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You Am I's Tim Rogers recounts his well-dressed whirlwind of a year

It’s a Thursday afternoon and Tim Rogers is eating pickles and drinking beer as journalists queue to talk to him. “It’s not a tragic burden,” he laughs.

There’s not a whiff of ego in this sentiment, rather a sense of slight bewilderment that he has found himself in this position, despite being almost 30 years into his career. Once the media scuttle back to their desks, he’ll peruse his wardrobe to select a fitting ensemble for that evening’s gig. “It’s possibly the easiest job I’ve ever had,” he says.

One can only wonder what hidden treasures are tucked between the velvet suits and neckerchiefs dangling in his closet, and while it’s not uncommon to see Rogers clad in something that could only have been plucked from an untouched corner of a vintage store, he admits the much talked about gold platform shoes he recently donned for You Am I’s Melbourne Music Week performance were a dare from his daughter. He remarks that his quirky sartorial choices are a tactic employed “to take attention away from my face,” in a tone so deadpan that it’s impossible to determine whether or not he is joking.  

“About 80% of the things that I do are to keep sadness away, so dressing up is a way of doing that, because it amuses me,” Rogers says. “Maybe it’s a bit of a nod of the hat to the performers I loved when I was growing up, whether it’s Noddy Holder of Slade or Alice Cooper. I just figure, why not?”

The same whimsical attitude appears to carry through into his decision making when approached with project proposals.  Never one to linger on one idea for too long, this year has seen Rogers embark on a solo tour, perform tributes to The Beatles alongside Chris Cheney, Phil Jamieson and Josh Pyke, and The Rolling Stones with Ash Naylor and Talei and Eliza Wolfgramm, star in a short film, rendezvous with his band You Am I and tour alongside the likes of PP Arnold, among other things.

“I don’t necessarily think you get something creatively every time, sometimes it’s just fun. Hopefully it is some kind of evolution or devolution, you just pick up little things all the way about different styles and the strictures of those disciplines,” he says. “They just seem to fit in the same big lucky bucket that I’m drinking from, really.”

It’s difficult to comprehend the crippling performance anxiety Rogers speaks openly of in his memoir Detours, having witnessed the charisma he exudes on stage and knowing the rigorous schedule he keeps. Though he admits his perseverance is largely due to necessity.

“It’s been worse, it’s a lot better than it was, but I just don’t have a choice,” he says. “When the band started I had no prospects at all, I was just delivering pizza and very heavily medicated. I had to drop out of school and university and all of that. I’m not a bad gardener, professionally, but apart from that I really don’t do anything.

“I don’t ask for any sympathy for it because I got myself into this mess somehow. I’m just glad I can go out and perform.”

It appears 2019 will offer little reprieve, with You Am I already scheduled to perform at Under The Southern Stars and The Australian Open in January, before reconvening to record some new singles early in the year.

It’s been three years since You Am I released their last record Porridge & Hotsauce, though Rogers explains the subsequent lull does not result from a lack of desire to continue making music.  

“We’re always ready to and there are songs there, I guess it’s just, I don’t know if anyone’s interested,” he says. “If someone said ‘there’s a studio, go and make a record’ we’d be there yesterday.”

Catch You Am I at Under The Southern Stars at Hastings Foreshore Reserve, Victoria on Saturday January 12, 2019. Tickets are available via the Under The Southern Stars website.