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April 23, 2021

Interview: Tim Rogers

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Tim Rogers

Byron Writers Festival, Elements of Byron | 3–5 August 2018

Byron Writers Festival have just opened the gates on their impressive artist announcement for this year’s event. Politicians, thinkers, fiction writers, comedians and singers turned memoir writers are all lining up to spill the beans on their process, their protagonists and their point of view. One such dark and dangerous dilettante is singer/songwriter, actor, and You Am I frontman Tim Rogers. His book Detours, published by Harper Collins, is a disarmingly self-effacing unpretentious glimpse into one of the most interesting minds in the Australian music industry.

This is more than a ‘how I became a rock star story’. In fact it’s nothing like that at all. This is a collection of poetically written, humble, down-to-earth, drunk, remorseful, self-conscious, angry stories about the long, tall stranger you might have seen in a bar in St Kilda – drinking a beer and reading a novel. This isn’t the stuff of self-indulgent room-trashing rockers. In fact Rogers has little time for people who exhibit such poor behaviour.

In fact this is what he says about hotel room trashing: ‘creating an extra hour of work for a cleaner doesn’t cover you in rock’n’roll glory – it just makes you an arsehole’.

I’m liking him already. In fact it’s impossible not to like Rogers; he’s someone who does all of his own best thinking. And he’s honest without self-effacement.

It was something he was mindful to head off at the pass when writing his memoir.

‘Most people can smell self-effacement when it is done for effect and affection and I try and avoid that at all costs. I am aware how nauseating that can be. I am also shocked at how even contemporaries of mine or people I admire use the memoir form with a sense of self-justification and wonder at why they aren’t being heralded!’

Tim didn’t write Detours because he was desperate to write his story. He wrote it because he was asked.

‘I wasn’t interested in writing an autobiography and I didn’t see how anyone else would care to read it. I didn’t feel a need to prove anything or to cover everything in my life,’ says Rogers on his musings about memoir. ‘I could, however, write about things that interested me at that time. I think the memoir form gives you the opportunity to write about what interests you and what interests other people. A reader has to hear your voice.’

But Rogers, being a dedicated reader, had some trepidation about how he told his story.

‘I was worried about my voice and whether I have anything to communicate with anyone, but there were moments when I was writing where it felt right and I was in the right place; that wonderful feeling – when you are in the flow.’

‘I have to admit it was encouragement from my agent and my editor, who were all women. I also had an inspiring group of friends who happened to be women; they edited the hell out of me – for them, nothing was good enough!’

While Rogers admits he still likes to subvert paradigms, he is quick to add: ‘I don’t think like an iconoclast’.

‘I want to live well, to have empathy, and to do good work. In the age of opinion – in the age of ‘hear me-listen to me’ – one way to do it is to work in long form and to not just espouse opinions here and there or throw your jokes around like seedlings – to spend time developing things. As a mild depressive you feel like your time’s up and you have missed it, but you find compatriots everywhere; they play the long game.’

Rogers can be found most days at his office – not some sterile room with a desk, but a dark and moody pub. Fortunately for Rogers he has offices available most places he goes. ‘I go out to drink and read or drink and write. I sit there quietly. I like my own company. I just like to have extraneous noise. I like to concentrate and I really like to watch people.’

Tim Rogers is one of the featured writers at Byron Writers Festival. Earlybird tickets on sale now until 12 June (or until sold out). Full program announced 13 June. Tickets at byronwritersfestival.com or call 6685 5115.

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