After 14 eventful years, full of more memorable performances than a mind could handle, The Hi-Fi still manages to remain a premiere venue in Melbourne and one that’ll hopefully continue to stay strong for a long time yet. What better way to celebrate a birthday than with a man who’s certainly no stranger to the venue’s stage and bar area – that most distinguished of troubadours, Mr. Timothy Rogers.
“To go to a venue like this and see friendly faces – people you’ve been in the trenches with – is always an amazing feeling,” Tim says fondly of the Swanston St institution. “You’ve got history with these people, and most importantly I want to impress them. I don’t wanna turn up and just do the same show again. I see acquaintances and friends so rarely these days that I want to hit them with something new, whether it be a stupid new jacket or a different way of singing.”
His tenor may have changed slightly in recent years thanks to the various new musical avenues he’s been exploring. No longer is Tim Rogers just known as that guy from You Am I who wails and grunts his way through a rock show, shirtless and with sweat dripping from the frets – he’s now a theatre actor and composer. One of his other most recent projects includes working with guitarist Shane O’Mara on an as-yet-undisclosed film soundtrack.
“It’s not a secret, but because it’s not out yet I want to respect the film company,” Tim says as to why he remains tight-lipped. “Being in the studio with some of these musicians I’ve wanted to work with for a while has been great. Writing for a script and not just writing for yourself has been really enjoyable. You feel a bit more like an employee when writing for already-realised material, and I kinda like that. Reminds me of back when I was a dishwasher!”
As has been the case with other extra-curricular assignments he’s been a part of in the last few years, finding out about the opportunity and going forth with it came through shared interests and honest meetings.
“I really like the director and they tried to contact me through my ‘people’ – then they realised I don’t really have any ‘people’ and that we could meet up personally and talk about it,” he laughs. “I like doing projects and seeing whether you can speak openly and have good music and film references. It was very direct, y’know; no talk with managers or producers and the like.”
In other recording news on the Tim Rogers front, the Kalgoorlie-born songwriter will be hitting the studio once more with his backing band The Temperance Union the same day the group are set to take The Hi-Fi stage.
“Yeah we’re hoping to scrape that together next week. We’re all pretty excited to get started. We’re all pretty good dancers,” he deadpans, “and want to do something with a heavier rhythmic influence – less chords and more pants-hitting-the-floor.”
As interesting as his other side ventures are, there are still, understandably, many of Rogers’ admirers who just want to know what’s next for You Am I – especially following on from last year’s impressive self-titled effort. One of the main things in the pipeline for the lads is a long-overdue visit to the US in September.
“One of the many great things about being in You Am I at the moment is being offered to play some shows in the Pacific northwest,” he goes on. “So we thought ‘fuck it’, let’s save some money from shows played this year and put that towards a tour. We’re teaming up with Canadian band Sloan – we toured with them about eight years ago – and it’ll be good to see them and some old friends from the past.
“With You Am I now we kind of just call each other and say ‘Does this look like fun? Yes. Are any of us going to be too badly out of pocket? No. Do they sell beer there?’ Then we go do it,” he chuckles. “We’re also writing new things at the moment so it’ll be a good chance to (do more of that) while stuck in the van; seeing how far we can stretch this A7 chord.”
Of course, not focusing on You Am I as a full-time task means that Tim doesn’t get to see or speak to his bandmates as often as he used to, but that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t continue to learn a lot from them.
“The most common question I’m asked these days is ‘Tim, what do you think about the state of the Australian music industry?’ I find that out by speaking to Andy, Rusty and Davey,” he says in an almost proud, fatherly tone. “They’re all so busy.
“I usually see Davey once a week but it’s been quite a while because he’s making records, playing and touring. Rusty’s a teacher and Andy is tour managing and coordinating. It’s great; I don’t have to have anything to do with the music industry – my friends just give me weekly updates. As close as Davey and I are – we’re brothers – I called him up for a drink and he said ‘Oh, I can’t Tim – I’m in Denmark playing with Crowded House’. So our levels of communication can be a little lax sometimes.”
Also scheduled for the end of the year is The Story Of Mary Maclane By Herself – a Malthouse Theatre production with Tim performing new material alongside fellow actor Bojana Novakovic. This is a follow-on of sorts from his role in the production company’s wonderful Woyzeck a couple of years back.
“The big thing about doing Woyzeck was meeting the people who I acted with and they became very dear friends. I see them all quite regularly. Meeting up with Warren Ellis to do a bit of press – we spent this great day together with my daughter – and just speaking to him about what he’s doing made me think ‘Right, I’m gonna get myself together and start extending myself as far as I can go to write for different projects; not just try to be J.J.Cale’.
“If you put yourself out there, be enthusiastic and clear-headed, then you can be asked to do a lot of wonderful stuff. I go to libraries and do my research on different styles of writing and music, theatre in particular, and it’s really filled me with the realisation that my forties are going to be even more fuckin’ exciting than the past two decades.”
THE HI-FI BIRTHDAY BASH featuring TIM ROGERS & THE TEMPERANCE UNION, Even, River Of Snakes and Henry Wagons (solo) is hitting The Hi-Fi this Friday June 10. Tickets from 1300THEHIFI or hifi.com.au
BY Gav Ross