With The (Reservior) Dogs
Cave and the Bad Seeds have been around for a long, long time now. Having
overcome the miserable bastard tag somewhat, and having
successfully retained his cool image (even after making a duet with
Kylie when she most definitely WASNT cool), Cave has gone on to
make some of the most memorable, haunting, chilling and beautiful music
we have ever known over the years. Dont believe me? Just pick
up the last album No More Shall We Part, or listen to earlier
tracks such as Up Jumped the Devil and The Mercy Seat
as a starting point and I challenge anyone still with a heart and soul
not to be hooked and begging for more. And more youll get as Nick
is about to release his umpteenth album entitled Nocturama
right now. Time for a chat I do believe
AD: You seem to have a healthy creative flow at the moment, considering
youve recorded two albums in less than three years. Do you feel
No, it never seems like that. It always feels really difficult - it
never feels very healthy. It's a lot of sitting around and hoping something
will come. I'm in that stage again of starting a new thing and things
are coming, but it's always really difficult
AD: How did you record this album?
NC: We recorded in seven days or something like that; learnt it
and recorded it and that was that, really. I think the idea was to take
some of the preciousness about the making of a record away and possibly
create records more like they did in the old days, which was a faster
turnaround. The process of making a record and promoting it and touring
it is so incredibly slow till it gets around to the next one, that I
find there's just too much time on my hands, really.
The way I wrote this record was to basically get the musical idea down
and a set of lyrics, then I threw it to the side of the piano and started
a new one. and I didn't really reflect on the songs at all, or bring
them up again or play them again. Once they were written, that was it.,
whereas the record before - 'No More Shall We Part' - I had highly arranged
the whole thing before I went in, which inhibits the band. If something's
already kind of already complete and all they have to do is play the
parts, it doesn't give them much breathing space and with this record
we arranged the songs together and they had a lot more scope and room
to play and I think it's a better record for it.
AD: Nocturama was recorded in Melbourne. Do you find
that creating the record in different places inspires you greatly and
do you think this influences the way your work turns out?
NC: No, I don't think so. We all happened to be in Melbourne doing
some kind of tour. I think I was just going to bring the band in and
try a few songs with them, but we just happened to record. You know,
we had a few days and we just recorded the whole thing. It sounded really
good, so that's what we've got, really. I don't think we actually went
in with the intention of
recording an album. I think we just had a bit of free time and we thought
we'd play together a bit and the album kind of came out of it, I think.
AD: What music were you listening to around the time you were making
the album and did you try to encompass that in what you were trying
NC No. I think the people that I was listening to a lot around this
album was probably Bob Marley and Neil Young. I was listening to a lot
of them - early Wailers and Neil Young. I don't even know if any of
that kind of leaked into the writing of the record, but I was certainly
really impressed - or reimpressed - by Bob Marley's lightness of touch
on some of the early recordings and, of course, Neil Young's - I guess
middle period records - where there was just a real freedom of sound
and rawness and that things seem to have been recorded quite quickly
and to me that's always very impressive.
AD: The album title 'Nocturama' is not from one of the songs - where
did it come from?
NC: It is actually - a song that didn't make it onto the record.
There was a song called 'Nocturama', which will probably end up as a
B-side or something like that. It is a failed song, but a nice title.
It was a nice song, actually. I don't know why that didn't work, but
there you go.
AD: The first single, 'Bring it On', is a rather more raucust song
that were accustomed to hearing from you. How much of that is
driven by the lyric that goes with it?
NC: I think the song is kind of, "I'm here babe, I'll be your
rock". I write thousands of these songs - "Bring all your
sorrow, I'll be here to help you out. Stand by me," or one of those
kind of things. But the music took off beautifully in that, and of course
it has Chris Bailey singing - the singer of The Saints - and he was
in Melbourne at the time and I called him up and he came in and sang
that and he sang that beautifully and really lifted that song. I mean,
he's just an unbelievably wonderful singer and it's a great pop song,
AD: Where did the idea for the video for 'Bring It On' come from
NC: I actually had the idea for that video, in the sense that the
video maker Johnny Hillcoat said, "What do you want to make a video
about?" and I asked him, "What do videos looks like on MTV
these days?" and he said, "They look like a lot of black girls
wiggling their arses at the camera," so this is basically what
we ended up doing, really.
AD: Are you fascinated by the methods employed by other contemporary
songwriters, or is your style purely from the head and heart?
NC: I do look at the way other people write songs - and poetry.
I read a lot of poetry and I'm always very excited by a lyric, if I
find it exciting, and occasionally that still happens, which is good.
But I don't try and write lyrics like other people really. I steal lines
from people occasionally, more by accident, really, than design, but
I don't study other writers in order to write like them. I mean, there
are poets that I think have had a profound effect on the way I write.
Auden, for example, and Hardy's poetry, definitely. My lyric writing
wouldn't be at all the same if it wasn't for them and I guess there's
certain songwriters that have had that kind of
effect as well. Early Van Morrison, probably, and Bob Dylan. so I am
influenced by these people.
AD: Johnny Cash recently recorded a version of 'The Mercy Seat'.
What did you think of that?
NC: I loved it. I actually sang with him on his new record. I sang
a song with him. I sang "I Feel So Lonesome I Could Cry" by
Hank Williams with Johnny Cash, a duet and it's beautiful.
AD: With all the global conflict weve had to endure over the
past couple of years, how much does this affect, influence or inspire
you as a musician?
NC: Only in so far as it has to. The more intense it becomes, the
more intense my fight feels to remain separate from it and it's extremely
difficult to do. It's extremely difficult for me to not have my lyrics
and my music corrupted by the outside world, in a way. I've had to set
myself up in such a way that I feel I'm not affected by it, creatively.
That's not to say I'm not affected by it in my life in the world, but
I have a profound distaste for the world and the way it's going politically
and within society and it's been really important for me to lock myself
away from it, and create an alternate world with what I do musically,
for myself. A world that's away from that world. It does leak into what
I write, but I have no interest in reporting on the world, of going
out there and letting people know about it.
AD: Last time we spoke with you, you were having a kind of love-hate
relationship with London. How is it going now?
NC I've moved out of London, actually. I moved again, but yeah,
I do find that I don't live in one place for very long. There's no plan
about that. I can't bear living in the same place for too long after
a while, but I have the same set up wherever I live, so it doesn't really
make that much
difference actually; you know. I'm married and marriage is kind of a
hunkering down and locking of the doors, to some degree and I have my
office where I work, which is certainly like that. For me, those two
areas are authentic in some way - there is some authenticity in those
areas which I don't find out in the world - which I find has become
irrevocably corrupt, but I take these two worlds with me wherever I
go anyway, so it doesn't make much difference where I live.
AD: What other projects have you been working on of late?
NC Well, I finished a film script. It looks like it's gonna get
made. I had to kind of do some new drafts of that. I was doing that
last year, I think. That's finished. And I do all sorts of other things,
really, what, I can't really recall right now, but I'm always doing
stuff, you know. Lots of films music, I seem to be doing a lot of film
And I personally cant think of anybody better suited to the
task. But whatever kind of film uses Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
music, itll need to be a damn good one, otherwise theres
an overwhelming chance that itll be upstaged by its own soundtrack.
Transcript by Tone E
Thanks to Rob at Pomona for this interview.