Can you even imagine
what You Am I’s young lead
guitarist Davey Lane is feeling right now? A little while
ago, he got to share a stage with the Rolling Stones. That
was something. But this is another thing; Lane and his
beloved You Am I cohorts will soon be introducing The Who
to Australian audiences for the first and only time since
1968. For You Am I, this must be about as close as it gets
to opening for God.
And it’s one thing for the now seasoned pros who
make up the long-term You Am I team – Tim Rogers,
Russell Hopkinson and Andy Kent – to not only finally
get to see their musical heroes here in the flesh but to
actually get to play alongside them, maybe even share a
few beers and stories. They’ve all met rock stars
before, though no-one quite as imposing as Roger Daltrey
and Pete Townshend. But, well hell, it wasn’t that
long ago that Davey Lane was spending his school holidays
writing up guitar tabs for the You Am I website. You can
bet he’s done the same thing for most of The Who’s
recorded catalogue too. His nervous energy is palpable
just talking to him about it, Lord knows how he’s
going to cope when the time actually arrives later this
It seems Lane is coping by remaining industrious. He was
recently involved in recording the soundtrack for the new
AC/DC themed film Thunderstruck and when I call him, he’s
in a studio recording some tracks for a new release by
his band The Pictures. In Lane’s words, “it’s
good to keep busy” – there seems to be little
Well The Who - who’d have thought?”
I know, bloody ‘ell!”
Are you the biggest Who fan in the band?
Uhhh, well I’m the most nerdy of them anyway. Yeah
I learned to play all the songs and, well, I’m pretty
bloody nervous about it to tell you the truth.”
Have you been rehearsing the first thing you’re
going to say to Pete Towsnhend?
Nah, nah, I haven’t been rehearsing anything to say
to him, I just hope that if I get to meet him I catch him
on a good day. Yeah, I’m definitely looking forward
to meeting Roger, I reckon he’d be alright. He’d
seem to be more personable of the two I’d say.”
I was reading your You Am I UK tour diary the other
day and it reveals that you’re all still very enthusiastic
rock and roll fans, you’re all incredibly interested
with the history of rock. That story about you meeting
the best mate of the Small Faces singer, for example.
Oh yeah. Look to go to England was just quite incredible
because as much as I love Australia and I wouldn’t
live anywhere else in the world, there’s just such
a rich history there that is just, it never fails to astound
me when I go there. Just to get to go to those places and
you know ‘that’s where my Dad used to play
with Steve [Marriott] back in the day…’ it’s
Because you kind of got into this as a fan… weren’t
you originally a contribute to the You Am I website?
Well a friend of mine from Sydney was running the website
and I was just helping out with little guitar bits and
pieces. I’d have nothing to do on my school holidays
so I’d sit around and work out how to play the songs
and then kind of show him and he’d put them on the
You would have a better idea than anyone of what
like to transcend that famous barrier between stage and
fan, you’ve done it more successfully than just about
anyone, except maybe Henry Rollins.
Well it still kind of astounds me to this day. I went to
see Tim [Rogers] play at the Corner the other night and
every time I see him sing those songs it makes me realize
how fucking proud I am to be in the band. It’s something
that I never ever forget and I’ll never take for
Now you’re getting to tread the stages with
some of your greatest musical heroes, does that change
perspective on life? Does it make it seem like almost anything
is possible, that dreams can come true?
Well , er, it’s, a, mm, a, a, ‘cause Tim and
I often talk about that like when we did those shows with
the Stones and it was like it was some kind of meter of
surreal kind of thing that I don’t know, it’s
something that we can’t really put into words too
well. Well not me anyway.
Like I say, I kind of realise how kind of lucky I am when
I get to experience those kind of things and something
that I’ll never ever take for granted. And something
deep down that maybe I know I don’t really kind of
deserve it, but if the opportunity’s there, I’ll
grab it. It’s just like I say, something that’s
a little bit difficult to explain.”
But you’ve hit on something there; it’s
your very willingness to grab these opportunities when
arise and prove that you do deserve them that is helping
to make your dreams come true.
Yeah it’s kind of the thing that you don’t
really think twice about. But at the same time, with the
prospect of playing with The Who now, I’m a pretty
nervous guy and I don’t know, I’m just trying
to battle the nerves myself in my head at the moment with
that prospect in mind.”
Who knows, Pete might walk up and say “Davey, love
your guitar playing, how about you join up and come and
tour with me?” Things like that aren’t out
of the question.
