You Am I
singer/guitarist Tim Rogers tells WILLIAM BOWE it's all
about rock'n' roll
It seems rock is ``back'' again.
How does that feel for you after all this time?
Oh, next month it'll be something else. There's good rock
and there's shocking; there's two per cent good and 98 per
cent woeful. Russ (Hopkinson, You Am I drummer) came up
with a good quote, that rock 'n' roll is for people who
are into medieval jousting. Maybe it's become like jazz,
which I'm absolutely fine about. I don't want everyone to
have a deep knowledge of the Stones or be into Johnny Thunders
or to adore Chuck Berry. I want it to be like a secret society.
People are saying maybe You Am
I didn't time it properly and if you'd come along 10 years
later you might be getting hyped right now.
It seems the predominant thing now is to have some sort
of styling, so even if our timing had been better, we're
not that stylised. You know, we have a few extra sideburns
here and pretty dodgy haircuts, but the songs are stamped
all over by what my personality is. They're not D4 (NZ rockers)
songs, what we write are great celebratory rock 'n' roll
The production on your new album,
Deliverance, sounds a bit less polished than Dress Me Slowly.
Is that because you spent three years laboriously recording
the last one?
No, it was probably just the nature of the songs and the
way we recorded them. On Dress Me Slowly we were pretty
interested in what was going on in the studio and wanting
to utilise it, and this time it was very much, no, we just
want to play the songs and get drinkin'. We wanted the whole
ramshackle spirit of the record to come through rather than
the songs and any great chord changes or any great melodic
ideas. Which I think is what the band was supposed to be.
If there's any charm to the band it's that we're a little
Surely there's some charm to the
band. . .
I think there's immense charm to the band, but that's because
I know those guys very well and I find them extremely charming
people, and I guess I like that to be represented because
I like rock bands. . . (laughs).
You Am I seemed a bit less rock
'n' roll purist when you started. You were almost seen as
part of the grunge thing. . .
Getting sidled with the music that was going on at the time
was pretty bemusing to us. We never felt quite "in''.
When Hourly Daily came out and we started to get front covers
of magazines, that was all right, but
Tumbleweed were always infinitely cooler than we were, and
more popular. Which was great, I understand that. Then Regurgitator
were infinitely cooler and better than us, and there was
always Magic Dirt, Spiderbait, all these other bands that
always seemed to be one cooler, one bigger.
They all seemed to be more closely
linked to youth culture than you were.
Yeah, that was definitely the case because we always did
seem to have the music tastes of 50-year-olds. But we always
had the feeling that any time we turn up to a gig, there's
a possibility people haven't seen us before and we're going
to turn them on, blow them away, that whole thing. It's
the only motivation really, like the first time I saw the
Hard-Ons, the first time I saw Massappeal, were significant,
amazing times in my life that changed the way I thought
Is it still possible for you to
get that sort of reaction these days?
Sure. I still run into people at shows who say things about
the band that knock me sideways, things like "I didn't
think bands like you still existed'' (laughs). Or people
are used to seeing bands with backing tapes,
then they see something that's a bit rawer but has tunes
and people going out like their life depended on it. And
it's not going to change a lot of people, apart from the
feeling that it gives us, but it is possible it's
going to turn somebody on.
Today you might read about The
Vines saying they had a similar epiphany over You Am I to
the one you had over the Hard-Ons or Massappeal.
Oh yeah, they're sweethearts, they're great. And
I have a little bit of a worry, I hope they enjoy it. It's
very easy to lose what you're doing it for, but I don't
think they will. I think Patrick (Matthews) and Craig (Nicholls)
together are a really great double as people. It was a thing
I noticed really early on, that the friendship between those
two is really good and dynamic and strong. And I just hope
it all works out. I don't like seeing things implode.
The media seem pretty keen to
paint them as rock 'n' roll maniacs.
Yeah, that's a little dangerous. The constant attention
to Craig's mental state I worry about, just as an observer,
but no big drama. He has to go through it and he'll handle
it fine. He has some good people around him and I just hope
he gets the chance to step off the treadmill for a while
make the next record.
Are you glad that never happened
Yeah. If the band had become a bit more popular and had
a wider platform, there would have been problems, for sure.
Now it would be fine, which is ironic because it's not going
to happen (laughs).