TIM ROGERS & SHANE O'MARA
Heritage Hotel, Bulli
Tim Rogers is a busy guy. So busy, between writing music and recording music and writing plays and reviewing books, he booked a month-long tour around Australia just to get some proper time to himself to – that’s right – finish yet another project.
“I just wanted some time in the car to write some songs,” Rogers said simply. He’s walking down a busy city street when the Mercury reaches him on his mobile. The air is alive with the familiar sounds of civilisation: honking horns, rushing cars, a gentle burble of garbled conversation as he walks past another group, and another and another, of fellow pedestrians.
“Touring life is familiar to me. It gives me some predictability in life.”
Best known as frontman of iconic Aussie rockers You Am I since their 1989 inception, Rogers has increasingly added extra strings to his bow alongside his quarter-century stint with the band.
'It can be confusing sometimes to wake up and have to remember what version of Tim Rogers I have to be that day.'
He said he is currently working on new songs for both You Am I and solo releases under his own name, reviewing books, writing several plays – one based on his first album What Rhymes With Cars And Girls – and working on music for the Bangarra Dance Company.
With a reputation as one of the most intellectually minded, considered and occasionally prickly names in Australian music, Rogers said the many-balls-in-the-air approach stimulates him, keeps him occupied – that being forced to focus on just one at a time would be torture.
“It’s the mix that I like. If I did just one thing all the time, I’d be more of an impossible human than I already am,” he said with a wry half-chuckle – the closest he comes to cracking his stony exterior.
“As lunk-headed as rock’n’roll seems, if you add in a touch of the esoteric stuff and grit and gut energy from the theatre, the tender loving of acoustic mode, and the energy and profanity of rock, it can lead to more interesting performances and better ways of writing. I’m not sure I’ll ever truly work it out, but it works for me to mix up all those things.”
He talks in complete sentences (sometimes a rare luxury when interviewing rock stars), tidbits on the elusiveness of creativity and juggling many roles and responsibilities easily coming out in his signature laidback intonation as if he’d been waiting for the right chance to share the ideas.
“Being able to jump between everything is the hard bit sometimes. It can be confusing sometimes to wake up and have to remember what version of Tim Rogers I have to be that day,” he mused, before deadpanning “but really, I just wake up, read, make music and try to stay out of the pub until the sun goes down’’.
Rogers’s last solo album, Rogers Sings Rogerstein, was released way back in 2012 but he is once more taking to the wide open road to share his solo tunes with the country.
Touring up and down the East Coast over the next month, then into Darwin and Townsville, the softly spoken troubadour said the long drives between shows would give him some rare downtime to work on songs for a new upcoming release of his own – but, unsurprisingly, it is not the only thing he will be thinking about, with You Am I having an American tour later this year.