A local millennial who regularly uses the funky abbreviation of “tysm” to say “thank you so much” was, until yesterday, blissfully unaware of an edgy Australian band that dominated the local music scene in the 1990s. Bec Tomlinson has been a frequent user of the otherwise polite abbreviation for over a year now, regularly using it when interacting with family and friends, but recently moved it across to her professional life when writing online messages to colleagues at her inner city office.

Ultimately, it was that introduction to Tomlinson’s work environment that alerted her to the connection between her mode of expressing overt gratitude to niche Australian band TISM. Described by Wikipedia as “a seven-piece anonymous alternative rock band from Melbourne”, TISM – an acronym for “This Is Serious Mum” – developed an underground following in the 80s and 90s, developing a reputation for irreverent song topics and crass lyrics. The ARIA Award–winning group were beloved by their fans, but despised by their straight-laced detractors. Former head of the RSL, Bruce Ruxton, once described them as “Dropping [Australia’s standards] through the floor into the proverbial sewer”.

One fan of TISM, 42-year-old Darren Saunton, now works with Bec Tomlinson and noticed a few weeks ago that she started to sign off emails and online messages with “tysm”. While Saunton initially giggled at the similarity between Tomlinson’s polite thank yous and the underground musical stylings of one of his favourite 90s bands, yesterday he could no longer remain silent on the matter. After Tomlinson sent him a “tysm” he sent her a link to TISM’s Spotify profile with a salient “NSFW” warning. As Tomlinson listened to a handful of songs, the colour slowly drained from her face, and she quickly sent Saunton a brief note of thanks, pointedly spelling out each word “thank you so much”.

Speaking to The Watsonia Bugle, Tomlinson said. “I’m still not sure that I’ll ditch it all together, maybe just when I’m messaging the fossils at work. People my age have never heard of that band, so I think I can still use ‘tysm’ with them. But then it might get confusing. We’ll see.”