It may have
been over three years in the waiting but heralded Aussie
rockers You Am I are about to release their latest studio
album Dress Me Slowly. Check out our interview with You
Am I drummer Rusty Hopkins who gave his insights on the
new album, winning the ARIAS, the Big Day Out and how much
fun You Am I are having still being in a rock & roll
You Am I will release their fifth studio
album, Dress Me Slowly on April 30th. To celebrate it’s
release as well as their upcoming Reverence and Disregard
tour, the boys are planning a secret performance that will
be simulcast on Channel V and Triple J. It will take place
on April 30th at 9pm. The gig will unveil each song off
the album in sequence allowing fans a sneak peek at what
must surely be one of the most hotly anticipated Australian
albums of the year.
In conjunction with their new album and
national tour, You Am I have re-launched their official
website You Am I Central. Check out the site for information
about giveaways for the secret show, advanced tracks from
Dress Me Slowly as well as providing updated news on the
Next Music recently caught up with You
Am I drummer Rusty Hopkins who found time to chat about
the band, the new album and just about anything else that
was Aussie and rock & roll. And as we find out, You
Am I are about as Aussie and as rock & roll as it gets.
It’s been three years since your last studio album.
Enjoy the break Rusty?
We’ve been pretty busy really. We made a live album
and we wrote about 30 songs for the new album. We haven’t
been out on the road very much. We did a couple of tours
here and there. But compared to a few years ago when we
were like INXS doing 200 shows a year. It’s been pretty
Any reason for the time off?
I don’t think it was anything pre meditated. We were
initially expecting to put this album out this time last
year, but things conspired not to make it happen. The band
had a couple of different producers in mind. We tried out
Ed Buller and that didn’t work so we scrapped all
that and then we had Cliff (Norrell). We were going to put
the album out at the end of last year, but there were so
many records coming out so we thought we didn’t need
to rush it out. We were just quite happy to let it happen
naturally and in the end we ended up writing three more
songs for the record anyway. It’s been good because
it has allowed Tim to write what I think is probably our
Does Dress Me Slowly differ a
lot from previous You Am I albums?
We’ve probably got a more considered approach to things.
We have a habit of rushing things like a bull at a goat
sometimes – which is good. But this time we took our
time. I don’t think it’s any real stylistic
differences, we still see ourselves as a rock and roll band.
And that’s what we like to be. I like a lot of different
types of music but I can’t see up trying to incorporate
a DJ or anything like that to our sound. We were just happy
to be ourselves and make another record.
Can you tell me a bit about the
The first sessions we did were in November of 1999 with
Ed Buller, but he didn’t really have the same kind
of ideas about the record that we did so in the end it wasn’t
really working. Last year we got this guy called Cliff Norrell
who used to be Scott Lits’ engineer. He has produced
a couple of records. He produced the last Rollins Band record.
He was recommended to us by a lot of people and so we spoke
to him on the phone and he made the right noises. We basically
just went into the studio in Sydney and spent four weeks
recording. We had a whole bunch of songs and whittled it
down to about 12 or 13 and recorded them. Then we put the
single Damage out and that did pretty well. Tim had a bunch
of other songs and we thought lets go and record them as
well so we went into the studio with Paul McKercher who
recorded our live album and Hourly Daily. We went to the
studio with him and recorded these three extra tracks and
they ended up all making it on the album. We mixed the bulk
of the record in July in LA – and that was fun. It
was just a good collaborative process that everyone got
Dress Me Slowly is a very interesting
title for an album. How did that come about?
It’s a line from one of Tim’s songs. I think
it comes from this idea, I think it’s Spanish. It’s
more about measuring yourself and being what you want to
be and not being too concerned about outside influences
and outside forces trying to change you.
After the huge success of Hourly
Daily, You Am I were getting labeled with the Best Aussie
Rock band tag. Was it hard to live up to these types of
I think we’re a good band. I don’t know if we’re
the best. We weren’t around to hear a lot of that
stuff. The day after the ARIAS we went to London and did
a tour with the Lemonheads, so we were kind of away for
most of that. I’ve got my head buried in the sand
most of the time listening to old sixties records and stuff
like that. I don’t listen to a lot of radio or read
a lot of the “press”. I’m pretty oblivious
to all that. I think people have this tendency to put bands
on pedestals and that’s happened to us for a while.
But we’re quite happy that we managed to ride through
all that and come out the other side still intact and even
better than we were then. If you start reading what people
say about you it can get dangerous. I think we are all kind
of cynical and jaded and we don’t believe anything
that’s written about us.
But you enjoyed winning the ARIAS?
(Pause) Well, you know. I have one at home and I use it
as a doorstop. It’s nice that you get that recognition
but when you’re 15 and standing in front of the mirror
with your tennis racquet you are not thinking about winning
awards – you’re thinking about making records
and being on stage. I think it’s far more exciting
that you can pack out a room in most places in the country
and have a bunch of people singing our songs than having
won some awards. It’s not a competition for us. It’s
just what we do and what we like to do. We’re not
out to beat anybody or be more popular than anybody we’re
just out to do what we do, do it well and at the end of
the day be happy with what we’ve done and not pander
to popularity. We’re not like that. We just want to
be a band that can be respected in 20 years time.
