Centered around the prolific songwriting skills of singer/guitarist Tim Rogers, pop group You Am I are one of the most successful and internationally admired Australian bands of the '90s. At home, they've scored three number one albums, Sonic Youth and Soundgarden are counted among their admirers, and Silverchair even named themselves after a You Am I song. Their influences combine the Who, the Small Faces, the Jam, the Clash and the Replacements.
Rogers formed his first band while studying arts/law at the Australian National University in Canberra, before forming the first version of You Am I with his school friend Nick Tischler and Tim's older brother Jaimme in December 1989. (The band name came from a conversation at a gig with a spaced-out fan sprouting "You am I, I am you" philosophies.) Jaimme left the band after a fight with brother Tim at the end of 1990. Nick left of his own accord because he didn't feel he could realize Tim's vision musically. Ultimately, they were replaced by the group's one-time sound mixer Andy Kent (bass) and Russell Hopkinson (drums), creating the classic three-piece rock lineup which has been the core of the band.
Their breakthrough came at the inaugural Lollapalooza style Big Day Out concert in January 1993. Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth was impressed enough to produce their fourth EP Coprolalia, followed by eight days spent in Canon Falls, Minnesota where Ranaldo helped produce the band's first album Sound as Ever. Steeped in stripped-back guitar-riff pop delivered in Tim Rogers' characteristic strained vocals, Sound as Ever won You Am I the 1993 Australian Recording Industry Association award for Best Alternative Release. (One of the album's singles, "Berlin Chair," later provided Silverchair with half its name.) During the following year's Big Day Out concert tour, You Am I captured the attention of Soundgarden who invited them to fill the support spot on the band's next American tour. You Am I took time off during September 1994 to record another album at Green Street Studios, New York. Full of concise pop songs, Hi Fi Way earned You Am I the first of its Australian number one albums, plus a handful of ARIA awards. The following '60s retro concept album Hourly Daily was recorded and produced locally in Sydney. In June 1998 You Am I released the return-to-basics album #4 Record.
Commercially successful in Australia, critically acclaimed around the world, Tim Rogers has pushed his talents beyond You Am I with solo performances, releasing a country-ish introspective solo album What Rhymes With Cars and Girls?, producing the soundtrack for the 1997 movie Idiot Box, and writing songs to order for various Australian recording artists. In July 1999 You Am I invited friends and fans to a warehouse in Melbourne and over two nights recorded the live album ...Saturday Night, 'Round Ten. Concise and tuneful on record, on-stage You Am I are raw, brash and bratty. One gets the impression that the live album represents the closure of an era, bringing home all that You Am I have been on-stage and on record since the release of Sound as Ever. ~ Ed. Nimmervoll, All Music Guide
Written by Ed. Nimmervoll