Whose better half? Tim Rogers and Tex Perkins

Backstage prior to a sell out gig at the Republic Bar in Hobart, the green room is full of guitars and singer-songwriters. Tex Perkins is finishing dinner, Rebecca Barnard is warming up in a corner and Tim Rogers is nursing his guitar on his lap.

It’s been a hectic time for Tim and Tex. They recently returned from stints in Europe and the USA touring their My Better Half album. The United States was particularly good. “What’s there not to love about America? Every show we have done has been brilliant,” Perkins exclaims.

“We are professionals. I doubt everything else, except our ability to give a great show. I know that now, after a month of questionable circumstances, trying days, emotional breakdowns, equipment non-existence. All the shows were really good.

“Equipment fuck-ups. Lost guitars. It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. We always did the show. For a couple of shows we had to fashion guitars out of matchboxes, but it was great.”

When asked how the Americans responded to the album, Perkins jokingly suggests that the crowds “dig our arses and wonderful fashion sense”.

“They just loved to look at Rogers, that’s what I found. They just loved to let their eyes linger over him… I do.” As for Australian audiences: “People understanding every nuance and undertone of what you say,” he says. “Were charming and hilarious everywhere, but were more charming and hilarious here.”

With the touring almost at an end, Perkins is more philosophical about his plans. “I’m going to get back on smack.”

A moment later he adds: “After this tour? Fucking nothing hopefully. Tim’s going to go on tour with You Am I. Tim doesn’t like to stop. He rests on stage.”

Rogers takes a thoughtful pause, before summing up the tour and the chance to make music. “When you have opportunities to make things you care about, you should take them. I can’t take holidays. My mission is to grind myself into the ground. I’m glad to go and play guitar.

“We weren’t planning this, we just came up with it and to say ‘I need a couple of months to get my head around this’ seems absurd. I think about playing all the time. I’m just very, very lucky. I’ve had people telling me not to do so much, but I can’t say no really. It’s not like we say yes to everything. I know, and I’m sure Tex knows, that there’s more that we could be doing. We do things when we want to do things.

“We have a joint manager and he’s very gung-ho and it’s interesting to have someone like that. There’s options for things coming up. It’s like when we did the thing with the symphony orchestra in Western Australia. Tex said that he was getting a bit of grief for it, but it’s a lot harder to say ‘yes’ to something than it is to say ‘no’ to something. Like with the tour, it started as a joke in a hotel. It would have been easier to say no”.

Perkins is careful to point out that TnT is something of an experiment, and not likely to continue for too long. “At some stage we’re going to have to draw the line. T (both Tim and Tex refer to each other as ‘T’) has two other bands and I have stuff to do. Where is that line? I think the line has been drawn. We’re going to do a final huge tour in March or April and move on and not speak to each other for another four years and then come back together again. Older, wiser and handsomer.”

Becoming more animated, Tim jokingly suggests that there is merchandise to cash in on. “We’ll do a coffee table book of haiku, and pictures we’ve drawn on tour. Unfortunately, most of them are of cock and balls.”

Picking up on Rogers’ lead, Perkins adds: “It’s like Brett Whiteley, the way (Tim) does cock and balls. It’s so natural. It’s like minimalism, one fluid movement.”

Turning to Barnard, Tim asks if he can give a demonstration to everyone in the room. “Rebecca, do you mind if I draw cock and balls on your back? Tex, you’ve got to whisper haiku to me while I draw cock and balls. There’s a strict structure to haiku, something about the syllables.”

I add that the structure consists of five syllables in the first line, nine in the second and five in the third. Rogers stops. His eyes narrow, he glares at me before responding. “Good on you. Did you go to school, did you? Lucky you. You know what I did?”

Perkins, as if to finish Rogers’ thought for him, says without missing a beat: “He went to gaol. He was born in gaol. We were twins. Twins of evil….in gaol.”

Somehow, that thought didn’t seem out of place.