Few bands have been behind the eight ball more than the Australian pop-rock trio You Am I.
Just consider: The band’s past two albums, “Hi Fi Way” and “Hourly, Daily,” both reached No. 1 in its homeland, along the way garnering five-star ratings and a slew of year-end awards, but excessive touring and recording commitments delayed the release of both albums in the United States. Thus, sales, airplay and media attention constantly have been playing catch-up.
“Hourly, Daily,” a taut and tuneful, Who-meets-XTC pop pleasure, finally was issued stateside Nov. 4 through Sire Records. By the time the band ends another round of touring early next year, it will have finished its fourth, still-untitled album (produced by George Drakoulias). The vicious circle likely will continue.
They can’t win for winning.
“I think a lot of it has to do with where we’re from and Australia not being a real haven for rock bands,” singer-lyricist-guitarist Tim Rogers said recently. “There’s always been good ones, but they haven’t always sold very well.
“We just don’t let it bother us too much. In a way, it has helped us. We can go to Europe and play to nobody and there’s no pressure, whereas on the other side of it, we can go back home and have a bit of history. It keeps us fresh in a way and less jaded.”
How highly are Rogers, bassist Andy Kent and drummer Russell Hopkinson regarded in Australia? They dominated last year’s Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) Awards, winning best group, best album, best independent release, best video, best producer and best engineer honors.
“We’ve been around for a while, and with each record, the crowds have grown and the last few records have gone platinum,” Rogers said. “There are bands that are bigger and more popular, so we’re not hounded or anything. That keeps us down to earth.
“We’re still very enthusiastic, and that’s what I like about this band: We still feel very lucky to be where we are. We take nothing for granted. We get to play 200 nights a year and travel around the world. Who could ask for more?”
“Hourly, Daily” deserves to share U.S. chart space with Chumbawamba, Spice Girls and Matchbox 20 and the rest. The album is packed with disciplined, Ray Davies-like compositions; it stretches pop’s boundaries with static, elusive and often beautiful melodies, from the bittersweet title track to “Mr. Milk,” far and away the album’s best track.
The album was Rogers’ cure for homesickness.
“We did a lot of shows the year before and we got sentimental about being away from home,” he said. “You don’t realize how important these things are to you until you’re away from your family and friends. That’s what I felt writing about.
“There were all these things settled in my heart and head because we hadn’t seen them in a couple of years. Musically, we’re an accident waiting to happen, a mixture of garage rock and pop music. It’s not the kind of pop music like ‘She’s the girl down the street and she’s the one I want to meet.’ It’s more maudlin and sentimental. It made us want to be more greasy, like the Standells or something.”