You Am I - Number Eight Record
Veteran rockers You Am I boast a career spanning almost a generation – but they don’t plan on hanging up their instruments yet. Guitarist Davey Lane chats with 3D’s Steve Tauschke.
Almost two decades into a career that shows few signs of abating You Am I, split equally between their Melbourne and Sydney bases, remain in a comfortable place. Sure, the group is closer to its final album than its first but there’s no ‘this could be our last hurray’ mentality when it comes to recording new material, according to Davey Lane.
“I think finishing a new record kind of reaffirms everybody’s faith in the band and, if anything, makes us even more determined to keep making music together,” Lane affirms whilst hopping on a train somewhere in Melbourne. “We’re not the kind of band to drive ourselves into the ground with a record and tour until we all hate each other. We’ve got a pretty good thing and we’ll just stick to that.”
Whilst frontman Tim Rogers’ rediscovery of Black Flag and early Replacements records may have informed the break-neck tempo of select tracks on 2006’s Convicts album, Lane admits Dilettantes’ comparatively mellow and often sepia-tinged acoustic vibe doesn’t necessarily reflect what’s been spinning on the band’s collective turntable these past couple of years.
“It wasn’t so much of a bi-product of what we were listening to at the time,” he explains. “It seemed like the songs were coming from more of a joyous place as opposed to a pent-up aggressive kind of thing. The songs just mapped themselves out. It’s always pretty obvious to us after playing a song through once or twice that it’s either going to work or not going to work.”
Recorded in a multitude of studios in Melbourne and Sydney, the overall tone on the dozen tracks suggests the band, at least this time around, is somewhat disinterested in re-capturing its balls-out pub rock sound.
“Yeah, it’s pretty much been the complete opposite of that,” states Lane. “We’ve only just started going into the rehearsal room to figure out how to play these songs live. It’s not a layered record but there is a lot more to this one in terms of ‘how do we best approach this for the live scenario’. So it’s been fun and challenging in that way.”
Inspired by Tom Petty’s long-time keyboardist Benmont Tench, Lane says the inclusion of keyboard parts on the album is a welcome addition.
“I’m not a great keyboard player – I’m pretty ham-fisted,” he laughs. “Some songs didn’t call for more guitar than Tim was already playing so I thought I may as well try something different. Since I’ve been in the band we haven’t used many keyboards.”
Having rejected offers to chronologically reprise their classic mid-90s albums for the Don’t Look Back series of concerts, You Am I are not sentimental types - which doesn’t auger well for the band’s 20th anniversary next year.
“I can’t speak for the other guys in the band, but I will: I don’t think we’re a big band for nostalgia and that kind of thing,” says Lane. “I think we’d rather just play our new record, not because it’s the newest one and we have to promote it but because it’s the one we’re most proud of at the time.”
WHO: You Am I
WHAT: Dilettantes through Virgin/EMI
WHEN: Out now