Australian punk band The Scientists reunited with their 1985-1986 lineup to create the first new album they’ve recorded together in 35 years, called Negativity. They also shared a lead single called “Outsider” and announced that Negativity will be due in full on June 11 via In The Red Records.
“Outsider” finds The Scientists with crisper production, a repetitive guitar riff and talky vocals except for frontman Kim Salmon’s strained chorus, “I don’t know what I don’t know/I don’t understand what I don’t understand/Yeah/No/Yeah/No/I’m an Outsider.” A second guitar riff comes in for the choruses with a simple, matching part.
An accompanying music video directed by Andrew Watson of Semiconductor Media shows The Scientists performing the song in an empty, all-white room. Frequent camera cuts and twisted images keep the video energetic beyond the movement that the band brings to the scene.
The group’s current lineup is a four-piece band starring Salmon as frontman and sole permanent member, Tony Thewlis as lead guitarist, Boris Sujdovic as bassist and Leanne Cowie on drums. Salmon, Thewlis and Sujdovic had been members of the band from 1981-1985 when they released their first two albums, The Scientists (1981) and You Get What You Deserve (1985), but Cowie only joined them for their third album Weird Love, which ended up being their most popular. Only Salmon and Thewlis stayed for the band’s then-final album The Human Jukebox (1987).
Cowie may have only joined the band for one year, but Salmon had much to say about how his wife Linda had picked Cowie as their other drummer Brett Rixon’s replacement, “Linda kind of appointed Leanne to be our tour manager, and she did an amazing job of it. She really paid attention to details. And she was as much of a rock ‘n’ roll animal as Brett or Boris or Tony. When Brett left the band in 1985, we tried a bunch of drummers. The thing was, they were all proper musos and brought baggage to the band, and it wasn’t welcome. Leanne had been teaching herself drums from what she learned from watching Brett, with no knowledge of music whatsoever. We gave her a chance, and it sounded like the band again.”
With this lineup, The Scientists have already shared several other comeback songs, including “Braindead,” “SurvivalKills” and 2019’s five-song 9H2O SiO2 EP. Negativity will contain 11 more songs, and is currently available for physical pre-order via Red Records’ site. It was produced by the band members together, and recorded by Myles Mumford and Jozef Grech.
Salmon stated that he’d initially been nervous about a reunion, “My attitude was, old bands doing new stuff, it’s always rubbish. I just wanted to leave it alone. I thought, well, if we just snuck a single by every once in a while, we could get away with it.” Now, it’s gone beyond that and turned into a full project, which by Salmon’s own wisdom should theoretically be rubbish, but many fans will likely still welcome it.
However, Cowie was up for the reunion and so were Thewlis and Sudjovic. They’ve been playing live shows together since 2004. Salmon talked about how he wrote the new songs, “I’ve been sort of jamming beats all along. I kind of cook ‘em up in my head, just getting a good groove going. I’d jam away on the drums in a practice room, and if I got something good that I could sing to, I’d start recording myself and send it over to Tony and wait for him to send me a riff back. And that’s how we wrote most of the album. I realized after the fact that Tony should be the riffmaster.
“Generally what happened was, Tony sent the riffs back, and then Leanne, Boris, and I got together, and the three of us knocked the songs into shape. That’s how everybody’s name got on the songs. In that part of the recording, Leanne does take a very active role. Once you start talking about form, how you’re going to execute it, she’s very much part of the writing process. They’re all part of it.”
In a concluding comment about the new music, Salmon said, “People think of the ‘80s as being keytars and mullet haircuts, but there was another side to all of that, and we were part of it. This record is another thing again. It is like a contemporary version of the Scientists of the ‘80s. To me, that’s cool.”
2. Make It Go Away
5. Magic Pants
7. The Science Of Suave
8. I Wasn’t Good At Picking Friends
9. Moth-Eaten Velvet
11. Outerspace Boogie