musician & songwriter
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  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´´