Tim Rogers used to get smashed,
get into fights and wildly flail his arms. Now all
he wants is a cuddle.
Bernard Zuel obliges.
Tim Rogers has been a sucker for love all his life.
Yet since marrying Rocio and the birth of his baby
daughter Ruby in 2001, he has been a card-carrying,
shout-it-from-the-rooftops, big girly sook.
And loving it.
He writes songs about his kin, dedicates shows and
albums to them and talks about them to anyone who
asks. Rogers has been a much calmer, sweeter human
being since they arrived in his life, even as that
life has become more difficult for his band You Am
I, who split from their local label last year.
The flipside of this flood of good was hard to miss
a year ago when Rogers was in Australia while his
girls were in Spain for a few months. Lonely, anxious
and pining, he became a bit of a mess, something
he chronicles in Time & Distance from his new
solo album Spit Polish.
Rogers ... add spinach at your own risk. Photo: Sahlan
with him saying to a friend, "You and I both know
I was just drunk out my mind/Two days and nights of the
masochistic kind." Then it's true-confessions time
as he sings, accompanied by a jaunty guitar, "I hold
these truths to be evident/I'm good in the crunch but I'm
bad with the rent/The contradictions now work good in rhyme/But
at times I disintegrate with the miles of time."
By the time the chorus returns and Rogers sings, "Time and distance are
making a wreck out of me", you want to sink a commiserating beer with him,
maybe give him a big hug and ask, "So, Tim, that's all made up, right?"
" No, it was more macabre," he says. "I went a bit nuts last year,
really getting pretty flippy and thinking if I just douse myself it's going to
be all right.
" I realised afterward that it was just nervousness. I was so paranoid about
something untoward happening to [my wife and child] when I wasn't there. And
I was away from them for a really long time.
" As soon as I got back to Spain and saw them, it was OK. But before then
there was a little buzzing fly in me and unfortunately I just wanted to drink
and muck around too much, exacerbating it. I got into a lot of fights and pretty
messy shows. It was fear and anxiety."
Spit Polish, recorded with his other backing band, the Temperance Union, also
features a country lament written in the form of a disillusioned fan letter to
his childhood hero Gene Simmons of Kiss ("Tell me now, is it just about
Then there's a fast waltz about overhearing someone bitching about a band rehashing
the same stuff since 1993 ("Oh goddamn, they were talking about my band")
and a Keith Richards-esque song about saying all the right and wrong things ("This
is the way that I say I love you/This is the way that I say I'm a jack-off").
So Rogers has been busy then, with both another Temperance Union album and a
new You Am I album in the works.
It doesn't look like slowing down, either, with a You Am I support slot on the
Who's Australian tour mid-year, a chance to play guitar with the MC5 at the same
time, and a tentative offer for You Am I to be the backing band for another hero,
former Replacements songwriter Paul Westerberg.
" I didn't get much sleep last night and went for an early morning [stroll]
and I got some really good ideas for songs," Rogers says.
" I thought, 'Hmm, got to get back on the saddle again.' That's really good."
If he had had this kind of application when he was 13 he could have played AFL
with his other great love, the Kangaroos.
" I actually had that application as a kid and I played a lot, but I was
just a hopeless player in the heat of the moment," he says.
" You can have all the skills in the world, but I just didn't have the brutishness.
Unfortunately, I think I have that now, that disregard for personal safety. I
could be a good player, but my body's given up.
" In Spain a couple of weeks ago, I threw out my shoulder doing that [he
mimics the windmill movement that's become a trademark, borrowed from the Who's
Pete Townshend]. I may have to stop playing guitar for a while because the tendons
and bones have been completely sullied and I'm having to get these cortisone
I started laughing as he told this tale, assuming it was a bit of a joke, but
by the end of it my laughter ends in an apology. Rogers just laughs and says, "No,
it is funny."
" People are asking me, 'So, are you going to keep all your stage moves
when you're before Pete?' And, you know, physically I can't."