The Tiger Lillies Look Back to the Velvet Revolution With 'Cut': Premiere

Daniela Matejschek
The Tiger Lillies

Tiger Lillies' upcoming album, The Devil's Fairground, has been nearly 30 years in the making -- including the track "Cut," premiering exclusively below.

The album, due out Feb. 15, the album harks back to the British trio's visits to Prague in the wake of the 1989 Velvet Revolution. "It was quite a special time in the story of Europe, I suppose," frontman Martyn Jacques tells Billboard. "The Soviets were gone but it was a time before capitalism arrived. It was sort of a vacuum. There was no tourism. The only people who came from America, for example, were freaks and punks or from subcultures -- long hair, leather jackets, tattoos, that kind of thing. It was a very interesting time -- and rather hedonistic. It was a fun time."

The Devil's Fairground, recorded live with an orchestra last year, captures all that with palpable fondness and in Tiger Lillies' usual dark cabaret style, with stark arrangements and emotive vocals. There's a theatricality that benefits the trio's delivery, particularly during the dramatic "Cut," which Jacques calls one of his favorite performance moments.

"It's quite simple; I'm saying we're all gonna die, and I go around and look into the audience faces and tell them that," he explains. "At the very end I say, 'Your throats will all be cut,' and the last line is, 'You'll all be f***ed' and it just stops there and the audience tends to laugh uncomfortable. But they laugh.

"It's funny because you listen to an album and certain songs don’t always correspond to songs that work the best live. But that song works really well live."

Tiger Lillies plan to play shows "with various orchestras in various countries," mostly in Europe and Australia, to promote The Devil's Fairground. The group has also put together song cycle version of Hamlet for which Jacques wrote 19 songs, and during the past month he's been writing five songs a day for use in "various projects." "It's just what I do. I write songs," Jacques says. "They're all earmarked -- some for the next album, some for a show, some for the future. I like to write lots of material so that when we're not doing shows and we have time to (record) I have plenty of stuff ready. It's like a little cottage industry, the whole thing."

The Devil's Fairground also comes as Tiger Lillies celebrates the group's 30th anniversary. That will likely be commemorated in some fashion -- Jacques notes that "there's one big project I can’t actually talk about yet" -- and the troupe doesn't see it ending any time soon. "We've never stopped working, and there's only three of us so that makes a big difference as well," Jacques says. "Some memories seem very present and some memories seem very far away. We've never really crossed over to the rock world; We've always been much more welcomed by theater and performance arts festivals, things like that. But we've always got paid and made a living from it, which is a great thing."