|Also known as||This Is Serious Mum|
|Origin||Melbourne, Victoria, Australia|
|Genres||Alternative rock, hard rock, alternative dance|
|Years active||1982-1983, 1984-2004|
|Labels||Elvis, Musicland, Phonogram, Shock, FMR, Madman, Sony/BMG, genre b.goode|
TISM (an acronym of This Is Serious Mum) was a seven piece anonymous alternative rock band from Melbourne, Australia. The group was formed in 1982 and enjoyed a large underground/independent following. Their third album Machiavelli and the Four Seasons reached the Australian national top 10 in 1995. TISM was known for its hybrid of dance music and rock'n'roll, high-energy live shows and humorous lyrics. TISM's songs frequently satirised modern culture, celebrities and the entertainment industry, classic literature and art, current affairs, politics and sport. The titles of their songs were often wordplays created by juxtaposing pop culture references with more intellectual ones.
TISM's first concert was on 6 December 1983. The Get Fucked Concert at the Duncan McKinnon Athletics Reserve in the small suburb of Murrumbeena was considered a complete failure which caused the band to officially split up. They reformed in February 1984 and returned to their recordings. They consider every subsequent performance a "re-union gig".
By 1985 the band was playing regularly around Melbourne and soon released a 10-track demo composed of selections from their recordings followed by their début single, "Defecate on My Face" (1986), a 7" vinyl record packaged in a 12" sleeve with all four sides glued shut. This song is also found (but is unlisted) on the EP Form and Meaning Reach Ultimate Communion as a country version. Their next single, "40 Years - Then Death" (1987), was released on transparent vinyl in a clear plastic sleeve with no cover art or labels. TISM's first radio-friendly single, despite the obscure packaging, was received well.
The début album, Great Truckin' Songs of the Renaissance (1988), is a double vinyl release in an embossed gatefold sleeve. The first record contained twelve of TISM's most popular tracks, and the second was a pastiche of interviews, bedroom recordings and live diatribes. Despite this odd combination, Truckin' Songs entered the lower reaches of Australia's mainstream Top 50, as did the single "Saturday Night Palsy".
Phonogram Records signed the band in 1989 and paired with producer Lawrence Maddy, began work on their follow-up album. The band soon lost interest and channelled its remaining funds into The TISM Guide To Little Aesthetics, a book compiling lyrics, interviews and press releases. When Phonogram released Hot Dogma (1990) it failed to reach the commercial charts, and TISM were fired six months later due to management issues, despite owing the label tens of thousands of dollars.
Rise to fame
In mid-1991, independent record label Shock Records signed TISM and re-issued Great Truckin' Songs of the Renaissance, as well as the EP Gentlemen, Start Your Egos (1991), a compilation of tracks previously unavailable on CD. TISM, with producer Tony Cohen, then released the EP Beasts of Suburban (1992). A new guitarist, 'Tony Coitus' (later 'Tokin' Blackman') joined the group onstage for the first time on 23 January 1992.
The next EP, Australia The Lucky Cunt (1993) was TISM's most controversial release to date. Courts issued an injunction order of the CD when the Ken Done Society threatened legal action over the artwork, which parodied Done's signature style and depicted a koala sucking a syringe. The matter was settled for an undisclosed amount of money "fairly close to the amount that Radiohead spends on buying friends" and was re-released with new artwork as Censored Due To Legal Advice.
TISM's biggest success was the 1995 album Machiavelli and the Four Seasons. The release was a shift from alternative-rock to synth-driven techno and dance which retained vocal melodies and loud guitars. The album was certified Gold and won an ARIA Award for Best Independent Release. Three of its singles reached Triple J's Hottest 100, two of them in the top 10. On the 27th of April 1995 the band appeared on the RMITV show Under Melbourne Tonight and performed Protest Song and (He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River.
