Cashmere: Let's start with the background of You Am I and
where the initial support came from. Who helped you initially?
Tim Rogers: The other guys in bands I
was trying to get together, definitely. The family were
tolerant because it is not such a bad thing to be doing.
It was about finding like minded souls in school and banging
up in the oval. Early on with You Am I and the bands I played
in it was really a "you and I against the world"
kind of thing. It was just the other guys that you are banging
out music with that you confide in and share things with.
Then it was just other bands. With You Am I, the only way
we got any gigs at all was through other bands that we would
play with. We'd see someone we'd like or despise and we'd
be offered shows (often for their own amusement) because
they felt some sort of kinship.
PC: Networking is the way to go?
TR: We are actually terrible at it. You
Am I started in the north western suburbs of Sydney in Baulkham
Hills. Nick Tischler our bass player, he and I started the
band with my brother Jaimme. Nick was a great talker and
very charming and got us shows with bands like The Hellmen,
Box Jesuit, The Hardons, Asylum ... those harder rock bands.
We were a bit poncy but we managed to get gigs with them.
We never made demos. Actually the only demos You Am I ever
made got stolen from Nick's house. They were just on a little
4-track. He and my brother Jaimme used to go and see a million
shows a year and get talking to people at shows at the time.
It was real basic kind of stuff. It was just beer talk and
"my bands not half bad, how about giving us a show".
It was a time when there were five band bills and we could
sneak on at 7pm at The Evening Star.
PC: Does that happen in reverse
now? Do you get the young bands coming to you asking if
they can be on your bill?
TR: Yeah sure and that's okay if it works
out great. But there aren't those big bills anymore. There
are only two or three bands now. It's a similar thing going
with Davey's band The Pictures at the moment. They get shows
because people in other bands want the band to play with
them because they are enthusiastic. It is not that their
manager or someone has taken upon themselves to take on
the band and grease up to somebody. It is because they did
a lot of shows to nobody and word got around.
PC: Tell us about your early equipment.
TR: Stuff used to break, it was crappy
gear, whatever we could get. I remember in 1994, we were
doing Big Day Out, and our manager Kate said "look,
okay this is getting serious. We have been blowing out too
shows. There is too much wrecked gear. I am going to give
you all a couple of grand to go and buy gear". It was
money that the band had generated through touring. It was
great. Andy and I just looked at each other and went out
and bought decent amps and a guitar. It was brilliant. It
happened just by the band accumulating 200 bucks here, 150
bucks there and touring very frugally that we generated
enough money to buy equipment. Early on it was disastrous.
PC: When did it go from being
the hobby to being the career for You Am I?
TR: It worked in a strange way. I was
working in a pizza shop and then a record store in Castle
Hill in Sydney. The bands started getting shows and I got
fired from my pizza job just as the band started getting
more shows. Then I had a part time job in a record store.
It worked quite well that my work was decreasing as the
band was getting more shows. Just getting your first APRA
cheque shows you are getting there. I still have my first
APRA cheque from 1992 framed up. You are getting money for
tours. Kate Stewart, our first manager would give us all
5 bucks a day, then 10 bucks a day and then it got up to
20 bucks a day. Back then it was fun but now we have some
nice beer money and money for getting a nice feed each day.
It is just as much fun. The band got more successfully so
gradually that we just took everything in its stride.
PC: Are you involved in your own
TR: I have a bit of a problem. I used
to study law and I had a pretty spectacular nervous breakdown
while studying. Now every time I see a contract I just weep.
I feel my insides coagulating. We have a look over
them, we talk about the broad brush strokes. We have a lawyer
and an accountant who we barely pay unfortunately because
he does a lot of good work for us. I speak to my wife as
well. She is smarter than I am. Dave talks to his girlfriend
about his business. We try and talk to as many people as
possible. But get advice because signing for big advances
and things is very tempting.
PC: When did you get your first
TR: It was really early when Kate Stewart
came in. Nick Tischler had been looking after us. Then Andy
Kent joined and Kate started managing us very soon after
that. It was about 1991. We were just playing first on bills
of four or five bands in Sydney. Kate saw us and really
threw her neck out. Shehad no grand plans. She didn't want
to shoot for the top. She just really liked the band. We
became really good friends and just wanted to get shows
and have fun. It was really very innocent. It was only when
the band started touring overseas and having to do more
business with record companies Kate was starting to back
out and said "this isn't why I am in it". The
bands expectations went up and she didn't want to follow
PC: Now one of your members Andy
Kent is involved in your management.
