The Hype Free Story

TIM ROGERS is stark naked in a Jacuzzi full of French Champagne. In one hand he holds a mobile phone, in the other, a Cuban cigar. Numerous executives pace the deluxe hotel suite, advising the millionaire rock star on marketing strategies for You Am I's imminent Australian tour.
"I want everyone back home to know we're BIG!" Rogers barks. "You call that a press release? Make some stuff up! Send out that photo of me with Bono! If we don't win at least five ARIAs this year, heads are gonna roll!"

Pure fiction, of course. But apparently a popular one. From his modest hotel room in Hollywood, where You Am I have just finished recording their fourth album, the the real Tim Rogers tells a different story.
"Our manager Kate (Stewart) brought over this Rolling Stone magazine a couple of months ago and it had this readers' poll in it. It was very nice to the band but there was this catergory, 'Biggest Hype', and it had our name up the top."

"We'd just played a gig in Rotterdam where our van got broken into. We loaded the gear into the van, drove straight to Amsterdam, still sweating, to play the next night to twenty-two Dutch people. Since then I've been thinking about what a strange situation this band has gotten itself into. Uh, hype? I don't get it."

This particular stretch of road has taken five months out of the lives of Tim Rogers, Russell Hopkinson and Andy Kent. You Am I played support to the likes of The Lemonheads, Wilco and Symposium through Europe and the UK, a typically gruelling attempt to be noticed by audiences yet to be take You Am I into the firm embrace they enjoy in Australia.
"We're not popular anywhere outside our home," is the hype free story. "We could be playing Hamburg one night to twenty people but all twenty of them want to take you back to their houses and play you Rattles bootlegs and talk about The Who or Crime (the San Francisco punk band, not the spiralling social evil).

"I do find the whole rock 'n' roll thing romantic," he confesses. "It's pretty much been a beery cheery cars 'n' girls kinda drop-your-trousers thing - well, not so much of that. Stuff that any eighteen-year-old kid would be doing on a weekend. Soft drugs and good drinks - and always making sure the show's good.

"We like to play hard then wipe the sweat from our bodies with a moist towelette and collapse with a couple of beers in a friends room while listening to Little Richard watching the sun come up. It's a charmed way of living, it really is."

Not to downplay the homesickness and personal exhaustion factors. Rogers says both he and Hopkinson have quit the band this year in the midst of road insanity, only to rejoin within weeks or days. "As much as Andy and Russell and I hate each other at times, you gotta love the people you're playing with 'cause let's face it, you're stuck with them."

The album Rogers hopes to call You Am I's Number Four Record was compiled last week at Hollywood's Sunset Studios, where the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street was mixed with sloppy perfection ("that's why we chose it") in 1972. Produced by George Drakoulias (Black Crowes, Primal Scream), it will be mixed later this year and released in early 1998.

Meanwhile, the five-song Trike EP serves as an entree to You Am I's homecoming which kicked off in Geelong last Wednesday. Both Trike and Opportunities appear on the overseas version of their most recent album, Hourly, Daily just released in the USA.
"We finished Hourly, Daily so long ago and since played all these shows so we really felt like digging in and doing more rockin' material," Rogers explains, "That's what we're good at, doing entertaining shows rather than the sensitive singer-songwriter bit, which is more my thing. When the three of us get together it's like, let's make a racket. It's very special and very exciting. Gut level stuff."
Rogers hints that You Am I's Number Four Record will reflect the up-tempo pace of life on the road, citing influences ranging from the Muffs record to Stax soul to Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes.

"I'm afforded the luxury of sitting around listening to records all day. For other people it's goofing off, for me it's honing my craft," he laughs. "And if we can make people feel something in that process that's an extremely privileged position to be in."

 

Michael Dwyer