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Celebrating their twentieth anniversary, the Tiger Lillies are heading to Australia on what is becoming an annual visit. by LOU PARDI

Celebrating their twentieth anniversary, the Tiger Lillies are heading to Australia on what is becoming an annual visit. This tour christened Songs from Shock Headed Peter and Other Gory Verses will include visits to Darwin, Canberra and many other cities possibly ill-equipped to comprehend The Tiger Lillies ?Brechtian Punk Cabaret? together with a return to Melbourne.

While frontman Martyn Jacques claims the 20 year anniversary is a result of getting old, it?s not every band that lasts 20 years, especially with the original line-up (Jacques, Adrian Stout and Adrian Huge). When Jacques is asked whether it?s for love or money that they stay together, he jokes ?oh, it?s money,? in his friendly English lilt and it?s impossible to separate sarcasm from truth.

Jacques down-plays his creations, ?I just like to write, it?s a way of carrying on day-to-day. I get into different projects and stuff and it just passes the time really.? Rather than taking up reading as a pass-time, it?s a product of whatever project he?s currently working on. ?I do read but the things I read tend to be project based. I?m reading lots of S?ren Kierkegaard, the philosopher. I end up studying various literary figures. I would probably never read the work of S?ren Kierkegaard. It?s very tough. It?s hard on the brain. I?ve even done projects that aren?t albums, I?ve done a couple of Shakespeare plays ? I wrote songs for those,? he says.

?We did Hans Christian Anderson a few years ago, who was a great Dane, so the same guy who financed that arranged the S?ren Kierkegaard piece. Kierkegarrd has a 200th anniversary. He?s a major literary Danish figure, so I think we?ll be doing some kind of theatre show with that,? he says. Jacques wonders if he should share a potential future project, continuing, ?I should be doing an Australian project quite soon with a well known Australian theatre company. I?m quite fascinated by Australia, I remember I read a concise history of Australia and I find Australian history quite interesting, really, how all the people came over and building the railways. I should be doing this project in Australia next year. I?d love to spend a few months over there.?

Through his research, Jacques finds the character of the individual historical figures, ?which is exciting,? he says, ?you start to get into their mind and how they thought. You start to imagine the real person that wrote. Kierkegaard was a very strange man and so was Hans Christian Anderson for that matter ? they had a lot of Christian stuff going, there was a lot of Christian stuff in their societies and it was pretty tough really. I think I?m quite well known for being not exactly a Christian, but you have to try and understand the cultural conditioning that you grow up with. So if you grow up in a strict Christian society it?s probably impossible to grow up an atheist,? he says, with commendable understatement, given one of the band?s songs discusses Christ?s time on the cross, and another depicts explicitly sheep/man intimate relations.

It?s something you have to remind yourself of when gentle and always accommodating Jacques continues, ?Some people?s minds are quite fascinating, it?s probably one of the things that keeps us going, your friends, and heroes.?

The Tiger Lillies can certainly be relied on to produce work that is never dull, mainstream, or, even at this point in time, expected, ?Kierkegaard was really at war with the Copenhagen bourgeoisie and most people, most artists, I think, are kind of at war with the main stream societies in which they live. I think it?s quite normal really isn?t it? Kierkegaard was vilified in the Copenhagen equivalent of OK! magazine, he was mocked, paper boys used to laugh at him as he walked down the street. I think it?s normal for artists to be against the main stream of theatre and music.?

As for what can be expected of the Tiger Lillies performance in Australia, as usual they won?t be tying themselves to a set list, after many years they prefer to go where the night takes them. ?I?m not going to get really hung up on that. We?ll probably play some new songs as well, we?ve got this new album, The Freak Show.?

As for the experience though, Jacques imagines, ?Hopefully there will be a few moments where they feel a bit uncomfortable, they feel a bit challenged, some of their moral preconceptions will be a bit shaken, they will laugh, they will be amused by it and hopefully they will be moved at times as well. They should expect to be ultimately entertained. I?m trying to be a bit controversial and funny and make them feel beauty and sadness and make them laugh and hopefully make them feel really good at the end of the evening. Even though I go to disturbing and dark places I think usually people are a bit happier and a bit more inspired when they leave the building. That makes me feel really good, when I?m signing CDs at the end of the night and people are excited and happy. I think that?s what keeps you going at times, the fact that you are actually doing something and making people happier.? So apparently, it?s for love after all.

The Tiger Lillies bring their Brechtian Punk Cabaret to the Arts Centre, Playhouse on July 29 and 30. Bookings: / 1300 182 183.