A book released by the Australian group TISM, comprised of various lyrics, press releases, plays and essays by the band, which are, by the way, much better than any of the music they ever produced.
The book was banned after two of the people named in the book sued for libel; later it was released in limited edition with the names crossed out in black texta.
Some classic examples of interviews from the book:
Q. What is TISM's new E.P. called? Explain, with examples.
A. TISM's new E.P. is called Form And Meaning Reach Ultimate Communion. It is dedicated to all those happy self-satisfied high school students who have just completed their final year. Now you have every reason to be cocky. You can get drunk, and just getting drunk, just the fact you are drunk, thrills you. Parade around, young people, parade around with all your arrogance. It
can be seen that you think you are somehow better than both the children younger than you and the boring, unhappy adults you know. You can laugh and swear and smoke and talk loudly on public transport. But for all your youth, you too will become like those you now look pityingly down upon. You all will have obligations, grow old, catch diseases, be happy or unhappy with your marriage, live your lives with no outstanding joy. Ugliness and unhappiness will devour you just as much as anyone else. And remember this, you cocky, handsome people – remember that your decline into mediocrity is not the fault of the adult world you so despise, but springs from the fact that you too are weak, deceitful, unexceptional; just like everyone else, the lines on your face will appear not because of the tension and pressure of this conservative society, but because of the basic flaws that lie deep within each and every one of you.
Q. Do TISM see themselves as being in any way clever or special?
A. Well, I suppose in some ways I am a special person. Not too many people have the intelligence I have, and there is an element of thought in everything I do. However, TISM does not consider itself in any way special, except possibly in the sense that it holds this view of itself. Certainly, it thinks that "...no-one in rock could ever claim to be a genius, or even especially talented. Every person in rock uses a form of expression so limited that nothing of lasting value will ever be created. Rock, by definition, is transitory and one dimensional..." Because of this basic limitation, which affects rock music at its very core, there has sprung, up a whole camouflaged infrastructure that serves to try and extend rock music beyond its confined perimeters. This infrastructure is called the rock 'industry'. Its main objective is to use rock music to make money, and to do this it must some how try to overcome the limited appeal of rock music. It has therefore made music merely the common ingredient in a 'product' whose main appeal is generated by factors other than musical enjoyment. By the creation of an 'image' the music - and of course the musician - is placed in a context of great seductive attractiveness to many people. "Music and 'image' are indistinguishable, and both tap into the potent reservoirs of self-delusion and vicarious enjoyment...There is an image for every character type. You want to annoy your parents? Buy a X-men record. Be intellectual? Talking Heads. Aggressive? Heavy Metal. Arty? Smiths. Romantic? David Sylvian. And so it goes. "By taking an essentially transitory music form and giving it these associations, 'Rock' (with a capital 'R') becomes something that appeals to the perennial and permanent desires of people..."
Two further things should be noted. The first is that the appeal of rock music is very potent in advanced technological society because it is only in these societies that its members have enough time and money to indulge in these sorts of self-satisfactions. In poorer societies unhappiness, self-hate (etc.etc. ) must merely be borne by the individual, and be collectively transposed to an external object (like 'God' or 'the Devil'). But in an affluent society a more decadent, though less primitive,
palliative can be sought. Secondly "because the appeal of rock music lies essentially not in the valid form of the music, but in a basically illegitimate appeal grafted on to that form, the satisfactions to be gained from any single creation within that form are extremely dubious. This basic artificiality means rock's appeal is to the less admirable, more self-deceiving elements in a person's nature. The corruption of its appeal ensures the objectionable quality of what that appeal feeds on..." The only really worthwhile or lasting achievement of rock music is the sum of its transitory elements. Though each musician or band, no matter of what longevity, is at core limited, the whole historical achievement of this form of music is quite great. All rock music is flawed, and therefore within these limitations. The only thing that could be seen as of genuine, lasting value is the form itself, which, no matter who is using it, seems to be able to capture and express an essential element of our natures.
In conclusion: buy TISM's new E.P. Form And Meaning Reach Ultimate Communion, at your local record bar. So TISM says: "Let them eat cake". The Marie Antoinettes of rock 'n' roll just want to give you a good time. Grab your blue suede shoes, punters, and get down for the aural guillotine, OOOhh,boogie. OOOOhh boogie. OOOOOhh boogie. OOOOOOhhh boooggie. OOOOhhh. OOOOOOOhhhh. OOOOOOOOhhhh. ooooooooohhhhh.
Q. Why is it that, in artistic terms, your ideas are post-modern, while your song structures are in a firmly traditional mode? Or to put it another way, why are your press releases more interesting than
your songs? (NB: If you really were serious, you probably wouldn't release records.)
A. The reason for this, Jon, you perspicacious over-analytical cocksucker, is because it's far easier to toss off a quick dose of good, solid post-modernism than to write a 'traditional' - as you so slightingly refer to it - pop song. Post-modernism is as easy as one - two - Albert Camus. Here we go now. I feel a dose of post-modernism coming on:
The Janus-Faced Bead Game
The street lights stretched provocatively into the distance, forming in the distant perspective a distant view of a distinctly distant capital V. Remus saw the arc of bluish-orange electric light, and thought,"What would Romulus say, if he were here today, in this world obsessed with ephemera? Who is this fellow?"
"Ah, mista, why not?" grunted his new companion, stamping his feet on the permafrost.
"Seeing the wise man is not hearing the fool", replied Remus.
"Fish. Fish. Fish. Fish. Fish." chattered the overhead subway express.
See what I mean, Jon. Anyone can toss off this shit in 15 seconds. All the fucking dance groups, every puppet troupe, the theatre collectives, the no support centres, the poetry-performance origami synthesis consortia, they're all the fuckin' same, they mystify and bore the audience shitless, but the audience are all too fuckin' ridiculously caught-up in their post-modernist underwear to say so.
The post-modernist emperor has no clothes, Jon. If everyone has 15 minutes of fame, Andy Warhol had 14 too many. Give me a good, long traditional work of boring, straight narrative; give me a hero with moral attractiveness, not a confronting juxtaposition of disturbingly evocative imagery eschewing the device of chronological narrative structure. Jesus, Jon, surely you've been bored shitless by enough brilliant one-person explanations of this slowly cooling universe to last you a life time? 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 you tell me, Jon, 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.
Q. 10 Can I join TISM? If so, do I have to declare it on my tax return? And can I get my money back if it doesn't fit?
A. Jon - Yes. Welcome. You are now an official member of This Is Serious Mum. Your first job as a TISM member is to answer some questions faxed to us by some Sydney journo. No surprises, I'm afraid, just the normal needling, smartarse "I've-got-you-worked-out-you-can't-fool -me-you-Uni- student-pseudo-intellectua1-bunch-of-masked-wankers" insecure journo questions. Being a member of TISM Jon, you know what it's like. Any half-literate schoolboy who passed Year 11 English thinks that it's his God-given duty to show you that you can't fool him, that the rest of the plebs mightn't understand, but he's one of the literati that's not to be sneered at like the rest of them. You'll get used to it Jon, it happens all the time. Anyway, here's the questions. See you at rehearsal.