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Interview – Davy Lane, You Am I – June 2013

| 14 June 2013 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

With YOU AM I set to reissue their seminal first three records – Sound As Ever, Hi Fi Way and Hourly Daily – and do a lap of the country’s more ornate theatres with a string and horn section to play the latter two records in their entirety, I jumped at the chance to have a chat with the band’s young gun Davy Lane.

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Lane, who  joined the band – completed by Tim Rogers, Rusty Hopkinson and Andy Kent – in 1999, after their #4 Record was released has released another five studio albums with You Am I, played with Jimmy Barnes, Crowded House, Aussie rock supergroup The Wrights, as well as his own band The Pictures, and is currently putting finishing touches to a solo album to be released later this year.

You Am I’s Australian “Hi Fi Daily Double” tour will take in these dates:

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100% ROCK: Hey Davy, how are you doing man?

Davy: Good, how are you going?

100% ROCK: Where are you guys at, at the moment?

Davy: At the moment … we’re scattered all over the shop at the moment. Andy’s up in Sydney. He lives up there. I’m down in Melbourne working on … I’m just finishing up a solo record. I’m just doing that Rusty’s overseas playing with a garage rock band called The Treatment and Tim’s working on a TV show at the moment called Studio At The Memo, which is like a kind of … I guess it’s sort of a variety show and music focused. Yes, so we’re kind of all over the shop at the moment, but in the next week or two, we’ll all be meeting up to work on the task at hand.

100% ROCK: Look, all the PR and everything for you for You Am I says that you guys are great friends, and have been ever since the band was created and all that, but it sounds like from what you’re saying, it sounds true. Are you all mates? It’s a long way removed from some of the big American bands who have public specs and things like that.

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Davy: Yeah, I don’t think that we’d be playing in a band together … for so long if we didn’t. We’re all brothers to each other, and we all look out for one another. If I’m in Sydney, on unrelated business, I’ll always see what Andy and Russ are up to. Tim and I, we both live in Melbourne. We catch up whenever … if we’ve got an afternoon free that we’re not … on the rare afternoons that we’re both free, we’ll meet up and spend the arvo down the pub together. Yes, we really are as good friends as can be.

100% ROCK: Awesome – because I think we want the bands that we love, we want them to be a band of brothers sort of thing, but …

Davy: It’s kind of a romantic notion. I’ve always loved the idea of the band as a gang. As a a ‘one for all and all for one’ kind of thing… for me growing up seeing The Who or something like that, they look like a fucking gang. The Who aren’t probably the best example because you just scratch under the surface. You do a bit of reading and find out they all fucking hated each other.

100% ROCK: But that’s a brotherly love thing, isn’t it? You’ve got that sibling rivalry thing almost sometimes.

Davy: Yeah, we never have any kind of rivalry, but a little bit of friendly kind of … whenever Tim gets to do some really cool things, I go “fuck, that’d be cool. Fuck, damn, I’d really fucking love to do that.” But if anyone’s gonna be doing it, I’m glad it’s him, and maybe vice versa. We’re all very interested in, when we’re not playing together as a band, what each of us is up to, so we’re all in the loop, you know?

100% ROCK: That’s good. Look, there’s a time in the You Am I camp. You’ve got the re-releases of the first three albums, and you’ve got this big tour coming up. Is this like an example of you having to look backwards as a band in order to forwards as a band?

Davy: In a way. This idea has been recurring for a few years. Even back in the early days of my time with the band, there were people, when we did have managers and record companies kind of breathing down our necks, and saying “oh, you know, this is a good idea, you should really be doing this.” This was coming up years ago. I guess because nowadays, Andy, our bass player is also our manager, really, we decided it would be a good thing to do now because there is no-one influencing our decision. We thought this would be cool. We could do a bunch of cool gigs, and do each show in a theatre, and make it a bit of an event if we do that. We kind of looked at it. Yeah, basically, it was the four of us around the table, just kind of nutting it all out. And we thought – Why the hell not? We would’ve been working on a new record if it hadn’t come up, but we’ll still be getting around to that later in the year anyway.

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100% ROCK: That’s one of the questions I wanted to ask. Getting this out of the way, in a way, because these albums were so iconic, it’s almost an excuse to get out there in people’s faces again, so that could be a good launch pattern for some new music to follow it up with.

Davy: That’s the thing. I dare say that a great deal of the folks that are coming along to see these shows probably haven’t seen the band since those records came out. So it could be a good opportunity for those folks to see that we’re still a group of not average functioning human beings. We’re still a band who play really well together, and we still play like we mean it. Who knows, maybe people might be pleasantly surprised by that and stay on board for whatever we do coming up. But w`ho knows, there’s never any guarantees with that…

100% ROCK: It’s often hard for a band whose early albums are so iconic and beloved of a generation really, to release new material year in and year out, and then 20 years down the track, the new generation don’t really want to listen to them. You’re sort of compartmentalized as being old farts or whatever. Is that something that’s consciously in You Am I’s [collective] mind when you’re recording new material?

Davy: No, we’re just looking to do whatever excites us, Tim’s [always] guaranteed to be writing great songs. We just want to make the best possible record we can make. If we were to write 20 songs, and the best 12 of them were soulful songs … we’d put a bloody soul record out, you know! We’ve kind of, I guess, just assumed along the way, that the folks who are interested in our records, hopefully they’re open-minded enough to listen with open ears, to our excursions into different kinds of music.

100% ROCK: Yeah, to get it.

Davy: Yeah [laughs], that’s a less convoluted way of explaining it, yeah.

100% ROCK: As the new boy of the band so to speak, because You Am I were still a three piece when they recorded these first three albums, how did this all evolve over the years, with the addition of yourself in the band and being played live many times in many places?

