Talk About The Passion

A track-by-track tour of You Am I’s Hourly Daily

Working his way through a bowl of muesli in a cafe in inner Sydney, You Am I's frontman Tim Rogers looks happy with his lot. "Hi Fi Way," the groundbreaking second album from the raggedy-arse trio - Rogers, bassist Andy Kent and drummer Russell Hopkinson - has just been released in America, where they're soon off to for extended touring that includes a slot on the second stage of the cross-country festival, Lollapalooza. At the same time there's a third album ready to go locally, "Hourly, Daily," a compelling, varied musical portrait.
"We were at home. There were no car crashes. We weren't in New York. We even rehearsed a bit," is Rogers' description of the recording process. Here after polishing off his breakfast, he runs through each track off their latest disc.

Hourly, Daily
“Last year when there were a lot of TV specials on right wing activity, it really kind of got to me. But I wasn’t thinking about these boot boys and Fascists, but what their parents were thinking. I kinda imagined this situation with the sun coming up, a mother waking up and her son comes home and takes off his jackboots and salutes - what’s she thinking of her oldest son?
So it’s not your reply to The Cranberries “Zombie”?
“No, no. I don’t think enough about everything outside my own suburb.”

Good Mornin’
“When we were writing the record I was waking up early and listening to the early morning AM chatter. Often I wake up depressed, as people do, and I found it really comforting. I could see how you could get attached to it, instead of waking up with someone next to you.”

Mr Milk
[A re-recorded version of last December’s single] “That was the first of the songs I wrote for the album, so I’m very comfortable with it.”

I could imagine most groups making this into distorted rock, but you’ve gone boppy with the horns.
“Very consciously. Not so much as a plan, but from what Russell, Andy and I were listening to at the time. We wanted to make it different. What frustrated us in it not coming out in February was that then it would have been a bit of a reaction against what was going on. You Am I were rock for four years, but we wanted something different.”

This sounds like the best example of using strings and brass intelligently.
“That song really does lend itself to having them there. That’s a favourite, I really wanted it to work out well.”

If We Can’t Get It Together
“That’s pretty much my favourite lyric. When I played it to Joel [Silbersher, Hoss] I really wanted to impress him, and he said, ‘Sounds a bit like fucking Paul Kelly.’ I went ‘Oh thanks,’ but now I take it as a great compliment.”
The characters feel like ordinary folk you might meet anywhere. And they’re having problems.
“Pretty much. My brother’s getting married next year, there’s a spate of weddings around me actually, and that’s the first time I’ve seen it happen to people I know.”

Flag Fall $1.80
This is so catchy, and you’ve managed to get another “six pack” reference in.
“I know, I can’t believe I did it again. It’s about a cab driver, because I had one fall asleep on me one night in Balmain and it scared me.”
While he was driving?
“Yeah. I woke him up. But this about a cab driver driving around looking to pick someone up, and he’s wondering why people are waving at him. He doesn’t realise they’re hailing him.
And a guitar outburst at the end?
“We just wanted something to explode. It’s a very fruity album, so we wanted some mayhem. It’s very Who-ish, obviously.”

Wally Raffles
The guitars are many, but with a certain lightness.
“A year ago Russell and I were in New York, sharing a room together, and we went out and got stinkin’ at the Jones Bar and ran around New York with our shirts off because we were drunk, declaring that we would herald the return of beat music - music that had a hop to it, a skip to it, that made you want to shimmy. The next morning, while vomiting, we declared that we would make a beat record. It’s about my Uncle Wally, who used to live in Perth at the Raffles Hotel in Applecross. I think Wally Kempton [aka Meanie] thinks it about him, and whether he has a gambling habit.”
And a namecheck for your brother and sister?
“Well, you know, it’s a Tim Rogers song. I promised my family after the last album that I’d leave ’em alone, but it rhymed.”

Heavy Comfort
At an acoustic show recently you said this was about the oldest prostitute in Annandale.
“Figuratively. Out my back window I can see a lot of back windows. When you catch people in their windows you imagine what they’re doing while you’re making your macaroni. Then, on a plane back from Perth, I saw that film Bed of Roses, where he sees someone in a window, and I realised the song should have come out with the film.
You could have been Bryan Adams and written the love theme from Bed of Roses.
“I would love to write a song like that. So corny and dumb that everyone would get it.”
“Everything I do…”
“…I do it for you.” Ninety-nine per cent of people in the world will understand that. We did it live with a string quartet, actually. It was kind of interesting. They’d go, ‘Ahh Tim, you’re kind of out of tune there.’ And I went ‘Where?’ And they said, ‘Kind of everywhere’.”

Dead Letter Chorus
“That was written in Toledo, Ohio, where we had a day off. The only thing going on was a Rib-Off, where people cook racks of ribs all day. Now, I’m a vegetarian, but that day I was so bored and sad that I was looking at all these kids trying to crack on to each other. So I got a plateload of ribs and watched ’em. Then I got very sick from eating meat.”

Baby Clothes
“A very, very stupid song. I was going to write it about a night at the Annandale Hotel, but I don’t want something so self-referential about indie-rock Nazis.”
I think the key word here is strut.
“I like a strut.”

Someone’s Else’s Home
“It’s about people sticking together. We might not have a very attractive lifestyle, but if we’re not special at least we’re ourselves. Finding the small things.”

Don’t Ask Me to Smile
Are you the 12 year old protagonist of this song?
“Oh yeah. I didn’t want to call it ‘Don’t Ask Me to Smile’ in case it sounded like [assumes grunge angst], ‘Don’t ask me to smile.’ It’s more like people who go, ‘Smile.’ I hate that. Smiling isn’t comfortable. But in grade six I did open the door for that girl. She won’t remember, I didn’t cut a very dashing figure at 12.”

Moonshines on Trouble
What’s that sound at the start?
“That’s a Farfisa organ borrowed from Brad ‘sugar lumps’ Shepherd [Hoodoo Gurus]. We wanted it to sound like Todd Rundgren in the early ’70s. Or the High Llamas.”

Who Takes Who Home
“When I go into town I bug the people at Timewarp [Records] for a few hours, then Redeye second hand [Records], walk home about five or six o’clock across the Glebe Island Bridge. [Smiles] And when you look back, the city is incredible, beautiful. Everyone is going home, which is sad, but there’s something lovely to it all as well.”


Craig Mathieson