You Am I have had a musical career spanning over 29 years; with ten ARIA awards under their belt and ten studio albums released, they’ve played alongside many amazing bands and musicians including The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Replacements and so many more. Frontman Tim Rogers is true Australian rock royalty. You Am I are set to play the Under the Southern Stars Festival in January next year alongside the Hoodoo Gurus, Eskimo Joe, The Superjesus and more. Rogers took some time out of his busy schedule to chat about the festival and other things, beginning with talking about how it feels to have been creating and writing music for so many moons.
“When you start writing a song – and I am writing songs for other people at the moment – and you sit down with a pen and paper and a piano or a guitar or a lute, you almost feel like you have never done it before. There are enough times where it does feel like that because I would like to think I am a song writer and that’s my job, but as a band we do a lot of other things to get by and because we are interested in other things. Even with performing when you are learning other songs like Spinal Tap songs or whatever project you throw yourself into, you feel like you’re 14 again, learning Credence Clearwater Revival songs in your bedroom. So it doesn’t really feel all that different I think, though I guess people have more trust in you the longer you’ve been doing it. I just got contacted by an American singer songwriter Alejandro Escavedo, he is touring Australia next year and asked me to play with him and I thought, ‘F*ck, I’ve got to learn 20 or 30 songs,’ but because of things that we’ve done people trust us to play with them. Although matched with that are a lot of people who don’t trust us at all,” he laughs, “and again you’re back to being 14!”
There is an old interview You Am I did on Recovery years ago where Rogers states, “We just want to play good music with simplicity and style.” I asked Rogers if he thinks the band has achieved that over the years.
“A lot of the time. We have made music with some mistakes and definitely as people we have made a lot of mistakes, but I think we have got some kind of moral core that was instilled in us by our first manager Kate Stewart, trying to be good to crew and to other people working harder than you, and again we haven’t always done that with mixed nerves and tiredness and drunkenness and overdoing it. I think the simplicity and style is there, but there have been times were we have been urged to change the style of music. Definitely when we were spending a lot of time overseas; but we always knew that we would end up in someone’s room later that night listening to records and just drinking beer. I think that is kind of what we are, and I think that is what we do best. I don’t think our music is particularly simple, it is using quite simple instrumentation but we just want to be the band that could play in your toilet or play on top of the opera house.”
With the big Under the Southern Stars Festival coming up in January, Rogers talks about the festival and reflects on what he thinks makes for a good music festival.
“I am looking forward to playing with the band and the opportunity to play is always very welcomed. We are playing with other people who are friends and acquaintances. It is always good to look at the calendar and there are 30 to 60 other musical shows coming up and then I see a You Am I show up there, that is the one to get out the good trousers for you know?” he laughs.
“At a festival I think the possibility that you will see something that you didn’t expect, a different style of music or a performer you’ve never heard of, is great. Safety at a festival is so important; as long as everyone’s safe and happy then right lets go fucking nuts! From the stage you see these situations with meandering idiots or just physical safety concerns and you know you just want to look out for the kid or the person who’s not physically strong enough to handle people falling on them. I think diversity on the bill is great; I think with all the conversations going on about diversity on a bill, be it gender or cultural diversity, but I also think a musical diversity like some hip hop over here and some Death Metal over here and some punk rock here, electronic dance music here; That is what I like about festivals. I played the 2 Worlds Festival in Geelong the other week. The intent was to bring indigenous artists and non-indigenous artists together and that was about the best festival I have played in 30 years, it was amazing. It was really wonderful. I think it is all about looking after the folks that are there, not just throwing a couple of thousand people into a field and expecting them to enjoy it. It is about entertainment and mixing that up. Having said that, if I have a six pack of Carlton Draft tins I am the happiest guy in the world, but I am possibly more easily amused that most.”
Under the Southern Stars Festival kicks off on January 12th in Melbourne and travels through the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Adelaide, Nowra and Port Macquarie. Get your tickets HERE!