“I met Tim through playing guitar in Megan Washington’s band,” Ferguson says. “We got to talking about music we loved and we really found an instant rapport. Then I was like ‘Hey I think I’ve got a song that’s going to work for you, do you want to come in on this record?’” “I found him very personally charming,” Rogers says. “I was knocked out thinking that I could ever get involved. I was really intimidated, and I generally only take on work things these days if I’m intimidated.”
Rogers’ intimidation stems from the fact he’s been an avid follower of The Bamboos since day one. “The original bass player was Stuart Speed, who was playing with me in the late-‘90s and a very dear friend who’s very sorely missed,” he says. “I’d seen them play at the Nightcat when I was behaving disgracefully. It’s rare that I say I’ve got a lot of respect for someone who’s a dear friend, but I really respected him.”
Conversely, Ferguson wasn’t much of a You Am I a_ cionado. “Although I was aware of his stature and presence and history to some degree as one of the great frontmen and artists of Australia, I didn’t really know the music that well.”
Along with impressing fans of The Bamboos and You Am I, ‘I Got Burned’ became a commercial success and remains the highest selling single of The Bamboos’ career. Seizing this momentum, in early 2013, Rogers and The Bamboos embarked on the Rock N Soul Medicine Show tour. The tour setlist included a few new collaborative numbers, which suggested an album would soon follow. However, once the tour wrapped up, Ferguson moved onto another Bamboos album, Fever in the Road, which spotlights the vocals of Ella Thompson and Kylie Auldist.
“Just for the sake of the band, I wanted to make sure that we could be strong without having any of these guests involved.” he says. “[But] in the back of my mind I always had this idea that it would be great to do a full length record with Tim.” When the time came for getting started on the album, the pair were adamant about evenly sharing the creative resposibilities. Given that Ferguson’s led The Bamboos since 2000, it made sense for him to handle the instrumental details. “I was building these demos,” he says, “which had the whole form of a song without vocals and sending them to Tim just as sketches. Then the things that Tim responded positively to, I would work on a bit more.”
Accordingly, Rogers took care of the words and melodies. “I wrote most of the lyrics when I was in New York with my daughter,” he says. “I’d walk her to school and then it took about two hours to walk back to where I was staying. So I was sort of dodging traffic and waiting until the bars opened and just making up things in my head.” The record largely comprises feel-good funk-soul numbers, which are complemented by its lively production quality. “We didn’t have any prerequisite moods going into this,” Ferguson notes. “It just turned out that a lot of the tunes are fairly upbeat. But that tour was an upbeat, raucous, rocking kind of affair. I did want capture some of that element in there.”
When Rogers returned from the US, he went straight to Ferguson’s Yarraville studio to track the vocals. Ferguson’s taken part in countless studio collaborations over the years, and he’s learned to not be a perfectionist. “I’m looking for a great performance,” he says. “I’m not such a stickler for things like, ‘If it wasn’t recorded on a ten thousand dollar mic, we have to re-record it.’ In this day and age things recorded on a shitty mic can end up being made to sound really good. With this record, a rawer aesthetic was actually even better.” As a result, the majority of vocal takes on the album have survived from the demo recordings. For Rogers, Ferguson’s relaxed production approach came as a surprise.
“I thought he’d be a lot more methodical,” he says. “But when we got to work together, after a couple of days I realised I could just be goofy and he’d let me do that and then we could knock it into something OK. Being asked to join and collaborate with someone you respect so much and a band that you just fucking adore, I didn’t want to fuck it up. I remember when Davey [Lane, guitar] got asked to join You Am I, his big thing was ‘I don’t want to fuck up one of my favourite bands’. That was my feeling with the ‘Boos. I’m very thankful that he just let me be who I am.”
The Rules Of Attraction is out now through Atlantic Records.