Success exposed TISM to mainstream Australian radio and television, most of which was perplexed by the band's guerrilla approach to interviews and lack of interest in the music industry. A 4CD box set of early albums was released and steady record sales allowed extensive tours of Australia and New Zealand. In 1996 TISM toured on the Big Day Out, during which Ron Hitler-Barassi was either absent or wheelchair-bound due to a detached retina and broken arm caused by a stage dive he performed at the Pacific Hotel, Lorne, Victoria prior to the tour. Later the same year, TISM toured England, the group's sole Northern Hemisphere excursion.
Taking a year off from touring, TISM spent 1997 working on its next album with producer Lachlan Magoo. The album, www.tism.wanker.com (1998) was announced via a series of live Internet chats and webcasts. The first official music video for the album, I Might Be A Cunt, But I'm Not A Fucking Cunt was rarely broadcast. Australian RSL head Bruce Ruxton wrote a letter of complaint to Shock Records describing it as "...Dropping [Australia's standards] through the floor into the proverbial sewer." The letter was published on TISM's website at the time.
www.tism.wanker.com sold reasonably well, thanks in part to an extensive Australian tour with Regurgitator, then at the height of their popularity, and The Fauves; however, sales were low compared to Machiavelli and the Four Seasons's success and TISM's contract with Shock ended by mutual agreement.
After Shock records
Following the 1998 tour, TISM signed with Festival Mushroom Records, which re-released their entire back catalogue (except for Hot Dogma, their previous singles and the bonus discs for Machiavelli and wanker.com) on CD. Their first and only official album with FMR, De RigueurMortis (2001), débuted at No. 24 on the ARIA chart and No. 3 on the Alternative ARIA Chart. Flaubert predicted on Triple J radio that the album would "plummet out of the top 40 like a stone"; – the following week, it was not on the list. Touring became less thorough than in previous years, though no less active – at the closing of the Punters Club, the band ended up naked and tore the ceiling down during the gig. In early 2002, the track "Honk if You Love Fred Durst" was released as a single. FMR then released tism.bestoff. (2002), a best of compilation which included their greatest hits, two new tracks and a disc of remastered Bedroom Recordings. The compilation was their third, and last, release with Festival Mushroom Records, as TISM's contract had ended.
Finding itself with no record label again, TISM returned to touring. In late 2003, a special one-off concert was filmed and released on DVD as The White Albun (2004) by Madman Entertainment. A documentary and full length album were also included, making it a 3-disc set which received good reviews; however, the release was not eligible for ARIA chart tracking. The concert DVD is presented as a telethon at which TISM breaks up. Ironically, TISM performed after that concert in order to promote the set.
For 6 years, TISM's final release seemed to be the German CD-single "Everyone Else Has Had More Sex Than Me" (2005). It was TISM's first non-Australian release: Sony/BMG Germany expressed interest when the song's animated clip was an Internet hit thanks to bloggers and sites such as YouTube. The single reached the German commercial charts.
In a 2006 interview with Triple J, when asked about the current status of TISM, Flaubert remarked: "we are slowly moving towards our deaths". In early December that year, Flaubert contributed to the ABC's "My Favourite Album" program, where he stated his favourite album as "Any album – as long as it's by Nickelback!" Later the same month, TISM were inducted into the EG Hall of Fame, at which they made an appearance and "a hilariously irreverent speech".
In early 2007, a Melbourne country and western band called Root! appeared on MySpace, with Humphrey B. Flaubert (now called DC Root) on vocals. Their debut album was released in December 2007.
On 29 April 2008, guitarist James Paull (Tokin' Blackman) died of cancer.
In October 2009, the majority of TISM's back catalogue was re-released on iTunes with bonus material.
In 2010, their website (www.tism.com.au) was altered to show an older-style TISM logo with TISM related mannerisms that altered when the page was refreshed. On 8 April 2011, YouTube user "tismwebsite" uploaded a previously unseen video of Tokin' Blackman improvising a guitar solo. It was added to the front page of tism.com.au on 29 April 2011, the third anniversary of Tokin's passing, prior to the site being revamped and relaunched.
