Ron Hitler-Barassi

TISM: go you Good Things

Nineteen years after their last live appearance, the satirical Melbourne band TISM have announced their comeback, with the masked and anonymous collective set to play a series of shows at the Good Things festival in early December.

TISM – an acronym for This Is Serious Mum – emerged from suburban Melbourne in the early 1980s, releasing their first full-length album Great Trucking Songs Of The Renaissance in 1988. This was followed by a rare self-published book, The TISM Guide To Little Aesthetics, which was eventually released with sections heavily blacked out on legal advice.

The band quickly gained a cult following, with a reputation for wild live shows and increasingly elaborate costumes. Early songs veered between the absurd, the obscene and the erudite, covering everything from the sexual perversions of Adolf Hitler to the All Ordinaries Index. In 1995 their third album, Machiavelli And The Four Seasons – featuring the hits He’ll Never Be An Ol’ Man River and Greg! The Stop Sign!! – won an ARIA award for best independent release.

TISM also became notorious for their interviews and press releases. Early exchanges were done by fax: long, expletive-filled, invariably libellous screeds, usually delivered past deadline. Guardian Australia conducted this interview (of sorts) with singers Humphrey B Flaubert and Ron Hitler-Barassi via Zoom (with the video link turned off).… Read more..

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Damian Cowell’s Disco Machine: Get Yer Dag On!

DAMIAN COWELL was the guy in TISM. We know because he told us so (in a song called I Was The Guy In TISM, recorded with the DC3). Anonymity can be a tough mask to shed. Think of Kiss without the war paint, or the Residents without the eyeballs: what lies beneath can only be a disappointment. Years ago, a friend of mine ripped off Ron Hitler-Barassi’s balaclava in a mosh pit. Stupidly, I asked him who it was. “Some guy,” he replied. Who did I expect?

But amid the constant clamour for TISM to reform (how many original members would it take? Who would know? Would anyone care?) Cowell, the artist formerly known as Humphrey B Flaubert, has been quietly building a catalogue that’s not far short of his old band. And if people aren’t as interested in listening to an advertising copywriter in his mid 50s as they are in TISM, maybe they’ll listen to him alongside a supergroup featuring the cream of Australian satire. Hence the Disco Machine.

The first Disco Machine album boasted cameos from Shaun Micallef, Tony Martin, Kathy Lette, John Safran and the Bedroom Philosopher, along with a bunch of other celebrities and fellow musicians: Lee Lin Chin, Julia Zemiro, Tim Rogers and Kate Miller-Heidke.… Read more..

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