The Go Set Release ‘The Warriors Beneath Us’ Today…
Not many bands survive twenty years. Fewer still mark the occasion by delivering one of their greatest albums. Twenty years down the line and The Go Set still sound as fierce, as vital, as the first day they set foot on a stage. The Geelong-based band has always squeezed out the sparks from the place where rock’n’roll collides with the spirit of Celtic folk. Now they bring all those forces together in the studio for an album that celebrates those years together, their eighth studio set, The Warriors Beneath Us, which is out today via FOUR FOUR / ABC Music.
Kicking off the album is West Into the Sun, a tale of young men sent to colonial wars. Young men fight and young men fall, it’s a signature The Go Set style song with thumping beats and a rousing chorus, the first taste of new music from this beloved Australian band in nearly three years. The song features the bagpipes that have always been part of The Go Set story, and the result is a soaring rock tune that sits somewhere between punk-folk and the anthems of Midnight Oil. The band’s singer and chief songwriter, Justin Keenan tells Hi Fi Way more about the album.
Eight albums in now, did you think you would get to the finish line with The Warriors Beneath Us?
Yeah, it was definitely a testing period. I mean, eight albums is a mountain to climb (certainly with today’s standard anyway) for any band, but this one was particularly difficult because we wrote and recorded most of it in our own homes.
Sonically, how do you think The Go Set sound has evolved on this album?
I think we’ve just got better at nailing our own sound. As our albums have gone on, we’ve gradually got better at identifying our signature. Particularly in terms of guitar tones, and vocal layers. It’s a hard balance to get right when you’re not a standard rock guitar band, as there are not a lot of references you can use to show producers. The last two albums of ours have been produced by the band (actually Joel our guitarist predominantly), and we’ve also been able to tweak them without being on the studio clock. I think they are, by far, our best sounding records.
Was Covid amongst other things the biggest challenge getting this album done?
It definitely changed the way we operated as a band. I mean, how do you get together to make music during lock downs? Instead, I spent a lot of time writing and making demos, and we sent files back and forth to each other. On the plus side, it did give us the luxury of time and space to continually create and improve our ideas.
Did everything go to plan once you got in to the studio?
We actually did most of the tracking with our own equipment at home, and at Joel’s (guitarist) studio. I feel like we were actually pretty prepared in terms of knowing what had to be done in terms of priority, but on the flip side a lot of the songs were incomplete so they became pretty open ended. For the most part this was good, as we collaborated really well, but we also had a strange paradox where some elements were really well prepared, and others not at all.
What is the story behind the single West into the Sun?
It’s loosely based around the press gangs and recruitment drives of the English army in the 1850s and 60s. At that time the English were fighting wars with the French, controlled a large part of the world in terms of a trade empire, and were supplying arms and equipment to the Confederate states. They were short of manpower and were effectively enslaving poor peasants and farmers to fight horrific wars on behalf of the empire.
Twenty years is a significant achievement, what is the secret to keep the band going strong for so long?
That’s a tough one. I think it’s about working with like-minded people first and foremost, as well as being resilient enough to be tolerant and compromise where necessary, without compromising your standards. Spending long months in a van, and particularly financial hardship and family stresses all play a massive role as an independent touring band, so being able to operate like a family is really key. I saw a t shirt once that summarised the whole key to band longevity, it read simply: ‘Don’t be a cunt”.
What highlights over the last twenty years stand out for you?|
There’s so many great moments. I’d say any of the big European or North American festivals stand out as a highlight. They’re the reward, and a culmination of a lot of hard work as a touring band. They’re the moments you get to play to a large crowd and really embrace the feeling of fun and success.
On top of that, I think about all of the different people we’ve got to know and have built friendships. So many amazing people that we would never have had the opportunity to get to know if it wasn’t for the music. It’s such a unique bond you form with people in the music community, and these days we literally have friends that we stay with in cities all over the world. That sense of connection and belonging is something really strong and valuable.
When you look back is there anything you would have done differently?
I guess the only regret that I have is that we didn’t spend enough time focusing on specific branding and marketing elements. We’ve never really been an industry band, and we’ve never had any commercial success. Not that I like the idea of compromising what we’ve built, but I definitely think that if we’d been able to generate some more revenue via successful radio and marketing campaigns, and had become better known in Australia, a lot of our hardships in terms of basic needs might have been different. I’ve always felt like we’ve put out great music, and are a strong live band, so sometimes it’s hard not to think that maybe you deserve a bit more in terms of a fan base. Then again, there’s a lot of bands who are more than qualified to say that than us.
What can fans expect to hear and experience on this tour?
A high energy live show, with a group of people having a lot of fun. Our shows are all about the party.
What’s the next challenge for The Go Set?
Most likely getting back overseas and reconnecting with US and European audiences in 2024. It will have been five years, so it’s time to jump back on that wagon. More music, and more fun hopefully!
Interview By Rob Lyon
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The Warriors Beneath Us Tour Dates
Tickets on sale now – for more information see www.thegoset.com