The Go Set

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The Go Set

Melbourne folk punks The Go Set have been heard to jokingly refer to themselves as “a drinking club with a musical problem” and that may be true, but they’re also one of the hardest working and enduring bands on the Australian independent music scene for the last decade.
“I think the best advice we’ve ever received is that if you choose to go down the path of being a touring band, it’s a lifestyle choice and you have to stay the course if you want to enjoy the fruits of your labour – there are no short cuts. There’s no X Factor or Idol for what we want to do, that’s for sure!” laughs vocalist Justin Keenan.
Keenan was in surprisingly high spirits considering he’d just barely stepped off a plane after playing a whirlwind tour of the US. “We just got back last night, so jet-lag would be an understatement,” he smiles. “But we travel a lot these days so we’ve got used to it and we’ve learned a few tricks – but you can never really avoid it.”
The Go Set were in the US to promote their seventh studio album Rolling Sound, which will be released October 16 through FOUR|FOUR Music. “It was so good to play a fresh set of songs –we played the title track, ‘Rolling Sound’, ‘Struggle and the Fight’ and our first single, ‘Bones’.”
Now it’s our turn to hear ‘Rolling Sound’ live, up-close and personal when The Go Set kick off a national tour this weekend. They’ll play some of the best music venues in the country, including The Loft in Warrnambool and the one-and-only Barwon Club in Geelong. Keenan says these places hold a special place in their hearts. As fate would have it, the Barwon Club is only a stone’s throw away from where ‘Rolling Sound’ came to life.
“We booked the Point Lonsdale Surf Club for two days, and we literally just carried all of our equipment in, set up and played the album from start to finish two or three times,” he explains. “That was about it – we captured it all ourselves.
“We wanted ‘Rolling Sound’ to have the essence of our first album [Sing a Song of Revolution, 2004] and although we’d like to think that our song writing, structures and arrangements are more advanced than they were in 2004, we really wanted to capture our sound as live as we could – so we literally just set up all the room mikes and just played! It was great.”
Keenan says the hands-on approach was exactly what they needed to produce an authentic Go Set album. “You see a lot of bands play live and they can’t pull off what they did in the studio. Quite often those studio albums cost $100,000 plus, and everything’s auto-tuned and corrected – they cut and paste everything nowadays. We wanted to do a record in the old sense of the word, a ‘record’ of us playing live, and I think the result is really representative of The Go Set live show. We’re really happy that we were able to produce this record ourselves, given that the people in the band should know what the band should sound like best,” he grins. “One thing I’d say is that we’re definitely a lot more confident in our own ability to create and arrange.”
With their newfound confidence Keenan says that the time has come to release something special from the band, 10 years in the making. “Rolling Sound comes as a double disc, the album and a DVD.” The DVD is a documentary titled ‘These Are the Days’ which captures the highs and lows of The Go Set over the last decade.
“We had cameras on the road with us the whole time. We had about 100 hours of footage but we condensed it down to about an hour and a half, and we put it all together ourselves,” he says.
“It [‘These Are The Days’] documents the struggle of independent bands in Australia. It’s a country with a large geography, a small population and a relatively apathetic approach to independent music. It explains why a lot of Australian bands are going overseas – but more than that, it’s the story of The Go Set. Every band has a story, especially if they’ve been around a while.
“Each of us have had our own struggles, and as a band at one point we were astronomically in debt. We’ve had our gear stolen and tour vans have crashed. We’ve hit rock bottom in the past so it feels triumphant to have pushed through – you can watch the highs and lows, the twists and turns of it all. It’s a real rollercoaster ride.”
Perhaps the most important thing Keenan took away from creating ‘These Are the Days’ was the sense of mateship within the indie music scene. “Whether you’ve sold 100,000 or 50 albums, there’s somebody willing to lend a helping hand. You get to know people personally, especially if you’ve been around for as long as us. There’s always somebody who knows somebody who can help you put a show together or get you a great tour manager – there’s a great sense of community.”
Friends and family are number one on the agenda for The Go Set when their upcoming tour wraps up. “We’re taking a little break over December/January to enjoy the Australian summer – over the last couple of years we’ve been touring during that time. So this year we’re having a Go Set band family Christmas and New Year’s camping trip!” Keenan laughs.
“We want to spend time with the kids, friends and family because it’s been a pretty big year – and next year is going to be even bigger because we’re doing an around-the-world trip. We’re doing China, Europe, London, New York and across the US, and Canada.”
The Go Set will continue to tour and live their dreams – and Keenan sums up their tenacity perfectly: “My favourite saying is, ‘They were an overnight success that occurred over 1000 nights’ – and that’s just so true for us.”
Written by Natalie Rogers
When & Where: Ararat Hotel Red Room, Ararat – October 28,The Loft, Warrnambool – October 30 & The Barwon Club, Geelong – October 31