You Am I

An impassioned fax brought Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo across the Pacific to produce You Am I's new EP. LISA KEARNS hears the result.

SYDNEY band You Am I's bass guitarist, Andy Kent, is in the middle of moving house. It's a good chance to "throw out a lot of excess crap,'' he says - like broken amplifiers and smashed guitars.

You Am I have built an expensive reputation for trashing their instruments on stage but, Kent argues, it's not always intended. Anyway, it makes for some good feedback sounds.

"We were playing in Sydney one night a while ago and I'd just spent $2500 on an amplifier,'' he says. "I just lost a bit of control and threw my bass at it. The poor thing - I could just hear it dying behind me as I was playing. It was quite frustrating because I hadn't been eating properly for weeks just to get the money together to buy it. So I didn't eat for another few weeks. In fact, I'm still pretty skinny.'' And the musical justification for this frivolity?

"Sometimes we can get some really good feedback. Bouncing a bass you can get some really nice upper tones coming through and by getting a guitar on top of your amp and standing on it you get some interesting effects. It's not just a big pose - you know, `let's jump around and throw things'. But Tim accidentally snapped his guitar in half about a month ago. You've got to be careful not to be too destructive
because it's too expensive.'' You Am I are making their 12th trip to Melbourne for the launch of their third EP, 'Coprolalia', tomorrow night.

Coprolalia, Kent is at pains to make clear, is "a mental condition where someone swears constantly. It's not to be confused with coprophilia which is an obsession with excrement, apparently. I got misquoted in a Brisbane paper about that and it looked terrible in print, really disgusting,'' he says.

Achieving a live following in Melbourne has been a gradual process for the band, who have been together for three years.

Says Kent: "In the early days we'd lose money, but we made sure we kept going down no matter what. It's a problem with young bands; they just don't have the money. I think it's paid off for us now, especially with the last time we played in Melbourne. We did lunchtime uni shows, a RRR benefit, our own headlines, and some supports for bigger bands. That got people talking. We feel like we're getting somewhere now, and the new EP should be a good springboard.'' `Coprolalia' was recorded on the rooArt label over six days in January this year, with Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo as producer. Ranaldo became interested in the band after they sent him an impassioned fax, followed by their three prior EP releases, 'Goddamn', 'Snake Tide' and 'Can't Get Started'.

Kent says working with Ranaldo taught them the true meaning of the expression "laid back''.

"I think one thing he taught us was when you're recording you don't have to be in the studio for 20 hours a day, drink 10 cups of coffee and smoke five packets of cigarettes... You should never work like you're racing a clock. Generally if you just keep the pace going, and relax, it tends to work. There's no need to push it along; just let things happen.''

You Am I launch their new five-track EP, 'Coprolalia', tomorrow night at The Club in Smith Street, Collingwood, with guests the Earthmen and Guttersnipes.