We are all freaks

The Tiger Lillies never cease to be creative ? unlike the many recycled rock veterans who frequent Russia these days....Article from the St Petersburg Times

Issue #1462 (24)
Friday, April 3, 2009

By Sergey Chernov
Staff Writer
The Tiger Lillies never cease to be creative ? unlike the many recycled rock veterans who frequent Russia these days. London?s punk-cabaret trio, which works outside music fashion and trends, simply does not need to recycle material from its hey day, because its glory days are not yet over.

In the 12 months that have passed since their last local concert, the trio has produced two new theatrical productions and released them on two double albums, while continuing to perform two older productions as well as concerts of Tiger Lillies songs.

?We?ve been very busy; it?s been a bit mad, actually,? the band?s frontman Martyn Jacques said, speaking by phone from his home in London this week.

The band has just returned from the Netherlands, where it performed ?Love and War,? its second performance of the show based on the works of Claudio Monteverdi since the Edinburgh International Festival in 2007. During the past year, the group has also performed ?7 Deadly Sins,? a show based on Punch and Judy.

?Crazy! It?s very hard to learn the words to all those shows. When you do five shows, it?s very difficult to remember all the words, that?s the real problem.?

In December, The Tiger Lillies premiered ?Sinderella,? a collaboration with New York performer Justin Bond, at London?s South Bank Centre. With all songs and text written by Jacques, the show takes the classic fairytale and remakes it in the band?s distinctive style ? dark yet comical.

Bond, who is best known for his ?Kiki and Herb? drag show and appears, as himself, in John Cameron Mitchell?s 2006 film ?Shortbus,? stars as Sinderella, a twisted crack-whore, while Jacques plays her pimp stepmother, and The Tiger Lillies? other musicians Adrian Huge and Adrian Stout take on the roles of Sinderella?s horrible ugly sisters.

The band?s web site describes the show, which features songs including ?Blow Jobs,? ?Ugly,? ?Fucked? and ?Pull the Trigger,? as a ?sordid story of domestic abuse, drug addition and revenge.?

?It?s much darker than the original version of ?Cinderella,? it?s kind of pushed into a more Tiger Lillies kind of direction,? Jacques said.

From London, The Tiger Lillies went to Greece, where in January, they performed their latest theatrical work, ?Freakshow.? Directed by Sebastiano Toma, who directed ?Tiger Lillies Circus,? the show featured a group of actors and acrobats alongside the band.

?It?s a conceptual thing, it?s about freaks, being at a freakshow,? Jacques said.

?It describes who they are and what they do in the freakshow. It?s got one with three pairs of arms, there?s a flipper boy, all these kinds of freaks, it?s pretty much based on all the kinds of freaks you actually used to have in freakshows. A woman with three hearts, there?s a man with three legs, there?s a very small man...

?The whole subject of freaks ? on one level it?s literally a freakshow, on the other, we?re all freaks in some way or another, I guess. It?s symbolic as well as being literal.?

Last month, The Tiger Lillies released ?The Early Years,? a DVD featuring live footage from 1990 to 1997 filmed by Richard Coldman.

?That?s funny, we were very lucky with that,? Jacques said.

?In our early years, we weren?t very well-known at all, so we just used to play in tiny little bars and tent restaurants. We were very fortunate because we used to have this friend who used to follow us around and film us in these very small bars and restaurants.

?So it?s great, because you can actually watch The Tiger Lillies performing in these really small restaurants, which I think is very interesting. We even played at a beach at one point. For me it?s very interesting and I hope it would be for other people. It was before we had any success, really. I?m very pleased that we had someone there, a cameraman who actually recorded this period of our existence.?

With The Tiger Lillies coming back to perform in Moscow and St. Petersburg this weekend, Jacques was not sure what the band would perform in Russia this time.

?Good question. I really don?t have any idea right now, I?m not quite sure what I?ll be doing,? he said.

?I?ll probably try to do some new songs, things that I haven?t done before, and maybe I?ll try to do some very old songs, which maybe I haven?t done before as well. I?ll try to do songs which may be a bit surprising that people haven?t heard. And then maybe towards the end of the show, I guess, we?ll probably do a few requests as well. If people want to shout out one of their favorite songs, then we?ll do a few of those as well.

?You?ve got to try to do some new things, because if you keep coming back somewhere, if you keep doing the same set of songs, then people are going to get a bit bored. So you have to make sure that you?re still doing new things. And, fortunately with us, we have a very, very large collection of songs, we?ve done like 25 albums now, so there?s a lot of songs. So actually the danger of us repeating ourselves, I guess, is a little less likely.

?But I?ll try to do a mixture, I?ll try to do these ?Freakshow? songs and maybe a couple of ?Sinderella? songs, and then some very old songs that maybe people haven?t heard. We?ll probably do some ?Shockheaded Peter? songs, and maybe I?ll do a few ?Gorey End? songs as well. Yeah, it will be a mixture.?

Upon their return from Russia, The Tiger Lillies will celebrate their 20th anniversary with a concert featuring songs from their Olivier Award-winning show ?Shockheaded Peter? and Grammy-nominated album ?The Gorey End? at New Players Theatre in London on April 24.

The Tiger Lillies will perform on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Glavclub, 2 Kremenchugskaya Ulitsa, Tel.: 905 7555.