Tristan Collyer's Year 11 Australian Studies Assignment, 1990

[Tristan's Australian Studies assignment was on the theme of Work, and since TISM are that rare beast, a *successful* (ish) band that has no intention of giving up their day jobs, he decided to interview Humphrey. This dates from just after the release of Hot Dogma. Thanks to Tristan for transcribing and sending this in.]

Thanks for your interest, Tristan. I can't imagine how this is going to fit into an Australian Studies assignment, nevertheless I appreciate the fact that you haven't attempted to arrange a meeting , and your questions seemed to indicate some knowledge about the band, so I don't mind answering them. It's not arrogance on my part, although ultimately if you think I'm arrogant, then fine. However, and I think I can speak for everyone in the band here, I have no wish to meet people who are into TISM, not because of anything inherent in their personality (although some of our fans definitely strike me as idiots of the worst kind) but simply because I am a very busy person, insanely busy, and I really value my privacy. If we wanted stardom and all that, we wouldn't wear masks. I don't feel the slightest obligation to anybody in regard to this band, provided that we do our best at what we do best. Which we do, quite emphatically. Anyway, lecture over. Make of all this what you will, but I just didn't want you to get disappointed.

Now, questions!

1. Do you look upon TISM as a hobby, something you do for enjoyment? Or does it seem more like a second job, especially now due to your success?

Yes TISM can seem like a second job! Success means more work, such as answering the same ridiculous questions ten times over, thrown at us simultaneously by Beat Magazine, Perth's XPress, The Adelaide Advertiser, and so on. Questions like "Do your mothers take you seriously?". So there can be drudgery. It's alright if you're Billy Baxter and you can crap on about what this song means, blah blah, but we don't do that. However, TISM is for the most part, a tremendously challenging and enjoyable little "club" which we all belong to and do for enjoyment. We don't make any money. I can assure you of that.

2. How much of your time does TISM take up in the course of a week (approx.)?

We have peaks and troughs. 3-4 nights a week probably. It's in my mind constantly.

3. How much time was spent in the studio to create "Hot Dogma"?

About 3 months, after hours in the studio actually recording it. About a year sifting through songs prior to that.

4. What other real life occupations do other band members have? Does TISM infringe upon their time to any extent? Is it all hard to juggle careers and being in a band?

We are all employed full-time, I can tell you that. White and blue-collar style. It makes it very difficult; I'm sure TISM affects all of our working lives, in detrimental ways. I certainly wouldn't recommend it. It's a roller coaster ride that will probably end in tears, but we won't go into that. Our jobs affect TISM, too. We tour interstate frequently, but we can't drive, because of time constraints, so it's plane fares. If you can visualise 7 plane fares to Brisbane during the pilots dispute when there were no cheap flights, then you might get some idea of the costs we carry, and why we don't make any money. Almost everything we do is done expensively, often because we don't have the time to do it cheaply. So the next time you see a packed TISM gig, don't think we're buying new cars. It just means the TISM juggernaut can afford to keep going until the next hurdle.

5. How did your roadies come to be employed by your band? Are they friends or were they experienced?

We started with the occasional friend helper. Now our crew are the best we can get, and they work hard as I'm sure you've noticed. Our management know all the contacts and so on, so we just grabbed the best people we could. We don't play often, so they work with other bands, but if you ask them, they'll tell you that TISM are the most fun to work for. God knows why!

6. Do you find that people climbing onstage during gigs is annoying, or have you grown to accept this as part of performing? Does spitting or the throwing of beer cans become annoying?

All that stuff occurs with sheep-like repetition for a lot of bands these days; well, certain types of bands anyway. I think we provide more visual entertainment than all the other bands, but obviously the sheep don't seem to think that. Have you ever been hit by a full beer can Tristan? I guess fairly soon one of us will be hit on the head, and that will be the end of the show. I hope it happens during the first show, for optimum effect. Stage diving doesn't really worry me, provided it doesn't affect my performance, which is the only thing worth worrying about. The sad thing is that they probably think they're doing something new and impressive.

7. How does the writing of the music take form? Is one person a lyric writer and the other a music writer?

We brainstorm. Everybody contributes.

8. How far into the future do you see yourself working in TISM? Do you think you are replaceable as a member?

Difficult to say. TISM will probably be still around in 20 years, but only in someone's lounge room. That's where we came from, that's where we'll go. Who knows how long the public will put up with us. I don't think I'm replaceable, but then I wouldn't, would I?

 

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