David Limbrick MP, leader of the Victorian Branch of right-wing Libertarians, The Liberal Democrats, yesterday introduced a bill to State Parliament to rename the Mordialloc Freeway to the TISM Mordialloc Freeway.
TISM sang about the construction of the road in their 1988 song ‘Mordialloc Road Duplicator’, which appeared on their album Great Truckin’ Songs of the Renaissance (not Machiavelli and the Four Seasons, as Limbrick claimed).
“Liverpool had the Beatles, the Rocky Mountains had John Denver and my electorate, South Eastern Metro, has TISM,” Limbrick told the Victorian Legislative Council like your dorky dad who is showing how down he is with music by bringing up The Beatles and John Denver.
“For those of you who have tragically missed out, TISM stands for This Is Serious Mum,” Limbrick explained. “They were an anarchic rock and roll band who were active during the 1980s and 1990s. I went and saw them twice in concert. They are one of our greatest cultural exports.”
He goes on to quote the lyrics.
From Lower Springvale to the Frankston Freeway
Until you get to that bitumen stain
That runs between two road highways
Happy people trapped in its invidious single lane
If you’re behind a truck or freighter
Say, “Thank god for the Mordialloc Road duplicator”
There ain’t no better roadworks in the nation, yeah
Than the Mordialloc Road duplication
One day all the way to Portsea
It’ll all be big divided freeways
There’ll be turnoffs to Tootgarook
Cranbourne, Frankston, Five Ways
The whole peninsula will be my crater
I’m the Mordialloc Road duplicator
To say TISM were truly one-of-a-kind doesn’t give them the credit they deserve. They were hilarious, ridiculous and outrageous, but they held an important mirror to suburbia. TISM called the suburbs out for being boring and bland without putting them down. They treated the suburbs like your boring-but-kind-hearted aunt at family BBQs – sure you could think of conversations you’d rather be having, but at the same time her talk of dinner at the local fish and chips is somehow comforting.
Lyrically, the band focused on an area so localised that people from Melbourne’s northern or western suburbs would unlikely have any idea what they’re singing about, but thanks to decades of touring and annual Big Day Out performances that were inevitably endlessly talked about, they garnered a cult following across the country.
Their biggest album was Machiavelli and the Four Seasons (1995), which features the hits Greg! The Stop Sign! and (He’ll Never Be An) Ol’ Man River. Their final album was The White Albun (sic) (2004).
Their true identities remained a secret throughout their career.