Boom Box

Tim Rogers talks about his Idiot Box soundtrack of mangy young dog classics

How did you first get involved in the project?
David (Caesar, writer/director) contacted me through some insidious little racket and showed me the draft of the script. We talked a bit over a couple in a pub in Leichhardt. I sent a couple of bands a copy of the script, told them who was involved and they all jumped at it. Either it was a mixture of respect for the people doing the film, or they wanted to see their names on credits. And all the bands get on personally as well. It was a friendly little project.

You chose to avoid the westie rock anthems.
When I read the script early on and talked about the soundtrack there didn't seem to be any time frame. The script had a late '70s and early '80s feel about it. There were a couple of directions we could have taken. One of them was for everyone to do AC/DC songs, or Angels songs, but the film is about the underdog in a way, and the bands we covered (X, Beasts of Bourbon, the Saints) weren't exactly underdogs, more like mangy young dogs. Also I wanted to pick songs that weren't so obvious but were gritty, great songs that time has not elevated to their proper place. Songs that didn't really make it past 500 singles at your local indie rock store. And songs that were what the characters were about.

What did you think when you finally saw the film?
We got a video of the final cut sent over to us in the States when we were on tour, and we had this American tour manager from LA. I must say the phrase (in phony US accent) "Get a dog up ya" has gone the width and breath of the small bars of the States. They did not get it in the least. Maybe they'll translate it to something more American. I don't think overseas audiences will be able to relate to it in an everyday way, but more as a curiousity factor. Like "What a bunch of freaks!" which is great.

Tell us about some of the songs.
Well "Degenerate Boy" was an X song. X was a band from Sydney in the late '70s early '80s, a very aggressive three piece and a huge influence on Mark of Cain - and You Am I, actually. I suggested the X song and John (from MoC) said they loved it. It is just a classic song. You Am I have wanted to do it for a while but have never got off our arse to do it. There was a song on the last Hoss record called "The Bullshit Never Ends," which was the first song that I knew had to be on the record. I kinda wanted it to be the central theme for the film, because it fits in so perfectly. The filmmakers didn't actually agree; I wish it had a bigger part in the film. And I just think that Joel (Silbisher) is one of the more talented singers, rhythm guitarists and composers in the land basically. "My Pal" is a classic God song. That was the only song that I didn't have a lot of involvement with, I had to be in America when Magic Dirt did that. So we just talked a little at a pub and (co-producer) Nick Launey went down and did it with them. "Love in Motion" is, of course, an old Icehouse song, which Ross from Snout really wanted to do. "Television Addict" was by the Victims - Dave Faulkner from the Hoodoo Gurus' first band. Simply on of the great early Australian punk rock singles. "Second Language" was by a band called Tactics, an early '80s new wave band from around Sydney, which Crow perform. "Simple Love" (covered by Hoss) is by the Saints, and then You Am I do a Beasts of Bourbon song, and a few other things that will probably end up as B-sides.

And I guess you got a kick out of the loungeroom air guitar, "No, I'm the fuckin' bass player!" scene?
Yeah, and I think the funniest thing, and I don't know whether it's deliberate, is the two are pretending to play bass. Because normally it is always wanting to be the guitarist. The scene is just fucking fantastic. And of course I play fucking great air guitar - anyone who has seen You Am I will know that.

Samantha Clode