‘G Stands For Go-Betweens’ is the recently released boxset from the group that helped to define the sound of indie guitar bands, Sadly with the passing of founder member Grant McLennan, The Go-Betweens ceased in 2006, but the phenomenal songwriting partnership of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan is immortalised in the latest edition of the Go-Betweens reissues. ‘G Stands For Go-Betweens Volume 2’ covers the band’s mid to late eighties output with the seminal albums ‘Liberty Belle And The Black Diamond Express’, ‘Tallulah’ and ’16 Lovers Lane’, along with plenty of rarities, live tracks and sessions.

Founding member, and now established solo artist and author, Robert Forster, explained to us just what this era of the Go-Betweens was really like:

 Your biggest hits in the Go-Betweens happened towards the end of the 80’s, close to the ending of the band. It feels as if The Go-Betweens never fully got the success or global recognition you deserved, until much later. How did you feel about the way it took over ten years to get to that level of appreciation?

We didn’t have hits in the 80’s. Not real ones. I do feel we had ‘success’ – we made six albums during this decade and we toured the world – not bad for a Brisbane band that started with two people, one of whom had never played an instrument.

The beautiful box set focuses on your mid to late 80’s period, what was the highlight for you during the time of these albums?

The highlight for me was hearing how we improved as songwriters and improved as a band. And with the addition of Amanda Brown, primarily on violin, it enhanced our live sound. In the process becoming a much more dynamic group on stage. We could all feel a new power we had.

By this time, you’d had some success, but what would you have been doing if the band hadn’t been as successful?

I still think the group would have kept on going. Perhaps in more reduced circumstances. We were on a kind of mission, wishing to make the records we knew we were capable of making.

In this digital age, bands can create and exist on their own terms, but back in the 80’s everyone was reliance on labels and promoters, in hindsight do you feel lucky to have been a band in that era, when it was possible to make some sort of living from recorded music or do you think if streaming and home music software had been around in the mid 80’s, it would have helped the Go-Betweens in this period?

I think it could have helped us. In bizarre way home recording and streaming has tended to ‘democratise’ music. Before it was titled very much to the major record companies who called the shots and if the prizes were to be given out purely on musical talent, then maybe we would have reached more people.

What were your thoughts and feeling towards compiling this material now for the box set, although you reformed the band in 2000, how easy or difficult was it to revisit these recordings and rarities some of which you may not have heard for a long time.

It was pleasure. The Go-Betweens is place and a frame of mind that I can go to, and for most part, enjoy myself when there. I haven’t been in the band for fourteen years now, it ended with the passing of Grant McLennan in 2006, so it is not continually in my life. I also very much like working with the team that puts the boxsets together – we do have a lot of fun.


Forster is now also an acclaimed author, having written many articles for Australian Magazine ’The Monthly’, as well as his biography of his Go-Betweens era ‘Grant & I’,  it’s clear that the literary world has always been a huge part of his personal life and his life with Grant in the Go-Betweens       .

Being a music reviewer as well as a musician, enables you to experience both sides of the music writing process, but how would you, as a writer, have described your own albums?

As brilliant.

There’s a limited edition version of the box set and the first four hundred receive a book from Grant McLennan’s personal library, it’s a beautiful idea, what kind of literary treasures did Grant have?

Many books on film as the cinema was his great love. He also dug poetry and fiction; he was a big reader. When I first meet him, when he was 17, he was already accumulating a large collection of books. And he loved books just for themselves – the feel and look of them. I am glad his library is going out to the world, book by book, finding their new homes.


Forster’s son, Louis, now also has his own blossoming musical career as    in The Goon Sax, a brilliantly inventive indie band from Brisbane. However Forster is happy to let Louis figure out the music business for himself, with just the odd helpful hint along the way:

Your son is in the brilliant band, The Goon Sax, what words of wisdom, if any, did you pass on to him?

I don’t tell him much, as he has a very good head for music and songwriting and sounds. If I give any advice it is to do with operational things. Carry spare strings. Arrive at airports early. Make sure the backstage sandwiches have quality butter on them. Simple tips like that.


Although he’s had over forty years of songwriting, it seems the well of creativity is far from dry, as 2019’s glorious solo album ‘Inferno’ testified. With seven albums now released as a solo artist, Forster states there’s plenty of songwriting fuel to keep him occupied:

 You released your brilliant latest solo album ‘Inferno’ earlier this year, what inspires you to keep writing, and challenging yourself?

I really don’t know. I thought my songwriting may have dried up by now or shrivelled to one song very five years. I stay curious, I think that is important. I check out and dive into books, music and film. I observer my surroundings carefully.  I sleep well so I have energy to create when good ideas hit me. I never made much money from music – no mansion, or walls of gold records – so I’m hungry.

You’re always a busy man, but what’s next for you – new albums, tours, books?

Writing new songs. Finishing my novel. Playing shows in places I have never played before. Hoping people are going to ask me to do interesting and rewarding things. Hoping interesting emails may pop onto my computer.


G is For Go Betweens is out now (Domino Records). Robert Forster’s biography ‘Grant & I’ is also out now.



From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.