TR: He sure is. We just couldn't be prouder
of him. We could sit around and rack 'em up and wait for
the next call to come through saying "hey you have
to be here" but we just thought the band has missed
out on opportunities that we shouldn't have, particularly
overseas. We didn't have aggressive enough people. Everyone
was looking for the really big thing when really we should
have done things on a much smaller level that would have
satisfied us more. We should have been playing with bands
that we wanted to play with or
playing in festivals that we wanted to play on rather than
being with the labels overseas and them wanting us to be
on MTV straight away. Go and tour up and down The States
for 6 months with a bunch of garage bands. That is where
the heart lies. Andy now does that because he is one of
us, not one of them.
PC: Has he put together the upcoming
TR: Pretty much, because he knows what
bands have to go through. He has been in this band for the
last 12 years of his life. He knows how to tour and make
it possible for a rock band. If you haven't been in a rock
band I would see it as near impossible to put together a
PC: Finally outside of You Am
I, you did the soundtrack for the movie Dirty Deeds.
TR: The most interesting thing was how
professional everyone was. There were vastly different people
on that record. Everyone came in wanting to make a great
record and that was their priority. Everyone wanted to have
a bit of a laugh and make a good record. It was an extraordinarily
PC: Was there less pressure working
on the soundtrack than a You Am I record?
TR: No, more pressure because they were
other peoples songs. I wanted to record them well and do
a good job on them. The bands that were on there were on
there for a reason. I wanted them to sound great because
I love the band. I felt more pressure. The You Am I records
are quite indulgent. The only pressure is the pressure we
put on ourselves. When you are doing other peoples songs
you are an employee.
PC: On Dirty Deeds you collaborated
with a lot of your contemporaries like Tex Perkins from
Cruel Sea, Bernard Fanning from Powderfinger or Phil Jamieson
from Grinspoon. But you also worked with Billy Thorpe who
has been around since the early 60s. Did he have a few stories?
TR: (puts on a Thorpie voice) "Hello
Tim, how are ya. My lord I have to tell you about this slapper
I was with in '72". Billy is an exceptional person.
He is an enigma. I just initially wanted his blessing originally
to go ahead with it. He and Lobby Lloyd were the ones I
contacted at the start and they were just so enthusiastic
from the word go. Any of those guys who I meet and they
are not prats is what I enjoy. Meeting Mike Rudd (Spectrum)
and him coming in and blowing harp and telling stories.
Harry Vanda, meeting him. They still have a fire in their
gut. Then they see a band like us and maybe see a bit of
themselves. Anyone who has been playing music for a while
as a lifestyle choice has the real feeling in their gut
for it. It is just really an encouraging thing. I don't
want to do anything else and if I can do it until I die
I will consider myself a really lucky person.
PC: Do you still recall the day
you got that first You Am I record in your hand?
TR: Oh yeah, oh yeah. It was just brilliant.
I was all excited as hell. Andy and I used to live around
the corner from each other in Chippendale in Sydney when
our first record came out. We went around to the Annandale
Hotel and had a big party about it which pretty much just
involved the two of us.
PC: What is the difference between
that first record and the latest one Deliverance?
TR: Back then we didn't know how to get
the sounds that we wanted. I knew the records I loved but
I didn't know how to write to get those sounds. Now we are
closer to it, particularly with Davey playing. I always
wanted to be in a two guitar band. It is just knowing what
we want now and it is just so much more satisfying.
PC: If you could re-record the
first album with the last album in mind what would change?
TR: It would be interesting. We'd do it
a friggen lot better I could tell you. In recent tours we
have done we played one of the songs off the first record
acoustic. It gave it a bit more of that rollicking kind
PC: It's quite a setlist you have
to put together these days.
TR: Andy sent though a list of all the
songs we had recorded recently and it was a massive list.
I have a lot to play with. Over the next few weeks overseas
we are playing a whole lot of short shows. What do we do?
We might as well just get up and play a whole lot of Chuck
Berry covers and try and cut down those songs. We could
open up with "No Particular Place To Go" then
play "Sweet Little Rock 'n' Roller", it would