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14. Nov 2019 at 07:13 Ljubljana Don't miss

The Tiger Lillies: ''We have no need for manipulation or using fashion trends''

Interview with Martyn Jacques, frontman of the UK alternative cabaret trio The Tiger Lillies
Daniela Matejschek
Daniela Matejschek

The Grammy-nominated band will be stopping in Ljubljana's Kino Šiška TODAY (Thu, 14 Nov, 8pm), as part of their autumn 30th anniversary tour.

Post-punk pioneers The Tiger Lillies are celebrating 30 years this year. Their journey from the ditch to the stars, happened in an old-fashioned way, by concerts.

In their rich artistic oeuvre, they have released more than 40 albums, five books, produced more than 25 concert-theater performances, participated in nine films, we will never hear songs about beautiful blondes and boys running around the meadow carelessly. Instead, they prefer to explore the underground world, walking between the darkness of life and death, the abandoned and the forgotten. With a touch of twisted humor and sharp irony, the band manages to point their finger back at us, and set a mirror of our society, over and over again. The boundaries of reality and cruelty that they seem to cross are therefore not to be taken for granted.

The frontman's falsetto, their haunting make-up and minimalistic musical accompaniment – they prefer to stroll between the accordion, piano, ukulele, double bass, guitar, saw, theremin and drums - manages to fascinate audiences all over the world, or drive them away for good. They will be performing at Kino Šiška for the sixth time.

This tour will be taking you to 21 different cities, even though you started celebrating around spring time already with your English tour right after the release of your latest album Devil's Fairground. This will be your seventh time in Ljubljana in 15 years. You hit the road in October, with Paris hosting the kick-off concert. How do you go about finding the best 'alternative' venues, according to your preffered taste and occasion?

It’s all uncle Alfred’s (Wihalm) fault, we have nothing to do with the selection of venues, it’s the agent that we work with. Usually, the venues are nice because the people that pick us are alternative types anyway.

You will be ending your autumn tour in mid-December in London. Most concerts will be taking place in Austria and Germany. How come? Does that mean that the enchantment of 1930s Dresden, Berlin, Vienna and other German-speaking cities is still there?

We did an English tour earlier in the year, actually we're going to be carrying on playing other places out of Europe next year and in different areas of Europe. We seem to be popular in places like Mexico Russia, Greece, as well as, Austria and Germany.

Many people admire you for bringing a sense of old-time Vaudeville magic to the modern times. It seems like you've found a way to fight the craziness and senselessness of today's technology-oriented world. How do you manage to navigate between the past, the present and the future, both musically and privately?

I just do. I couldn’t really analyze why it works it just seems to. I think I’ve always approached things with the attitude to be original unique and different. Maybe that’s why in alternative way I am successful.

In average, you've released at least one album a year, which is quite of an evolution. What were some of the highlights of the last 30 years? And where do you recommend your listeners begin, if they wish to get to know you and your music?

I always try to do things differently: different subject, different music and yet keep the Tiger Lillies style intact. I really couldn’t say any of my albums were bad, but I think I do have favorites: Circus Songs, The Sea, Low Life Lullabies, Cold Night in Soho… I like them for their mood, other ones such as Farmyard Filth would probably be described as surrealist pornography. You probably wouldn’t want to listen to that one while having a quiet meal with candlelight. Some are more punky like Ad Nauseam. The fact that they’re different and evolving musically and lyrically through the years makes them all valid.

I can't seem to overlook the fact, that your 30th anniversary coincides with the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Metaphorically speaking, have you as a band ever 'hit a wall' in terms of writing, making or performing music? And how did you 'bring it down' or overcome it?

I’ve never hit a wall. I’ve always found writing very easy. I think it’s because it all comes from within me. There is no need for manipulation or using fashion trends, it’s a simple process coming from inside.

I understand, you'll be introducing some new material in Ljubljana, as well. What have you set your eyes on this time and when can we expect it to come to light in the form of a new release or a collaboration?

It will probably be released early next year and is inspired by the Rebetika of Greece. Street songs about the homeless, drug addicted, the prostitutes… the lowest class class of people.

Last year, you told us that you'd be willing to do some research about Ljubljana and its underworld. After the concert, I gave you a book written by Slovenia's greatest poet France Prešeren, The Waterman (Povodni mož), a ballad which takes place in Ljubljana. Were you perhaps inspired to write a song about this devilish character? If not, what's usually the reason that makes you end up writing a song or a play about someone or something? What gives you that final 'magic push'?

I think I pick subjects when I can see they have the potential to write a whole collection of songs. A whole story with different chapters and it’s a challenge between variety and continuity.

What kind of music do Martyn Jacques, Jonas Golland and Adrian Stout like to listen to in 'their' private time, when they're not The Tiger Lillies? Who provokes or entertains you?

I think we all listen to different things. I can only tell you what I listen to. They are mainly dead. Songs from the street and very obscure, forgotten music. But I also created my favorite 25 songs playlist on Spotify.

HERE's the interview published on RTV Slovenija's MMC web portal in Slovene language: