Soul Searching

On a Los Angeles evening, through mouthfuls of bagels and cigarette smoke, Tim Rogers is talking about the new You Am I as "gut-level stuff".
The highly anticipated follow-up to the critically acclaimed and ARIA-swamped Hourly, Daily is set to expose the feted Sydney trio at their rawest and most soulful.

"I honestly wanted to make an album that was just about real things," Rogers said
"It's not vignettes to suburban heroes any more. It's about love and hate and spite and the whole gamut of emotions in between.

"There's a lot of stuff on the record that I've been avoiding most of my life.
"It's the big things. What you're scared of, what you love and why you love it. Mainly it's about being scared."

So has Rogers' scalding stage wit simply been the front for a sensitive man?
"These are experiences I try to talk about in a light-hearted way," he said. "They're actually very intense."

It seems You Am I's fourth record will be a gloriously frazzled affair. A long and gruelling year has passed in a haze of festivals, ordinary support slots and desperate headlining affairs across Europe and the US
The big stadium shows that went with You Am I's Soundgarden support two years ago are a distant memory.

This has been a squalid period lived out of a suitcase, in the pocket of two mates, sharing rooms, food, money and dreams.
"As you get older the slumber party novelty thing diminishes," Rogers said. "But then there'll be a great gig in Edinburgh or Dublin and you're all together in your tiny hotel and it's all great again."

Rogers denied that a constant touring schedule had increased the pressure of following up an album that has won the band plaudits across the world.
Paris's influential magazine Telerama called Hourly, Daily "The best rock record since rock died. A classic".
The UK's Melody Maker and Vox magazines gave the album gushing reviews likening it to the live power long ago evoked by The Who and Mudhoney.

"I'm not thinking along the lines of 'the last record was very whimsical so now I've got to make a rock 'n' roll record'," Rogers said.
"A lot of it is loud but it's not what I call heavy.
"For the last year I've been in a rock 'n' roll band. We've been working so hard and we're playing really well. Our chops are burning and it's time to get it down in the studio."
Preliminary recordings in London have yielded a clutch of new songs which will air on the band's Australian tour but won't see the light of day on record untill early next year.

As a songwriter, Tim Rogers has apparantly unearthed a sprawling canvas of subjects in his quest for an album true to the band's state of mind.
Victor Trumper is a tribute to the famous cricketer of the early 20th century; Junk is a gritty tune about heroin; Be Good To Your Bartender features a familiar Rogers sentiment: "Be good to your bartender," he sings "It's more than your drink he's got in his hands."
Another song carries the title Fuck The Kids. "We've always been told 'Hey, write more choruses, the kids want choruses'. We thought, 'Well fuck the kids'."
Other songs that will feature on the album, currently labouring under the joke title of You Am I IV, carry poignant and emotive titles like Billy, War Brides and Vandalism.

"We've had a bad a bad year as far as songwriting goes," Rogers said. "A lot of ideas flying around and not many sticking.
The music hasn't been a problem but the lyrics have because I'm intent on writing about things I'm feeling.
"It's like calling out to all the people I haven't seen in a while. People I want to kill and folks I want to kiss.
"Writing on the road is often that way. You tend to write more off the bat. When you're at home you might have an XTC album or maybe (The Beatles) Rubber Soul to nick something off. It tends to be more guarded instinct music rather than smart music."
Rogers pauses before adding, sardonically: "I've decided to leave smart to the people who want to be thought of as smart. I've found I can't do smart nearly as well as I can do sweating and spitting on stage.
"This aint Motley Crue but it ain't Kraftwerk either. You Am I isn't out to test people. We're out to show them where their arse is and how to wiggle it."


Angus Fontaine