We’re not shock jocks: Andy Lee

H & A’s Andy Lee gets down and clean in an exclusive with Peter Saxon 

radioinfo: As far as I know, Hamish & Andy have never been the subject of an ACMA investigation. 

Andy: No. Thankfully we haven’t been. 

radioinfo: Is that something you’ve consciously tried to avoid? 

Andy: I think our style of show doesn’t lend itself easily to having something offensively go wrong. We’re not shock jocks. We probably don’t have the guts to be and we’re not out to defame anyone. We’re never really talking about a serious topic or one that’s serious enough to get us in trouble.

We like being a family show. We like the fact that kids in cars enjoy us as well as parents and older people and not to say we are deliberately child friendly but we feel like that’s the place we like playing the most.

radioinfo: The other night, at the big launch, you made a joke about Kyle Sandilands who has a somewhat different style to yours. Did you get on with Kyle and Jackie O when they were your colleagues. Do you see them as the enemy now?

Andy: Nah, certainly not the enemy. Kyle – and he will say this as well – Kyle, Hamish and I – we took a bit of getting used to each other when we first started. But by the end of 2007-2008 we were both at the same company we were getting along really well and particularly we really valued Kyle and Jackie O’s support during Gap Year. We had  some great chats with them on the radio and they followed the show for us. 

I think Kyle’s a great broadcaster – for obvious reasons he goes about it differently to the way we do. It doesn’t mean he’s any less talented. I think he’s actually more talented than us. The way he can get a headline and the way he can create compelling radio. Whether you like it or not, it has it’s place. But I don’t think we’d say anything about Kyle that Kyle wouldn’t say about himself.

radioinfo: Is there an understanding between the two of you that is like a Hamish & Andy ethos –  what you will and won’t talk about? What are the parameters? 

Andy: Never written down. One of the benefits of working with your best mate – and being best mates – is that even before going to air you know each other’s sensibilities and what they’re into. 

I’ve never felt annoyed that I can’t swear or I’ve never felt like I wanted to have a topic up there that Hamish has pushed back on or he didn’t feel was right for our show. 

I think the only time we ever got close to having to do an apology was for a parody song about Amélie Mauresmo well back when we first started. The main thing that we would have been apologising for was that it wasn’t very funny. 

But you learn from that. People can get caught up with the pressures of trying to deliver and if they’re running out of time they think that shock humour is an easy way out. But that’s never been our default mechanism, so, we’re a bit lucky that way. 

radioinfo: Stunts like being fired out of a cannon are part and parcel of Hamish & Andy. What part of that is about playing to an audience and what part is personal development, testing the limits of your own comfort zone?

Andy: It all stems from a reason for being – if it seems funny we’ll do it. But that one in particular I did not know anything about it really till the Friday. That’s one thing we love about our show and also Gap Year – we keep a lot of surprises from each other.

Hamish had mentioned in passing, “Wouldn’t it be great to get a human cannon.”  Everyone thought there would be no way you could possibly find a cannon by Friday, so I never thought much about it for the whole week. And then on Friday it became a reality.  

I suppose we’re a bit like school boys who egg each other on. We find ourselves doing silly things and we don’t think about it too much in the moment. It’s only after the fact when our parents call and say. ‘you really shouldn’t be doing this sort of thing,’ that we start thinking about it.

radioinfo: How did you practice getting fired out of a cannon?

Andy: We didn’t – that’s the excitement,. We’ve often found naivety is bliss  for all of our things. Even on gap year we think, “yeah we can do that.” Hamish and I have an unfounded confidence and often after something has happened we look back at it and go, ‘that’s another example of us thinking we’d be really good at something and then realising why professionals actually have to do it.’

radioinfo: You’d no doubt be very much aware of how much is riding on your success. Literally, people’s livelihoods are at stake. How do you deal with that kind of pressure?

Andy: I know what you’re saying and people have mentioned that before. It never really crossed my mind that it’s up to me for someone else to get paid and have a job. We’ve just never seen it like that. 

The excitement for us is making a show and having people and kids listen to those shows, that’s the real challenge. The word “pressure” was never used but that’s certainly what the stakes are for us. We want to have the best possible show and hope that people enjoy it and whether people’s jobs rely on it or not, we will still be wanting to put out the best product possible.

radioinfo: Is there anything that causes tension between you? If so what steps do you take to avoid conflict?

Andy: No – not really. I know it’s a boring answer. We kind of left tension back in the days when you felt pressure and you’re trying to find your role. That’s where you can potentially have some tension. And again the benefits of doing a show with your best mate- we put that mateship so much further in front of anything we want to achieve personally as a career. So, if anything was to come in the way of that we are very quick to dismiss it and find something new and different. The other thing is we are literally getting dumb ideas and letting them play out so that’s a pretty exciting job and there’s not a lot to complain about. 

radioinfo: How much time do the two of you spend together?

Andy: We were discussing this on the way back from South America after Gap Year saying we think now we would have had more time together than our parents have had.  We’ve spent more time together than anyone in the world has spent with us individually – which is a strange thing but I see him probably 250 days of the year for most of the day. And it’s strange that we haven’t got sick of each other yet. Well, I haven’t got sick of him. You’ll have to ask him that question.

Early on, we used to do the radio show together and then want to go on holiday together. Our other friends and family were getting a bit annoyed that we wanted to spend so much time. We realised as we were coming back from holiday as we were trying to tell each other a story about the holiday, and the other would go, “yeah, I know I was there.”  It wasn’t very good for business either so, we ended up having deliberate breaks. We now spend our holidays away from each other and we get very excited. It’s like coming back from school holidays when you haven’t seen friends for a bit. You’re in the playground and you want to tell each other everything.

radioinfo: In the old days they used to talk about comedy duos as a straight man and a funny man. Today talent coaches often talk about generators and reactors where one half of a duo tends to generate an idea while the other takes it and runs with it.  If that resonates with you guys, which one is which?

Andy: Hamish always says there’s an equal footing but I tend to disagree. I think he’s the funniest guy in the world. I’m happy as the straight man although straight man is probably not entirely correct. That implies that there’s no ideas coming from my side of the fence. 

What we both agree on is that any idea that either of us has – the other person makes it a lot better and that’s what I get excited about every day. If I come in with an idea I just know that by telling Hamish it’s going to be infinitely better and the sum of the parts is always going to be worth a lot more than the individual but I definitely think he’s the funny one.


Peter Saxon

Tags: | |