Listened Archival Revival from Damian Cowell’s Podcast Machine

New host Kate Kingsmill pulls out one of the more weird and wonderful live performances from the RRR vaults…TISM at The Laundry in Nov 2001!

The Melbourne legends had just released their 5th album De RigueurMortis at the time. Kate also catches up with Damian Cowell aka Humphrey B. Flaubert as he shares some reflections on the performance and the band’s long history with Triple R.

Kate Kingsmill speaks with Damian Cowell about TISM’s 2001 RRR performance at The Laundry. The conversation leads to many tangents, although is always mindful of getting too ‘Glenn A Baker’ about the past. Cowell describes TISM as, “a bunch of adolescent boys thinking what does this switch do.” He also mentions his current multi-media project about his feet and the prospect of ever performing again.

I was wondering where Damian Cowell was at. Was kind of hoping for some sort of concocted online offering he might have created to fill in the time or some sort of Song Exploder style expose of the mystery behind the masks. But this will do.

I have been listening to a lot of TISM lately. One thing that has occurred to me is the strength of the music. With so much attention to the message, it can be easy to overlook the medium that provides space for such lyricism and performance. This is something Cowell addressed in a reflection. In some ways this is captured in their performance of He’ll Never Be an Old Man River on John Safran’s Music Jamboree

For Cowell, it is about giving the kids an anchovy. Although this often focuses on the lyrics, this can be said to apply just as much to the music. As Michael Dwyer captures in regards to Damien Cowell’s Disco Machine:

“If Damian wanted to be,” says Martin, “he could be a comedian. A few years ago he did a show at the comedy festival and it was as funny as any other show. But he takes the music very seriously.

Listened Damian Cowell: Get Yer Dag On review – TISM frontman lampoons us again, and pines for Waleed Aly from the Guardian

Get Yer Dag On! is the second Disco Machine album, and Micallef and Martin are again present, alongside another stellar roll call of guests: Celia Pacquola, Judith Lucy and many more. There’s a certain irony in there being a sort of identikit anonymity about many of these pounding dancefloor grooves, but that doesn’t matter, because (a) irony is central to everything Cowell does, and (b) he can sing: his melodies and phrasing make many of these songs instantly memorable.

There is something about a joke album (is that what this is?) which allows you to stop and take stock. I have always found that with Cowell’s music.

I like how Michael Dwyer capturesDwyer captures it:

“That’s how I try to work,” he says. “I’ll take something that may be thought-provoking and totally trivialise it, shrink it down to the stupidest concept. I’m always writing about the facade of life and hopefully alluding to what’s beneath it all.”

Listened ‎Damian Cowell’s Podcast Machine: Message from DC June 17 on Apple Podcasts from Apple Podcasts

His master’s voice

Damian Cowell reflects on the passing of Chris Cornell from Soundgarden. Cowell discusses how the aircon was turned off at the 1993 Big Day Out because Cornell had a cold.

Cowell also reflects upon grunge music in general, which then ends up in a discussion of 70’s rock. He then discusses the way in which front men seem to swap bands like the AFL draft. He wonders why he didn’t front Savage Garden considering where that band might have gone if he had done so.

Listened Kids Love Balloons – Episode 33: Damian Cowell by The Song NerdThe Song Nerd from thesongnerd.com

OK so I couldn’t resist using a TISM reference in my intro, despite the language being filthy, and now I’m caught somewhere in between “that’s a great dad joke” or “why did you swear like that, you buffoon?”. TISM was one of Australia’s most iconic and entertaining bands and when a song title such as “I might be a …” exists, the opportunity to use it contextually was too rare to resist.

Nevertheless. Former member Damian Cowell popped around to my place and we had a great yarn for a couple of hours. He’s now focused on Damian Cowell’s Disco Machine – a new album to be released February 20 and subsequent shows which seem basically unmissable. Just by reading the band name you can sense the sheer fun this project exudes.