In March 2010, TISM released on iTunes, a "21st century mix" of their single Shut Up – The Footy's On The Radio The 21st century mix had Humphrey B. Flaubert on vocals and Jock Cheese on guitars, and had wholly new lyrics. This is the most recent TISM release to date.
In mid-2010, Flaubert's project Root! announced they would be playing their "Last Ever Show" on 20 August 2010. Although the press release concluded with "... is there a new project on the way? All will be revealed soon. Stay tuned." Following this, a Facebook page was sent out to friends of DC Root which promoted a new band named 'The DC3'; itself a reference to 'DC Root' and his real name of Damien Cowell. The band's first single was released on 26 November 2010 titled "I Was The Guy in TISM."
In 2011, YouTube videos of bands the uploaders claim to be TISM were uploaded. Although, due to the nature of a TISM performance, no positive ID on the members can be made, and as such, it is unknown as to whether or not the band performing is indeed TISM in some form, or a cover band.
In October 2012 guitarist Sean Kelly ('Leak Van Vlalen') teamed with "old friend and die hard TISM fan" Kieran Butler for two Melbourne shows as RealiTISM, performing TISM songs interspersed with Kelly chatting about "what went on behind the scenes – and the balaclavas." During 2012 and 2013, the duo performed several shows.
In April of 2013, Kieran Butler talked with Damian Cowell, during which they occasionally touching on his time in TISM.
- Ron Hitler-Barassi (Peter Minack): Vocals
- Humphrey B. Flaubert (Damian Cowell): Vocals, Drums
- Jock Cheese (Jack Holt): Bass, Guitar, Vocals
- Eugene de la Hot-Croix Bun (Eugene Cester): Keyboards, Vocals
- Jon St. Peenis: Saxophone, Vocals
- Les Miserables: Dancing, Vocals
- Tokin' Blackman (first billed as Tony Coitus) (James Paull): Guitar (1992–2008) (deceased)
- Leak Van Vlalen (Sean Kelly): Guitar (1982–1991)
- Genre B. Goode: Vocals (1982–1985)
St. Peenis played saxophone on earlier recordings. Cheese plays guitar on various recordings and live shows. Blackman arranged orchestral sections on The White Albun (2004). Flaubert programs rhythms and samples, and has occasionally played acoustic drumkits live.
TISM have used a variety of methods to conceal their identities. They have never officially revealed their names, instead choosing to use pseudonyms on their records and in interviews, all the while concealing their faces. Usually this involves the wearing of a balaclava, but outrageous costumes have been created for the purpose, including Ku Klux Klan uniforms made of newspaper, silver suits with puffy arms and legs to mimic an inflated cask wine bladder, giant foam paintings worn on the head, large foam signs bearing the name of a Beatle, fat 'businessman' suits, and eight-foot-high inflatable headpieces among others.
Who TISM are beneath the masks has been the cause of much speculation by fans, with one theory contending that TISM is composed of members of other bands who do not want their fans to find out: popular targets of this theory include Painters and Dockers, Machine Gun Fellatio and even The Wiggles. A theory based on the band's tour schedule's roughly coinciding with school holidays, and the fact that the Ringwood Secondary College Choir and Orchestra feature in the filmclip to Thunderbirds Are Coming Out, proposes that TISM are school teachers. Another common theory, based on the high incidence of football references in their lyrics, is that they are Australian rules football players in the AFL, however Humphrey B. Flaubert has stated that "We're actually not AFL, we're more violent and crappy... so you're looking at the VFL there."
When asked why they wear masks, Flaubert replied:
The answer that makes me sound good is that we desired to circumvent the cult of personality that is inherent in rock music by choosing to remain anonymous. Unlike every other band in rock we chose to be anonymous. The answer that makes me sound good would probably also incorporate some lengthy discussion about Brechtian alienation techniques, about our post modernist grasp of ever cooling universe, and a dehumanising society encapsulated in the somewhat paramilitary aspect of our clothing. All of those things would make me sound good, but actually we’re really boring guys."
