is stark naked in a Jacuzzi full of French Champagne. In
one hand he holds a mobile phone, in the other, a Cuban
cigar. Numerous executives pace the deluxe hotel suite,
advising the millionaire rock star on marketing strategies
for You Am I's imminent Australian tour.
"I want everyone back home to know we're BIG!"
Rogers barks. "You call that a press release? Make
some stuff up! Send out that photo of me with Bono! If we
don't win at least five ARIAs this year, heads are gonna
Pure fiction, of course. But apparently
a popular one. From his modest hotel room in Hollywood,
where You Am I have just finished recording their fourth
album, the the real Tim Rogers tells a different story.
"Our manager Kate (Stewart) brought over this Rolling
Stone magazine a couple of months ago and it had this readers'
poll in it. It was very nice to the band but there was this
catergory, 'Biggest Hype', and it had our name up the top."
"We'd just played a gig in Rotterdam
where our van got broken into. We loaded the gear into the
van, drove straight to Amsterdam, still sweating, to play
the next night to twenty-two Dutch people. Since then I've
been thinking about what a strange situation this band has
gotten itself into. Uh, hype? I don't get it."
This particular stretch of road has taken
five months out of the lives of Tim Rogers, Russell Hopkinson
and Andy Kent. You Am I played support to the likes of The
Lemonheads, Wilco and Symposium through Europe and the UK,
a typically gruelling attempt to be noticed by audiences
yet to be take You Am I into the firm embrace they enjoy
"We're not popular anywhere outside our home,"
is the hype free story. "We could be playing Hamburg
one night to twenty people but all twenty of them want to
take you back to their houses and play you Rattles bootlegs
and talk about The Who or Crime (the San Francisco punk
band, not the spiralling social evil).
"I do find the whole rock 'n' roll
thing romantic," he confesses. "It's pretty much
been a beery cheery cars 'n' girls kinda drop-your-trousers
thing - well, not so much of that. Stuff that any eighteen-year-old
kid would be doing on a weekend. Soft drugs and good drinks
- and always making sure the show's good.
"We like to play hard then wipe the
sweat from our bodies with a moist towelette and collapse
with a couple of beers in a friends room while listening
to Little Richard watching the sun come up. It's a charmed
way of living, it really is."
Not to downplay the homesickness and personal
exhaustion factors. Rogers says both he and Hopkinson have
quit the band this year in the midst of road insanity, only
to rejoin within weeks or days. "As much as Andy and
Russell and I hate each other at times, you gotta love the
people you're playing with 'cause let's face it, you're
stuck with them."
The album Rogers hopes to call You Am
I's Number Four Record was compiled last week at Hollywood's
Sunset Studios, where the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main
Street was mixed with sloppy perfection ("that's why
we chose it") in 1972. Produced by George Drakoulias
(Black Crowes, Primal Scream), it will be mixed later this
year and released in early 1998.
Meanwhile, the five-song Trike EP serves
as an entree to You Am I's homecoming which kicked off in
Geelong last Wednesday. Both Trike and Opportunities appear
on the overseas version of their most recent album, Hourly,
Daily just released in the USA.
"We finished Hourly, Daily so long ago and since played
all these shows so we really felt like digging in and doing
more rockin' material," Rogers explains, "That's
what we're good at, doing entertaining shows rather than
the sensitive singer-songwriter bit, which is more my thing.
When the three of us get together it's like, let's make
a racket. It's very special and very exciting. Gut level
Rogers hints that You Am I's Number Four Record will reflect
the up-tempo pace of life on the road, citing influences
ranging from the Muffs record to Stax soul to Bob Dylan's
"I'm afforded the luxury of sitting
around listening to records all day. For other people it's
goofing off, for me it's honing my craft," he laughs.
"And if we can make people feel something in that process
that's an extremely privileged position to be in."