It’s about “giving in to the simple joys of my own twisted version of fun dance music”. The album is titled Get Yer Dag On. The gist is: What a shit world we’re living in – let’s boogie!

So we discuss the musical influences of the project, the pleasures of choreography, how his career developed over the years and as it happens, plenty of life lessons pop up. He airs concern that we ventured in to “some sort of self-help” thing and if that element is there, I don’t mind too much. Hahaha this nugget of wisdom does spring from the chat so thanks Damian for the inspiration and comfort:

We can all garner some hope. DAILY DISAPPOINTMENT is beneficial and make you a richer, fuller person. Try things and fail. Feel emotionally vulnerable and experience suffering. It all helps in the long run, keeps us grounded, teaches us lessons, and as long as we keep recognising this we can stay on top and not let the disappointment defeat us.

Damian Cowell speaks with Chris Holland about chemicals, nostalgia, his love of Rod Stewart, playing music that is fun not cool and trying to be more Damian Cowell and less TISM. Cowell also shares how Henry Rollins ended up being on Get Yer Dag On. As always, a case of chance.
Listened ‎Damian Cowell’s Podcast Machine: Arseless Chaps Episode 1 on Apple Podcasts from Apple Podcasts

‎Show Damian Cowell’s Podcast Machine, Ep Arseless Chaps Episode 1 – 23 Dec 2015

Damian Cowell teamed up with Tony Martin on RRR as the Arseless Chaps during the 2015/16 summer break. The highlight in the four week slot was Cowell’s playing of various tracks at the wrong speed and shortening of longer tracks, including Stairway to Heaven in Episode 4.
Watched

Damian Cowell reflects upon the TISM and the birth of the uncool out of the alternate music scenes in Melbourne in the 1980’s between Cold Chisel and The Birthday Party. TISM were not a concept, but just another band wanting to write songs and play concerts sharing some funny ideas. It would seem that the mantra was, wouldn’t it be fun if.

In the Q&A, Cowell says that ‘interesting ideas’ is not enough, that they only got there start as someone knew someone else who then linked them with somebody else. He also discusses the surreal aspects of it all, including the final gig at Earthcore.

Listened TISM’s Damian Cowell’s songs from the 90s zeitgeist from ABC Radio

TISM were one of the biggest Australian bands of the 90’s. They were the godfathers of musical comedy, captains of satire and frankly, a band that when I listen to today, I’m still gobsmacked by. They hailed from Melbourne but played all over; masked men who would put on insane shows full of bizarre concepts and songs like “Defecate On My Face” and “Saturday Night Palsy”. TISM were the ultimate shit stirrers, and we loved it. Humphrey B Flaubert AKA Damian Cowell reminded us of why the 90’s helped a band like that flourish, and share five songs from the zeitgeist himself. From pop princesses to Brissie bands that have never played by the rules, it’s not only one of the funniest Take 5’s you’ll hear but a capture of a unique and wonderful time in Australian music. This is seriously, one for the ages.


Caligula – ‘The Bluff’


Kylie Minogue – ‘Did It Again’


Regurgitator – ‘Black Bugs’


Custard – ‘Nice Bird’


Fauves – ‘Easy (Easy)’

This is a fascinating reflection on the 90’s between Zane Rowe and Damian Cowell (aka Humphrey B. Flaubert) and how it allowed a band like TISM to thrive. Whether it be Custard, The Fauves and Regurgitator, Cowell spoke about the power and potential of the strangeness and disruption. Rather than sticking to the script, he argues that music should sometimes challenge us:

Use your power wisely … Treat them to an anchovy.

It is funny thinking back to the nineties in Croydon. Although not one of those students asking Mr Cowell if he was on the drug that killed River Phoenix, I will not forget his last lesson before leaving teaching when he brought in a video recording of TISM on Rage. By the time he had wheeled in the TV, we managed to catch a lengthy rambling between he and Ron ‘Hitler’ Barassi about nothing much, before announcing three tracks from the Ted Mulry Gang. The mask was definitely off.