Nick Cave in October 2012
|Birth name||Nicholas Edward Cave|
22 September 1957 |
Warracknabeal, Victoria, Australia
|Genres||Post-punk, gothic rock, alternative rock, experimental rock, garage rock|
|Occupation(s)||Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, writer, actor, composer|
|Instruments||Vocals, piano, organ, harmonica, guitar, percussion, saxophone, drums|
|Labels||Bad Seed, Mute|
|Associated acts||Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Birthday Party, Shilpa Ray, PJ Harvey, Grinderman, The Boys Next Door, The Immaculate Consumptive, Shane McGowan|
To my undying shame, I do read reviews. I don't read them all, but I like to get some kind of idea how things are going.
I don't write happy songs. Who does? I don't know anybody who writes happy songs, really.
After a while, you just don't do things you don't wanna do – that's the great freedom you get, the older you get. You learn what to do and what not to do, and what will be a waste of time and what won't be a waste of time.
I love being manipulated by what I see. I love weepies and romantic comedies where you're reaching for the Kleenex at the right moment.
No, I wouldn't direct a movie, no. I couldn't. I don't have the patience for it, I don't have the people skills. You have to be clever. I'm not really clever in that kind of way. And you have to be able to manipulate people, but at the same time allow them to feel like they are manipulating you, to get the kind of movie that you want.
I have an armchair interest in gardening, but I don't like to get my knees dirty. I don't have a garden.
I have a very strange relationship in general with women around my music. There's some that understand it and some that think there should be a law against it.
Writing screenplays makes me a better musician because it clears my head. After writing a movie, I go running back to music as fast as I can.
My father was a teacher and my mother also worked in the school, so the family has a background in education.
The problem with books, now that I've written one, is that the idea of adaptation is so much easier than sitting down to write something new.
Self-editing is the way I write. Ten verses of a song and it's finished. Then we start playing it and if I see that it's too long, I'll start cutting.
I always thought my records were number one; it's just the charts didn't think so.
One of my big fears is drying up, and the more I create, the more I feel myself shrinking beneath the backlog of work I've done.
I'm not a misogynist, so you can dispense with that. I think I've done wonders for the feminist movement.
In getting older, I find myself becoming progressively more ineffectual in a lot of different ways, and part of that is down to no longer having the youthful feeling that what you're doing has any true impact.
If you took love out of the equation, I wouldn't know what else to write about.
As Australians, we see the law as inherently bad. We have a real inherent distaste for authority in our makeup.
People think I'm a miserable sod but it's only because I get asked such bloody miserable questions.
I'm not religious, and I'm not a Christian, but I do reserve the right to believe in the possibility of a god.
I know when I sit with my band members and we're playing back a song that we've done, I know that they're experiencing it in a completely different way and hearing stuff that they're alerted to because the way the interpret the world is through their ears. Mine is through my eyes.
The only person who can say they're happy getting old is someone who isn't actually old yet. Every day, I get less and less happy about that idea.
The last thing I ever wanted to get involved with is Hollywood. The way it works is that people get an idea you could possibly do something, but there's a one-in-a-hundred chance that it could get made.
I'm kind of old-school and love nothing more than sitting, opening a book, and reading it. But I also love listening to audio books.
People often can't separate, or can't understand, that to be funny is to be serious; it's a way of pulling people in and not scaring them off. I think a lot of the funny stuff, underneath it, there's a deep anxiety going on.
If I'm hanging around too much, my wife and kids say, 'Hey, why don't you go downstairs and start a new novel?'
The concept of God in America is very different than it is in England. Because we see the horrendous outcome of religion as being an American thing, in which the name of God has been hijacked by a gang of psychopaths and bullies and homophobes, and the name of God has been used for their own twisted agendas.
I have a particular dislike for children's films. I'm way past the novelty aspect.
Certainly being proficient in an instrument does have its problems. Because the better you get, the more you just start sounding like an ordinary guitarist. There are certainly guitarists that transcend that and do really find their sound and all that sort of stuff.
Writing is a necessary thing for me, just to keep myself level. It has beneficial effects on my life.
I lost my innocence with Johnny Cash. I used to watch the 'Johnny Cash Show' on television in Wangaratta when I was about 9 or 10 years old. At that stage I had really no idea about rock n' roll. I watched him, and from that point I saw that music could be an evil thing – a beautiful, evil thing.
I used to believe that if I could do certain things – write a book or be a successful musician – that I'd be transformed into a happy person, but it doesn't work that way.
If beautiful movies can influence you to go out and hug your children, then we have to be honest and say that other movies can inspire you to do bad things.
There are methods to creating a mayhem that sounds different from your usual mayhem. Because mayhem and a heavy drum backbeat end up sounding like Green Day or something. But if you put a different beat within it to create some air and lightness, the chaos comes through better.
I'm a big fan of teatowels and am always on the lookout for a good one.
