Who was that masked man?, Tiffany Bakker, TNT mag (London), 1996

Ron Hitler Barassi doesn't mince his words. But what would you expect from the lead singer of TISM, the balaclava-clad band that have drop-kicked political correctness with songs like (He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River, which includes the immortal line "I'm on the drug that killed River Phoenix" and that tasty ditty Defecate On My Face.

TISM (This Is Serious Mum) were first a Melbourne cult band, then an Australian one. But when their last Australian release, Machiavelli and the Four Seasons, went gold by selling over 100, 000 copies, the band (though they would beg to differ on account of musical prowess) were given the avenue to pollute the minds of the mainstream, and now they have hit the well-worn road to London, to pollute the minds of the world.

Listening to the band that transcends musical boundaries, trends, and... well, the bounds of any good taste is an experience in itself, but not as much of an ordeal as interviewing them - I struggled to get a word in edgeways. So perhaps it's best if I hand you over to the players - Ron Hitler Barassi and Humphrey B. Flaubert - and let them speak for, or rather indict, themselves.

The masks? Are you just plain ugly?

Humphrey B: Well, it's obvious we're ugly, but we're always in masks. They may not be made of material, but they're certainly masks that most people choose to wear, that hide their deeper hatred of themselves.

On Oasis

Barassi: That is class, isn't it? The whole Liam and Noel thing. The Gallagher boys they are class, and that's what the English are all about. But, you know, we know that deep down Liam knows that except for the fact he's tricked into singly reasonably catchy pop songs, the whole world would think him a boring, arrogant, pig-ignorant deadshit prick. He's a worthless person, and everyone in his workplace, if he wasn't a rock star would know it. He's the sort of guy in the workplace that when people get together to make a coffee, they'd all say 'God, that Liam's a wanker'. You know, you meet a Liam every day - someone who seems to think he's special, but it's the opposite to that really. Liams are on the train, Liams are in the workplace, Liams are in the supermarket, boring, arrogant, pig-ignorant bastards. And just because he sings all of six jangly pop songs that gives him the right to get away with it.

TISM would like to say to Liam Gallagher, we know what you know, we know that deep down you're the bloke on the train that everyone hates, mate.

Humphrey B: The only Gallagher we can come up with is Norm.

Though TISM would like to storm off at the airport on the way to an American tour, so we could go and buy new houses, because that's obviously the way to act. TISM have always been reasonable to journalists and we've been friendly and I must say very well groomed and punctual in our approach to rock, and obviously that's not the way to behave. So now we're making this poxy attempt to jump into the big time, we're gonna be seen in the back of taxi cabs with supermodels, shunning the press and growing beards. So watch out, Tiffany, by the time we get to England we'll be pushing you aside to let all our supermodels through, and you'll write about us as being sexist, boorish louts but ever so cute.

On Australians overseas

Barassi: I'd like to send a message from TISM to the Australians now reading TNT who are sitting there with their false Aussie bravado, sipping their Fosters and hanging around with other Australians. You can get fucked for not facing up to the fact that Australia's a sort of pox country that just can't make it in the big league of the world. Oh great, we've got Kieren Perkins who can swim 15 million metres or what ever in the pool... BIG FUCKING DEAL. As an Australian sitting in some drunken-addled beer-swilling barn in London trying to recreate the glories of Upper Templestowe or some pox western Sydney suburb you know: Just think about Patrick White up against Dickens or Hardy, or, you know, George Orwell's precise adjectiveless, unpretentious working-class experience.

I'd also like to say that the TISM show in London will be a direct personal insult to every yobbo cunt living in that God-forsaken capital city at the moment. Ron Hitler Barassi challenges every weak-kneed Aussie fag over in London to a fist fight after the gig. Line 'em up, every fuckin' Bruce and Kevin, and your beer-swilling, chicken-necked bastards. I'll have ya, one by one, I'll have ya.

On Australian football

Barassi: I'd like to remind the Australian readers of TNT that we are in the midst of the Australian Football League finals. And with the finals comes spring; and with the finals comes the smell of smoke in the air; and with the finals comes the kick-to-kick out the front with Dad. I want to bring a tear to the Melbourne readers of TNT's eyes. I want them to know that the papers are full of the Abletts and the Locketts, and I want them to know that the very essence of Melbourne boyhood is happening right now, and I want them to know that it is a whole load of shit, and they should remember it's as bad as they can possibly imagine.

Underneath all the nostalgia, and underneath their bleary eyed reminiscence of Melbourne boyhood, their lives were as pox and debt ridden and diseased and boring and conservative as they are now. Henry Handel Richardson said "One can change one's sky, but one cannot change one's self." If you're a boring, conservative yobbo Aussie in Melbourne, you'll be a boring conservative yobbo Aussie in London.

On going gold

Barassi: We've sort of become more stupid and inane with every year, and I think we've finally found the right formula that everyone seems to like - though it may well be due to the fact that Tina Arena plays all the instruments on the album.

On the Wee Jock tour

Barassi: We can say this to TNT readers because no English readers will be reading, and that's that we're gonna launch an invasion of England. It will be TISM in tartan. We'll be Scottish secret agents, and our password will be 'suck the dick of the guy in the Canterbury rugby shirt.'

Humphrey B: Yes, because when you think of a bloke in a New Zealand rugby shirt, you're just thinking, literary, intelligent, Oscar Wilde. That's what we want.

Barassi: We'll be marching with the bagpipes, and wee Jock is gonna come when TISM land in the country. Though, if Australian landings are anything to go by, we'll probably land on the wrong fuckin' beach and go up the wrong hill, and some Turkish bastard will shoot us down.

On censorship

Humphrey B: You'll probably take an editorial approach to this, and filter out most of the things we've said, and that would be okay. That would be fair enough.

TISM play at TNT's Big Night Out at the Mean Fiddler on Saturday, September 28. Tickets seven pounds. They also play the Shepherd's Bush Empire on Thursday, October 3.

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