— Humphrey B. Flaubert, Return of the Pop Vigilantes (21 February 2002)
However, when TISM performed on John Safran's Music Jamboree in 2002 playing "(He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River" on instruments from Greece, the song writers' names were revealed during the credit roll which read "'(He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River' by Damian Cowell / Peter Minack / Jack Holt / James Paull / Eugene Cester ... Performed by TISM." Up until then, the songwriters' names were publicly available on the APRA/AMCOS database, but now the songwriting credits on the site just say "TISM" instead of the members' real names. Damian Cowell's real name is listed as one of the songwriters of ROOT!'s songs, however.
However, vigilant fans would have noticed the names years earlier. Hitler-Barassi was photographed in 1993 at the opening night of Madame Butterfly, which was published on 4 April 1993; the book revealed the member to be Peter Minack, who later released a book of his own (Campaigning With Grant) in 2000, which was about the American Civil War. The book contains thin references to TISM. In interviews about his book, Minack revealed he was a teacher, his father fought in WWII for the Germans and that he is fanatical about the Richmond Football Club, explaining his stage moniker.
TISM bassist Jock Cheese's real name, John (Jack) Holt, can be found on a list of copyright owners on Mushroom Records circa the release of his solo album Platter (2002). Guitarist Tokin Blackman's real name is James "Jock" Paull. He died in mid-2008 of cancer.
Eugene Cester was revealed in an Age column as being the uncle of Nic Cester, lead singer of Melbourne's Jet, however, it did not state which member he is; it is believed that he is Eugene De La Hot Croix Bun.
On 28 March 2007, a MySpace page opened for a Melbourne band called Root! which the lead singer claimed to be "the friend of the uncle of the guys in Jet". The page also lists James Paull as a "friend". Humphrey B. Flaubert's real name is Damian Cowell, who performs in the band as D.C. Root.
TISM are distinguished from other 'joke' or 'gimmick bands', by, among other things, their musical style. The band has rarely in any seriousness stated actual influences on the type of music they play, except that The Residents were a band which TISM 'did' notice and 'possibly' took some influence from. Though a clear link can be drawn from The Residents' The Third Reich 'n' Roll video, in which the band wore Ku Klux Klan uniforms made of newspaper: TISM did exactly this at their first gig. Another link may be drawn to early TISM tracks "The Ballad of the Semitic Nazi" or "I'm Gonna Treat Ya to a Neitschze Double Feature" (sic) which use a similar naming convention to The Residents. Other bands which may have influenced TISM are difficult to pinpoint.
The band has been criticised as unoriginal for continually opting for standard pop song structures. One reason for this is clarified in their book, The TISM Guide To Little Aesthetics, in the following paragraphs, when asked why their ideas are post-modern but their music is not:
"Give me a pop-song, mate. Give me a fucking pop-song. Not only is it more fun, it's pretty fuckin' hard to write as well. You can bung in as many out-of-tune oboes as you want, but putting chords together so they sound pleasant isn't as simple as it might appear. It mightn't be the Sistine Chapel, but what is? Ollie fucking Olsen with his stupid feedback and cough mixture? The Jesus and Mary Chain, with their stupid feedback, and their stupid stage show with 800 powerful stupid lights and enough stupid dry ice to enhance their stupid stupidity up its own bullshit crappy teenage pretentious one dimensional dick witted puissant artistic enigma?
So ... what have you listened to for a good time that isn't, after all, a 'traditional' song? Still playing the Mike Oldfield records, huh? Still whipping Yessongs on for a good time? Wanna count on one hand how many people have fun at a Sonic Youth gig? I'm not supporting The Choirboys, old man, I'm just saying that the day some jumped-up over-paid self-important post-modernist cocksucker puts his foot upon his Fairlight computer in the middle of his 47-minute opus "The Silent Forgiveness of the Pig-God" and belts out the chords to "Johnny B. Goode" is the day I'll join you at the footlights of post-modernism.