Everything that's said against me offends me, whether it's true or not.
I became a script writer with absolutely no idea of how to write a script whatsoever. I still feel a bit of an outsider in that regard. If I can maintain that approach to screenwriting, it can continue to be enjoyable.
Songwriting, I have to take myself away from everybody to do. It's an unsightly act.
My music has to do with beauty, and it's intended to, if not lift the spirits, then be a kind of a balm to the spirits.
At the end, we're kind of observers – creative people, I mean. I feel like an observer, and I'm pretty much able to step out of things and see how things are playing out.
I consider myself to be first and foremost a comic writer. The way I entertain myself – especially in those long and grim hours in the office – is to write stuff I find funny.
Getting married, for me, was the best thing I ever did. I was suddenly beset with an immense sense of release, that we have something more important than our separate selves, and that is the marriage. There's immense happiness that can come from working towards that.
I love performing. I can get to be that person I always wanted to be – godlike.
The rock star is dying. And it's a small tragedy. Rock stars have blogs now. I have no use for that kind of rock star.
I'm a believer. I don't go to church. I don't belong to any particular religion, but I do believe in God. I couldn't write what I write about and be creative without a certain form of belief.
There's an element to songwriting that I can't explain, that comes from somewhere else. I can't explain that dividing line between nothing and something that happens within a song, where you have absolutely nothing, and then suddenly you have something. It's like the origin of the universe.
I was reading The Bible a lot through my 20s, mostly the Old Testament, just because I was knocked out by the language and the stories. I felt that the God being talked about there, who was this insane, vindictive patriarch – it was kind of thrilling, and titillated something in me at the time.
When you're talking about rock n' roll, myth-making is what it's all about.
Some people, myself in particular, have an adversarial relationship with the camera, and it sprouts up in every photograph.
I don't think Hollywood makes many good films anymore. How many directors can you really trust to have an artistic vision, not a corporate vision or a watered-down communal one?
L.A. is full of screenwriters. I don't know why. On many levels, it's such a thankless occupation.
If you look around, complacency is the great disease of your autumn years, and I work hard to prevent that.
I've watched 'Oprah Winfrey.' And I'm proud. I don't care what anybody says! I don't know whether I've watched it. I've been in the room while it's been on.
Guns are part of the American psyche, aren't they? This is collateral damage for having a Wild West mentality. It's intrinsic to the American psyche. It's never going to change.
What you're really after when you see a film or listen to a song is a singular vision, and I'm not sure how much of that you really get in Hollywood.
I've spent my life butting my head against other people's lack of imagination.
I'm not in the business of telling people what to do. I'm much more in the business of describing things, situations and stuff like that and leaving them out there, and you can make up your minds about them.
I'm an Australian, and when I grew up much of my influences were American – blues music and country music, all that sort of thing.
Most people wait for the muse to turn up. That's terribly unreliable. I have to sit down and pursue the muse by attempting to work.
I'm not saying this in a condescending kind of way, but it's quite simple: The making of America was a heroic thing. Australia has a much murkier, much more complex view of its history. It's just full of all these open wounds we don't really know what to do with.
People are always surprised to see clues to my being a normal kind of guy. As if I'm somehow letting the team down.
A rock musician's career is short-lived. To extend it, you need to do other things to keep yourself fresh.
I've always been at war with the guitar. All vocalists are fighting a war with the electric rhythm guitar.
Musicians are at the bottom of the creative pyramid and authors are at the top, and many people think it's unacceptable for someone to attempt to jump from the bottom to the top of the pyramid.
There's always pain around. That's one thing you can guarantee in life – there will always be a surplus of pain.
I love rock-n-roll. I think it's an exciting art form. It's revolutionary. Still revolutionary and it changed people. It changed their hearts. But yeah, even rock-n-roll has a lot of rubbish, really bad music.
The work ethic at art school is completely different than the work ethic amongst people who get into music. People who paint, it's an honorable thing to spend all day and all night in front of your canvas – that is the romantic vision of the painter.
To me, I don't write when I'm depressed. If I'm depressed, which is actually rare, I'm not doing anything, you know, and I'm not able to do anything.
When you're making a film, there are so many people involved that you get opinions and notes from people and you don't even know who they are. I find that quite difficult and it wears you down.
I've always hated narrative songs. I hate those songs where, basically, it's an unfolding of a story.
I write hate lyrics really well. It's not every day you can use them, really.
I'm not someone who's particularly in touch with the way they feel. I've heard it said that you should be a 'human being' not a 'human doing', but I'm a human doing, very much so.
The more information you have, the more human our heroes become and consequently the less mysterious and godlike. They need to be godlike.
I'm very happy to hear that my work inspires writers and painters. It's the most beautiful compliment, the greatest reward. Art should always be an exchange.
The more settled I've become, the more problematic my characters have become. There was a period when I wrote sensitive and gentle songs and these came at a time when life was at its most destructive. I think you write about what you need, on some level.
