Rescued from The Wayback Machine by TISM Self Storage. This interview was originally published in Music Trader magazine and in the form it appears below on the now-defunct site.

"Ninety eight per cent of the stuff on the net takes a long time to get to you and when it does it wasn't worth it anyway - it's a bit like life itself. But, you know, the kids like it."
- Ron 'Hitler' Barassi

Photo: TISM Net Broadcast 19/3/98

The first media interview with Melbourne cult band TISM was conducted on a football oval. The band was separated from a group of journalists by a 50 metre piece of string and questions were asked and answered with a megaphone. Since then they've met journalists inside an industrial meat freezer and talked to another via a piped message in a flotation tank. For a spot on community radio they appeared with a revving motor mower to answer questions.

Until recently, after the unusual success of their last album,
Machiavelli And The Four Seasons, (number five chart position, Gold status and ARIA for Best Indie Release), the band had been suspiciously quiet for a long time. When finally they made a move it was to release (to overwhelming silence) an ironically radio friendly pop tune which happened to have the commercially suicidal title of I May Be A Cunt But I'm Not A Fucking Cunt.

Why? Well, someone managed to convince Ron 'Hitler' Barassi to talk with Music Trader and with some trepidation, I earnestly asked him just that. What was the point?

"Ya see that's the thing - we actually like the song. We quite like the music and we quite like the lyrics and that's not a bad criteria for a single," answered Ron, "and I haven't met anyone yet who doesn't connect with those words. They all know exactly what it means. We all know people like that."

"We do like the fact that swearing's juxtaposed with the pop melody of the music," he continued. "It's certainly an intent, the teasing nature of the melody with the swearing. Put them together and you've got 'Jesus Christ, what's the point of this?'"

Quite. Following on from the commercial radio and media's complete avoidance of their single, they've come out with a new album aimed for the world wide web and named (appropriately enough) They also launched a new web site of the same name and conducted a launch with a live chat session over the internet.

"I personally think the net's a bit of a wank," said Ron of their album theme. "It's all form and no meaning. It's so disturbingly unedited, ninety eight per cent of the stuff takes a long time to get to you and when it gets to you it wasn't worth it anyway - it's a bit like life itself. But, you know, the kids like it."

With all this new technology being way over most of the band's head, (they had to get some 'propeller head' computer nerds to set everything up for the launch) and after all the effort they've put into their web presence Ron still claimed to much prefer pen and paper and to infact be a bit of a literary connoisseur. Just as late Edwardian poetry was written from the point of view of a society about to collapse, they also had been trying to document the slow disintegration of our times. He then admitted that had all been crap.

"But, with net technology and multimedia and downloading and video streaming and web page design - I don't want to know all about that, I just want to hear about people's ideas," he said. "There's only one way to talk to 4,000 people that ain't over the TV and that's on the internet I guess, and radio. But if the ideas aren't any good then the net's not going to make them any better. It's like Allan Jeans said, 'Footy teams are just sausages', you know, 'boil them, curry them, fry them and they're still just sausages'."

For all their own ideas in the studio, the band rely heavily on sampling to construct their songs. They also branched out a bit for this new release, using renown indie producer Magoo, who's worked with the likes of Regurgitator, Powderfinger and recently Midnight Oil.

"Humphrey B Flaubert is Mr. Sampler," explained Ron. "He goes down to Recycle Records and gets all those old vinyl records and we trawl through them. There's a couple of samples we can't tell you about for legal reasons - but half the samples are of ourselves from earlier records just done backwards."

I suggested there would be something brilliantly ironic about re-releasing exactly the same material again on their next albums. They need never record another note really.

"Yeah exactly, that's a good point! For the next record we should just release this record again but on a different speed. Oh no, I think that's fine. Just slow down the master tapes and then pretend it's a Tricky album, say 'Look we've gone for a real trip-hop, spaced out, feel here and, you know, dig it!'"

In the meantime the band are also appearing on a national tour with both Regurgitator and The Fauves. The task of not being overshadowed by these great acts, who actually play their instruments live, was already starting to worry Ron and apparently he'd decided the best way to solve the problem was just through violence.

"Well, we have challenged them already, publicly, to a fist fight. We know that Regurgitator are a jumped up bunch of teenage try hards. Sure they're successful, sure they're talented," said Ron, "but they're the kids at school that we could have never beaten. They're the kids at school that we used to look across at from our own pathetic, dorky, awkward part of the classroom."

"We want our revenge on Regurgitator and we've decided to challenge them to a fight for all those reasons and also for the fact that we do happen to be a seven piece and they're a three piece," he concluded.

Actually they're a three piece with instruments so -

"Ahh! Good point. That's an excellent point. I didn't think of that. We could always run away? Yeah, I think the looming conflict with Regurgitator is best resolved by running away - that's how I resolve the rest of the conflicts in my life."

Finally in explanation of his dislike for successful teenagers as illustrated in one of their new tracks The Parable Of Glenn McGrath's Haircut, Ron had this to say:

"I think there's been many a good looking teenager that seems to have thought 'alright this is what life's like. Well, no way pal! For all those seventeen year old soapy stars, 'No way pal!'" he ranted. "There's grinding years of failure ready to wear you down and it's not because of capitalist society and it's not because of what you're mum and dad did to you, our own dissolution is buried in our deepest core and you'll fall apart pal! You'll fall apart and at least ugly teenagers know that from the word go and we like that."


TISM are playing on a national tour with Regurgitator and The Fauves and their new album,, is out now on Shock Records. For a little more unedited net rubbish why not visit their new site (of the same name) for yourselves!