‘We’ve got time on our side’: The Go Set’s Justin Keenan on their new record The Warriors Beneath Us and writing music in lockdown

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‘We’ve got time on our side’: The Go Set’s Justin Keenan on their new record The Warriors Beneath Us and writing music in lockdown

Image: The Go Set. Supplied.
Words by Benjamin Lamb

The Geelong band have just dropped their latest album The Warriors Beneath us, and we caught up with frontman Justin Keenan to chat about it all. 

The Go Set have been a staple of the Australian music scene for many years, playing thousands of shows across the globe to many adoring fans.

Now the Geelong-based band have just dropped their long-awaited eighth studio album The Warriors Beneath Us, 20 years on from their beginnings and still sounding as fierce, as vital, as the first day they set foot on a stage. 

“It’s always good to release an album because there’s a sense of relief,”  frontman Justin Keenan says. “A lot of work goes into inception until the final product, and especially during COVID, we’ve had to find new ways to make music together, because we haven’t been able to stay in the same spot.

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“So, we’ve had to think about different ways to run our band, so this was a really big relief to get this album out.”

COVID saw many bands and artists move into interesting ways of performing, writing and recording, with The Go Set finding that the extended self-sequestration allowed them to spend more time on their music. 

“If you’re an independent act, you don’t have the benefit of money to make highly produced records and you don’t have the benefit of time to sit around and make five different versions in five different keys and time signatures of a song that you’ve got. 

“One of the things about this making this album was that we benefited greatly by having time to be able to determine what version of a song we wanted, and we could tweak it for two weeks. You can’t do that in the studio on an indie band budget.”

“If you lock everyone down and there’s nothing else to do, it’s like, hey, we’ve probably got the same time luxury that The Rolling Stones have got now and then when it comes to production.

“Certain technologies that would have cost thousands of dollars and half a day to get on your records, those things are now all programmed. You can get computer programs that can replicate particular drum sounds, so you can really make the album sound the way you want it to sound with less money as well.

“It really closes the gap between a band like us who have to go and spend our time doing all kinds of other shitty jobs rather than doing what we want to do and that’s making music and also having to spend every cent we make on a studio to try and get a very average record. 

“Now, we’ve got great quality production and we’ve got time on our side. But COVID has definitely helped us to make records with those advantages that we didn’t have before.”


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Now multiple albums into their illustrious career, The Go Set’s music is jam-packed with sophisticated lyrics that take you on a journey. This continues with The Warriors Beneath Us.

“I think this album is a little bit different; in the past, I wrote the words and then came up with a song or a melody and gave it to the band fairly complete,” Keenan says of the lyric writing process.

“This time around, I would come up with the theme and the majority of the words and then give it to Joel [Colliver], the guitarist who was also our producer, and say ‘I think the song kind of should go like this’ and ‘I think it’s in this key’ and ‘I think this is kind of how the chorus goes’.”

The Warriors Beneath Us features several tracks full of personal stories and moments, with the track ‘Opportunity’ focusing on a chat between members of Keenan’s family. 

“That was actually a conversation with my dad, my son and myself that brought that about. And it’s a little bit tongue in cheek as well; I guess all three generations in my family, we’ve all gone through being kind of lefty socialist, protest system type people.

“I know I see my son going through it now and just talking about, ‘I should have done this, I could have done that, I would have done this. This could have been different if I’d done that. Or you should do this’. You always hear that you should do this.”

“Generally, those comments are born out of someone else’s life experience, not yours. You should definitely change the way you do this, or you should break up with that person, or you should do this for a job. And I think that it’s largely about the idealism of youth and then the reality of adult life.” 

To mark the release of the album, the band have been travelling across the country for the first time in three years. Having already hit up multiple stages throughout April, the band will be heading to Volta in Ballarat on Friday 5 May and The Barwon Club Hotel in Geelong on Saturday 6 May.

“It’s exciting to be reconnecting with people and getting out on the road. We’ve had limited opportunities over the last couple of years and we’re really excited about sharing the new material at these shows.

“It was something I think we may have taken for granted a while back, but a couple of years of lockdowns and unprecedented difficulty has actually made us realise how much we truly appreciate each other, playing live, and sharing our music with people around the world.”

The Warriors Beneath Us is out now. More info can be found here