Forster readies to perform again, this time solo
Man of many parts… Robert Forster at his Brisbane home.
ROBERT FORSTER is a singer-songwriter, author, critic and, for style mavens, a debonair man about town. He is also a frustrating example to the rest of us of a man who seems capable of doing many things very well.
Having performed mostly with the now defunct Go-Betweens since 1977 but also solo, he is one of the few internationally celebrated (if not very high selling) songwriters Australia has produced. But he is also the author of the well-received The 10 Rules Of Rock and Roll and won the Pascall Prize for criticism in 2006, seemingly minutes after beginning a sideline career as a music critic for the Monthly magazine.
A fourth career is looking likely.
''I'd like to, because the three that I've got don't bring in all that much money,'' Forster chuckles.
What a surprise he hasn't been asked to be a mentor/judge on one of the TV talent shows. And no, that isn't entirely a joke.
''It would be a temptation. But I don't know that I could do it. I'd end up being more polite than most of the judges that they have [and] I don't think the people who are making the programs are looking for politeness.''
As he heads out again to perform, this time on his own, the 55-year-old Forster recognises that for a long time he probably felt more comfortable being part of a group or a duo, but age and experience have helped out.
''I think now, in terms of television, that it would primarily be something new and there I would perhaps feel I would need more people around me.'' Forster pauses, and then adds: ''Until I am hosting the Logies.''
While he might not be earning Eddie McGuire money, he does seem to have a lot of his days and nights taken. Where does he find the time and energy to write?
''I've never worked harder in my life than I have in my late 40s and 50s. Since I began writing for the Monthly, it's intensified.
''Bands consume you: you are a performer on the road, a songwriter at home and a recording artist in the studio. And that is a cycle that can go on for ever. But really, it's not all that strenuous.
''My career was demanding songs but it seemed more relaxed. Now I've got lists on the back of envelopes everywhere.''
Is he satisfied creatively?
''I am, I am. I wish things would move quicker, but yes I am. I've still got a lot to do, I've got so much to do in the next 20 years. Dreams to fulfil.''
These include penning a screenplay and a novel (both of which are ''in my head'' rather than on the page), touring more, taking a cruise around the world and then following in the spirit of his musical and literary forebears. ''I have to spend six months on a Greek island, I have to walk the streets of Fez, I have to see Lisbon again,'' he checks off on his list. ''I'd like to go to Alexandria and spend a year and a half wandering around the Mediterranean. I'd love to live on the beach and make an album that's centred on the songs I wrote living at the beach.''
There is also a type of memoir, of which he has written 80,000 words, and he has 15 songs written since he was last in the studio five years ago, some of which will appear in the coming live shows that come soon after a new compilation of the Go-Betweens' career called Quiet Heart.
''In a way there are push and pulls in my life,'' he says, before inadvertently summing up his career. ''There is always the future and the past swirling at the same time.''
Robert Forster plays at the Vanguard on Friday and Saturday.