You Am I
- Beat Interview
You Am I
are the band that have somehow managed to bridge a gap between
the 60s TV show Go-Set and the Triple J audience. Older
musos respect them and the kids think they’re alright.
They say the proof is in the pudding.
You Am I are the band that never let you down. They always
deliver their best live and just keep on getting better.
In the mid 90s it seemed the Australian Music Industry had
invested a lot of hope in them to break internationally,
and it did almost happen a few times. There was no shortage
of critical acclaim overseas and at home they fared well
The hype-o-meter is now buzzing around
New York band The Strokes, who You Am I brought out to Australia
to play some shows. A month ago no one had heard of The
Strokes, now they are international sweethearts. Their debut
album Is This It? came out one week ago, and today it is
on top of the Alternative Albums chart.
The two bands had not met before, but
it was not long before there was mutual musical appreciation
between. On the last night of the tour in Sydney The Strokes
moshed up the front during the You Am I set and left the
country raving about their Australian friends."They
are on a real high at the moment," says Tim Rogers
of The Strokes. "How great it is to be in this rock
n roll band? It is really great to see that they appreciate
it. I hope it works out for them. I am sure it will. What
an amazing situation. The most important thing is they stay
But having been there themselves, the
hype surrounding You Am I died down a few years ago. Perhaps
with reduced pressure came the freedom to be a great rock
Do You Am I ever get sick of touring after
seven or more intense years of international jet-setting?
"Absolutely not," insists Tim. "We are living
out a dream. It was so melodramatic. Why am I getting so
upset and so elated? Because you are starving, you are drunk
and you are hungover. You are depriving yourself of all
that stuff that keeps you sane. It was great. I look back
on it really fondly. A lot of gigs were hopeless and pathetic,
a lot of fights we had and brilliant times."
"I just wish the band was like it
is now and we had the same attitude six or seven years ago.
We were playing overseas trying to put on the best show
You Am I returned to basics on the #4
Record of 1998. They took an extended break from touring
during most of 2000 to record their latest and finest album
to date Dress Me Slowly.
Tim Rogers, Russell Hopkinson and Andy
Kent also took time off to get hitched. "That has been
commented on," says Tim about the coincidental synchronised
marriages. "We influence each other a bit in lifestyle."
Earlier this year Rogers became a father.
He is very open about his happiness as a family man and
spends as much time as possible with wife Rocio and five
month old baby Ruby. He loves staying home with Ruby and
introducing her to good music.
The guys in You Am I have always been
music enthusiasts. Playing in the background is a Flaming
Groovies record and Tim talking up the new Motley Crue biography
that he is currently reading. "I just bought a Van
Morrison record, he is very popular for the reason that
he has fifteen records that are all amazing. Why not actually
investigate those guys and not avoid them because they are
vastly popular? They are popular for a reason. Rusty sometimes
disagrees with me here. He would insist that a 1966 Taiwanese
psychedelic record is amazing. Somewhere between me and
Russell is where the band lies. I am such a populist, the
Barbara Streisand of the group and Rusty is the Russ Meyer.
What he brings into the bands is so out there."
You Am I’s drummer Russell Hopkinson
has started a small record label, Illustrious Artists. He
has just released a 7 inch vinyl single You’ll See/Don’t
You Wanna Know by The Pictures, You Am I guitarist Dave
Lane’s other band.
Andy Kent has also dabbled in a tiny bit
of production work out side of You Am I. "I don’t
know if we’d produce the next You Am I record ourselves,"
offers Tim when asked if they have considered it. "Andy
and I would always butt heads on that. I think he is naturally
an inquisitive person and want to push it further and contemporise
the band. I will always be the one shying away from it,
through ignorance more than anything else, but that is the
way we have always gone. If I produced the next You Am I
record the most contemporary instrument on it would be the
Although Tim Rogers is a prolific songwriter,
he admits he does not have the concentration span to collaborate
with other songwriters. "But then having said this,
David Ceasar, the director of Idiot Box and Mullet is doing
a new film called Dirty Deeds which is set in the late 60s
and early 70s. He wants a hard rock soundtrack which is
indicative of that era and I reckon that is something I
might do," reveals Rogers who co-produced the Idiot
"I met Billy Thorpe at the Apra Awards
and we got on really well and I had a bit of rapport. I
was thinking maybe You Am I could write some songs and get
Billy to sing them all. I could handle doing something like
that." You Am I recently recorded a song with Indigenous
artist Vic Simms for the Corroboration album. But due to
business between Simms and Jimmy Little’s management
the track Back In The Shadows has unfortunately been left
off. Some advance promotional copies of the compilation
do carry the You Am I track.
But over the last few months You Am I
have been focused on playing live. This week You Am I commence
their third run of Victorian shows in as many months.
They have been generously offering audiences
almost two hours of raw and varied rock every time they
play. "I like to present the band as the last great
rock n’roll band," explains Tim. "Whenever
we get together, it is us against the world. The reality
is that we relate best when we are playing."
Everyone seems relaxed on stage now, a
few years a go the band seemed a bit nervous and tense on
"I try to take it easy. That is deliberate.
We used to get as drunk on as much Guinness as we could
before shows. Now I find I want to carry the show through
and if the show is going bad, let’s make the show
good. Give people something. Rocio says it is amazing when
you guys smile at each other on stage what it does to the
crowd. I love it when we smile at each other, bash in to
a song, it such an amazing feeling."
The new single is Kick a Hole in
the Sky from the album Dress Me Slowly is out now on BMG.
You Am I, Even and Dan Brodie & The Broken Arrows play
Monash Uni Clayton on Thursday August 9; The Inferno in
Traralgon on Friday 10; the Chapel, Ballarat on Saturday
11 and the Corner Hotel, Richmond on Sunday August 12.