Take Five with Martyn Jacques

Interview from the Village Voice NYC,beghtol,62037,15.html

by LD Beghtol in Village Voice
March 11th, 2005 6:40 PM
photo: Joan Marcus


Jacques, the white-faced singer for the British post-punk cabaret trio

the Tiger Lillies, is in town for the next six weeks starring in

Shockheaded Peter?a chamber opera that features his black-hearted songs

and a veryhigh body count. Based on Struwwelpeter (Heinrich Hoffman's

19th-century cautionary tales about tots who don't mind their elders),

the show is a deliciously florid mix of Victorian melodrama, puppetry,

and stylish, modern theatrics. This award-winning production was

originally created in the U.K. by Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott;

see it now Off-Broadway at the Little Shubert Theatre (422 West 42nd


 1 How's the show going, Martyn?

Actually, I'm quite enjoying it. It's not such a bad way to make a

living, really. We spend about half our time doing shows like this and

the other half touring as the Tiger Lillies. Playing live is where the

money comes from, since we don't really sell records. It's exhausting,

but it's good economically.

 2 Where should unfortunates who don't know your music start?

I've made 16 albums?they all have some merit. But I can't regard one as

the best or a personal favorite since they're all from different times

in my life.

 3 What's next? The

Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen. We'll premiere it in

Sicily this August?with Dan Gemmit, who does these very weird little

shows. Then another Tiger Lillies album in the fall. This one'll be

about an old subject for us: prostitution. Very dark?very, very dark.

4 You've

written songs about drugs, bestiality, and other non-challenging

subjects. And been called a pornographer, a blasphemer?and worse?by the

press. With Peter, the reviews have mostly been positive. Though

there was one in your pink paper that was wholly about the critic . . .

It's sad that some professional journalists are so self-absorbed and

ignorant. Rock journalism especially is very dodgy and questionable. It

uses such glowing terms about people who are just nothing. If you're

really a success in your lifetime, then what you're doing is probably

very commercial and mainstream. And when you actually go back and look

at the history of music, there are very few musicians that really have

it?that originality and beauty. When it starts becoming about mass

consumption, you lose the care and attention to detail.

 5 So, how do you rate?

Some artists are precious [about their reputation], but I don't give a

shit, really. It's funny what happens when you get older. The

ambition's really going. I used to dream about being famous. Now I just

dream about retiring.