From Brisbane to Berlin and back again with The Goon Sax

From Brisbane to Berlin and back again with The Goon Sax

Image by Lance Bangs
Words by Andrew Brassington

We catch up with beloved Brisbane band The Goon Sax before they hit the RISING stage.

Over the course of 12 days in late May and early June this year, Melbourne is set to transform into a huge mecca of live music, art and installations as part of the city’s new winter wonderland, RISING.

As part of the festival, Melbourne icons like Flinders St Station and the Sidney Myer Music Bowl will reappropriate themselves for the event, while Max Watt’s will become a home for live music. The CBD rock’n’roll haunt will feature a stacked bill of underground artists across the festival, including Brisbane’s beloved jangle pop purveyors The Goon Sax.

Keep up to date with all the latest music interviews, news and reviews here.

The young trio have taken their crystal-clear pop melodies and rambunctious DIY spirit all over the world since the release of their debut LP Up To Anything in 2016, influencing culture as their music is shaped by their experiences and surroundings. When The Goon Sax hit the Max Watt’s stage, the show will serve as a primer to their forthcoming third LP, Mirror II, due for release on Friday July 9.

The cultural depth and reflections on the new record are not lost on vocalist and guitarist Louis Forster, who moved to Berlin in 2017 at the end of a European tour. The band had just finished tracking their sophomore record We’re Not Talking, and Forster needed a change.

“When I was over there I had a real period of writer’s block,” Forster says. “After the last album, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, more so than I’ve ever felt, and I think part of that was being so overstimulated by so many different kinds of music I hadn’t heard before. It took me a while to process it all.”

Forster’s time in Berlin saw him trying to write all sorts of music, purposely trying to push and pull genre constraints, exploring what was next for his band. Whilst there’s only one song on the upcoming album that began its life in Berlin (‘Bathwater’), the whole experience of the culture shock and upheaval took months for him to fully understand.

“I think it takes a while for the things that you experience to filter through you. There’s a tendency if you see an amazing band to go home and write something exactly like it. I always believed that it takes the body about three months to process music properly. I always notice that I’m writing with a three-month lag based on what I’ve been listening to. When you don’t try to force it, or just repeat what you saw last night it comes back out in a more genuine way through the lens of your mind and body.”

Upon returning to Australia in 2018 to tour We’re Not Talking, Forster found himself a bit disjointed and confused with life. As a band, they were also in a similar place. Work began on new creations for their next album, resulting in lots of atonal post-punk influenced jams that ended up being scrapped.

“We wanted the new songs to have more action, kind of like a movie scene where it cuts from one person to another, then to a shot of the desert, and back to the person,” Forster continues.

“Lyrically I also loved the idea of movie one liners, and how over time that fed into the cultural psyche. Riley (Jones, drums and vocals) and I both went to a performing arts high school in Brisbane. She was doing theatre and I was doing film, so I guess that naturally came through in our music.”

This cinematic design can be heard clearly on the new single ‘In The Stone’, where Forster and Jones throw rhetorical questions back and forth at each other, never really getting the answers they want, as scuzzy guitar lines weave their way in and out of the postmodern non-linear narrative.

“It was originally a bit of a murder ballad about a murder in Brisbane, and that stayed at the core but changed a lot over time,” Forster says of the song.

Dark and gothic undertones made way for a brighter dancefloor beat, reminiscent of the late ’80s UK Madchester scene, but rumour has it that the song was partly influenced more by modern pop music and songs like Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’.

“In everyday life, you hear sounds and music all around you constantly, so I wanted to take that in my music rather than try and hone in on a genre that was ‘cool’,” says Forster.

The Goon Sax vacuum external inspirations with such individuality that they’re the perfect complement to the cultural zeitgeist brewing within the RISING stratosphere. When they arrive at Max Watt’s on Thursday June 3, it’ll be about a month out from album three, Mirror II.

“I realised I left the test pressing of it in an Uber last night. I hope it doesn’t get leaked!”

The Goon Sax perform at Max Watt’s on Thursday June 3. Grab tix here.