For several years, erudite Australian alt-rocker Robert Forster, former bandleader of the beloved Go-Betweens, maintained a cottage industry as a music critic, with his work eventually being anthologized in the volume “The 10 Rules of Rock and Roll” in 2009. He wasn’t sure if he had a standalone book in him until 2006, when the death of his bandmate and best friend Grant McLennan prompted him to write the touching “Grant & I: Inside and Outside the Go-Betweens,” released in 2016. “He passed away at only 48, and I was jolted. Writing a book about us was just something I felt like I had to do. I never would have written that book without his passing,” he says, phoning from his home in Brisbane before launching his American tour supporting “Inferno,” his first solo album in four years.
What new revelations did you discover while writing “Grant & I”?
It was a story that was definitely worth telling, but the main revelation was how unusual the band was, right from the start. Most bands start with everybody being a musician, or when ex-members of one band join up with another group’s. But we didn’t do anything like that. We started as a two-piece, and Grant didn’t play any instrument. I’d been in a cover band, and I had just started to write my own songs. He was my best friend with no instrument, but within six weeks we’d played our first gig, and released our first single after five months. And that unorthodoxy would color our entire career. We started oddly, and just kept going like that.
You look pretty healthy for 62.
I’ve dropped a bit of weight and I feel good about that. My doctor says I’m healthier now than I’ve been in awhile. I’ve started exercising more, eating better. And that helps me feel good, mentally. So I’ve been exercising the body and the mind.
My work sort of spills over into everyday life for me. So I guess it would be through my one hobby — walking. Walking every day with my wife. And now in Brisbane, there’s a national-park-type place that’s five minutes from our home. There’s a forest there, and a lake with an actual beach, and they’ve even started renting out canoes. Basically, the city became aware that they could turn a little bit of water into something else. And there’s a little path running all the way through it that we just love to walk. We’ve even seen kangaroos there, which is really rare because they don’t come close to urban areas, So it’s just a great place for walking and reflecting.
IF YOU GO
Where: Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market St., S.F.
When: 8:30 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $22 to $25
Contact: (415) 471-2969, https://swedishamericanhall.com/