Jul 09, 2021
By Mark Redfern
Photography by Hugo Nobay
To end out the week, we ask Louis Forster of The Goon Sax some questions about endings and death.
The Australian trio (which also features Riley Jones, and James Harrison) released a new album, Mirror II, today via Matador, their first for the label. Mirror II is the band’s third album and the follow-up to 2018’s We’re Not Talking, which was released by Wichita. John Parish (Aldous Harding, PJ Harvey) produced the album, which was recorded in Bristol, England at Invada Studios (which is owned by Geoff Barrow of Portishead and Beak>). Since their last album, Forster moved to Berlin and worked in a cinema, while Jones and Harrison formed a post-punk side-project, Soot.
“The first two albums are inherently linked,” said Forster in a press release announcing the album. “They had three-word titles; they went together. This one definitely felt like going back to square one and starting again, and that was really freeing.”
“We lived in a shared house together, this tiny little Queenslander we called ‘Fantasy Planet,’ where we wrote the album,” Jones explained of the album’s genesis. “We were able to go to each other’s rooms and say anything that came to mind and go to the practice room three times a week. It was pretty intense.”
Of the album title, Jones added: “I was reading The Philosophy of Andy Warhol the other day. He said something so perfect… ‘I’m sure I’m going to look in the mirror and see nothing. People are always calling me a mirror, and if a mirror looks into a mirror, what is there to see?’ The name [Mirror II] was totally arbitrary to begin with, but it became about reflecting on reflection: we all get so influenced by each other. You find other people who show you yourself, who you are.”
Read on as Forster discusses what songs he’d like played on his deathbed and at his funeral; his favorite endings to books, movies, and TV shows; and why he doesn’t want to live too long.
How would you like to die and what age would you like to be?
Woah straight into it—cool. As a kid I was very obsessed with making it to 100, this changed in my teens when I couldn’t really process the concept of existing in the future at all. I wanted everything now, which sets you up for constant disappointment. This changed again when I had a health scare about three years ago, it was the first time I’d thought about things I wanted and hoped for in my 40s, 50s, 60s, realizing how much I wanted to make it there was pretty invigorating. I planned to get a dog in my 30s, which I now frequently think of, almost as a mental exercise. Not sure I still want to make it to 100 though. My grandma and great grandma both frequently told me it’s not worth living past 90 but that your 80s are great. So maybe 85? Actually let’s go 89 (I’m superstitious and saying this feels significant). As for cause of death: again my grandma died on a lot of painkillers and she seemed to be having a ball. She wanted to be euthanized as soon as she was diagnosed with a terminal cancer but they didn’t let her. I think I’m hoping for something that kills me with enough time to say goodbye but doesn’t drag it out and requires some fun pain killers for the trip. Actually at that age it would be kinda cool to be murdered! Assassinated at 89, let’s go with that!
What song would you like to be playing at your deathbed?
Hmm okay, I guess if I do have to die on a bed I’d let Jim [bandmate James Harrison] DJ if he’s still alive. Would trust him to tailor his set to whatever drugs they’re giving me. Would hope the mix includes “In Flight Suspension” by Pauline Anna Strom and “Jóga” by Björk. If I can communicate at all at this stage I’d definitely ask him to drop some Coil too!
What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it?
Was going to give a silly answer but then the thought of me dying in a freak accident and someone finding this interview and seriously doing what I say crossed my mind—Has that ever happened with this series?—so I’ll be very serious. Please sing “Dream Baby Dream” (by Suicide). Ask someone who (hopefully) truly loves me and get everyone to join in. Also please make sure the venue is too big for the expected turn out, honor my life by making it feel like a poorly attended show, but where the few people who came are hopefully into it!
What’s your favorite ending to a movie?
Hhhhmmmm… I mean who are we kidding I love a good enigmatic body of water ending. So…Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Hustler White? 400 Blows……..Return of the King lol?
What’s your favorite last line in a book?
Shit my memory is so bad with words, I find images a lot easier to remember! I’m also not at home with access to my bookshelf right now so it’s tricky. Joan Didion is obviously a master of last lines but I can’t remember any specifically right now
What’s your favorite series finale last ever episode of a TV show?
Sex in the City is always great! I have a soft spot for the ending of Peepshow too, we were watching that every night while recording our second album back in 2017 so it has a very special place in my heart. Guess it’s supposed to be the worst final episode ever but I always loved the last episode of Seinfeld, thought it was genius!
What’s your favorite last song on an album?
Picking favorites is so hard but the first thing that came to mind when I read this question was “Youth of America” by Wipers off the album Youth of America. I then thought of “Here Come the Warm Jets by Brian Eno (final track on the album of the same name). Title tracks as a last song are a fucking mood!
What’s your favorite last album by a band who then broke up?
I’ve been really struggling with this question haha and spent the last half an hour getting lost in online lists I disagree with. Was honestly surprised at how much people seem to like Dandy in the Underworld (T. Rex) and Naked (Talking Heads), I kinda think they both suck a bit and thought people agreed. Guess not! Anyway was suddenly hit by two at once which I didn’t see on any lists: Laughing Stock by Talk Talk and Soldier of Love by Sade are both pretty fucking incredible places to toss it in. In saying that I hope Sade makes another, I think they got it in em!
What’s your favorite way a band broke up?
I remember a friend of mine telling me they found out they’d been fired from their band by seeing the new lineup on TV and the new lineup fell apart weeks later as far as I’m aware—awful but pretty comically fucked up! Can anyone beat The Fall in 1998 though?
Whose passing has most affected you?
Not sure if you mean public figures or people in my life here? Will answer for both. Sophie’s death earlier this year totally shattered me. Her music was pretty alien when I first heard it a few years ago, but quickly revealed itself as being so tender and so close. Seems like a lot of people had that experience with her. People you don’t know personally but admire in some way dying obviously gives you such detached kind of sadness so it’s surprising when someone like that does hurt you in a very real way. In terms of someone in my life, I lost a friend about two years ago who I’d been hanging out with that same night a few hours beforehand. I feel almost selfish saying it as we weren’t particularly close, but I think about him quite often, it made me reevaluate a lot of things.
What’s your concept of the afterlife?
I don’t believe in any literal continuation of the consciousness we know but I’m absolutely not an atheist. I honestly feel like more of a shithead saying I can’t pretend to know, and that there is much beyond our comprehension than if I outlined some batshit personal theory here. I think it’s important to practice being more comfortable in uncertainty and the act of not understanding in many aspects of life!
What would be your own personal version of heaven if it exists.
I really try not to think of that, I can’t wait for something better.
What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?
If reincarnation exists, who or what would you like to be reincarnated as?
Someone small and flexible with great balance and a lot of energy!
What role or achievement would you most like to be remembered for?
Damn! Every dumb speculation of mine about the future coming true? An unknowing prophet. Although I’m happiest thinking of myself from the perspective of the kid who visited my school for a day in grade nine when I got the long jump high score and knew nothing else about me.
What would you like your last words to be?
“I love you.”