Ha, ha, ha. No I think Tim and I have made a pact to go
up to him and hit Pete up for all the f**king stuff he’s
ripped off us. He’s got something coming if he’s
going to try to be nice to us! “
I thought you did a fantastic job as part of Evan
band recently, especially in difficult circumstances. Your
guitar playing really added something great to that band
and those songs.
Oh, that’s another thing that I was so excited about
doing. I guess I was too young when the Lemonheads were
at their peak to really appreciate it but now a few years
after the fact I’ve listened to those records and
really enjoyed them so that was another thing I was just
really excited to do. And I think it all turned out well
in the end and everybody tried their hardest on that tour.
It was just circumstances, that, you know..
And you also got to contribute to the Thunderstruck
soundtrack, I bet The Casanovas’ Tommy Boyce would
have been a bit jealous of that!
Oh I think he would have done a far better job than I,
he certainly would have nailed those solos a lot better.
But that was just at a time, I mean looking back on it
now, I did it at a time when somebody said ‘you’ll
get to spend a couple of days in the studio with Jamo [Phil
Jameson, Grinspoon] and Trav [Travis Demsey, ex-Living
End] and Janet [English, Spiderbait] and I thought that
would be a bit of fun. But I don’t know I think to
cover such a classic song as that, ahhh, it’s a little
bit, ahhh, sacrilegious, but you know, like you said, it’s
another opportunity, so I just took it.”
You didn’t get to meet Malcom or Angus Young
during the project?
No, no. Yeah I’ll be hiding from their lawyers after
they hear the guitar playing on that! (laughs)”
AC/DC and The Who especially
were so much about excess and danger and rebellion, do think
some of that has gone
out of rock and roll these days?
Um, yeah I guess a lot of the biggest bands in the world
now are a lot more nice than they used to be and like your
Chris Martins and whoever. But I think you get the odd
glimmer of hope in there in the odd band that comes out.
But I hope that never dies off but it’s just one
of those things…”
Well the other thing is if a band acted like
The Who these days, they’d be written off as a rock cliché,
it must be difficult to do something original and exciting
with such precedents set.
Well that’s the thing. It’s always been a constant
thing, even I find with my band [The Pictures] playing
around it’s like ‘but it’s so clichéd
and it’s so derivative’ but if those reviewers
and the like knew how much fun that was, then it probably
wouldn’t be such a big issue I tend to think. That’s
just my opinion anyway.”
You Am I is a band that definitely pours its soul into
every performance and promotes that element of danger.
Well I kind of think that level of danger and spontaneity
is what keeps everything exciting for me playing on a long
tour. You take a band like Oasis for example, who I love,
but every show, the set list is the same and there’s
not that level of spontaneity where something might go
wrong because everything is always going to work like clockwork,
so when things stuff up and things don’t always work,
that’s kind of what keeps it exciting for me.”
Does playing with bands like the Stones, The Strokes, Jet
and now The Who, give you a better perspective on what
You Am I is; what its strengths are, its approach to things?
Yeah, definitely. For me I can kind of see You Am I from
an outsider’s perspective as well because I did love
the band for so many years before I joined them, so when
I’m at the pub with Nic Cester [Jet’s singer],
we’d talk about how good songs off Number Four Record
or something were, I can look at it and go, ‘yeah,
f**king oath they’re great!’ I can look it
from that perspective as well. So I guess I have the
best of both worlds.”
You Am I are in a pretty unique position - there
too many Australian bands with the experience and output
of You Am I who are still progressing and vital and aren’t
living on past glories.
I think especially for those guys, I feel quite proud of
them as well, the way that they’ve kind of dealt
with being pushed in at the deep end I suppose, it’s
quite admirable I think. They’ve dealt with it
Well speaking of performing with danger and spontaneity,
it will be very interesting to see how The Who approach
performing these days. Obviously that inter-member intensity
not going to be the same.
Yeah I guess Pete and Roger wouldn’t be as much at
each other’s throats as they once would have been
so I’ll just be happy if they don’t play
all the hits and play a couple of the more obscure things
Have you heard anything about their more recent shows?
I’ve only kind of seen a couple of things on TV and
heard a couple of things, but I think it’s just great
that they’ve got Zak [Starkey] in the band because
he kind of gives the other guys a bit of impetus to push
it forward a little.”
Which very important because that manic nature of The
Who so often came from Keith Moon’s drums.
Oh of course but as good as Kenny Jones was, the band never
really kind of recovered from the loss of Keith and having
Zak there, he tends to play with that same kind of energy,
so I’m looking forward to seeing that.”
Big Pond Music