guess. And I'm glad, well, like I said about Mudhoney, it's good that people
like him are prepared to sort of umm (laughs) be a bit brave and sticking
their necks out to say nice things about me. It seems to be that people
are loathe to do it here.
Well, I don't know. I got a pretty big press packet.
KIM: Well, there's a lot of people that don't care
to know about me. I don't wanna sound like I have a chip on my shoulder
or something, it's not like that. It's just the fact that I seem to scare
a few people off for some reason.
Well, maybe they heard Backwards Man.
I understand that the first Surrealists album cost
you $60 to make?
KIM: Yeah, it fell right in line with my idea of production
techniques at the time. That was, ummm, to not have them. I used
to think that like, it didn't really. . .I used to like cruddy production,
it comes down to that really. I had a crappy studio and liked hearing bombed-out
Link Wray records with scratches on 'em and eating hearts while listening
I have a fondness for it too because here in the
States I hear a lot of music that's all production without a quality song
underneath it. A good song can easily overcome underproduction easily,
but a bad song is still a bad song no matter how much polish you put on
KIM: Yeah, that's right. I dunno, I like listening
to. . .the sound of. . .you know distortion is sort of what makes things,
you know? People distort their guitar, they distort vocals and I think
distortion is really just information being transferred from one source
to another-- it's gonna get sort of distorted. It's inevitable! So I think
that distortion itself is a good thing. That was the idea that I had with
those productions I used with those records. If you can dig it.
I think that philosophy is outlined pretty well
in the song "Distortion" from The Human Jukebox.
KIM: Yeah, that's it. That was certainly where I was
coming from there. It wasn't the actual source or the air it was the bits
in between. The sound waves and the square waves, you know?
That's one of my favorite tracks, as is Feel from
that record. I'm sorry, not Feel, but Shine.
KIM: It's funny you make that mistake, though, because
Feel was like a song we were playing--it was an outtake from that session.
We tried to record it for Human Jukebox with the Scientists, so it's been
around for a long while.
Ummm, I understand that Brett Rixon passed on.
KIM: Yeah, he did. It was Christmas Eve last year.
Ummmm, a very, very sad thing. Umm, he hadn't really done anything except
the Scientists, that was as sad a thing, well, not as sad a thing, but
definitely the world's loss, that that occurred then. He just sort of stopped
doing the Scientists and he stopped involving himself in music. Because
he was very talented and he had a unique kind of vision and you know, he
just undervalued what he did, his contribution to the music and his contribution
to anything. He really . . . He had this idea of importance, and lack of
it and I think he shouldn't have concerned himself too much with that.
He was a great drummer, I thought.
KIM: Yeah, he was totally unique. He was impossible
to replace. Nobody could do it. Although there is a different drummer on
Human Jukebox, but there's a totally different sound.
Weird Love has a different drummer as well, right?
KIM: Yeah, that's right.
What was going on there, with BigTime?
KIM: What happened was we were involved in a very bad
legal wrangle with Au-Go-Go Records and we were practically separated from.
Well, that's what the dispute was, whether we were still with them or not.
It's not something I can really go into, even now. But we thought we were
free to deal and we thought it was up to us to say so and blah blah blah.
BigTime Records showed an interest and signed us up for about five records.
The first being--our idea was, for the United States, let's have a compilation
of all of our finest moments (laughs) and ummm we just knew we weren't
going to be able to get hold of all of those because of our dispute so
we thought, 'Let's re-record them.' Rewrite history again, you know.
How do you feel about those versions?
KIM: I think some of them just aren't quite up to it
and some of them actually have something that isn't on the originals. That
sort of thing.
Did you get to pick the tracks that were on the
KIM: Yeah. I'd probably do it very differently now.
Yeah, I was puzzled that Hell Beach wasn't on there.
That's another fave o' mine.
KIM: Umm, well, yeah. . . It's not one of mine. Sorry,
Now I was talking with Tex Perkins and he said something
about you being actually paid to leave England? True?
KIM: Yeah, I was paid to leave the country! Is that
how he put it?
Well, he said that you were living on a street owned
by Lady Di's father or something and he was trying to get the bad element
out of there. . .
KIM: (Laughs heartily).
