You Am I
impassioned fax brought Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo
across the Pacific to produce You Am I's new EP. LISA KEARNS
hears the result.
SYDNEY band You Am I's bass guitarist,
Andy Kent, is in the middle of moving house. It's a good
chance to "throw out a lot of excess crap,'' he says
- like broken amplifiers and smashed guitars.
You Am I have built an expensive reputation
for trashing their instruments on stage but, Kent argues,
it's not always intended. Anyway, it makes for some good
"We were playing in Sydney one night
a while ago and I'd just spent $2500 on an amplifier,''
he says. "I just lost a bit of control and threw my
bass at it. The poor thing - I could just hear it dying
behind me as I was playing. It was quite frustrating because
I hadn't been eating properly for weeks just to get the
money together to buy it. So I didn't eat for another few
weeks. In fact, I'm still pretty skinny.'' And the musical
justification for this frivolity?
"Sometimes we can get some really
good feedback. Bouncing a bass you can get some really nice
upper tones coming through and by getting a guitar on top
of your amp and standing on it you get some interesting
effects. It's not just a big pose - you know, `let's jump
around and throw things'. But Tim accidentally snapped his
guitar in half about a month ago. You've got to be careful
not to be too destructive
because it's too expensive.'' You Am I are making their
12th trip to Melbourne for the launch of their third EP,
'Coprolalia', tomorrow night.
Coprolalia, Kent is at pains to make clear,
is "a mental condition where someone swears constantly.
It's not to be confused with coprophilia which is an obsession
with excrement, apparently. I got misquoted in a Brisbane
paper about that and it looked terrible in print, really
disgusting,'' he says.
Achieving a live following in Melbourne
has been a gradual process for the band, who have been together
for three years.
Says Kent: "In the early days we'd
lose money, but we made sure we kept going down no matter
what. It's a problem with young bands; they just don't have
the money. I think it's paid off for us now, especially
with the last time we played in Melbourne. We did lunchtime
uni shows, a RRR benefit, our own headlines, and some supports
for bigger bands. That got people talking. We feel like
we're getting somewhere now, and the new EP should be a
good springboard.'' `Coprolalia' was recorded on the rooArt
label over six days in January this year, with Sonic Youth
guitarist Lee Ranaldo as producer. Ranaldo became interested
in the band after they sent him an impassioned fax, followed
by their three prior EP releases, 'Goddamn', 'Snake Tide'
and 'Can't Get Started'.
Kent says working with Ranaldo taught
them the true meaning of the expression "laid back''.
"I think one thing he taught us was
when you're recording you don't have to be in the studio
for 20 hours a day, drink 10 cups of coffee and smoke five
packets of cigarettes... You should never work like you're
racing a clock. Generally if you just keep the pace going,
and relax, it tends to work. There's no need to push it
along; just let things happen.''
You Am I launch
their new five-track EP, 'Coprolalia', tomorrow night at
The Club in Smith Street, Collingwood, with guests the Earthmen