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After a sell-out 2009 tour, a fantasy league of leading Australian musicians (Tim Rogers
of You Am I, Chris Cheney of The Living End, Phil Jamieson of Grinspoon and solo artist
Josh Pyke) have reunited to stage a second tour of the Beatles’ White Album Concert.
We chat to Tim Rogers about reliving the revolutionary album... Perth Convention
and Exhibition Centre, Jul 26.
Did the White Album ever have any particular significance to you?
Well, it terrified me as a kid – even the sweeter songs, I sort of felt like there was an underlying sense of menace about
it, maybe because it had to do with what was going on in the world in 1968. It was a sort of pivotal year politically and
artistically, and a sort of comedown from the trip of the year before, with all that wonderment and horror... it felt very
dark to me. I still get that feeling, really.
Was it a challenge to take on?
I don’t mind taking on the psychological damage to me as a child (laughs). But it’s a really, really challenging record
to represent. I guess the further challenge is that it’s a band so loved by so many different people. Normally when
something’s that loved, I tend to turn my nose up at it, but then when I listened back to it, I thought, “No, most of this is
bloody good. And it’s nasty, and it’s irreverent, and it’s difficult.”
Is there a particular song that speaks to you the most?
I think it’s Cry Baby Cry. I didn’t notice it much as a kid, but as I’ve grown up I’ve noticed how the word play is kind of
oblique... It’s like stirring maple syrup into porridge in the morning, just beautifully lazy and laconic.
How did you decide which songs you would cover and which songs the other guys would do?
We just get into a rehearsal room, put a couple of bottles of whisky in there and then fight! After I wiped the floor with
Cheney, I let him have some of them...
What was the crowd like at the last White Album performance, compared to a You Am I performance?
Possibly a bit straighter – and I mean that in the best possible way. The challenge is to give people what they
want, but push that somehow. We don’t want people to think, “Oh I could’ve just listened to the record, smoked
a joint, and had a couple of huge tumblers of scotch at home.” It’s far more than just replicating the songs; we’re
here to entertain, dammit!
And you, especially, are known for your very entertaining, strong performances.
Well, its because I’m ugly. I don’t like being looked at, and to use my body and whatever voice I’ve got left is my means
of a non-subtle diversion from my face. I’ve been fortunate to not be blessed with having good looks. It keeps me
working a lot harder than I would have otherwise.
There’s something about The Beatles that everyone seems to respond to. Why do you think that is?
There are songs that are magic, that you just think, “God, how was that dreamed up?” The very beautiful, kind
of adroit architecture of McCartney songs, and John can just be so beautiful and then menacing in the same bar...
We hear that last time, after the show, all four of you got tattoos of blackbirds. Are there plans for another
after this tour?
I don’t think Phil would. He hated the experience. I don’t know – let’s see how it sells!
Josh Pyke, Chris Cheney and
Tim Rogers, doing it White.
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