The Go-Betweens co-founder Robert Forster will release a new solo album, The Candle and the Flame, on February 3 via Tapete. This is Forster's most personal record to date, as it features his whole family. His wife, Karin Bäumler, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2021; along with their daughter Loretta and son Louis (former of The Goon Sax), they made the record together.

"Ever since we met, Karin and I have sung and played music together in our home, and in these dark days we turned to music once again," Robert wrote in a message on his website. "I had a batch of new songs I’d written over the last years, and we started playing them together. Our son Louis often dropped in for a meal and a chat and soon he began joining us on guitar. One night, when sitting cross-legged on the couch, after we had played a song, Karin looked up from her xylophone and said, ‘When we play music, is the only time I forget I have cancer.’ That was a big moment."

The album was produced by Robert, Karin and Louis, mixed by regular collaborator Victor Van Vugt, and also features former Go-Betweens bassist Adele Pickvance, and Scott Bromiley and Luke McDonald (The John Steele Singers) who worked on Robert’s Inferno and Songs To Play albums.

“The recording sessions for the album were done sporadically over six months," says Robert. "Sometimes just one or two days a month. As that was all Karin’s strength and condition allowed her to do. So we had to record ‘live’, catching magical moments and going for ‘feel'. And that became the sound of the album.”

The first single from the album is "She's a Fighter" which Robert says was the last song he wrote for the album. "I wrote the music for it in June 2021. I liked the tune and the quick energy of the song, but I didn't know yet what it was going to be about," he says. "In early July, Karin Bäumler, my wife and musical companion for thirty-two years, received a cancer diagnosis. In late July, with a series of chemotherapy sessions about to begin, Karin talked of fighting for her health and a path through chemotherapy to recovery. The phrase, ’She’s A Fighter’ came to me. I liked it. And I knew immediately that it would work with my new melody. I needed just one other line for the lyric. ‘Fighting for good.’ The song was finished. I had written my first two-line song. I had just out-Ramoned The Ramones!"

Robert adds, "Because the song has so much meaning to us, we decided to record it as a family. The only time this happens on the album. Karin sings and plays xylophone. Our daughter Loretta plays electric guitar. Our son Louis plays guitar, bass and percussion. And I strum an acoustic guitar fiercely and sing. And that’s ‘She’s a Fighter’.”

The video for "She's a Fighter" features the whole family as well. "The video was shot in the same studio (Alchemix Studios, Brisbane) as the album was recorded in. So there is continuity,” Forster says. “And the way the four of sit in a circle playing, is very much how we recorded ‘She’s A Fighter’ and other tracks on the album." The video premieres in this post -- watch below.

Karin, we're wishing you a full recovery. Fuck cancer. You can read the full message from Robert below.

Robert has European and UK tour dates in 2023. All dates are listed below.

Greetings from Brisbane

Dear friends, pull up chairs, this is a difficult and lengthy post. It is tough news that I wish to share with you and not for you to pick up second hand on the internet over the next months.

In early July last year, Karin Bäumler, my wife and musical companion for thirty-two years, was diagnosed with a confronting case of ovarian cancer. It was a time of shock and grief, and that same month, she embarked on a regime of chemotherapy treatment.

Ever since we met, Karin and I have sung and played music together in our home, and in these dark days we turned to music once again. I had a batch of new songs I’d written over the last years, and we started playing them together. Our son Louis often dropped in for a meal and a chat and soon he began joining us on guitar. One night, when sitting cross-legged on the couch, after we had played a song, Karin looked up from her xylophone and said, ‘When we play music, is the only time I forget I have cancer.’ That was a big moment.

In the meantime some of our very kind Brisbane friends had formed a cooking roster, leaving meals at our front door to support us through this time. One of them was Adele Pickvance, former Go-Betweens and Warm Nights bass player. On one of her meal delivery trips, I asked her to bring her bass and an amp along. She pulled up a chair in our lounge room and fell right in on the new songs.

In October, Karin was scheduled for surgery. We booked a studio, and on September 27th, the four of us sitting in a circle, recorded 10 songs live in 7 hours. Whatever would happen in the future, we would always have the tape.

Over the next months, when Karin was strong enough and Covid numbers were low, we booked odd days in the studio. Sometimes our daughter, Loretta, would come along and join us and we brought in friends to help us, too. Karin was driving the album and listening to what we’d done on each session, gave us weeks of enjoyment and a place we could retreat to, away from hospital visits and scans and blood tests. In early March, with her chemotherapy course just finished, we did our last day in the studio.

The songs we recorded formed an album that will come out early next year, and this Wednesday, the 19th, we will release a single. But we wanted you to know the story of the creation of the record first. Why it exists. Why these musicians are playing on it. Why there isn’t layers of production, instead a live, catch a moment feel to the sound. Two of the songs on the album are from that September 27 recording. We didn’t know we’d started an album but we had, in the shadow of Karin’s hospital visits.

With a challenging year behind her, Karin is feeling strong and positive now and she can’t wait for our music to go out of our house and into the world. It may seem strange making an album in these circumstances and looking back, we really don’t know how we did it, but we do know that it helped us just so much as a family. It was done in drops and gave us this other reality we could live in. Something that music is great in giving.

In the slow process of the album’s recording, we didn’t inform a wide range of family and friends of what we were doing, and we ask for their understanding in the delivery of this news.

The album is called “The Candle And The Flame”. We hope you will enjoy it!

Fondest Regards from Karin and myself,

Robert

robert forster the candle and the flame
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The Candle and the Flame:
1. She’s A Fighter
2. Tender Years
3. It's Only Poison
4. The Roads
5. I Don’t Do Drugs I Do Time
6. Always
7. There's A Reason
8. Go Free
9. When I Was A Young Man

ROBERT FORSTER - 2023 TOUR DATES
Saturday 11th March Strathaven Strathaven Hotel
Sunday 12th March Edinburgh Mash House
Tuesday 14th March York Crescent
Wednesday 15th March Hebden Bridge Trades Club
Thursday 16th March Wolverhampton Newhampton Arts Centre
Friday 17th March Oxford Bullingdon
Monday 20th March Brighton Komedia
Tuesday 21st March London Lafayette
Thursday 23rd March Belfast Empire
Friday 24th March Dublin Button Factory
Monday 27th March Hamburg Nachtasyl
Tuesday 28th March Berlin Festsaal Keruzberg
Wednesday 30th March Köln Stadtgarten
Thursday 31st March Landsberg Stadttheater
Friday April 1st Wien Akzent Theater

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