You Am I Ready for a Good Time

An article about You Am I playing with Hunters and Collectors on the 2014 A Day on the Green tour.

Author:  Helen Gregory, Newcastle Herald.

Date: 31 January 2014.

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There comes a moment for troubadour Tim Rogers in every A Day On The Green performance when he is plagued by conflicting feelings and can’t quite believe what he is doing.

“They’re rather plush; you’re very well looked after,” he says of his band You Am I joining Hunters and Collectors, Something For Kate and British India on a tour of vineyards across the country.

“I’ve thought in the past: ‘No, come on, someone needs to treat us like the bums we are’. It’s just too comfortable.

“But once we plug in and amp up, you get overtaken by this great beast, so there’s nothing kookier than our show once we’re up there.”

In reality, the four-piece – Rogers and bandmates David Lane, Andy Kent and Rusty Hopkinson – is anything but the lone wolf on tour.

Of the members of Hunters and Collectors, Rogers knows lead singer Mark Seymour socially, plays football with trumpet player Jack Howard, used trombone player Michael Waters as an accountant, discussed songwriting with guitarist Barry Palmer and used to hire a sound system from electric bassist John Archer.

“Their song The Slab was one of the first songs I ever played in a band 28 years ago,” Rogers muses.

“There’s this little attachment between all of us, which I love about making music in this country. You do meet people from vastly different backgrounds and yet you’re all Australian musicians, so you do feel a kind of kinship.

“They’re very well drilled and seem to really enjoy playing together again – and that sort of mood is rather infectious.”

You Am I’s performance at Bimbadgen Winery is their first in the region since August last year, when they played their Hourly, Daily and Hi Fi Way albums in full at Newcastle Panthers.

The tour marked 20 years since Lee Ranaldo, of Sonic Youth, saw the band performing at Big Day Out in 1993 and produced their ARIA-award winning debut album, Sound As Ever.

“It does feel like 20 years; not in the ‘Oh my gosh it’s been such a hard slog’ way, because it really hasn’t; it’s been wonderful and beautiful,” Rogers says.

“I recognise the guy who wrote those songs – I just don’t know if I want to spend that much time with him.”

But for all the ways the often rambunctious Kalgoorlie-born musician has grown into the roles of actor, composer, television show host, writer, landscape gardener and even AFL commentator, the more his rich relationships with his bandmates have stayed the same.

“You get us in a room and we start throwing 20 years of ridiculous stories around. When we get together, we just goof off,” he says.

“One thing we always wanted to avoid was becoming crabby or not enthusiastic and wanting to move onto the next thing.”

Rogers, now 44, said the band’s career had seen them play in every venue “from toilets to vineyards” and alongside the Who, the Rolling Stones, Sonic Youth and Oasis. But his favourite gig was playing to 30 people in a Cleveland bar called the Beachland Ballroom.

“We’d played to 4000 with the Strokes the night before in Philadelphia and weren’t expecting anything, but then we just pulled out a cracker and everyone who was at that show we all went out drinking with and are still friends with seven or eight years later,” he says.

The band is working on a 10th album, with Rogers sharing the songwriting through weekly meetings with Lane in Melbourne and encouraging Hopkinson, “the most eloquent of us all”, to contribute.

“I’m loving the ideas the guys are coming up with and we’re not going to deny ourselves the internal combustion we’ve got going on. We feel like we’ve got a lot of songs and albums and performances still to do, so we’re having a lot of fun trying to stay outside the bar before midday and proceed.”

Rogers has also been reinspired to write his own material ahead of a solo tour in April and is also co-writing a play based on his first solo album, the 1999 release What Rhymes With Cars and Girls.