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You Am I

In a cramped studio deep in Bushwick, New York City, You Am I hunkered down to make a start on their tenth studio album.

In over two decades this band has gone from a (sometimes misspelled) name at the bottom of the bill at rock ‘n’ roll haunts in Sydney and Melbourne to being internationally renowned and locally influential standard bearers for rock ‘n’ roll as, to quote Lester Bangs, “a raw wail from the bottom of the guts”.

Transcending the Australian music scene’s trend-driven nature, You Am I have remained a steadfast component of the live scene and their ability to conjure excitement on-stage, whether playing in front of five or five thousand, is the stuff of legend.

Of course You Am I’s early albums are much revered and regarded as important pieces of Australian rock ‘n’ roll culture, something their triumphant and spectacular two album show on the massive “Hi Fi Daily Double” tour paid testament to.

But You Am I have never been one to rest on their laurels or give up when the going gets tough. They’ve continually made fantastic records ever since, regularly hitting the upper reaches of the charts just through the devotion of their fans. Never taking the “Last ever tour” route or going into hiatus, they’ve always been up for a show and remain brothers, comrades and most of all friends.

So here we find the lads at Daptone Records in Brooklyn, standing in the hallowed, sweaty space known as the “House of Soul”, busting out tunes to 1inch tape just like they did over twenty years ago down the road on Greene St, Soho where “Hi Fi Way” came to life. Not a lot has changed since then, (except three are now four and have been for over fifteen years) there’s still a lot of laughs, some drinks and a dedication to making music that rocks and rolls.

After ten days of tracking (and appearances by the Dap-Kings’ horn section and keyboard maestro Victor Axelrod) the tapes make their way from Bushwick to the Camberwell studio of John Castle. It is here that the band reconvene to do vocals and add extra musical adornment; strings, layers of rich vocal harmonies, keys from long-time 5th member Stevie Hesketh, (more) guitar wizardry from Davey and congas and percussion flown in from Rusty’s Marrickville recording situation.

With tracking complete, the band set about preparing the album for release, much inter-band email chatter follows as they approve mixes and toss around cover-art suggestions. The worlds finest bass-playing manager, Andy Kent, pulls all the strands together; mastering in LA, wonderful photographic cover art from long-time collaborator James Bellesini, photos in Melbourne, interviews in Sydney and a comfy home for the record on You Am I’s very own label distributed by their good friends at Inertia.

Cheekily titled “Porridge & Hotsauce” this tenth You Am I studio album is a head-rush of rocking tunes tempered by songs that stretch beyond mere rock ‘n’ roll tomfoolery, showing off every element of Tim Roger’s genius songsmithery. Davey Lane chips in with a couple of tremendous tunes too, showing his genuine song-writing talent and, hell, even Rusty showed up with a few chords and an idea for a song that he and Tim built up on the studio floor.

Ultimately, it’s a You Am I record.  Like I said there’s been a few over the years but they’re a band who refuse to do anything other than what they love and that generally involves getting together and making a racket and they’re happy for anyone to come along for the ride.

So after twenty five years, 10 studio albums, 10 Aria awards, two live albums (one a 3LP boxset), two “best of” albums, hundreds of sold out shows and playing with heroes like The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Replacements and The Kaisers it would seem You Am I have earned the right to continue as they bloody well please, and long may they do so!!

YOU AM I “PORRIDE & HOTSAUCE” out Friday November 6th through Inertia

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