I don't know, maybe Australian humour isn't supposed to be funny. It's as dry as the Sahara, and I think people miss that.
The band is a living, breathing thing. It grows in the same way we do as human beings and if it doesn't, it dies. It's important to feed the organism, and one way of doing that is to set musical challenges that keep it alive.
The big problem with songwriting for me is starting a new song. It's the thing where all the anguish exists, not in the writing of the song, but the starting of the new song. What do I write about? I never know.
The songs that I like are the ones that you can't visualize, that are just cries from the heart – those very straight, direct songs that make rock & roll music so wonderful.
It's always a pleasure on a personal note for me to come back to Australia.
With writing a song, I've always felt, right from the start, like I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel. I don't ever feel there's a font of ideas to fall back on.
Moving to the country is a very bold thing to do. You can have vague romantic notions about doing that, but in actuality, it can be a terrifying thing.
At some point you start seeing the difference between what you really want, and what is your priority order. I feel that today I know what I want. That's the problem with perspective, as well as focus and concentration.
When you're on your own, you have all the self-censorship that everybody has when they try and write. All the little voices that say, 'No, you can't write that, what will they think of that?'
I see it as my duty in some way is to be out in the world as an Australian putting forward what I consider to be authentic Australian music.
I write a lot, and very often I write a couple of lines that are particularly revealing in some kind of way. And then as a few more lines get added and a piece gets added, eventually the song pretty much takes over and you can't really find a way to change those things.
I'm a kind of hard-wired pessimist. I can't help but see the world in a certain kind of way.
The guitar is something you kind of embrace, and the piano is something you kind of – when you play it, you sort of push it away. It feels very different.
My muse is my wife. It's not some vague thing that flutters around the astrosphere or wherever it is. Sometimes as a songwriter you need something to hang a song on, to give it some kind of presence and form. For me, Susie is that.
When I perform onstage, I'm actually kind of nearsighted, so I don't have any real, true understanding of what the audience is like.
When I'm singing 'Deanna,' for example, which I sing pretty much every night, it brings forward a kind of imagined, romanticized lie about this particular person, which I find really comforting and exciting to sing about.
I won't go into the details, but I ready myself for the day. I am a high-maintenance type of guy.
The big problem with songwriting for me is starting a new song. It's the thing where all the anguish exists, not in the writing of the song, but the starting of the new song.
I get criticized for a lot of what I write about, but as far as I'm concerned I'm actually standing up and having a look at what goes on in the minds of men, and I have the authority to talk about it because I'm a man.
'Inspiration' is a word used by people who aren't really doing anything.
Being a parent can make you a horrible person at times, because you're pushed to the limit constantly.
Most of the time, feelings just seem to get in the way. They're a luxury for the idle, a bourgeois concept. Feelings are overrated.
It's possible to get through life without a religious structure, but I don't think that's a very fruitful way to live.
An artist's duty is rather to stay open-minded and in a state where he can receive information and inspiration. You always have to be ready for that little artistic Epiphany.
I am not interested in anything that doesn't have a genuine heart to it. You've got to have soul in the hole. If that isn't there, I don't see the point.
I think it's a part of us as human beings that we search outside of ourselves for meaning.
Look, when I look back, from 20 onwards, I was actually having a pretty good time, I have to say.
I don't really do Japanese interviews. I don't think there's much call for me in Japan.
I've always worn suits. To me they're a very practical kind of thing to wear. You put one on and don't really have to think about what you're going to wear.
What I'm resistant to is the 'Walk the Line' biopic, where you have this redemptive life done in two hours. It just doesn't wash with me. I've been there and things don't work out that way.
My records are basically a litany of complaints against the world, and I'm quite like that in real life as well.
The idea of acting is something that absolutely repulses me. I just can't do it. I'm terrible at it. I get roped into films every now and then, and it's always a disaster.
Despite what people might think, I'm not interested in being dark all the time. I'm actually searching for some kind of light, and I'm always very happy when I can achieve that.
If you're Australian, you feel it in your bones because you're at odds with everybody else, except other Australians, in the sense that people always seem to be behaving strangely. People always seem to be behaving the wrong way, in a different way. You say things and there are silences.
Early on I realized when you write a song about someone, it flatters them on some level, and gives you a lot of room to move within a relationship. A song can kind of get the girl, for sure.
It's an Australian thing to be dismissive. We find that endearing. Americans don't. They believe what you say.
The idea of songwriting is a transformative thing, and what I do with songwriting is take situations that are quite ordinary and transform them in some way. Apart from things like the murder ballads, the songs I write, at their core, are quite ordinary human concerns, but the process of writing about them transforms them into something else.
I don't have any authority to talk about the domestic policies of America. But as an outsider, I am mystified by the fact that you are encouraged to buy a gun, but if you use it for the purpose that it is expressly designed for, you get the death penalty. That aspect of America is kind of mystifying.