“We’ve just spent 20 minutes trying to get that joke across the line with a very intelligent journalist at the ABC who was deeply unimpressed by us.”
“My aged care provider is coming around in ten minutes so if we could just hurry this up - ‘cause I’m paying them 20 bucks an hour and I’m not getting very much from the Federal Government on the My Age Care website…”
We’re seconds into our chat and already the legendary TISM are doing what they do best: fucking around with those apparently in charge. In this case, me.
“Do you know about the My Age Care website, Joe?” Ron Hitler-Barassi continues. “It’s a freaking nightmare, especially when you can’t remember the last link you clicked… and apparently it’s on the internet?”
I reply with my own woes on Centrelink in a bid to get them on side, but Humphrey B. Flaubert interjects.
“I’ve actually heard that - you know when they’re doing roadworks at the shopping centre and they always have young, very well-groomed girls standing there holding the stop sign.” He goes on, “They apparently earn a fuck-load of money! I think if you groom yourself appropriately, you could consider that. You know, just get to stand there all day and flip the sign around to go ‘stop’ and ‘go’ every now and again, and in that sort of time, you could write your novel. Write the great Australian novel.”
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It’s here that I spy an opportunity to steer the conversation to their incredible back catalogue of meta-punk anthems via the inimitable Greg! The Stop Sign! - but of course, I’m cut short.
“Joe,” Hitler-Barassi starts. “Have you had a digital rectal examination?”
Without forethought, I inadvertently answer with the first thing that comes to mind - “only analogue” - and suddenly I hear the last thing I ever thought from these two: a laugh.
“Stop stepping on our jokes. Jesus!” Hitler-Barassi declares. “I don’t mind that you’re a Northern Suburbs Centrelink loser, but NEVER step on our jokes. Goddamnit…”
“We’ve just spent 20 minutes trying to get that joke across the line with a very intelligent journalist at the ABC who was deeply unimpressed by us.” Flaubert picks up the conversation. "And you got in in just a few lines? You might be under-utilised here.”
With a newfound and undoubtedly misplaced confidence, I march ahead with the intention of discovering the reason behind the reformation. As a massive TISM fan myself, I was surprised as anyone to discover the boys were coming back, so I had to know.
“We’ve found that, for every year that’s passed since we… retreated… we’ve actually got better,” Hitler-Barassi, in a moment of unprecedented sincerity, begins to explain.
“Better, as well, in the public imagination. In the Sydney Morning Herald, we’ve become the ‘beloved' satirists. Really, all those years during the late ‘80s and ‘90s when we were trying, writing songs, trying to be witty. You know, doing gigs, costumes, makeup, makeup etc., we should have just done nothing! Imagine if we had done nothing all our career, we would be gods now! As it is, we’re only beloved. The best thing you can do for your career is go away for a couple of decades.”
Flaubert piggybacks off this sentiment with his own desires, stating, “I sort of felt that it was about time that someone other than Freddie Mercury was celebrated in a fabulous movie with that guy with a genuine overbite before he even put the makeup on. You know, if you look at Freddie Mercury, that’s another example of the beautiful, Vaseline-free lens invention of the past. He was the guy that said that he’s bringing ballet to the working classes. Of course, to which Sid Vicious said: ‘What a cunt.’”
Suddenly we’re in an extended diatribe on overbites. “I think you make a good point there, Humphrey,” Hitler-Barassi notes. “The whole idea of the genuine overbite versus the inauthentic overbite - I do think these days there are a lot more rockstars with inauthentic overbites.”
“It really is quite distressing,” Flaubert adds. "The kids these days have all spent billions of dollars on their dental hygiene, and even your absolute proletariat punk rock icons like Amyl (aka Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers), she’s got the most beautiful teeth you’ve ever seen in your life. So, anyone now, who’s coming out with a fake overbite of any description, you’ve got to ask yourself what the truth is there. What’s real fact and what is fake news?”
Hitler-Barassi comes back in, “I don’t know if you’ve seen these websites with these overbite tricks. Pieces of food are actually placed upon the horizontal dental structure, and then they flip the food up, then they open their mouths and food goes down the throat whilst the two plates - like a whale’s inner structure - closes upon the teeth. These websites, I think, should be banned. This is the sort of extreme dental propaganda where we’re coming back to a point where a group like us has to come in and declare that enough is enough.”
And with seconds before we conclude, Flaubert asks: “So Joe, are we actually going to talk about music here?”
If there’s a lesson in all of that, I guess it’s simply this: don’t fuck with TISM.
TISM will perform at Good Things Festival this December, for tickets and more info, click here.