Tiger Lillies coming home
Tiger Lillies frontman Martyn Jacques says a new show is in the works
Posted: September 11, 2013
One of the hardest acts to classify is the Tiger Lillies because they have explored musical horizons where few others have gone. The band has a special affinity for Prague, and will most likely be bringing some new material in their show scheduled for Divadlo Archa on Sept. 20.
"I love Prague. I love my memories of the place and the fans and bars we've played in. It feels like home when we play there," Tiger Lillies frontman Martyn Jacques told The Prague Post. "The Tiger Lillies played a lot of their early shows in bars all over Prague and other Czech towns. We must have done a hundred shows there at a time when we didn't play in many other countries."
Sometimes the band does theme shows and musical theater, such as their highly successful Shockheaded Peter. This time they will do a straight-up concert. "We're working on a new show and will have recorded new songs by the time of the Prague show. So we might play a few new songs. We'll probably throw in some older songs as well and some from the last few albums," he said.
The band's sound will be a bit different due to a new lineup. "Our old drummer [Adrian Huge] isn't very well at the moment. The new drummer, Mike Pickering, plays differently so it gives things a different feel and emphasis. He's less theatrical but plays very sensitively and dynamically," Jacques said.
When: Sept. 20 at 8 p.m.
Where: Divadlo Archa
Tickets: 490 Kč www.tigerlillies.com
The music, for those who haven't heard ït, has a retro appeal. "It's sort of hardcore cabaret, dark and about difficult subjects. Sometimes it's surreal and funny, sometimes Gypsy-style, sometimes operatic and sad," he said. The word used most often to describe the band is Brechtian." Our music is linked with the past - circus and cabaret and obscure musical forms. Our dress and painted faces reflect that," he added. Jacques sings in a falsetto, usually with his face painted in clownlike makeup and wearing a sort of derby or similar hat.
The instrumentation the band uses also breaks stereotypes - accordions, ukuleles and even a saw. "I liked the idea of punk, hardcore and uncompromising, but electric guitars and pumping drums just bored me - too predictable and conformist. I thought I'd take the attitude and try something different," he said, adding that he also takes inspiration from his experiences on the fringe of society. "I lived above a brothel and knew the street girls around Soho. It means I've written songs about them. I can sing songs about the street because I've hung out there," he added.
Many different sources give different origins of the band name, from a reference to a specific prostitute who wore tiger prints to a picture Jacques had on his wall. Jacques tried to clarify the confusion. "The name is related to bad girls in tiger skins but also the flower. It seemed like an apt name; I sing a lot about prostitution in a sometimes aggressive and sometimes soft way," he said.
The band had been around since 1989. Over the years they performed many different kinds of shows, including an adaptation of Hamlet in 2012. The Prague Post asked Jacques whether he thought the band had evolved over the years. "Evolution? Have we got better? No I don't think so- but I think we've changed. If you want to remain alive artistically you have to change," he said.
Raymond Johnston can be reached at
Tags: Tiger Lillies, Prague, Brecht, Cabaret, circus, accordion.