GREG! No Sign of Stopping, Greg Cormack, Inpress, 24/7/02


A misty eyed Humphrey B. Flaubert speaks to Greg Cormack about TISM's 15-year career, which may or may not be nearing an end.

One sign that a band has truly captured the imagination of the rock n roll audience is that people will happily engage in the same argument about the band, hundreds of times over, without ever reaching a satisfying conclusion. Who sucked more, John or Paul? Would Metallica have been better if Dave Mustaine never left? Will it be Mick or Keef who first falls off the twig? With TISM, it might be which were better, the songs or their titles? Best Off, a collection reaching from 1986's Defecate On My Face to four new tracks, could provide either case with substantial evidence.

So are you breaking up? Is this the end or what?

We'd like to clarify that. The 'best of' usually indicates that the band is making one last desperate plunge into the pockets of any long suffering fans so they can then begin to split asunder and do their own things. However, this 'best of' merely signals the end of TISM's popularity, or whatever was left of it. I suspect that Festival Mushroom, after this album, will call us into their office and say, you don't fit into our forward line at the moment, we've recruited Kylie Minogue and she's kicking goals for us, but you don't have that speed and intimidation that you used to have and I think what you should do is announce your retirement.

But you might not take the hint?

In rock music there's an obsession with new bands and I think old bands have a lot to offer. There's a lot of them out there and we're keen to explore that territory. The Gene Simmons spoken word tour that he's about to undertake, for instance, will show another side to the man. He was noted of course for his incredible facility for cunnilingus, but Gene Simmons is actually a very interesting and erudite man. And I've seen him in the flesh and he's actually quite tall, which I find very impressive. I'd like to say that when the figure are all finally in on TISM's contribution to rock, the aggregate height of TISM probably puts us in the upper echelon of rock bands. We arrived at a time when short rock stars like Mark Seymour were very big on the local scene and TISM showed you could raise the bar.

Has being in TISM changed you, as a human being?

The thing with TISM is, we started out being very tired, bitter and cynical, and with every year we've become more and more naive. Now we're really excited and hope you like our new album. We don't think that we'll be tomorrow's fish and chip paper, we feel that with this album we've got something important and worthwhile to say about society and we hope you'll take it home and learn from it. It's a recipe for living. It says to you, 'Put your garbage in the bin'.

Looking back now, are you troubled by a particular ambition that remains unfulfilled?

It would have been nice to have been asked to collaborate on a Kylie record, and join the list of great collaborators whose careers she has enhanced. Nick Cave was seen as a flossy pop star until Kylie took him aboard and was able to trigger that much needed credibility. The Manic Street Preachers, they had to stage a disappearing member in a terrible sham at engineering some credibility, when all they needed in the end was to write a few songs for Kylie. We thought that was a big part of the plan when Festival Mushroom signed us up, but Kylie hasn't asked us and that was a big disappointment. There's been plenty of very deep, deep disappointments along the way.

Best Off includes a remix of Defecate On My Face by Machine Gun Fellatio. (I always find a light but strategic use of the teeth will put a stop to that:- Barbara) Can you envision TISM'S catalogue being widely sampled in the future?

That will be an interesting thing to see, whether somehow, by some incredible reinvention of history, TISM becomes cool. You'd need Stalin-esque revisionism to get that sort of thing happening, but you never know. The R'n'B scene is capable of taking the most amazing rot and turning it into commercial pop, so perhaps someone out there will choose an obscure TISM gem like Warning, There's A Long Wide Load In My Jockettes and turn it into something that the kiddies like. It seems remote, though.

You've pulled some infamous pranks on interviewers over the years, but today we're speaking safely on the telephone. Were you not tempted to stage one last biggie, just to finish things off?

The way we'll be finishing it off will be to invite the journalists into our hospital room when the nurse switches off our life support machine in twenty years time. But for some reason there are quite a lot of people who want to talk to us [at] this particular stage. I think that's probably due to the fact that, like vultures circling over a corpse in the depths of the desert, they see a chance. They see TISM as carrion. It's unfortunate because I do like meeting people of the press. That kind of bitterness that says, I could have been up on stage instead of those fuckwits - I think it's a beautiful thing and it fuels the kind of prose that is hardest hitting.

What is the lesson you have learnt from being in TISM?

There's a very famous statement made by a Melbourne music promoter, he's a man who understands what true art means and I think he was able to sum it up beautifully. We now have it on the wall, in a beautiful plaque with a picture of crashing waves. It reads, "Cunts Don't Know Shit". That pretty much sums up where we're going, and where we've been.


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