Sarah Holland-Batt

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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Sarah Holland-Batt on bearing witness

Shortly after Sarah Holland-Batt’s father Tony was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease – and told he was no longer fit to drive – he bought himself his dream car. A Jaguar. He made the purchase via eBay, sight unseen; the first his wife knew about it was when it was delivered to their front door. It was an impulsive act of rebellion, but also symptomatic of the loss of judgement and compulsive spending that can accompany the early stages of the illness.

In the title piece of her third volume of poetry, The Jaguar, Holland-Batt writes that the vehicle – an emerald green vintage 1980 XJ – “shone like an insect in the driveway”. Sometimes, her father would defy doctor’s orders and his family’s wishes and take off, ignoring his tremors and impaired vision. More often, though, the former engineer tinkered obsessively with the machine, until, eventually, it could no longer be driven:

… it sat like a carcass

in the garage, like a headstone, like a coffin

Holland-Batt’s grief for her father, who died in March 2020, is at the core of The Jaguar. She describes the collection as an act of bearing witness. “It is a profoundly intimate thing to watch someone you love go through a long decline and then die,” she says.… Read more..

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