You Am I have been described as
the ‘guvnors of Australian rock&roll’. You
definitely could be considered elder statesmen of Australia’s
rock music scene. Has the rock industry changed a lot since
you started out?
I’m 36 now and I’ve been playing in bands since
I was 15 I think it changes all the time. At the moment
there are some really good bands out there but there’s
also a lot of bullshit. I think the commercial scene is
worse than it has been in years. I’ve never seen so
much money music around. There isn’t much real music
to me in the mainstream. There are a lot of bands that have
their eyes on the prize. I just think it’s just in
the hands of the moneymen at the moment. Hopefully that
will change. Generally it does. There are just too many
bands that are in it for the wrong reason. Last year I spoke
to this young band and all they could talk about was ‘when
we got signed’. It was like the Year 0 for them getting
signed to a major label deal. I think I come from an ethic
where it’s more important being a band and having
an identity than fitting in to some A & R guy’s
idea of what a band should be. I’d rather go and see
some band that are doing it for the love of it than for
the fact that they might get on Channel V or something like
Being from Sydney, do you think
the scene here is as strong as it used to be. I always think
of that famous photo of Tim Rodgers playing on the footpath
of the Annandale Hotel as in a way being the symbol of rock
music dying in Sydney.
I don’t think it’s as dead as people say it
is. It was for a while but Annandale is back. I saw Rocket
Science there a little while ago. There are a few other
places as well. But going to see a live band is something
that people do anymore,
Do you think dance music has something
to do with it?
There has always been dance music around. I think wherever
the girls go the boys will follow. There is a lot of big
rooms full of dance music that people go to and it’s
really easy. It’s hard for me to comment because I
don’t go out much these days because there is nothing
I want to go out and see. And the times I have been in dance
clubs I would say – I would really like to hear a
good song. And a lot of the time it’s just “doof
doof”, it’s like people trying to punch through
to some other place. It’s hard to relate to what’s
going on. But maybe that’s just some jaded 36 year
old who likes Japanese psychedelic music more than what
I consider to be boring mainstream music.
You Am I have played at a large
number of Big Day Out festivals since they began all those
years ago. This year the festival was struck be tragedy
with the death of a fan while watching Limp Bizkit’s
performance. How did what happened at Sydney this year affect
Things like that really scare me. You’ve got 50 000
people and it’s a big party. A lot of people are pretty
stressed out. It’s a big day. People get on stuff.
so it doesn’t surprise me. You take a band like Limp
Bizkit and the ethic they take which probably comes from
hard-core punk and stuff like that. But it’s different
to a little punk rock gig with 50 people jumping around.
Instead you’ve got 20 000 people in the mosh pit.
Something is bound to happen. Not everyone there is there
to be part of a community and jump around and enjoy it.
I think there are a lot of different emotions going on and
a lot of them are negative. You have probably got kids who
have jobs and get yelled at all day and it’s probably
a good way for them to take their frustrations out. Unfortunately
it can lead to tragedy that was bourn out by the Sydney
Big Day Out. It was too big Limp Bizkit were probably the
wrong kind of band to end with on a day like that. To have
someone so aggressive and break stuff. It just seems to
be asking for trouble.
Will the Big Day Out be the same?
I think it’s the whole notions of rock festivals.
To me it’s a pretty bland way of seeing a bunch of
bands. So it’s hard for me to comment on that. If
there’s a market there will always be festivals. But
the powers that be will just have to think about it more
and think about how you deal with the fact that there are
a lot of people that all want to jump around but it’s
not everyone’s idea of a good time is the same. Should
there be 15-year-old kids jammed down the front of Limp
Bizkit shows. You would never want to say ‘no you
can’t do that’, but sometimes I think it’s
dangerous, it is really dangerous. It kind of blew up in
their faces a bit.
Yeah, I saw this interview with
Marylin Manson after he was pelted with glass bottles his
Big Day Out performance and he said that at these festivals
you get so many different sub-cultures of society who would
not usually interact with each other and that can be the
recipe for disaster.
It’s funny because we were in between Mudvayne and
Sunk Loto and people will say ‘wow how are you going
to cope with doing that, people aren’t going to be
going crazy’. Well to me I rather have a group people
standing around singing our songs than to see a bunch of
guys with their shirts off running into each other and expressing
their love for our music by throwing themselves around blindly
and not even listening to the words or what the songs are
about and just thinking ‘here’s a chance to
get rid of some of this excess testosterone that I’ve
been storing up all week’. It’s nice to be able
to do these things because it’s hard for kids to see
bands sometimes. A band like us normally plays at over 18’s
venues. It’s not something I’d like to do all
the time those big shows. Rock and Roll always works better
for me in small dark rooms.