No gilding these Lillies

Martyn Jacques has been described as many things: morbid, pervert, satanist, sheep shagger, blasphemer and throbbing pustule. And that's just the positive reviews. Article from the Age, Melbourne.

February 9, 2007
Martyn Jacques and his Tiger Lillies love to provoke, writes Fiona Scott-Norman.

MARTYN Jacques has been described as many things: morbid, pervert,

satanist, sheep shagger, blasphemer and throbbing pustule. And that's

just the positive reviews.

More accurately, he's an

entertainer, albeit a playful one who rather enjoys it when a

smattering of miffed Christians stomp out of his gigs as he sings about

hammering nails through the hands of Jesus.

 Jacques is

the falsetto lead singer, accordionist, creative force and songwriter

of The Tiger Lillies, a cult English cabaret trio with 18 albums to

their name, all dealing mordantly and humorously with putrescence,

despair, prostitution, violence, sex, farm animals and death in a

soaring, decadent, vaudeville style.

Polite, intelligent and

charming off duty, as a writer and performer the Slough-born Jacques is

reflexively provocative, drawn to the dark underbelly of human

existence as surely as a vulture to carrion.

"It's my

impression of life that it is rather dark. The way we feel, decay, grow

old. Generally, there's a lot of darkness and pain in our existence.

Every so often I meet someone who seems to be genuinely happy, and I'm

rather sceptical. I've had arguments with happy people, suggesting

they're frauds."

The Tiger Lillies, who are on a world tour,

have an impressive canon of work. Their gothic musical Shockheaded

Peter is renowned, and they have had an excellent response to recent

works The Little Match Girl, a collaboration called Plague Songs, and

The Weber Women, an opera about Mozart's obsession with a woman and her


Jacques, a one-time philosophy major, was thrown

out of the University of Wales for dealing drugs, wearing women's

clothes, failing his exams and placing a severed pig's head on a church

altar to irritate the theology students. He now funnels his provocative

nature into his work.

"What I do is against the mainstream in

many respects; against daytime TV and the mindless blandity of

contemporary, mainstream culture that doesn't confront issues in any

kind of way. It's all beautiful healthy young people smiling and

selling products. It's all fake.

"I try and confront things

with humour and intelligence, irony and sadness - I'm just trying to

look at things and talk about them in interesting ways. I don't want to

have to limit myself to singing about how beautiful this girl is, and

what a great pair of tits, or eyes . . ."

With songs such as

Maggots, Abort the Child, Beat Me, Piss on Your Grave and Rapist, it's

fair to say The Tiger Lillies have carved out an alternative niche.

There will be at least two new songs in their shows - Heroin, written

from the perspective of the drug and how pleasing it is to destroy

people's lives, and Woyceck, based on the Herzog film in which a

soldier kills his adulterous wife and suicides.

"It's a cheery

little tune. Look, I don't do darkness and misery all the time, I mix

things up. If you create different moods it's entertaining throughout.

The most awful thing you can do on stage is bore people."

Colourful, brash and with a driving, enchanted, apocalyptic, gypsy-punk

sound, The Tiger Lillies are the antithesis of boring. The meaning of

one song from the Farmyard Filth CD had been eluding me - Vagina (in

the Sky). What's that about then?

"It's about a giraffe," says Jacques. "See, it's not all gloom and doom."

The Tiger Lillies play at North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry

Street, North Melbourne, on February 16 and 17, 7.30pm, 9639 0096.