Great Reading: Grant & I: Inside and Outside The Go-Betweens By Robert Forster

OK, it’s back to back book posts yesterday and today, finally at almost the end of this month it’s my little write-up today which is simply a book about another great 80’s Aussie band which I’ve just finished but was published a couple of years ago now.

No fucking about in it forming the band by page 40. Grant once already has turned down Robert. At that point Grant doesn’t even play guitar, bass or anything. He’s a huge bookworm and film buff when Robert meets him at Uni, Forster played with mates in bands since high school but to some-up quickly his early bands never were the right people for what he wanted to do. Robert reads something somewhere about Television, the band’s Tom Velaine teaching Richard Hell to play bass guitar and thinks he can do the same with Grant. GM wants to go to film school, with only one in Australia in the 70’s and you have to be at least 21 to get in. So the next time Forster asks McLennan:
He doesn’t say nope again but really never says yeah but gets Robert to record on tape deck what his own are songs so he can listen over summer break where he go back to home in northern Queensland remember no mobiles, internet etc. in late 70’s, after weeks of waiting he gets a postcard from him saying: “I’ve been listening to the tape – boy, there’s something for the future.” That’s it! Rob calls sword fighting in between the uni drama history lectures, they didn’t have acting lessons back then but was off-campus at a theater down the road, both Rob and Grant rat though costumes and props then end-up having sword fighting which sometimes exited the building and going into the footpath outside.

Rob had the band name when Grant asked what they’re going to be called? The Go-Betweens. Learning a pile of cover songs but Rob seems to have the songs like Karen and Lee Remick very, very early on. The first real and important gig they played was at Baroona Hall on Caxton Street, playing in-between the bands already on the bill Rob even asking to play on the day with guitars in car waiting plus meeting the drummer Gerard Lee on stage giving him instructions before each song playing three songs in total but getting way more gigs with bands on the bill after that.

Cutting to London and their first trip over: you can not image what these two blokes did in this day and age with social media and smart phones etc. Arriving in the U.K. for the very first time only had the one address where they could stay for the first weeks and zero contacts and not one phone number! It wasn’t a happy time for them, first months nothing happens then Rob when off to Paris and Grant to Athens for Xmas and New Years. Back in London again after that, they did see a lot of the English bands playing that never tour to Australia back then. Then even spotted all the members of Aussie’s The Birthday Party band at The Cure gig and then watching 50’s The Night of the Hunter film. Both Rob and Grant didn’t say anything to them and didn’t meeting them until both bands are playing Sydney show together in a year or so time. Then the biggest break was: John Peel played the single on radio while they were there and an Aussie ex-pat worked at Rough Trade record shop so she put their single on the wall in the best spot. So getting a meeting with Geoff Travis himself was very easy but the man says: “It’s too poppy.” I think, if I remember right Morrissey in his auto-bio book called Travis a tone-deaf idiot or something like that? Anyway two months later three Scottish blokes walk into the shop who were members of the indie pop group Orange Juice and the owner of Postcard Records and seen the record still on the wall and asked “I wonder where The Go-Betweens are now?” The shop keeper could tell them, so she does and after months of nothing happening something does!

The very main or one thing he writes about in this book is back then in the 80’s was The Go-Betweens never had the same record label for two record in a row and it seem to them they were always starting again at each new label for them. I do myself love those early album, much more that the big huge successful album for them: 16 Lover Lane which was the sixth album for them and than off course was last one before the big break-up! I also loved the 2000’s reunion and I think, I would rant Ocean Aparts as the best Go-Betweens album ever.

The final Go-Betweens show was a private show in Sydney for Cate Blanchett’s husbands b’day party, full of movie stars which Grant loved talking to them in-between the music but Rob not so much but he didn’t it would the last show at the time, off course. They did do three albums in five years since that reunion which was going great, it didn’t look like it was going to stop too! I think, of all the never-ending bands re-forming lately over the last few years The Go-Betweens would easy be in my top five reunions and please do have a listen to those albums if you’ve not heard them yet?

In his book Forster is a bit of a magpie, naming his best songs and McLennan from each album too. Then he even covers the solo 90’s years and then the shock of McLennan passing too! Other fun facts I learned: Forster’s first big huge gig he when he was very young was: Roxy Music at Brisbane’s Festival Hall. Forster’s first album owned: Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, he says almost all his early albums he got were best of comp type of things. Forster’s first non-comp album owned: Don McLean’s American Pie which I could say is really kind-of like a best of without saying it on the cover?

It was first published in 2016 is 340 pages long, printed by Penguin books so very easy to find but I do wish they would put index books like these! Highly entertaining and was totally great read, my post is just recycled parts of his book not wrote as great but if your a fan you’ve most likely read it already so if not please do read yourself!

That’s Forster new album from a couple of months ago!


Cheers 🙂


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