Monday, 27 August 2012

Feature - Tim Rogers

Published in the September issue of Rhythms.  Excerpt below.

Interpreting the music of American songwriter Shel Rogerstein, is where we find the perennial doer of things, Tim Rogers.
The question one should ask whenever rock ‘n’ roll raconteur Tim Rogers arises in conversation, is, ‘What, exactly, is this man up to now?’  And a valid question that would be, for if there’s anyone on our scene as chameleonic as Mr. Rogers, I’ve yet to come across them, and if I took the time to search, by the time I found anyone, our Tim would have gone off and done three other things.  Such is his penchant for creating, messing around, causing trouble and generally oozing his way further and further into our collective musical psyche.

Over the course of his long and colourful career, Rogers has fronted seminal Australian group You Am I, led The Temperance Union all over the place, jumped in bed (literally, actually, I was there to see it) with Tex Perkins, headed out alone, written songs for movie scores, collaborated with all and sundry, and most recently, dabbled in film and theatre.  There’s little Rogers has not done, and you can bet by the time you finish reading this, he’ll at least have thought about doing some of those things.  Probably all of them.

Where we find the man now, is immersed in a project inspired by a friendship which has endured for years.  We also find him immersed in creating off his own bat, for his own means, for the first time in a while.  The friendship is between him and American songwriter, Shel Rogerstein.  The project is a little gem of a record called Rogers Sings Rogerstein.  And the self-creation comes because this is the first record Rogers has released since The Luxury Of Hysteria in 2007 (solo), and You Am I in 2010, with, naturally, You Am I.

This being Tim Rogers of course, you can bet there’s a back story, and a long, rambly one at that.  “Shel and I have actually known each other for longer than I can remember,” Rogers relates on his friendship with a man he admires ardently, but who few others have actually heard of.  “He’s kinda like the smarter, more considered version of me.  We’ve got a lot of similar things going on… but he’s more interested in crafting songs.  I’ve got a little bit of interest in that, but I’ve got no attention.

“So I’ve dropped in on him in Cleveland in the past year, and we hang out and watch baseball and go tango dancing and things, and then we correspond, we write letters… it’s an intriguing relationship.  And it’s very cute, with the names, and I’m aware that people think I’m bullshitting, but half the time my response is, ‘You want truth from a guy who sings in a rock band?’, come on.  But it’s a really important relationship to me.

“Hanging out with the Lil’ Band O’ Gold guys last month, and Cold Chisel last year, there’s something about being in the company of men your age or a little older, they still have a real spirit, they want to work, they’re not just doing it to pay off the mortgage, they’re just buzzing.  And Shel’s a bit like that – I mean, he lives an extremely quiet life, but you know, when the drums start, something happens, like some sort of… werewolf.”

There’s very little information floating around the electronic ether on Shel Rogerstein.  If you’re to believe Rogers, the pair met on a train in France, bonding over mutual loves of cheese and baseball, amongst other things, but as Rogers himself has said, why would you believe someone who fronts a rock ‘n’ roll band?  Regardless, the 'pair' have co-written a slew of tunes, and these, along with an obvious respect for one another as artists thinking outside the box, are what fill Rogers Sings Rogerstein.

Samuel J. Fell

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