“For the record, I was never a member of TISM,” he pleads, as I look at an email titled DAMIAN COWELL…APPARENTLY HE USED TO BE IN TISM. The band split up silently after a show at Earthcore Festival in 2004.
The live recording of that show is being released, titled On Behalf of TISM I Would Like To Concede That We Lost The Election. “The album title is from a diatribe that comes towards the end of that show,” says Cowell, the artist formerly known as Ron Hitler-Barassi.
How progressive — someone conceding they’ve lost an election. “David Williams (Shock Records) is the head of the TISM projects, he’s the man behind it who you should be chatting to about TISM. TISM are not relevant and that’s why they don’t exist.”
Lucky last: will we ever seen This Is Serious Mum reform for shows? TISM could sell out three Forum Theatres, easily. “The other guys don’t like me talking about TISM. There’s no vibe for a comeback show. Lots of offers I believe keep coming through. But when you break up with a girl in Grade 6 and eventually the two of you lose your youthful innocence and you both look back – with some horror – that you considered that person worth kissing behind the shelter sheds, no amount of money would persuade you to go back to her.”
Cowell has been beavering away for three years at his current project, Damian Cowell’s Disco Machine. “I can bore the pants off you with that!” he says.
There’s clearly an appetite for Only The Shit You Love; Cowell launched a Pozible campaign to help complete the work, hoping for $10,000 and wishing for $20,000. The campaign has almost $19,000 pledged with two months to go.
The wry creative is making a gags-heavy comic book to go with the album, which will appear cartoon-like on YouTube. “I’m calling it limited motion animation, I got it from researching a series in the ’60s called Clutch Cargo. It’s very basic, I’m making a feature of my limitations like a man hanging his flaccid belly out on Bondi Beach.”
“The songs are quite good in a fun way, they’re better than the ones I wrote four years ago; I’m definitely getting better at it. By the time I die I’m going to be a half decent songwriter,” he says. “I hope I get to the chorus before my heart gives out.”
Cowell is a restless creative. His ROOT! Project disseminated sardonic country music and since then Disco Machine have played stacks of shows with all kinds of guests and regulars such as Tony Martin. “The double album title comes from Gold FM’s slogan Only The Hits You Love and as much as I like that I hear the word ‘only’ as a limitation like ‘Sorry Mikey, I’ll only answer non-TISM questions. Sorry Mikey, I was only able to get you light beer.'”
Cowell is subtly criticising the modern world’s algorithm-based experience, which keeps serving us more of the same. “When The Social Dilemma came out it showed how much we’re fed our previous choices. That what’s coughed up to you, which some people think is amazing. I spot the evil in everything.”
“The album is also a story of unrequited love; it features a song My Horn Plays La Cucaracha,” he says, adding, “It’ll be the most elaborate thing ever on YouTube that nobody watches.”
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