Besides which, pop songs sell more."
As with most bands, recurring themes are present throughout TISM's extensive output, the most common being death, violence, fame and prominent figures, drugs, including alcohol, and the AFL. Many of TISM's lyrics are tinged in fatalism, mocking both the superficial and the sublime side of the human condition and the desire for people to be loved and respected (even just in the titles of such songs as "If You're Not Famous at Fourteen, You're Finished", "If You're Ugly, Forget It" and "Everyone Else Has Had More Sex Than Me").
- TISM – The History of This Is Serious Mum (2000). Archived on 6 December 2000 by the Internet Archive. Retrieved on 16 October 2007.
- This Is Serious Mum live dates: 1991 (list) (2004). Archived on 23 September 2004 by the Internet Archive. Retrieved on 9 December 2007.
- Shock Records – T.I.S.M – Official page at the Shock Records website. Archived by the Internet Archive on 5 February 2006. Accessed on 10 December 2007.
- Humphrey B. Flaubert (5 December 2002). Album cover censorship on John Safran's Music Jamboree (.mov). SBS TV, Melbourne, Australia. Hosted by brittletina. Retrieved on 16 October 2007.
- Triple J (1995). "Hottest 100 | History | 1995" (list) (1995). Retrieved (11 December 2007).
- Flaubert, Humphrey B. (2005). The Big Day Out Part Two The Rest Of Australia Australian Traveller Magazine; they also toured in 1993–1995 and again in 1999 after German heavy metal band Rammstein withdrew. Retrieved on 17 November 2007.
- Ruxton, Bruce (5 May 1998). Bruce Ruxton denounces TISM in a letter to Shock Records. letter. Bruce Ruxton. Hosted by tismselfstorage. Retrieved on 18 October 2007.
- TISM (1998) I Might Be A Cunt, But I'm Not A Fucking Cunt from the website www.tism.wanker.com. Archived on 11 November 1998 by the Internet Archive. Retrieved 9 December 2007.
- TISM – De Rigueurmortis chart information from australian-charts.com. Retrieved 18 October 2007
- Official TISM Website – New Album News (5 February 2002). Archived on 9 July 2005 by the Internet Archive. Retrieved on 17 October 2007.
- Ms.45 (2002). "TISM Self Storage goes to the Punters". Ms.45. tismselfstorage. review. (external link contains explicit material) Retrieved 19 November 2007.
- Anton (30 June 2004). "TISM – The White Albun" (review) (2004). Retrieved (11 December 2007).
- TISM – Everyone Else Has Had More Sex Than Me. Chart information from charts-surfer.de[dead link]. (A search for TISM brings up the Max. Pos. 63.) Retrieved (11 December 2007).
- Jay and The Doctor audio page and interview with Humphrey B. Flaubert. Recorded by Triple J, 3 October 2006. Retrieved 18 October 2007
- Humphrey B. Flaubert's online entry as part of ABC TV's My Favourite Album (13 December 2006). Retrieved 18 October 2007.
- Donovan, Patrick (22 December 2007). "Sticky Carpet". Patrick Donovan. The Age. article. p. 1. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
- Root! on Myspace. Retrieved (11 December 2007).
- Donovan, Patrick and Virgiotis, Tessie (7 September 2007) "A love letter to Berlin". Patrick Donovan and Tessie Virgiotis. The Age. article. p. 2. Retrieved on 16 October 2007.
- Hitler-Barassi, Ron (27 March 2009) "James Paull – Tism 1957–2008", Ron Hitler-Barassi. Smartartists. obituary. Retrieved on 27 October 2009.
