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July 23, 2024

The De-Tour of Tim Rogers

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After a big year of books, records, tours and theatre, these shows are a summing up, a wrapping up, and an all-round celebration of a transformative year for Tim Rogers where literature, music, and theatrics all came together.

Rogers brings his De-Touring show to Byron, featuring songs both old and new, highlighting those from Tim’s latest album An Actor Repairs, witty tales from his first book Detours, and vintage Tim Rogers anecdotes from his many and varied other projects throughout the year. For all shows Tim will be bringing along his friend Hanny J, who is a dynamite songwriter and performer he met when she was playing bass for his heroes Clowns.

His first book Detours launched this September to critical acclaim, and it’s no wonder. Rogers is reflective, insightful, well read, empathetic and self-deprecatory. He’s taken life by the balls. He’s had mainstream success and he’s made mistakes. All the ingredients necessary for a cracking memoir. I had never interviewed Rogers, nor met him. I’d heard stories. Rogers’s stories are a bit legendary and no doubt like Chinese whispers they have gained momentum over time. I hadn’t expected to be as impressed as I was by Rogers. But he is a very impressive man. Singer, writer and actor, Rogers is truly a renaissance man. Although I don’t think you’ll be seeing him on Dancing with the Stars.

So what about the book?

‘I liked the memoir form’, says Rogers. ‘I don’t particularly like auto biography – being a musician I had read a lot of autobiographies by musicians and they had a lot to prove or scores to settle – that their behaviour is better or worse, or their genius is unrecognised, and there is the name dropping element.

‘Donald Fagen, the Steely Dan singer and songwriter, wrote a diary of a tour he did called Eminent Hipsters, his perspective of being a much-heralded songwriter and his perspective on humanity, and he would only refer to the past, and with memoir.

You can be in the middle of the tale but the bigger story lies elsewhere, and it doesn’t need to be talked about, it might read as a

very prosaic story, my intent was the bigger story was elsewhere, and it wasn’t about me at all.

‘I really enjoy the style of writing where there is aleatoric – it’s the thought that the information you garner through life is stored somewhere subconsciously. I can be writing a piece and word play and references come to me in a flash, maybe it was something I read years ago and it returned.’

Rogers reflects on the contemporary music industry and the approach of new musicians compared to his anarchic start. ‘I find musicians these days to be very alert to the need to be professional about it. When I started out it was like hitching to a pirate ship.’

His LP An Actor Repairs started as a monologue. ‘I was asked to prepare for a monologue – and I was out of my depth. I worked away at it and being more and more in theatre and acting is intriguing and baffling and frustrating and what it does to people and I was drinking with a few older actors at the time. In the end I dropped the ball and went back to the album.’

Reflecting on his current tour Rogers says: ‘Shows can turn into stand up comedy routines, because of audience attention spans, and there is the opportunity to test that, I forget how wonderful music is, and this year has been books and theatre and I really want to get out and play songs.’

‘I don’t know if it’s the role of art to make people a little bit uncomfortable – if you are trying you can make people feel pretentious. I am not sure. Sometimes I am told that my honesty and songs makes people uncomfortable – maybe I have been touched in some way, it’s uncomfortable for me to write without that, to write the way your poor little adult brain is thinking.

‘Of course the riskiest thing any artist can do at the moment is approaching empathy and intelligence and intelligence that begins with empathy.’

Rogers is not interested in writing or performing what he calls a ‘powerpoint to popularity’.

‘There are rules about writing songs you can employ to make a song more successful. I didn’t get that book out from the library, but to do something that is more opaque or impressionistic won’t get you the loudest applause. As musicians, that’s our duty – to not condescend to people.’

It’s clear that Tim Rogers has found his voice, on stage and off.

‘I was trying so hard 20 years ago and so conscious of opinions of me, and I didn’t have a voice at all, and it’s only been in the last couple of years I have really found it and hearing that voice come through and with the proliferation of opinion and comment, to retreat from that and to swim in my own pool of crapulence and not engage in public opinion so much, then I can hear myself think – I can make a completely unique contribution that is worthwhile, and think it’s something of a value, and just not feel like I are competing for people’s attention all the time, whether it’s writing prose or music or trying to impress the ghosts I admire.’

Tim Rogers performs Thursday 16 November at the Byron Community Centre. Tickets at byroncentre.com.au.

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