tour of You Am I’s Hourly Daily
Working his way through a bowl of muesli
in a cafe in inner Sydney, You Am I's frontman Tim Rogers
looks happy with his lot. "Hi Fi Way," the groundbreaking
second album from the raggedy-arse trio - Rogers, bassist
Andy Kent and drummer Russell Hopkinson - has just been
released in America, where they're soon off to for extended
touring that includes a slot on the second stage of the
cross-country festival, Lollapalooza. At the same time there's
a third album ready to go locally, "Hourly, Daily,"
a compelling, varied musical portrait.
"We were at home. There were no car crashes. We weren't
in New York. We even rehearsed a bit," is Rogers' description
of the recording process. Here after polishing off his breakfast,
he runs through each track off their latest disc.
“Last year when there were a lot of TV specials on
right wing activity, it really kind of got to me. But I
wasn’t thinking about these boot boys and Fascists,
but what their parents were thinking. I kinda imagined this
situation with the sun coming up, a mother waking up and
her son comes home and takes off his jackboots and salutes
- what’s she thinking of her oldest son?
So it’s not your reply to The Cranberries “Zombie”?
“No, no. I don’t think enough about everything
outside my own suburb.”
“When we were writing the record I was waking up early
and listening to the early morning AM chatter. Often I wake
up depressed, as people do, and I found it really comforting.
I could see how you could get attached to it, instead of
waking up with someone next to you.”
[A re-recorded version of last December’s single]
“That was the first of the songs I wrote for the album,
so I’m very comfortable with it.”
I could imagine most groups making this into distorted rock,
but you’ve gone boppy with the horns.
“Very consciously. Not so much as a plan, but from
what Russell, Andy and I were listening to at the time.
We wanted to make it different. What frustrated us in it
not coming out in February was that then it would have been
a bit of a reaction against what was going on. You Am I
were rock for four years, but we wanted something different.”
This sounds like the best example of using strings and brass
“That song really does lend itself to having them
there. That’s a favourite, I really wanted it to work
If We Can’t Get It Together
“That’s pretty much my favourite lyric. When
I played it to Joel [Silbersher, Hoss] I really wanted to
impress him, and he said, ‘Sounds a bit like fucking
Paul Kelly.’ I went ‘Oh thanks,’ but now
I take it as a great compliment.”
The characters feel like ordinary folk you might meet anywhere.
And they’re having problems.
“Pretty much. My brother’s getting married next
year, there’s a spate of weddings around me actually,
and that’s the first time I’ve seen it happen
to people I know.”
Flag Fall $1.80
This is so catchy, and you’ve managed to get another
“six pack” reference in.
“I know, I can’t believe I did it again. It’s
about a cab driver, because I had one fall asleep on me
one night in Balmain and it scared me.”
While he was driving?
“Yeah. I woke him up. But this about a cab driver
driving around looking to pick someone up, and he’s
wondering why people are waving at him. He doesn’t
realise they’re hailing him.
And a guitar outburst at the end?
“We just wanted something to explode. It’s a
very fruity album, so we wanted some mayhem. It’s
very Who-ish, obviously.”
The guitars are many, but with a certain lightness.
“A year ago Russell and I were in New York, sharing
a room together, and we went out and got stinkin’
at the Jones Bar and ran around New York with our shirts
off because we were drunk, declaring that we would herald
the return of beat music - music that had a hop to it, a
skip to it, that made you want to shimmy. The next morning,
while vomiting, we declared that we would make a beat record.
It’s about my Uncle Wally, who used to live in Perth
at the Raffles Hotel in Applecross. I think Wally Kempton
[aka Meanie] thinks it about him, and whether he has a gambling
And a namecheck for your brother and sister?
“Well, you know, it’s a Tim Rogers song. I promised
my family after the last album that I’d leave ’em
alone, but it rhymed.”
At an acoustic show recently you said this was about the
oldest prostitute in Annandale.
“Figuratively. Out my back window I can see a lot
of back windows. When you catch people in their windows
you imagine what they’re doing while you’re
making your macaroni. Then, on a plane back from Perth,
I saw that film Bed of Roses, where he sees someone in a
window, and I realised the song should have come out with
You could have been Bryan Adams and written the love theme
from Bed of Roses.
“I would love to write a song like that. So corny
and dumb that everyone would get it.”
“Everything I do…”
“…I do it for you.” Ninety-nine per cent
of people in the world will understand that. We did it live
with a string quartet, actually. It was kind of interesting.
They’d go, ‘Ahh Tim, you’re kind of out
of tune there.’ And I went ‘Where?’ And
they said, ‘Kind of everywhere’.”
Dead Letter Chorus
“That was written in Toledo, Ohio, where we had a
day off. The only thing going on was a Rib-Off, where people
cook racks of ribs all day. Now, I’m a vegetarian,
but that day I was so bored and sad that I was looking at
all these kids trying to crack on to each other. So I got
a plateload of ribs and watched ’em. Then I got very
sick from eating meat.”
“A very, very stupid song. I was going to write it
about a night at the Annandale Hotel, but I don’t
want something so self-referential about indie-rock Nazis.”
I think the key word here is strut.
“I like a strut.”
Someone’s Else’s Home
“It’s about people sticking together. We might
not have a very attractive lifestyle, but if we’re
not special at least we’re ourselves. Finding the
Don’t Ask Me to Smile
Are you the 12 year old protagonist of this song?
“Oh yeah. I didn’t want to call it ‘Don’t
Ask Me to Smile’ in case it sounded like [assumes
grunge angst], ‘Don’t ask me to smile.’
It’s more like people who go, ‘Smile.’
I hate that. Smiling isn’t comfortable. But in grade
six I did open the door for that girl. She won’t remember,
I didn’t cut a very dashing figure at 12.”
Moonshines on Trouble
What’s that sound at the start?
“That’s a Farfisa organ borrowed from Brad ‘sugar
lumps’ Shepherd [Hoodoo Gurus]. We wanted it to sound
like Todd Rundgren in the early ’70s. Or the High
Who Takes Who Home
“When I go into town I bug the people at Timewarp
[Records] for a few hours, then Redeye second hand [Records],
walk home about five or six o’clock across the Glebe
Island Bridge. [Smiles] And when you look back, the city
is incredible, beautiful. Everyone is going home, which
is sad, but there’s something lovely to it all as