luckily I slept a few hours in the meantime so I hope the heap of mistakes is not trying to channel his inner Himalayas.
I thought I need some visual in here. I made a screenshot of the Making Of that is included on the DVD of 20.000 Days On Earth. The only connection to my translation posting is that it shows a very strange German thing (and Brigitte Bardot of course) and that there is a possibility that he collected it during one of those Berlin winters he talks about in the interview. See for yourself…
It seems to be a page from what we call „Groschenroman“ aka penny dreadful or dime novel. It also says „The big bestseller“ and because of a). the German phrase that is used there is very oldschool, b.) this thing surely was no bestseller and c). the fact that Nick has it in an old notebook of his, it cracked me up to no end. Surely a wise collection of thoughts that book.
Tragically we are not able to read it, so we need to stick to Nick’s wisdom. There it is, translated from English to German and back so that I am sure parts of it are now also kind of grinded through the mills of imagination or maybe just different dictionaries…
Süddeutsche Zeitung: I’m still a punk but I have a tailor now
SZ: In 20.000 Days On Earth, a film with and about you, you openly speak about yourself. You are even filmed during a therapy session. Your real therapist?
Nick Cave: Of course that’s a fake. The scenes are constructed. That’s how I was able to talk about myself. I find it difficult to imagine being interviewed and filmed while I cut the hedge in my garden. The way it is my answers are very honest, it is not feeling real but like I would say something in a movie.
SZ: And the therapist is an actor?
Nick Cave: Again no. He’s a real psychotherapist. Freudian. But the practice is a filmset. We sat down and started talking for two days. 10 hours each.
SZ: So it became a kind of therapy in the end?
Nick Cave: It was a pleasure to talk to that man. He’s intelligent. Much more intelligent than most therapists I met until now.
SZ: And you saw a lot of therapists in your life?
Nick Cave: Some, yeah. But I never stayed. I usually went to therapists to soothe people who worried about me. „Ah don’t worry, I’m seeing a therapist“, that was my slogan. So everyone could say: Things will be allright, he’s seeing a therapist.
SZ: Good trick. Did you take therapy seriously?
Nick Cave: Well, I really went and talked with the therapists. But it never took effect really. Once I saw a Jungian for 5 weeks. That was the most intelligent man I ever sat in one room with. He was not really interested in me, he was only interested in my dreams. But what he extracted from them was really exciting.
SZ: Were there insights you learned about yourself through that?
Nick Cave: Mostly I found it really interesting. And maybe there were insights I learned about. But I still don’t know if they helped me in any way.
SZ: You are married, have children, stopped taking heroin. Don’t you feel more happy in your life now?
Nick Cave: I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t think of my life back then as sad. I had dark times, but everyone has dark times. Everyone should have dark times.
Nick Cave: Well I don’t like this story: He was addicted to drugs and oh my god times were hard. Then he got clean, now everthing is fine, amazing, happiness, sunshine…that’s not true, not even the slightest bit. First of all I would discredit twenty years of my life through that in which I had children, wrote songs, was in love with women. Life is more complex than a formula like that. It can hurt but be beautiful at the same time.
SZ: And Secondly?
Nick Cave: Secondly I still suffer the same agonies I always did when I write songs. Sure, I’m not on heroin anymore, that makes things easier. But I have good days and I have bad days. I have many good days.
SZ: Was it fun to take drugs?
Nick Cave: Absolutely. Not taking them anymore was not. It took me a long time and it was very hard.
SZ: Imaginable that you have a glass of wine now?
Nick Cave: Probably yes. But I´m not keen on trying. I have no problem with not drinking. Sometimes I smoke cigarettes though people say it’s not possible for an addictive personality to become an occasional smoker.
SZ: Maybe you grew out of addiction?
Nick Cave: It is said that it’s not possible.
SZ: On what does it depend if a day will be good or bad?
Nick Cave: I found out a long time ago that my moods are not influenced from outside. They are inside of me, no matter what happens around me.
SZ: In the movie you say self-confidently „I can control the weather with my moods. But I can`t control my moods“. Should we believe that?
Nick Cave: You can believe that. I would never say something like that in a normal conversation. Thats a sentence I wrote for the movie. But I liked it to say such aphoristic sentences I would never come up with during conversation.
SZ: Can the weather influence your moods?
Nick Cave: Of course. For example those years in Berlin. You can´t live in Berlin and not think the weather is important. The winters are unbelievable there. I asked myself how Germany can even allow winters like that. Somebody should have put Berlin a hat on to make it a bit warmer. But all in all this whole idea of listening to your feelings is annoying me. Somewhen I decided that I am not interested in feelings anymore.
SZ: What do you mean?
Nick Cave: I don’t allow my feelings to keep me from working anymore. In the end everyone does it like that, only the artist doesn’t. Someone who opens his store in the morning does not ask himself „Do I feel like working today?“ That’s all I meant: I stand up in the morning and start working, no matter how I feel.
SZ: The man in the store might tell people who shop at his place and ask how he is: „Not well“.
Nick Cave: Allright, let’s forget the guy in the store. The surgeon. The surgeon has to do surgery without feelings and moods influencing his work. That’s how it feels for me.
SZ: What’s dominant about your work: Pain or joy?
Nick Cave: There is not much I don’t like about my work. I like the pain as well. But the best thing is recording songs in the studio. It’s really satisfying to listen to a record you just finished together with the band. It’s then when you just start to understand the music.
