You Am I have been the guiding light for Aussie bands like Jet and The Vines. Graham Coxon and The Strokes have supported them, while they’ve supported Rolling Stones, The Who and Oasis. Tim Rogers sings cut-to-the-bone ballads and booze-fuelled rock, Davey Lane and Andy Kent back him up on guitar and bass respectively and drummer Rusty Hopkinson lays a wicked beat while enjoying the rock ‘n’ roll “convict” life.

You’re one of the great Australian rock groups. How much “convict” attitude is in your new album, Convicts? When you travel around the world and you play in an Australian rock ‘n’ roll band, a lot of the time there are some very patronising attitudes towards Australia and we’ve never wanted to play the game. We just enjoy being narky Australian c#@ts, basically. It’s an expression that we’ve always had – we’re a bunch of bloody convicts, “fuck you”, basically. It’s all very tongue and cheek, we aren’t holding any romantic illusions to our national history. It’s meant in a playful way.

Did the album end up as you expected? It seems rockier than previous outings. I don’t think we deliberately set out to make a rock ‘n’ roll statement. It’s just how it turned out, with a lot of energy and a lot of love. We were having a really good time. It’s a nasty album at times. You can make an album that has vitriol, but it’s a really fun record as well.

The band has hit a few hurdles recently. Was it a relief that Tim penned “Thank God I’ve Hit The Bottom?” I don’t know if it was a sense of relief. All I knew was that I had a style of drumming in mind that harks back more to my youth. I don’t think we’re that objective about things like that. There was just a real sense of relief when we got back together to realise we were all still friends. A few things got broken along the way, but the one thing that didn’t was the bond that we all have. I don’t think any song has a particular meaning to me other than I’m just really happy to be here. I’m playing in a band that I love, with guys that are some of my best friends in the world.

So it was important to have a comeback and make this record? There was never a case of not doing that. We had been talking about it for quite a while. If you read the papers there were a couple of incidences that happened that were probably given a little more column space in publications than we’d had in quite a while. There was a lot of word going around that we were going to split up but I don’t think we ever looked at it like that. We gave it a rest for four months before we started doing some gigs again. You Am I had to take the backburner and I don’t think it’s a negative thing to do that sometimes. You kinda wish The Clash had done that around ’83, they might still have been together until poor Joe Strummer died. But you know you can go away and do other stuff and you know it’s always going to be there.

You’ve done tours in the UK, how are the shows there? Well, last year we played the Shepherd’s Bush Empire and it was sold out. Of course there were a lot of Aussies there, but there were a lot of Poms as well. Graham Coxon was opening and Billy Childish was in the middle spot so it was an exciting bill for us. Graham’s a friend of ours and he wanted to come down and try out some new material. We love to go anywhere that will have us. We’ll go and play in Spain and New York, where we do okay, and it’ll be fun, we’ll get to visit all our favourite bars.

Can you give us any tips on your favourite bars in Australia. I like a good ol’ fashion working man’s drinker. There are good pubs in Marrickville, anywhere with cold beer and a jukebox is pretty good I think. Somewhere like the Town Hall in Melbourne or the Hopetoun in Sydney, and The Troubadour in Brisbane.

It’s an easy enough formula isn’t it, cold beer and good music? Hell yeah.

Convicts is out now on EMI.

While trying to drive across the Simpson Desert, LIZZIE JOYCE and her partner were forced to hitch a ride with some dodgy truckers.

Early one January morning my boyfriend Dan and I set off on our trip across three states, covering 3,000 miles on what would turn out to be the best trip I have ever done, not to mention the most dangerous. We were attempting to cross the Simpson Desert on our way to Alice Springs from Sydney. We were fully prepared and set off in our 4WD loaded with equipment, including 60 litres of water, a double swag, a laser beam,
and an Epirb signal.

After 10 hours of driving, watching the landscape turn from highways and tall buildings to red earth and eternal horizons we glided past an old mining town called Cobar, stopped for a wee and drove on through, thankful that this ‘Hicksville’ town was not our destination. But while driving at an average speed of 120km per hour, the trusty car (which I was assured had “just had a full service and was made for driving across such terrain”) was disintegrating and the entire wheel was about to fall off.

Ugly mothertruckers

Suddenly, the brakes started to fail and smoke started pouring out the front passenger tyre. We were 120km from the last town and with at least 100km to the next, Dan decided we should drive on (without brakes) and see if we could make it to our destination. Luckily it didn’t last long anyway as the car stopped in defiance and we were forced to pull off the road in the middle of nowhere. Within minutes two semi-trailers driving in convoy by brothers, pulled up to offer us help and I’ve never been so glad to see two spectacularly ugly truckers before in my life. Freaky Brother One then began to undress me, with his eyes, almost frothing at the mouth at coming in such close proximity to someone of the opposite sex, while Freaky Brother Two was pretending to be a mechanic and baffling Dan with his bullshit. It was turning into Wolf Creek.

Nothing could be done with the car, and we had no choice but to accept a lift from Freaky Brother One to the nearest roadhouse 13km up the road. But then he said there wouldn’t be enough room in the cab so Dan should travel with his brother and I should hop into his cab by myself. By this point I was close to hysteria and there was no way I would be getting in that lorry by myself.

So we both hopped in with Brother Number Two. Dan settled in the middle of the very spacious cab which had enough room to house a small Albanian family! Relieved to be on our way to a phone box and in relative safety, (even if we were in being driven by an axe wielding maniac I had enough faith that Dan could knock him out if it came to it) I thought it would be plain sailing from here. After a couple of minutes on the road Brother Number One starts becoming agitated – he thinks he has lost his keys as he can’t use the radio to contact his brother. He pulls into the side of the road and asks me to hop out to see if he had left them in the door lock. This forced me into ungraceful acrobatic maneuvers in order to hang myself out the door and reach round to grab the keys, with freaky brother one more than enjoying the view of my ass in the air. The keys were there, so off we set again in stilted silence.

Roadhouse blues

Finally we caught sight of the roadhouse and saw our escape was only minutes away and we made a sharp exit from the freaky brothers. Good riddance!

The roadhouse turned out to be a petrol pump and a shop that was about to close. They had a phone though and we arranged for a tow truck to pick us up and take us back to the nearest town… Cobar (the Hicksville town we drove through scorning) where we would have to wait for the next three days for the car to be repaired. How ironic that the town we were laughing at turned out to be our refuge.

So we skipped the Simpson Desert and took another route to Alice Springs where we arrived two weeks later with the biggest smiles and the best memories!

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