Admissable Evidence, Marc Grimwade, Scene (Brisbane), 08/02

Sitting with a donation box outside the Waterside Workers Hotel, posting a Vietnam veteran's sign while renditioning Gene Krupa drum solos with a couple of old plastic Coke bottles is Humphrey B Flaubert. If he can be trusted to string one truthful sentence together, he'd have you believe that Joe Public left his coins at home today and all he's depositing are his stools and other bodily wastes.

Welcome to the not-so-serious world of TISM (This Is Serious Mum) where words become theories and theories get molested by an over-zealous, over extended bunch of Melbournians in costume ... a world where subject matter is spelled out in titles like ‘I'm Interested in Apathy’ and ‘The Phillip Ruddock Blues’ and the peachiest of titles, the River Phoenix eulogy ‘(He’ll Never Be An) Ol’ Man River’. Flaubert ought to be talking up TISM's double CD 20 year retrospective ‘tism. bestoff.’ but instead he's announcing their demise.
“If we're talking about the important things here Marc, we're talking about the death of TISM.”

Is that what we're talking about here, the death of TISM?
“Well what do you want to know Marc?”

Well 10 albums down ... there's a lot of people who might have thought that you'd never get this far.
“Well exactly ... I guess that in today’s very fast commodity culture we have bands that come and go within seconds ... whatever happened to Alien Ant Farm?”

I believe they're about to put out their best of ... like what's to stop a band putting out a debut album followed by a best of?
“I'd say cut the first album out ... go straight to the best of ... but quite clearly we've been pressurized into doing a ‘best of’ by Festival Mushroom Records.”

Is the pressure coming from Parisi himself?
“It's actually an international directive from Mr Murdoch because Kylie is obviously not going as successfully as possible and they want the Festival Mushroom cash cow, which is of course TISM, to hopefully support Kylie on her tour ... like she's only sold out six concerts and they feel that she's hit on hard times and it might be about time Kylie got some collaborations going to give her a bit of credibility but in the short term we're prepared to bankroll her by making a few cool billion for Festival Mushroom Records ... so that's the plan”

I tip my hat to you ... it's quite an honourable thing to do.
“Well we are an altruistic band that's why so many people have such fond memories and attitudes towards TISM ... if you open the pages of your Rolling Stone and Juice magazine ... I mean they're very biased towards us because they understand we are the philanthropists of rock and we believe in a communal brotherhood and sisterhood because really, people join bands to help other people ... that's what it's all about ... it's all about sharing and blurring that division between the person who works a nine-to-five job and says 'thank God it's Friday' and gets a little bit pissed and puts his wheelie bin out and the person who is always sitting in the back seat of a taxi and has crack cocaine on their backstage rider.”

Talking of Mr Murdoch, I take it you're referring to James ... have you met the man?
“Oooh no! Obviously we feel that we are not worthy to untie the sandal strap of that person but we feel as though we are here as harbingers, his miseries ... we feel we are spreading the Murdoch word in the best way we possibly can ..”

And is that word Open Speech?
“Ooh yes! Particularly the opportunity to say the word c[un]t as much as possible ... I think that's clearly what the Murdoch family stand for.”

Did you see the special on Murdoch the other night?
“No but I heard it portrayed them in a very harsh light ... true to the Murdoch name of course there was absolutely no editorial interruption but like even the bad guys have feelings too and I believe that was the general tone of things.”

Portraying an identity, you guys made a career of doing just that yet there's been a fair amount of speculation as to your own identities ... someone told me that perhaps you were just a bunch of frustrated wannabe showgirls.
“That's a new one Marc, I've never heard that one before ... though with the whole gender thing with TISM, I don't think enough people have picked up on the homo-erotic elements that we feel are inherent in our music ... we've managed to be the least sexual band in rock and we're quite proud of that .. we're also quite proud of being the politest band in rock and when it come to Hall of Fame time, I think we'll get in there for our politeness”

Funny you should say that because somebody else told me that if TISM weren't playing music they'd most probably be Johnny Howard's speech writers.
“Well John Howard of course is a great example of a person getting to the point within two or three words ... he's a man of very short sentences, he's a man who speaks what's on his mind and I admire that ... I mean some people think that John Howard is a diminutive make-nothing-happen ex-accountant bitter speck on Australia's conscience and that he needs to have his eyeballs pulled out and rammed up his anal cavity but I feel that they are misreading the work of a great ironist ... I think John Howard is right up there with the great Australian comedics in history and whoever is his script writer I take my hat off to them”

TISM's world is totally off the wall and it could easily be seen as dismissible if it weren't for the fact that they write the funniest rock ‘n’ roll around. Rib-tickling stuff. Their 20 year retrospective ‘tism. bestoff.’ is out now through FMR.

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