Davy: Well, it’s funny … I actually only realized this a few weeks ago, when I sat down with those first two records, we were in the throughs of compiling, putting the re-master together and compiling the bonus tracks. It struck me upon listening to them, how much the arrangements have changed over the years. None of the songs have morphed out of all recognition, but it’s interesting to go… oh right, that’s not the harmony, actually it’s a different harmony on the record.

100% ROCK: Right.

Davy: Like, the guitar solo has turned into something completely different, and we maybe changed a chord here or there. But like I said, there haven’t been any drastic changes, but it was interesting to note after having the live versions planted here for a few years, then actually listening to the records, it’s a kind of different piece altogether.

100% ROCK: It’s the right opportunity to get into the rehearsal studio, and play the original, and play it the way you’ve been playing it and go can we redress the difference there or …

Davy: Ummmmm, well… It kind of goes back to the point I made before, with there being a lot of folks coming to the shows that haven’t seen the band play since those records came out. On one hand, we’d like to be a little playful with the arrangements too. You need all the integral elements represented. It’s not to say you have to play the records verbatim. We’re bringing out a string section and a horn section with us, so all those bits and pieces off Hourly Daily will be represented, so that’s going to be fun. We’re going to be able to do songs … there’s a song called Heavy Comfort, which is just a string section, and we’re finally going to be able to pull off a song like that with the help of our embellishments.

100% ROCK: Well, I was going to ask, how is a four piece band going to pull that off, that album especially [Hourly, Daily] being very heavy with strings and horns as you said? That’ll be really, a bit of a trip for fans, I think to see that.

Davy: Yeah, and it’s going to be a treat for me as well,as the new guy who loved those records growing up, and I’m sure for Tim as well, he would never have heard, or been able to play Heavy Comfort live in that configuration, so I’m sure it’s going to be a buzz for everybody. We’re going to be mixing it up – we’ve got our keyboard player, Steve Hesketh, who has been playing with us for a few years, and he’ll be coming out, and I’ll be playing a little bit of Melotron. We’re going to be … we’re staring down the barrel of quite a bit of preparation, but it’s going to be rewarding I’m sure.

100% ROCK: Absolutely. Looking back 15 odd years ago, when you were just 18, and you joined one of Australia’s biggest, at the time, Indie/underground, whatever you want to call it, bands, with the benefit of hindsight, how do you think you coped with that sort of instant fame (for want of a better word)?

Davy: Basically, I mean, I was a really dorky, socially awkward 17/18-year-old, and playing in a band like You Am I, playing shows and meeting people afterwards, I found it was really … I guess, I’d never really been thrust into social situations where you have to interact with other human beings. Yeah, I guess I learned really quickly. That was probably part of the learning process – the music and stepping up from being a bedroom guitar player to a professional musician in a quite popular band was one thing, and y’know, playing in a band and living in each other’s pockets for months at a time, you have to deal with the things that touring throws at you from time to time. I guess I learnt pretty quickly in that regard. There was never anything in terms of fame or recognition or anything like that. If anything, I was just pleasantly surprised that I was having a couple more drinks bought for me at the parties, but that was a welcome change anyway.

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100% ROCK: Absolutely. Look, Tim is obviously one of the classic Australian songwriters of any era, but certainly that era especially …

Davy: Yeah.

100% ROCK: … but he’s also had his share of personal demons, which he’s dealt with sometimes a little too publicly perhaps. Do you think that artistic genius, for want of a better word, and that darkness can go hand in hand sometimes?

Davy: [pauses] Ummmm, [hesitantly] yeaaaaah… I don’t know. I don’t see Tim as a particularly kind of that dark person. It’s funny talking to people that think “oh, he’s really dark”, or “he’s got a dark soul, that guy”. But actually no, he’s not really. He gets excited by someone making a gumbo. He’s a fucking bright dude. I dunno, he’s gone through his fair share of fucking bad times where life’s dealt him the shitty card, but I guess it’s hard, everyone deals with these things differently I guess.

100% ROCK: As an aside, where are The Pictures at? I really loved that debut album you did with them.

Davy: Oh cool. The Pictures aren’t really active as a band, and they haven’t been for a few years.

100% ROCK: You said that you’ve got a solo album coming out, so that’s something to look forward to.

Davy: That’s been in the works for about a year, so that’ll be coming out. That was supposed to be coming out in July, but when the You Am I tour came about [I put the solo album on hold] – the record has taken a year or so, so an extra couple of months is not going to be the end of the world! So I’ll pop that out after the You Am I tour finishes, and hopefully be able to play a few shows and tour around, but you never know. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

100% ROCK: To wrap up, if you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording of any one record throughout history, which would you choose?

Davy: Oh right, fuck, that’s an excellent question. I mean, I’ve been listening to a lot of Big Star lately, and I was thinking maybe it’d be nice to be around for the recording of Number One Record or Radio City, just because the recording process of those records is just so poorly documented. I don’t know, I’ve been into Abbey Road Studio a few times, and I’d probably be lying if I didn’t say that maybe… as obvious a choice as it would seem, [The Beatles] Revolver or Rubber Soul. You’d have to do it.

100% ROCK: Yeah, I love the fact that you said my two favorite Beatles albums there, and I love the fact that you said Big Star as well, so it’s all really interesting.

Davy: Cool.

100% ROCK: Look, thanks very much. Good luck with the tour and everything, and we’re looking forward to seeing you in Perth on my birthday.

Davy: Oh fantastic, excellent. We’ll give a shout-out for you.

100% ROCK: All right dude, all the best.

Davy: No worries. Thanks for your time.

100% ROCK: Thank you.

Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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