Go-Between goes it alone
Holmes Sydney Morning Herald, May 1990
the Go-Betweens called it quits with a show at Max's last December,
Robert Forster walked off stage and allowed himself a deep sigh
last album, 16 Lovers Lane was considered by many as the masterpiece
they had been promising to create for 12 years, and it seemed as
good a time as any to grind the wheels of one of this country's
most treasured groups to a halt.
McLennan and I started the band," says Forster, "and Grant
and I finished the band. It was the last days of 1989, the end of
a decade, and I guess that was floating at the back of our minds
also. We could have kept going, but I hold the Go-Betweens in far
too high regard for that."
heading back to Sydney for those final few shows last year, Forster
had spent a few months in Bavaria. Within weeks of the demise, he
had settled in Germany, renewed an acquaintance with a young lady
whom he has since wed, and continued writing material for that was
to become his first solo LP, Danger In The Past.
album is classic Forster overtly dramatic
honest charming and often very funny. As a guitarist, Forster is
no virtuoso, but as ever, he has used his talents of lyricism and
simple melody to weave a handful of timeless ditties.
16 Lovers Lane, the Go-Betweens took an unusually long time to record.
He admits this is part of the reason for the band folding, and also
for his decision to record the solo album very quickly in Berlin,
with Bad Seed, Mick Harvey.
was tired of working like that," he says of 16 Lovers Lane.
"You can do one album like that, but I couldn't any more
the band on this album, there was no rehearsal (as Mick Harvey played
bass, piano, organ, guitar and percussion) That's what was
great. Thomas the drummer didn't turn up until the second day.
He'd hear the acoustic version of the song about three times,
and then we'd record.
I wanted to get down to was, 'Here is a song, let's mike
up all the gear, look at each other and play the song. No patching,
just play it again until it's night'."
result pleases Forster, who is as relaxed as ever. He is a towering
chap, who sounds a little like Bill Collins passionate and
ever so careful and choosy with his words. He is tremendously serious
about the art of songwriting. Despite his quiet veneer, the smoke
has always billowed from his ears when conversation turns to other
bands who don't or can't write decent lyrics.
of the clichéd songs is like a put-down of a girl,"
he says, "and to me, that is dishonest songwriting. If you
haven't really got anything in mind and you think, 'Got
to write a song, I've got this melody, why I don't I do
the standard tune about putting the girl down?' then
that to me is dishonest songwriting.
hate that. I try and write honestly. No-one can check up on that,
but it comes down to me, it's a code of ethics that I try and
abide by, and I do."
does he feel then that, although a lot of the songs on Danger In
The Past are fairly gloomy, that it is more a celebration of a writer
who's prepared to say 'I bummed out', than the diary
from a depressing period?
I find people can write honest songs, in a certain sense sad song
and I feel a great sense of uplift from that. If it's done
well, I get a greater sense of uplift from than. I like happy songs,
but people who are just writing quite facile happy songs
find that very depressing."