Nick Cave

[MUSICIAN, WRITER]

“NARRATIVE STUFF IS DIFFICULT IN SONGS BECAUSE PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO LISTEN TO SONGS AND HEAR A FUCKING STORY ALL THE TIME. THEY JUST WANT TO GET THEIR ROCKS OFF.”
Changes in Nick Cave’s touring career:
Loses luggage less often
Fancier cars
More guitar-playing
Less heroin
Less mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

Nick Cave is best known as the bandleader for the Bad Seeds and for the Birthday Party. In 2006, after years of composing murder ballads and songs of damnation, a few of his bandmates formed Grinderman, a stripped-down garage-rock version of the Bad Seeds, with Nick singing and playing guitar. Fans and critics who thought he was destined for residency on the Vegas strip got the wind knocked out of them.

Cave, now fifty-one, stopped using heroin several years ago. Occasional rehab and some time in jail over the years didn’t stop his continued usage. He doesn’t condemn heroin or drug use, but he did say that it was interfering with his creativity and that’s why he finally stopped. Now, during those slow days before turning on the juice to become Nick Cave the performer, he can concentrate less on his next fix and more on writing, both screenplays and fiction. A recent screenplay, The Proposition, was directed by John Hillcoat, and Cave has just finished his second novel, The Death of Bunny Munro. Originally a script for Hillcoat, Bunny Munro was put on permanent hold when the director began work on an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which Cave scored. Instead of letting it sit, Cave adapted the script into a novel about a sex-obsessed door-to-door salesman.

I met Cave at his hotel room in San Francisco during his Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! tour with the Bad Seeds. He admired my rings and I told him someone would have to cut my fingers off to get them, because they’re rings my grandmother bought for my grandfather in the 1940s. He said he’d pawned a lot of his rings for dope.

—Tony DuShane

*

THE BELIEVER: You’ve been touring so many years with Mick Harvey and the same lineup of guys. What does it feel like being on the road with them now as compared to being on the road with them, say, twenty years ago?

NICK CAVE: I don’t seem to lose my luggage quite as often. Having said that, I left in a hurry from L.A. and I left half my clothes in the hotel. That doesn’t happen that often anymore, and I was just remembering at the time about how often that used to happen. I mean, all the time. There was always some fucking disaster, some major disaster going on.

BLVR: What about now? Do you need a little more time in the morning to shake it out?

NC: Well, it’s not that, it’s just you don’t have to take people to the hospital and you don’t have to give them mouth-to-mouth resuscitation; things are easier in that respect. When somebody doesn’t answer the door in the morning, you usually just have to knock a little harder rather than ring the ambulance. Things have changed.

BLVR: And they still made it onstage for the night? Even when they had to get out of the comatose state…with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation?

NC: It happened a lot.

BLVR: How did you make it through?

NC: You can always bring someone back.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Tony DuShane is the author of Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk (Soft Skull Press, February 2010). His articles and essays frequently appear in the San Francisco Chronicle, Crawdaddy, and elsewhere.

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