Bizarre Article in full
We're like a weird little caf? that serves all kinds of strange dishes that most people turn their noses up at.
*** BIZARRE MUSIC FEATURE
*** COMMISSIONED BY: ALEX GODFREY
*** WRITTEN BY: DAVID McCOMB
THE TIGER LILLIES
London's perverse troubadours with something to offend everyone
WORDS: David McComb
Cross-dressing prostitute amputees. Murderers who butcher children and
rape nuns. Deviants fucking flies, shagging sheep and porking piglets.
Death, disease, damnation, pimps, pyromania, paedophilia, suicide,
suffering, sodomy and Hitler wondering where he'll get the money to pay
Dresden's gas bill.
Formed in 1989 by Martyn Jacques who squatted above a Soho brothel for
seven years, surviving by 'vaguely criminal means' and teaching himself to
sing in an ear-splitting, castrato screech, The Tiger Lillies have been
hawking their twisted tales around Europe and America for more than a
decade, both as a three-piece and in theatre productions such as the
junk opera, Shockheaded Peter.
Mixing a variety of musical styles, opera, gypsy song, German cabaret,
British music hall, French chanson, Swiss yodelling, Spanish flamenco and
Viennese waltzes to name but a few and with an accordion-driven sound
backed by musical saws, kitchen utensils and a drum kit composed almost
entirely of plastic toys, Jacques and his partners in crime (Adrian Huge on
percussion, Adrian Stout on contra bass) are like no other band on the
planet, and boast Matt Groening and Terry Gilliam amongst their celebrity
Q: Your songs include fantasies about crucifying Jesus and stories about
dead drug addicts getting angels hooked on heroin. What made you such a
sick, sick puppy, Mr Jacques?
Jacques: I?ve always been an outsider who?s never fitted in, so I tend to be
more critical and conscious of what really
goes on in the world. I was an alienated youth who spent years on the
margins of society, and I'm fortunate enough to still feel alienated
now so that I can make a living from it. I suspect people like Marilyn
Manson and Eminem feel the same, alienation drives them. If you?re
comfortable in society you won't feel inspired to write about the
Q: With their shrill operatic style, The Tiger Lillies are an acquired taste. Do audiences ever get nasty?
Jacques: We?ve always had stuff thrown at us. We started off playing in the
roughest pubs in London with no stage, no microphones and occasionally
the people who were just there to get pissed got angry.
Stout: It?s also difficult because many of our songs are quiet, and in small
venues you get fans who want to hear the music and punters who just
want to have a chat. I remember a fistfight breaking out at a venue in
London a coked-up flower seller from the market came in for a drink and,
when one of our fans told him to shut up, all hell broke loose.
Huge: It also depends on where
we're booked. We once got asked to play on this island near Denmark,
and when we got there we discovered it was a rave. We were playing in
this truck and the ravers surrounded it, banging and shaking the
trailer while Martyn was squawking away.
Q: Aside from your musical style, does the edgy content ever cause problems?
Stout: We often get Christians and animal lovers walking out. In Adelaide
there was one lady who wrote to the head of the festival we were
playing at, demanding her money back because she'd been offended. No
one paid much attention until she went to the premier of South
Australia and the story became a major scandal in the national
newspapers. Needless to say, she got her money back pretty sharpish.
Q: Do these negative responses bother you?
Jacques: Not really. Any artist who talks about the lower rungs of society
has to face flak. The only time I found it tough was in Chicago, just after
September 11. We were doing Shockheaded Peter and there's one point
where I have to scream Dead! at the audience to try and get them to
shout it back. But it wasn't a good time to screech Dead! at a load of
Americans. We got dreadful reviews.
Q: Although you're not going to pop up on Radio One just yet, can you ever imagine The Tiger Lillies having a hit?
Jacques: Our English agent, who also represents Kylie Minogue and Oasis
of all people, reckons we've got a hit in us but I suspect he means a hit.
If we had a record in the charts it would probably be a novelty hit,
and I'm not sure we need that. There have been many interesting bands
who've had a hit, then forever been haunted by that one song.
Q: But after more than 10 albums and an Oliver Award for your work in
Shockheaded Peter, does it annoy you that you still have to tour for ten
months every year to make ends meet while manufactured pop stars live in
luxury, snorting coke and shagging hookers?
Jacques: If we were popular I'd find it unpleasant. I'd rather play in
theatres and smaller venues because we still have human contact. If you
think of The Tiger Lillies as a restaurant it makes sense Britney
Spears would be something like McDonalds, but we're more like a weird
little caf? that serves all kinds of strange dishes that most people
turn their noses up at.
*** end text
The Tiger Lillies? two latest releases, The Sea and The Gorey End, are both
available via their web site, www.tigerlillies.com. The band will appear in
Shockheaded Peter at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, in April 2004.