Is that not accurate?
KIM: No, but it's a good story (laughs more). The truth
is that, umm (laughs). Charles and Di's children went to kindergarten on
that street and it was a pretty up-market street and our block of flats
was the last block of flats that wasn't sort of being developed, you know,
invested in. It was some old '60s block of flats, well actually it was
Victorian with a '60s designer so it was very. . .condemnable. Ummm, and
it was the last one that was that kind of an abode on that street and these
developers bought it and wanted to develop it and obviously get everybody
out of there and it cost them a lot of money to get me and my family out
of there! It was a tidy sum, yeah.
That's not quite as good as Lady Di's dad coming
around and saying you longhairs get out of here.
KIM: Yeah, get out of the country! But I sort of like
Now I heard you were coming to the States soon.
KIM: Yeah. The first week of December. About then.
I'm not really gonna be. . .I'll be doing like two shows in NY and one
in LA maybe do a radio show somewhere and that'll be it. I'll be in the
country for a week to do that sort of promotion thing. I'll just be solo,
just me on guitar. NOT acoustic.
I have the Beasts version (Ramblin' Man) but to tell
you the truth I prefer yours.
KIM: Well, it was just a thing done for a radio special,
that. With acoustic guitars and it was something I wanted to do and the
way I do it is very much the idea I had when I heard Hank do it. I thought,
this song's gotta be done that way, and I thought that that's how Tex would
naturally do it, because he does often sing that way. But he sort of chose
to kind of be fairly umm, subdued in his delivery.
Well, that song inspired me to go out and get a
double CD of Williams, who I'd never heard much of before.
KIM: Oh, great! Well, that's a good thing--I feel proud
to have done that!
We normally just get his son around here doing that
ridiculous cross-over music and a lot of people naturally overlook what
his father did.
KIM: Yeah, he's probably done more harm than good (laughs).
. .it's sad.
Have you heard that he's got the car that his father
was killed in and has it all suped up and shit with mag wheels, like pin-stripe
racing shit. . .
KIM: Oh God, that guy is sick! Well, I don't know,
how can we judge? But my reaction to that instantly was one of, umm, I
was aghast. Horrified. That's a guy who hasn't got a grip on things. He
hasn't got a grip on what I'd call reality, anyway.
But anyway, I know you're tired of answering Beasts
of Bourbon questions, so I'll only ask you one.
Umm, I've heard that the Beasts' tours were very
taxing physically and that sort of precipitated the separation.
KIM: Ummm, not really. Well, I sort of decided to give
it a rest myself because umm I wanted to concentrate on my stuff entirely
for a while. And you'll find that Tex is concentrating on other things
as well. It's just, ummm, well, that's how it is.
Well, the Beasts always struck me as sort of a side
project anyway. And then it seemed to become the main thing.
KIM: Yeah, well that's how I see it. And my focus is
now on my material. The whole thing, as I keep getting back to, is perception
and people's perception of things and if we had a chance to be perceived
not in that way it would have been good. But their record company slant
on it was very much. . .they sort of understand and market the Beasts a
lot more easily than they could have with the Surrealists at the time.
I think it's changed a little now. I think the Surrealists was intentionally,
apart from me being in it, intentionally made ourselves more approachable.
Umm, in order to. . . so people could approach us! And then you know, a
couple of records down the track, we can sort of hit 'em with all the abstraction,
and all the isms and every other diseased social more at 'em!
That's still in your heart then.
I have Revlover by the Interstellar Villains and
I don't know if you're in any kind of contact with Tony Thewlis.
KIM: Well, he writes to me because he's a good letter
writer. Oh, but I'm a poor correspondent so it's a one-way thing. Umm,
I catch up with him whenever I go to England.
He's in England? Is that where the band is?
KIM: The band is defunct. He's got another one happening.
I think that band is what he thought his...on the Human Jukebox there's
a song called It Must Be Nice. Well, in actual fact that's got like Rob
Coyne playing bass and guy called Kevin playing the drums, so I think he's
sort of got that thing happening.
What name are they under?
KIM: I don't know.
I just noticed that he thanked you for 'things vague
but indefinable' on the album.
KIM: Yeah, things vague--that's me (laughs).
