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.

Tim Rogers ... add spinach at your own risk. Photo: Sahlan Hayes

It starts 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 the money?").

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 injections."

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."