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Tim Rogers Gives Us The Lowdown On His “Batty”, Star-Studded New Theatre & Comedy Show, ‘Liquid Nights’

Written by David James Young on June 5, 2019

The next time you see Tim Rogers taking to the stage, it won’t be alongside his bandmates in You Am I. It won’t even be as a solo artist. Instead, the veteran performer will be at the helm of Liquid Nights in Bohemia Heights – a stage adaptation of Rogers’ long-standing Double J digital radio program, Liquid Lunch. Although this will mark Rogers’ first time bringing his radio world to the live arena, it’s far from an off-the-cuff, spontaneous decision. As it turns out, Rogers has been infatuated with the world of radio for just as long as he’s been invested in music.

“It’s something I’ve thought about for decades, really,” he says. “Radio – be that plays or presentations or what have you – was a huge part of my upbringing. Growing up in Western Australia, we drove across the Nullaboor a lot. We’d listen to A Prairie Home Companion, or The Goon Show, or even Not the 9 O’Clock News. I grew up at a time when radio shows were done a bit differently, and there was a very high aspirational quality to them. I wanted to create something in that spirit – something a little batty and avant-garde, but still pleasing in its storytelling. It’s a show of poetry, of song and of absurdity.”

Rogers has been hard at work on developing the show with his scriptwriters and special guests, the latter of whom will vary depending on which city Rogers will be doing the show in. A collaborative creator by nature, Rogers sees the assembling of Liquid Nights as a lot like putting a band together. “I think it’s important to get together with people that inspire you,” he says.

“Once you get a good crew together, it’s a lot easier to work out the rest. This whole thing started with a very small group, who I’d not only worked with before but had socialised with as well. It’s expanded a little since then, but it’s still all very shoestring. I’m finding out what it takes to make a good stage show, because it’s pretty heavily influenced by my experiences in theatre of the last decade or so – and my frustrations with the bureaucracies within it.”

Described as “thinking person’s theatre and comedy all rolled into one,” Liquid Nights will have a loose format that brings in elements like the radio serial, live interviews, a pub quiz and musical performances. The key challenge for audiences will be exactly how much they buy into the fantasy of the evening. As Rogers explains, “We wanted to create something that plays the long game.”

“Theatre’s existence seems to thrive on statements – short statements, verbal statements, corresponding protest and quickly falling into insults. We wanted this to be like a theatre production in that sense, but not reductive in any way. By presenting this fictional universe that is Bohemia Heights, it’s entirely up to the audience whether it’s fictional or it’s real. It could just be a figment of my imagination. It could be a load of tripe. It’s a show that makes sense in different ways each night. You’re walking a bit of a tightrope there, and it’s quite thrilling.”

Rogers views the work he’s doing with his team – including announcer Jonnie Von Goes and foley artist Russell Goldsmith – as being constructive, productive and imaginative. In his view, Liquid Nights is only able to be made possible thanks to everyone working together. “From my experience, you can work with the very best in the business with the highest reputation – but it doesn’t mean you’re going to get on or work together well,” he says.

“With this, I feel like I’ve been really lucky – together, there’s a real sensibility and a real sense of trust. You’re asking people to take a leap of faith by working with you. There could be a moment of conflict at any point along the developmental process, but those disagreements will lead to everyone calling one another hours later with ideas on how to fix it.”

Among those joining Rogers on his Liquid Nights journey are former Triple J presenter Tim “Rosso” Ross, All Our Exes Live in Texas member Georgia Mooney, Australian acting legend Uncle Jack Charles and veteran SBS journalist Jan Fran. “I am not being self-deprecating at all when I say I am the least talented person on stage,” says Rogers with a laugh. “It’s just a fact. That’s the same with the band I’ve been in for 30 years. I’ve taken somewhat of a role as a leader on this project, but I am entirely open to listening and learning from everyone else. Maybe being the leader is just having a lack of shame, or a lack of self-editing. Whatever the case, working with this group of people has proven to pay off in great dividends. We’re all just trying to make something beautiful.”

While many of Rogers’ contemporaries have been happy to simply stick to the tried and true path of rock & roll, the 49-year-old has spent the last two decades with other plans. He’s acted in stage productions, been a part of a musical based off his debut solo album and even written a well-received memoir, entitled Detours. Radio just happens to be another notch in his cap – and Rogers is thankful people are still interested in his endeavours. “A lot of it has come from the fact that You Am I simply couldn’t tour all year round – be that because of our own lives, or just that no-one was interested,” he quips.

“We had to find a way to scratch our creative itch, sure, but a lot of the time it was just about finding work. I got a job doing gardening, and through that I actually got a lot of material for songwriting. These other things – acting, performing, radio – is all just because I got asked to do it by people in those fields. Truthfully, I’d be happy to just sit at home watching baseball and drinking beer. People have put their trust in me to do these things, though, and I want to put in the effort to show how grateful I truly am.”

Tim Rogers & Friends ‘Liquid Nights in Bohemia Heights’ Tour
Tickets on sale now.

Thursday, 6th June
Gershwin Room, Hotel Esplanade, Melbourne
Tickets: Moshtix

Saturday, 8th June
Giant Dwarf, Sydney
Tickets: Giant Dwarf

Sunday, 9th June
Giant Dwarf, Sydney
Tickets: Giant Dwarf

Friday, 9th August
Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane
Tickets: Ticketek

Saturday, 10th August
Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane
Tickets: Ticketek

Sunday, 11th August
Home Of The Arts, Gold Coast
Tickets: HOTA

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