Here’s one from the vaults – my first interview with a big rock star, Tim Rogers of You Am I fame. This was compiled from a one hour phone interview, published in student magazine The Box, where I undertook a two year internship as Music Editor/Entertainment Editor. Part I is comprised of the tame stuff that was appropriate for a student publication. (I am going to have to get out the original audio to see if Tim really said “freaking” in the interview…) The photos accompanying this were taken several weeks later by yours truly, at the Spit Polish industry showcase gig at The Evelyn.
April 2004 sees the release of You Am I front-man Tim Rogers‘ follow up to his ARIA Award winning 1999 solo debut What Rhymes With Cars And Girls. On Tim’s second solo album, Spit Polish, we see him joined by The Temperance Union which features the talents of former Twin Set bass player Stuart Seed and drummer Ian Kittney, as well as Shane O’Mara (Rebecca’s Empire, Paul Kelly Band) on guitar. Recorded and mixed by Shane O’Mara (who has previously produced/engineered Stephen Cummings and Chris Wilson) at Shane’s home studio, Yikesville, Spit Polish is a rough-hewn album of raw emotion. Showcasing Rogers’ frank personal narratives in ballads and country-rock, Spit Polish chronicles the singer/songwriter’s complicated, itinerant, and often lonely lifestyle of music and living to excess. Talie Helene spoke to Tim about screaming conservatism, performance, and the why and wherefore of being a musician.
Readers of this interview will have empathy with the name of Tim’s backing band – The Temperance Union – because Box Hill Institute is located in a dry area that was lobbied for by a conservative teetotaller coalition in the 1920s, very much like the historical Temperance Union. When Tim heard this he responded with, “Really? Oh, wow. Poor buggers.”
On the band name Tim Says, “The original Temperance Union thing came from this record I made with You Am I a couple of years back. We did the traditional You Am I thing of ordering a month’s supply of drinks for a two week recording. I took it from a film – some old western. I liked the way it sounded more than anything, and as I looked a little more into the repercussions of it, it was just a silly little kinda twelve year old irony. I only try and explain what I do if it wildly vacillates from what I was thinking. People misconstrue lyrics, they hear different words, and you can get misconstrued as being some kinda screaming conservative, or a racist, or something that you’re just not.”
Tim is touring solo and acoustic around Australia in April, which look like being his last solo shows for some time, although Tim will follow that with album launches and a full band tour with The Termperance Union. This moving to solo touring with a backing band is a conscious choice. “I don’t really want to do shows just by myself anymore. I enjoy doing them, but I think it’s pretty testing for an audience to hear me prattle on for a long while. The challenge is when you’re playing to someone else’s audience, then you can’t take anything for granted. You gotta put on a performance. People pay their bucks, and you want to be entertaining, and you want to get something out of it yourself. Well, I say that, n’then I’ll get stuck into the gin… who knows what’ll happen… But you try and retain respect for people. I get really down on myself if I feel I get too self-involved. I wanna tell a story, and I’m open to the feeling, but not to bore people to tears. I hate seeing guys just standing up there with guitars and think that everyone should focus on them for forty-five or fifty minutes. So, you know, I just try and think of a way that I can get more out of it, and then hopefully other people can.”
Upon hearing a large percentage of the readership of this article will be students, and a significant number music students like myself, Tim asked, “So they’ll be disgusted?” I somehow don’t think so. I think students of any kind, and teachers (if they’re any good), have a lot of empathy for an artist working with self-exploration and honesty.
Tim offered the following words of advice for artists getting started. “I try to live by example. Which is odd when doing an interview. But I think it’s pretty obvious if people come and see me play, or You Am I play, or The Temperance Union – it’s sort of what you live through, and what you live for. You’re gonna try and tell people how much you love ’em, or how disappointed you are in things, or how much you hate, or how much you enjoy – and try and pack that all into that show, or that song. It’s just a marvellous opportunity to do that. Most people don’t, and that’s why there’s a lot of really freaking depressed people around. People who can play music and emote and express how much things move you, I think you’re just really fortunate. Good freaking luck to you.”
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