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Music / TISM

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TISM in their ever-present balaclavas
TISM are shit, TISM are shit
TISM are shit, but who the fuck isn't?
"TISM Are Shit", The White Albun (the last song on their last album)

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, (sic) 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 It's 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 -
  • 2001 - De Rigueurmortis
  • 2004 - The White Albun

TISM provides really shit examples of the following tropes:

  • Adolf Hitlarious: "Defecate On My Face" is about Hitler blowing off steam by asking Eva Braun to... Well, guess.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The narrator of "I'm Interested in Apathy" can, among other things, prove Einstein's theories wrong, cure all known disease, make money grow on trees, irrigate the deserts, emancipate the poor, stop terrorism, predict mankind's fate, and cheat at TattsLotto. Also, he knows one of the guys in TISM.
  • 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.
  • Blatant Lies "I Might Be A Cunt, But I'm Not A Fucking Cunt" starts out with the assurance that the narrator would fuck your sister but never your mum. Later he admits that he doesn't always tell the truth - and asks for your mum's phone number.
  • The Bogan: "Yob".
    If it's different, punch
    If it's lager, lunch
    If it moves, root
    If it quacks, shoot
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: "I'm Interested in Apathy" is an anthem for this trope. The narrator claims he can solve all the problems in the world, but simply isn't motivated enough to do so. He's so lazy, in fact, he can't even be arsed to come up with a proper ending for the song.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: "Been Caught Wankin"
  • Clarke's Third Law: Parodied in the liner notes of Machiavelli and the Four Seasons, which declare that "a sufficiently advanced Techno is indistinguishable from Music"
  • Colony Drop: In "Greg! The Stop Sign!":
    Sometime in the next ten thousand years
    A comet's gonna wipe out all trace of man
    I'm banking on it coming before
    My end-of-year exam.
  • Country Matters: Used literally all the time. They're Aussies, what else would you expect?
  • Eagle Land: Always and exclusively a Type 2. It's the only country they make fun of more than Australia.
  • '80s Hair: Oddly enough, praised in "The Parable of Glen McGrath's Haircut":
    It's the ones with the bad haircuts you gotta watch out for. No popular teenager ever did rats with their lives - it's the fucking dorks that give it a real go!
  • 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.
  • The Faceless: The band always wore balaclavas when performing or appearing in public.
  • 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"
  • Film the Hand At the end of the video for "Whatareya? (You're A Yob or You're A Wanker)" one of the band members does this in a failed attempt to cover up their beating of an aerobics instructor who spilled one of their beers.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: "All Homeboys Are Dickheads" mentions the various familial and societal disadvantages that might lead to "(a) baseball cap and a love of rap", before proposing the reason stated in the song title.
  • Gilligan Cut: On the extras for one of their DVDs they state "If you find on this DVD anywhere shots of us talking to people from our past and walking around on location I want you to take it back and demand a refund.". Two guesses what the next shot was.
  • Hypocritical Humour: The introduction to the video for "(He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River" on TV show Rage starts with them claiming the song is saying say no to drugs. After the director yells cut they immediately start cutting up some white powder.
  • 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.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: A pretty good chunk of their songs, actually. "I Might Be a Cunt, But I'm Not a Fucking Cunt" is probably the most infamous.
  • Ironic Echo: 1988's The Penis Mightier Than The Sword - a diatribe about Derryn Hinch - is reversed by 2001's Yet Another Derryn Hinch Diatribe, in which Hinch engages in similar criticism of TISM to the same rhyme scheme.
  • Just for Pun: Almost all of their song and album titles, the names of some of the band members, and often in the lyrics too. Notable examples include "The Penis Mightier Than The Sword", "Hot Dogma", "Jung Talent Time" and "Les Miserables".
  • List Song: A few: "I Shit Me", "B.F.W.", "The Mystery Of The Artist Explained", etc, etc.
  • 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!"
    Forget Snoop Doggy Dog, forget old Ice-T.
    The true word out on the street is produced by the TAC
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Morrison Hostel" is a blistering one to Jim Morrison and, by extension, all the angsty rock frontmen he inspired.
  • 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":
    It's about time that a rock band spoke
    Admitted that they were a joke
    We'll be the first in the neighbourhood
    To say without a doubt, we're no good!
  • 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.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: "Whatareya" translates this to Australian as "Yobs" versus "Wankers".
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Exemplified by a reference to The Brothers Karamazov in a song called "All Homeboys Are Dickheads".
  • 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 preferred 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 Yes songs on for a good time? Wanna count on one hand how many people have fun at a Sonic Youth gig?"
    The TISM Guide To Little Aesthetics
  • 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.