- Tokin' Blackman improv. on YouTube
- In programme here (archived at webcitation.org), record of performance here (archived at webcitation.org). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- Butler, Kieran. Cowell, Damian. Provenza, Paul. Raw Prawn Comedy Cocktail (13 April, 2013) "ep17 - Paul Provenza (Set List) & Damian Cowell (DC3/TISM)". Retrieved on 26 April 2013.
- Masked and understated virtuoso of the guitar, from classical to indie rock legends TISM, The Age, 7 May 2008.
- TISM (1991). Lady Chatterly's Louvre. press release. TISM. Hosted by tismselfstorage. Retrieved 18 October 2007
- Jock Cheese – Pipl Profile. pipl. Retrieved 18 October 2007
- Album notes for The White Albun (2004) [inset]. Madman Entertainment, Melbourne, Australia (MMA2204). The White Albun at MusicBrainz.
- The White Albun (2004) [DVD]. Madman Entertainment, Melbourne, Australia (MMA2204). Disc Three : A Docunentary. Dumb 'n' Bass recorded live by Channel V.
- The White Albun (2004) [DVD]. Madman Entertainment, Melbourne, Australia (MMA2204). Disc 1: A film by Antonionioni and Disc 3: Home Videos
- coxy (2004) Coxy's Live Concert Photo Collection :: TISM – Troccadero – 6 August 2004 (photo gallery) (2004) Retrieved (11 December 2007).
- Jenkins, Jeff (8 July 1998). "Balaclava Road Warriors". Jeff Jenkins. In Press. interview. Hosted by tismselfstorage. Retrieved 18 October 2007.
- Who is TISM? (2006) discussion at Whirlpool.net.au. Retrieved 18 October 2007.
- Pendragon, Bane. "TISM or Wiggles?" Retrieved 18 October 2007.
- Hogan, Chris (2003). "Big Fucking Whoopie: A Floyd Fan's Intro to TISM". Chris Hogan. Spare Bricks :: Pink Floyd Webzine. essay. Retrieved 18 October 2007.
- Murphy, Kerrie (8 July 2004). "Satire and music in accord". Kerrie Murphy. The Australian. Retrieved 18 October 2007.
- Martin, Tony and Molloy, Mick (1998). Interview with TISM. Tony Martin and Mick Molloy. Archived on 18 November 2002 by the Internet Archive. Retrieved 18 October 2007.
- Return of the Pop Vigilantes (essay) (21 February 2002). Archived on 16 June 2005 by the Internet Archive. Retrieved on 16 October 2007.
- TISM – He'll Never Be An Ol' Man River (Live on John Safran's Music Jamboree) (2002). SBS TV, Melbourne, Australia. Hosted by YouTube. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
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- Mushroom Records Pty Ltd. Licensing Copyright Owners. Retrieved 18 October 2007.
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- Penberthy, David (9 September 2009) "Root: a musical celebration of our beloved national verb". David Penberthy, Punch. Retrieved 27 October 2009.
- Sokal, Roman (2001) The Residents: More Than What The Ear Hears Coming From The Eye[dead link] Roman Sokal (essay) Retrieved 10 December 2007.
- sephira (14 September 2003) "The TISM Guide to Little Aesthetics" at Everything2. Retrieved 18 October 2007.
- Dwyer, Michael. (2 July 2004) The phantom menace and related video (produced by Libby Chow, 2004). (article). (video). The Age. Retrieved 11 December 2007.
- Kroenert, Tim. (12 November 2007). [The Chaser's 'just war' on celebrity worship] Tim Kroenert (essay) Retrieved (12 November 2007)
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- Geniac Satan Loves YOU! (lyric archive – "self rated MA: contains drug references"). Retrieved (11 December 2007).
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: TISM|
- Official website
- TISM info at Smartartists
- TISM Self Storage – Comprehensive collection of lyrics, interviews, and multimedia
- moreTISM – Near definitive collection of lyrics and discography
- Newspaper interview (The Age, 2004)
- "FasterLouder" interview (2004)
- TISM Wiki