Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Shoulda Been Huge - You Am I

While arguably huge in their native Australia, You Am I have remained something of an unknown on these shores. Having influenced many-a-band that came out of the new rock n roll revolution of 2002, I’ve always wondered why this band never made even the slightest dent of an impact on our scene.

I stumbled across You Am I on their 2002 support slot tour with the Vines and they were promoting their 6th studio album ‘Deliverance’ at the time. They rocked the proverbial out of the audience for thirty minutes.

During the earlier part of the decade and the late nineties, You Am I gave their support slots to particularly well lauded new talent, anyone heard of The Strokes, JET, The Vines, Kings of Leon? They all supported You Am Ion their never-ending tours of Australia and America.

You Am I formed back in early 1990s in Sydney, originally as a trio “hankering with Van Halen riffs in a hotel room” and featured Tim Rogers on vocals and guitars, brother Jamie on drums with Nik Tischler on bass. The band had several line-up changes over the years, eventually sticking with Andy Kent on bass and Rusty Hopkinson (formerly in Nursery Crimes)on the sticks in 1991 and 1993 respectively before Davey Lane completed the four piece line up in October 1999, taking the reins of lead guitar.

You Am I made their reputation as sweaty, hard working rockers and by the time they released their third studio album, ‘Hourly Daily’, they were riding on hits such as chart friendly ‘Good Mornin’’, ‘Mr Milk’ and ‘Cathy’s Clown’.

They are a band that have always been far from polished, leaving their cigarette scratched and sopping wet booze drenched brand of rock in a field away from most bands. Not afraid to drift off into the hard rock n roll of ‘Junk’ (although never captured on record as momentously as their live appearances) to soft spoken country commentary of ‘Nifty L’il Number Like You’ and ‘City Lights’ which displayed a soul that doesn’t exist in many bands.

It’s not all rosie posie perfect rock n roll, You Am I’s seventh and not so well received studio album, ‘Convicts’ was their first release after being dropped by long time record label, Sony BMG Australia who had signed them in 1998. It took a while for You Am I to return after the band worked on their own solo projects and other interests.

Front man and song writer Tim Rogers has become something of a cult figure in Australia collaborating with various artists including long time friend Evan Dando. The two toured together back in 2001 to promote Rogers’ solo record ‘Spit Polish’ backed by the ‘Temperance Union’.

This has been Rogers’ most notable foray outside of You Am I and the project has released two records, the most recent being double album, Ghost Songs and Dirty Ron with the prior producing the ramshackle and unclean ‘Dumb’ and the charming and honest ‘Social Pages’.

Davey Lane caught the attentions of You Am I with his band the Pictures who have released two albums and various EPs in the time that Lane isn’t with You Am I and the band have toured with the likes of JET to a relatively low degree of success.

However, Lane, respected in his own right as one of Australia’s leading guitarists also took part in the Wave Aid gigs in Australian super group, The Wrights, also featuring Kram from Spiderbait, Pat Bourke of Dallas Crane, Easybeats front man Stevie Wright and Nic Cester of JET on vocals. The band produced hit single ‘Evie’, a cover of the Easybeats classic song-trilogy.
Rogers also appeared with JET on an ABC television and radio appearance back in 2004 performing ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ and ‘Look What You’ve Done’ with the band. Chris Cester, JET’s drummer said that Rogers and You Am I “had been a strong influence” on the band as they were growing up, along with others such as Dallas Crane, Spiderbait and the Easybeats.

Bassist and co manager Andy Kent most recently played bass on The Vines third studio album, ‘Vision Valley’, filling the void left by Patrick Matthews after Craig Nicholls was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

You Am I have not necessarily been ignored by the British faithful, earning a support slot with the mighty Rolling Stones after Keith Richards stumbled across them on an Australian tour.
With the ‘new rock revolution’ now crumbled and dishevelled under a smear of face paint, synthesizers, MDMA and glitter and bands such as The Hiss, The Redwalls, Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club, The Vines, 22-20s, and The Datsuns relatively forgotten, the ‘wheel’ as we know it is spinning out of control feeding the weak minded with over produced and dressed up dross giving the likes of Simon Cowell the gaps to show case tampered with, overblown bullshit that we’ve heard before. Let’s face it; it’s just someone singing someone else’s song only doused with reverb, loud bangs on entrance and a gushing, fake and nowhere near as successful as her sister Danni Minogue. It’s barely even real. Sorry, she’s barely even real.

You Am I can keep their soul and their back yard rock for themselves.

Shoulda been huge.

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