TISM in their ever-present balaclavas
TISM (short for This Is Serious Mum
) were a seven-piece anonymous Australian
alternative rock/electronic band known for their satirical lyrics, energetic live shows and frequent piss-taking. Formed in 1982 in south-east Melbourne, they immediately broke up after a disastrous first gig (with every subsequent gig termed a "re-union gig"), before getting back together and releasing their 1988 debut album Great Truckin' Songs Of The Renaissance
to mild success. In 1995, with the release of their third album Machiavelli And The Four Seasons
, they departed from the simple rock sound of earlier albums into a more synth-orientated electronic style. The change was a hit
, and the album became their best-selling and most famous. They broke up in 2004 after releasing The White Albun
, their sixth and final album.
Taking inspiration from The Residents
, TISM were never seen without their trademark balaclavas and often sported elaborate costumes at concerts. The band used their anonymity to become the premier trolls
of the Australian music
scene, known for pranks on both the media and audiences alike (for example, turning up on Hey Hey Its Saturday with 28 band members
, and playing a gig that lasted a whole 3 minutes
). Naturally they courted a lot of controversy, most famously earning the ire of Australian-born Flea
for a song about the death of River Phoenix
, and getting sued by artist Ken Done for an album cover parodying his artwork.
While relatively popular in Australia, TISM are probably best known internationally for their 2004 single "Everyone Else Has Had More Sex Than Me
", due to the music video of a lamenting bunny
becoming an early viral video on flash sites such as Newgrounds
and Albino Blacksheep.
Principal Members (Stage Names in bold, Real Names (if known) in brackets):
- 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 (James Paull, not actually a token minority): Guitar (died of cancer in 2008)
- 1985 - This Is Serious Mum (demo tape)
- 1986 - Form and Meaning reach Ultimate Communion (EP)
- 1988 - Great Truckin' Songs of the Renaissance
- 1990 - Hot Dogma
- 1992 - Beasts of Suburban (EP)
- 1993 - Australia The Lucky Cunt (EP, the aforementioned Ken Done sued them over its cover art, and it was subsequently re-released as Censored Due to Legal Advice)
- 1995 - Machiavelli and the Four Seasons
- 1995 - Jung Talent Time (EP)
- 1998 - www.tism.wanker.com
- 2001 - De Rigueurmortis
- 2004 - The White Albun
TISM provides really shit examples of the following tropes:
- Acceptable Targets: Basically everybody. Targets included: Americans, politicians, recently deceased celebrities, "homeboys", drum and bass music, suburban pretentiousness, working-class bogans and anyone from west Melbourne.
- Bait-and-Switch Comparison: "Greg! The Stop Sign!" contains the lines:
The rich kid becomes a junkie,
The poor kid an advertiser.
What a tragic waste of potential...
And being a junkie's not so good, either.
- Caught with Your Pants Down: "Been Caught Wankin"
- Everyone Has Lots of Sex: In the video for "Everyone Else Has Had More Sex Than Me", every bunny has the number of times they've had sex written on their chest. Except the singer and keyboardist (who have 1 and 0, respectively), a large portion have numbers in the hundreds or thousands. Then again, these ARE rabbits we're talking about.
- Fan of the Past: "Garbage" blasts these in the younger generation.
I met a member of Generation X, "hey what's in with you kids these days?
I'm so old I'll probably never have heard of it", and he replied "Purple Haze"
- Inaction Video: Inverted by the video for "Whatareya? (You're A Yob or You're A Wanker)", as the band themselves are the Funny Background Event: At first the band are participating in an aerobics program, and there's already a little bit of Weirdness Censor in place, since no one sees anything unusual about a large group of men dressed in all black and wearing balaclavas taking up the whole back row of the class. Then the members of the band get bored of exercising and haul in a couch, a television and a cooler full of beer - by the end of the video, the band are watching soccer, drinking, and generally littering and making a mess of the set, all while everyone else is obliviously continuing the aerobics routine.
- Melbourne: Their music contains many references and in-jokes about Melbourne. "Get Thee In My Behind" is about the difficulty of doing a right hand turn on Swanston Street (a very busy road in the CBD) and "Mourningtown Ride" is a list song of various Melbourne train stations and why you'll get mugged at each one.
- Public Service Announcement: "Greg, The Stop Sign!" is a reference to an Australian driving PSA, where a distracted driver misses a stop sign, prompting a passenger to yell "DARREN!"
- Self-Deprecation: All over the place. Besides "TISM Are Shit", (which became their fan's catchphrase), there was a bonus track on one album of their producer calling them "middle-class, pathetic little wankers". There's also "We Are The Champignons":
- Six Degrees of Shane Crawford: "I Rooted A Girl Who Rooted A Guy Who Rooted A Girl Who Rooted A Guy Who Rooted A Girl Who Rooted Shane Crawford"
To be something is something I fall short of
But me and Hawthorn's captain are connected... sort of.
- Take That: Undisputed masters of the art. In the course of giving one to then-Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett in "The Greatest Victorian Alive", they managed to give a take that to the whole rest of Australia:
Queensland used to be the national joke
And Adelaide was full of S&M botty-spankers.
Perth was full of cricked crooked businessmen,
And Sydney... still full of WANKERS.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Their first single was "Defecate On My Face", in which Hitler loses World War II because Eva Braun stops doing the eponymous act.
- Three Chords and the Truth: While not unskilled musicians, they prefered to keep songs simple and catchy.
"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 ... 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
—The TISM Guide To Little Aesthetics
- Too Soon: They had a bit of a fix with Flea over "(He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River", which deconstructed popular fascination with celebrity death. Flea wasn't happy at all, being a close friend of Phoenix (who had died 2 years before).
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Subverted in "Message From A Big Day Out Port-A-Loo". After worrying about what various obscure and nuanced details of Middle-Eastern politics will mean for the region, the singer just decides to get drunk and take E.
- Wild Teen Party: One appears in the music video for "Greg, The Stop Sign!". Also the default state of Hell, if "Schoolie's Week" is to be believed.
Now here we are at the last verse... I've lost interest.