Q&A

mu­si­cian & song­writer

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - In­ter­view by CAMERON ADAMS

You Am I’s Tim Rogers: “I don’t want to be the bit­ter man at the bar.”

You’ve been the front­man of You Am I since 1989, so there are prob­a­bly a lot of sto­ries you can tell. Yet your new mem­oir is far from your reg­u­lar rock’n’roll tell-all. Why is that?

Writ­ing an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy doesn’t in­ter­est me. My own life doesn’t in­ter­est me. The way of writ­ing about what you ex­pe­ri­ence in­ter­ests me, the facts don’t. The story of the band is best told by some­one else. A lot of books writ­ten by mu­si­cians are writ­ten with some­thing to prove – ei­ther that they’re smarter or dumber than you think they are. I’ve reached a point where I don’t re­ally care.

In the mem­oir you re­fer to your girl­friend only as The Hur­ri­cane, but is that killer open­ing line, “Could I now be­gin to flirt with you for the rest of my life?” true?

Could be. I blurred fic­tion and fact in the book. But we’re happy. At 47, I should be at a stage in life where I have my cri­sis and go to the gym. She should be wear­ing her Lu­l­ule­mon yoga gear. I haven’t done any phys­i­cal ex­er­cise aside from play­ing gigs for two years. We put more ef­fort into try­ing to be good peo­ple.

You’re hon­est about strug­gling to make a liv­ing out of mu­sic. I got back from my last tour and I had 14 cents in the bank. Our [1996] al­bum Hourly, Daily sold 60,000 copies, which is 59,000 more than I ever thought it would. Pow­derfin­ger were sell­ing half a mil­lion at the same time. I took an ad­vance for this book and it helped to firm up my daugh­ter’s ed­u­ca­tion, but then that was gone. I put ev­ery­thing into mak­ing records. But as fewer and fewer peo­ple give a damn when you think you’re still do­ing good work, I just keep mov­ing on to the next thing. We still play. I don’t like to think about busi­ness, but if ever it felt like a job, it sure does now. We like test­ing that, none of us are on health regimes. We do ex­actly what we did 10 or 20 years ago, mi­nus a few things. We still at­tack it like we’re teenagers.

You Am I had three num­ber-one al­bums in Aus­tralia in the ’90s, but are con­sid­ered to have not been as com­mer­cially suc­cess­ful as you should have been. Is the vic­tory the fact you’re still to­gether, still tour­ing, still friends?

I said to The Hur­ri­cane the other day, “You know, not be­ing more suc­cess­ful, es­pe­cially over­seas, ac­tu­ally does irk me.” I run into friends who are more suc­cess­ful and the jeal­ousy bone rat­tles, ab­so­lutely. But I quell it with know­ing I am the luck­i­est per­son in mu­sic. I’ve used very lit­tle and got a lot out of it through peo­ple giv­ing me a chance and me be­ing so good­look­ing. If any­thing more had hap­pened, if we did OK over­seas, whether I’d still be alive, who knows? The only fear I have is I don’t want to be the bit­ter guy at the end of the bar. I run into that guy of­ten.

There are re­ports of a sui­cide at­tempt in the US dur­ing the height of your suc­cess in Aus­tralia.

It was a mis­take, I call it out for what it was. It wasn’t a sui­cide at­tempt – it was an

“I run into friends who are more suc­cess­ful and the jeal­ousy bone rat­tles, ab­so­lutely”

at­ten­tion grab, and I’m re­ally ashamed of it. It’s why I got tat­toos, to cover up a whole bunch of sh*t. I don’t even know why I did it. I guess I had to go through that to get here. There was some ir­re­spon­si­ble drug stuff after I got di­vorced, all that mis­ery for a decade, but there was noth­ing in­ter­est­ing to write about.

You call your­self a dis­tant dad – ge­o­graph­i­cally.

We have an in­ter­est­ing re­la­tion­ship. It’s very tested, by a lot, not least by the fact my daugh­ter [Ruby] lives in New York. My con­cern is with her wel­fare and her health. I hate that “Oh, I’m a dis­tant dad, I’m go­ing to get drunk” men­tal­ity. I’ve grieved enough about that. No one needs to hear a f*cked-up dad story. It’s the way we’ve landed in our re­la­tion­ship that in­ter­ests me. I don’t check up on her, I check in with her daily. I’m not the cool dad. When she’s 30, I’ll try for that. For now, dork dad is fine. I’m a to­tal ponce.

How has rock mu­sic im­pacted your body?

I al­ways thought I’d be a bet­ter­look­ing older gen­tle­man. I imag­ined my­self look­ing like Peter O’toole. The de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of my body isn’t as bad as it could be. I wel­come it. I can still play a good half of footy, can still do shows. But noth­ing ages you like un­hap­pi­ness.

You’ve dab­bled in act­ing of late.

I get of­fered things gen­er­ally be­cause of the way I look. “Get us an ugly old guy!” Yeah, I’m avail­able. I’ve got the face I’ve lived in, I’ve got the face I de­serve. There was a rea­son I did all that stupid sh*t – be­cause it’s get­ting me work and it con­tin­ues to.

De­tours by Tim Rogers (Harpercoll­ins, $35) is out to­mor­row. Life­line: 13 11 14.

``I´m not the cool dad. For now, dork dad is fine´´

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