But you did play on that album, some slide guitar
on If I happen By.
KIM: Uhhhh, did I play on that? God, where was I? I
must have been in a very vague state (laughs). Umm, I think I. . .don't
you mean I contributed some song writing or something. . .
I have it right here, ummmm, I can't find where
it says, but I'm sure that you're playing slide guitar on that tune.
KIM: Oh, no no no. I don't play any of his records.
I've never been around. I wasn't in the same city.
Well, then they got somebody to imitate your style
pretty well. It fooled me, dammit.
KIM: Well, Tony was in a group with me for a long time.
And I think the way we played--it think we would have had a bit of a profound
effect on one another. A bad effect! As guitarists we're probably more
similar than other guitarists are.
OK, here's a couple of good, general questions:
what is it about rock and roll , what's good there?
KIM: (Long pause). Oh, oh. Uhhhhhhh, you would ask
Sorry. I know it's a stupid question. Don't answer
KIM: That's all right, I'll attempt to grapple with
this thing. What's good about it? Nothin's good about it, that's what's
good about it. It's totally bad.
So then what's bad about it?
KIM: Ummm, yeah. What started out as a diversion from
homework. . .(laughs), ummm, uhh, yeah. (laughs).
Well, what's unique to rock and roll that other
forms of music like jazz and classical, C &W, lack?
KIM: I think. . .I don't wanna give an analytical sort
of answer. There's more, ummmm. I couldn't really say. It hinges on my
definition of rock and roll. My definition is one that kind of encompasses
rap music and all, I just think of R&R as being more of an attitude
Well, I mean back in the early '80s when the predominant
music in the alternative was synth-pop, the Human League, new wave was
big. There were the Scientists and they just didn't seem to fit in anywhere.
KIM: I just thought of it as being a kind of wild card
and just a berth of influence (LOUD BEEPS from record company) . . .(laughs).
Just a berth of influence there that seemed to me to be the appeal of it.
Not to say that it was good or bad, it osrt of fucks things up a little
bit, it doesn't make everything totally perfect--it sort of fucks up somebody
else's vision if they've got, like you say, this horrible, early '80s synthesizer
music going on. To me it was just a chance to kind of say, "Naww,
this didn't occur to ya! I hope it fucks you up a bit.' and "Whattya
think o' this?' It's subversion, that's what it is! Just changing things
a little bit, making things imperfect. Put a few flaws into the universe!
Well, they're there, anyway. I think people tend
to try and ignore them.
KIM: That's right! I've got a song about this on the
new Surrealists record called, It's Your Fault. Basically what I'm saying
is embrace your faults. MISSING TAPE. . . had a great line in one of his
songs like, 'There's nothing good or bad under the sun . . .' What was
it? '. . . Except in people's minds.' That's what he was getting at, anyway.
You look up the book, make it seem like I'm really literary (laughs). That's
how I definitely think of it. Rock and roll is sort of my chance to sort
of (laughs) screw my people.
There's a great lyric on the Surreal Feel where
you say, 'You can find yourself living in your own private hell, and loving
KIM: Yeah, that's funny you should even mention that
song. We actually re-recorded that one with Tony Cohen doing it to give
it a kind of different vision. It was not as wild as I tried, though--I
was livin' in my private hell, except I dragged Tony Cohen into it and
he made it a lot more hellish.
I've heard that about Tony Cohen, actually. Tex
was saying he's a complete madman.
KIM: He is.
Is that good or bad in the recording process?
KIM: It's good and bad. I was tellin' you, what does
that mean? (laughs). It's hard on a person though. Good and bad
is hard on a person. Hard on their ears, hard on their brain cells, hard
on their eyes! Hard on the feet.
Well, Kim, I really appreciate that you could take
time out to do this interview, I know you're busy and I hope it hasn't
been hard on your brain cells.
KIM: Okay, John. Thanks a lot.
But. . .one last horrible, stupid, grueling question:
anything you wanna say to the States?
LOUD BEEPS from company
Woman's voice: "Are you Mr Slayman?"
"Are you Mr. Slayman? We have a conflict of administration.
They have requested that this interview be terminated."
KIM: OK, ummm. I say to America, just be there at my gigs. (laughs) And thanks a lot, John.