YOU AM I
June 8, 2006 | Author: Author: Joe Matera
As one of Australia’s most respected and successful bands, You Am I have notched up an impressive list of accolades during their career. They’ve garnered seven ARIA Awards, set a record for having three consecutive albums debut at #1 (Hi-Fi Way, Hourly Daily and No. 4 Record) and inspired a multitude of Australian bands to do things their own way cue; Silverchair, Jet, The Vines and Wolfmother. Now with the release of their seventh studio album
‘Convicts’, You Am I are making a welcome return to the live arena. The album is their most hardest rocking to date. Joe Matera recently sat down with You Am I mainstays Tim Rogers and Davey Lane amidst the comfy confines of an EMI office to get the lowdown on Convicts.
‘Convicts’ is a lot more immediate with an urgency that sounds as if the album was made on the run?
Tim: That’s correct. I suppose that feeling comes from the fact it was made over a period of twelve months. Though the actual studio time we utilized was only 12 days, it was spread over that period of time due to the other guys’ projects. Russell has used the phrase “guerrilla recording” and it really was like that. We utilized five different studios along the way; Big Jesus Burger; Electric Avenue, Newmarket, Sing Sing where we did some of the guitars and finally mixed it at a place called The Vault in Balmain.
Davey: I think recording sporadically like we did in bursts of three or four days was good. To go in and record as much as you in can in such a short space of time, then let the dust settle, live with what you’ve done for a week then go back and do some more, is good because you can then reassess things in a fresh light.
Did you have any preconceived ideas as to what you wanted to achieve musically?
Davey: No, we didn’t sit down before we went in to do the recording and agree on what type of sound we were going to make. The way the record came out was entirely its own kind of beast.
How did you approach the songwriting process?
Tim: We were really just bashing away on the songs, it’s a process we really hadn’t done in a long while. I always write songs for the enjoyment of it, if I was told to write a song on demand I just couldn’t.
Russell’s drumming takes the record to a new level, was that largely due because of his work with Radio Birdman in recent times?
Tim: Yes it’s very much such a large part of why the record sounds how it does. I think after the first session Russ was on fire and we were communicating musically well. Even though we always have, it was definitely the result of Russ playing with Birdman.
With each member doing their own side projects does this help keep things fresh for You Am I?
Tim: You Am I is always a side project (laughs).
Did being dropped from your last label also help in the fuelling the aggression on the album?
Tim: The whole thing with having that kind of theory is wrong, because we didn’t give a shit. We weren’t angry. All that picking fights with Mark Holden and stupid stuff that the media said was total crap. In fact, crap like that is the only thing I kind of get angry about. I mean we were pissed off at the way it was done but it was such a relief because they [the label] didn’t know what to do with us. It actually freed us up. And what happened on New Years Eve had nothing to do also. Any kind of turmoil within any of us was far more personal.
What sort of gear did you use for the album?
Davey: Because we were all so excited to be working on new tunes again, and to be making a new record we kind of didn’t spend too much time on all the gear. But primarily I used a HiWatt and a Fender Telecaster along with my trusty reissue Gibson SG and a Les Paul and very little else.
Tim: Just my “Crockenbacker” [handmade replicas of the Rickenbacker 360 guitar made by Sydney maker Piers Crocker] guitars which I’ve fallen back in love with, a Fender Tonemaster 2 X 12 and that’s it. We tried to get the emotions out of ourselves and whatever instruments we were actually playing rather than relying solely on the gear itself. And we didn’t have any pressure apart from those we imposed on ourselves, so it was exciting.
What drives you as an artist to keep at your craft?
Tim: Well our ambition at the start, since we were just a band from the north western suburbs of Sydney, our only ambition was to get on a bill anywhere. Our ambition has increased very little over time. The excitement of playing and creating records is what totally drives me. You hear artists say they’re giving up because there are assholes in the industry. Well you don’t have to deal with those assholes you know. At the moment I can say I don’t think I’ve dealt with an asshole in a long while.
Davey: For us personally it’s in some ways a way of preserving our sanity. We’d all go a bit mad if we weren’t able to share our creative urges.