Kim Salmon and the Surrealists

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Kim Salmon and the Surrealists

“When they asked me to play a Surrealists show I was like ‘Oh really!? That’s out of the blue’. It’s been nearly thirty years since we first made a record,” Kim laughed warmly.
To many he’s the godfather of grunge, to his students at JMC Academy in South Melbourne he’s the cool teacher, and he’s Dad to his four kids – Kim Salmon may be a lot of things, but self-righteous is not one of them.
“The guys putting on the festival said they’d love to have me, so I’m only too happy to oblige,” Kim said with a smile, when we got to chatting about the Barwon Club’s up-coming 7th Annual River Rocks Festival.
“Maybe it’s got something to do with nostalgia. Perhaps they spent their undergraduate years getting drunk to our albums. Maybe we were obscure and underground enough for us to be cool again! Oh that’s good – we should put that on our drum kit or as a stage backdrop!”
He’s not trying to be facetious, however, in his 35 plus years as a touring musician, Kim has worn many hats: “So many,” he jokes, “that sometimes I forget my head!”
“Re-inventing myself is the way people like to say it. I do have a lot of projects – a lot of irons in the fire – and to be honest it’s really just been a survival mechanism. All I ever wanted to do was actually make a living out of playing music.”
To his contemporaries he’s an innovator, always at the forefront of the new sound, while aspiring indie musicians cite him as an inspiration. However, the notion of such things leaves him a little uncomfortable.
“It’s lovely to hear, but it’s hard to talk about. It’s part of the Australian psyche not to appear to have tickets on oneself – it’s not in my nature.”
Kim Salmon was born to play music – it’s in his DNA. He eats, sleeps and breathes it. He’s been a key player in numerous outfits over the years. To name just a few: The Scientists, Beasts of Bourbon, Runaways and Darling Downs – and of course, Kim Salmon and the Surrealists.
However, lately his focus has been on a two-piece project called Kim and Leanne and, like all good collaborations, there’s an equally entertaining ‘how we started’ story. “Leanne was The Scientists’ tour manager but she took it upon herself to buy Brett’s [Rixon-ex Scientists member] drum kit and started to teach herself to play.
“In the meantime we auditioned a whole bunch of people including guys from PIL [Public Image Ltd] and Motorhead, but none of them worked out. It was my wife who encouraged me to let Leanne have a go. At the time she was rubbish,” he said grinning, before adding, “but then we took her on tour with Siouxsie and the Banshees. It was like a baptism of fire for her and by the end of the tour she was our drummer!” Kim and Leanne’s True West, a collection of originals, is out now.
On most nights of the week Kim can be seen playing with any one of his bands around the city ̶–that is, when he’s not in the studio.
“I’m trying to do a solo record – I’ve been working on that with a producer. The songs are slightly autobiographical. I just want a chance to reflect privately I suppose, but in public,” he chuckled. “That will be out early next year.”
With so much on his plate I wondered when he’d find time to rehearse for River Rocks. “There are a couple of gigs between now and then, so there’s our rehearsal!” he said confidently. “We don’t worry about that stuff. Stu [Thomas – bass] and Phil [Collings – drums] have got the chops to do that kind of thing – those guys are amazing players. We’re just going to go in and bash it out!”
When&Where: River Rocks, Barwon Club – November 15
By Natalie Rogers