Welcome To The New You
Maitland Mercury, September 2010 | By: Nick Milligan
You Am I have turned and walked off their rock-paved path – a trail they carved through the Australian landscape almost two decades ago, which many bands have followed.
Their latest, self-titled album is a restrained, cohesive and dream-like musical malaise, which sees enigmatic singer-songwriter Tim Rogers shift from simmering howler to shimmering mystic.
From listening to the spacey, psychedelic jam on opener We Hardly Knew You it quickly becomes clear that this is the legendary group’s Sgt. Pepper’s.
The gently drifting, half-awake atmosphere of the album is reflected in Rogers’ inability to comprehend what his band have created.
“I’m still bewildered by this record – I haven’t gotten my head around it,” admits Rogers, calling from his home in Melbourne.
“It was extraordinary making it and I don’t feel like I’ve finished the creation of it. I’m still yet to understand it – I like that. I think with previous records I felt I understood what went on and what we were supposed to do – what [each album’s] references were.
“With this [record] I just let myself freefall into it and get lost in the creation of it.
“I’m still listening to this record wondering who the person was that wrote it ... and whether I’d like to meet him.”
Before making their ninth studio record, in a career that began in 1989, You Am I members Rogers, guitarist Davey Lane, bassist-manager Andy Kent and drummer Russell “Rusty” Hopkinson decided that they didn’t want to play it safe and deliver another swaggering, raw rock album.
“I think [it came from] just from just listening to each other talk and what we were demanding of each other,” says Rogers of this fresh musical direction.
“If we went and made a straight 4/4 rock and roll record, with lots of milky language, the odd smart little analogy and out of tune vocals, it would have been fun but we wouldn’t have wanted to listen to it.
“I think the music that we listen to and really enjoy by ourselves and as a group, ranges from blistering hardcore to far more flighty, wistful pop music.
“As players, we’ve thought of ourselves more as musicians on this one.
“The boys wanted to get stuck in and push each other to really get on top of music that is actually quite difficult to perform live.
“I’m sure if you’re a conservatorium trained musician it wouldn’t be, but for us it’s quite difficult.
“We’re just trying to challenge each other.”
Rogers also reveals that he was forced to reassess the new record when he was the victim of a burgulary.
“I got a whole bunch of songs stolen,” says Rogers.
“A book I used to write songs in was stolen from my car, maybe a year ago.
“I had to start again, so this is a different record from the one I was planning on making.”
Rebuilding from a clean slate, the drifting, restless emotions of You Am I create a sensory experience – perhaps a belated acknowledgement of the group’s confused band name.
“It’s a record about bewilderment and vertigo and derangement of senses, whether through fear or ecstasy,” explains Rogers.
“It's about letting yourself fall with the chaos, rather than kill yourself trying to fight it.
“It’s to have the courage to let yourself go with it, and still fight the good fight – but you can’t resist your change.”
While Rogers continues to release music through a vast array of outlets – The Temperance Union, with Tex Perkins, cabaret performances and even a travelling tribute to The Beatles’ White Album with Chris Cheney, Josh Pyke and Phil Jamieson – You Am I remain his foundation after two decades of “ridiculous experiences”.
But those extra outlets are required, because Rogers can’t switch off his creative energy.
“I can't stop it,” says Rogers, of songwritng.
“I’ve always got something playing in my head and the only way to stop the noise happening is to try and record it.
“I guess there is a dual thing going on where I know I need to create to feel like I’m a worthwhile person.
“It’s the physical and mental motion of it that stops me from getting stupid.
“Things happen inside your head – you’ve got melodies and words and beats and songs and they’re just kind of there.
“They wake you up or put you to sleep, or get you aroused or get you very down.”
Tim Rogers will verbalise those inner voices when You Am I hit the road in October.
You Am I will perform at Newcastle Leagues Club on Friday, October 15.
Tim Rogers and The Temperance Union will play Maitland Goal for the Bitter & Twisted festival on Saturday November 6.
You Am I is released October 8.