SZ: What about the stage? Isn’t the show the best thing about being a popstar?
Nick Cave: The problem about tourlife is: You feel horrible until the moment you enter the stage. Because you constantly carry around this latent fear. Like you will go on a date in the evening and you long for the evening but are also scared of it. The whole day is infected by that feeling. Allthough I did hundreds of concerts and know, once I’m on stage, it’s gone, and a good feeling starts to expand itself. I know that all so well but it still stays like that.
SZ: Can you describe that good feeling?
Nick Cave: Energy. A sense of delight. And yeah, joy. Basically what happens to everyone when he does what he has talent for and likes doing. The surgeon for example. I read a wonderful story by Oliver Sacks about the surgeon with Tourette syndrome. All day long he throws things against the wall and screams nonstop „Fuck, Fuck, Fuck!“. Then he starts to do surgery and becomes completely calm. Something similiar happens when you go on stage. The sound of the band, the expectations of the audience, that is where that energy comes from that carries you.
SZ: In the past you thought it was fun to disappoint the audience. Why?
Nick Cave: That was during the times when I was in The Birthday Party. We did not intend to to that. We played wild and explosive shows. People loved us for that. After a while they expected us to almost die at every show. Somewhen we were sick of that and started playing with our backs to the crowd. And we started to feel a twisted pleasure while disappointing people. But I have no time for games like that anymore.
SZ: Do you separate your persona as a family man and as an artist?
Nick Cave: No. I’m always the same, only in different surroundings. It’s bullshit to believe that a famous person can live a normal life. No matter if within your home or outside of it. That story the big celebrities like to tell, that they are like all the other people, is pure fiction. When you´re famous, it changes you. Everyone. Forever. There is no way back.
SZ: That much the same for everyone?
Nick Cave: Yes. A star does not know how it feels to be a normal person. He does not know how far away he is from that and how his popularity deforms him. The more famous they are, the more deformed they become. And that’s what makes them interesting. That’s how we want them, the stars: They should act as monstrous as possible. Then a whole industry wants them. And keeps destroying them more and more.
SZ: Like Amy Winehouse?
Nick Cave: The problem for Amy Winehouse was that she was female. The English press could not handle her. If she would have been a guy, nothing would have happened. But a woman gets hunted through the village. Like Kate Moss. She was catched doing cocaine, lost her advertising contracts and was crucified. Then she said „I don’t care, I do what I want“ That’s not working for a woman.
SZ: Did you survive because you’re male?
Nick Cave: No. I survived because I never tried to hide something. And I never was that famous. During the time with Kylie it was different for a short while. But that did not last long.
SZ: You sang this beautiful duet with Kylie Minogue in 1995, Where The Wild Roses Grow. Did you stop taking drugs during that time?
Nick Cave: What makes you think that? No, surely not during that time. The absurd thing about that period with Kylie was, that we as a band were totally destroyed, a bunch of junkies, seriously addicted. And then Kylie came into our lives, this sweet, beautiful, glowing, happy and healthy creature. She changed all of us for a moment because we saw us through her eyes suddenly. When I think about that, I could get sentimental. Though we rarely meet and have not much in common we did not lose contact. That’s why she is in the movie. That was very important.
SZ: You’re both from Australia. Maybe that connects you?
Nick Cave: Not really. Do you know Australians? They don’t say how they feel. They are not honest. They are extremely conservative. They don’t like it when someone sticks out. If one becomes too big for their taste, they chop his head off. And they don’t like problems. That’s how we are.
SZ: Do you still see yourself in that description?
Nick Cave: I think I still have a lot of that. When I came to Berlin in the 80s I was shocked about what people said to each other there. That they showed when they were angry or sad. Australians don’t show themselves off. Especially not women. The archetypal Australian woman is strong, brave and never complains. Like she does not feel anything.
SZ: And the man?
Nick Cave: Ah the man. Let’s not talk about men. Women do not know how men are when they are among men. I am constantly among men, I must know. Men can’t stand themselves.
SZ: Would you have thought that you would lead a normal life one day, with a wife and children in a town by the sea?
Nick Cave: Well to be honest, yes. When I saw Susie for the first time, I had a kind of feeling that it could be like that. And we still love each other. Suprising isn’t it?
SZ: You met each other at the end of the 90s in the Natural History Museum in London. Were you the one who started it?
Nick Cave: I made careful babysteps towards her. But not until the next few days after we met. I am rather shy in that respect. Maybe the babysteps came from her side.
SZ: You once said you don’t know what a healthy relationship is. Do you know it now?
Nick Cave: You want to know if I lead a healthy relationship with my wife? We get along well, that’s good for a start isn’t it? I still have no idea what a healthy relationship is. But we are ok. Most of the time we are happy with each other.
Interview by Gabriela Herpell
There is an anecdote about her talking to Nick. She had ATASTA brought with her so he could sign it. And there was a bookmark on page 32 and he asked „So you did not get any further than that?“ and then „Don’t worry, I know nobody who did“.
And a little extra…
Focus 42/14: Orgasm? That would be great!
Focus: Is an own movie the accolade for a rockstar?
Nick Cave: First I did not want to participate. Then the directors and I made a pact, that we want to create something that is bigger than the topic – or me. I think that was successful.
Focus: The directors thought that was funny as well.
Nick Cave: Funny? Yeah possible.
Focus: Has the master of melancholy ever put a song aside because he was too happy?
Nick Cave: Songwriting itself makes me happy. That a song is about violence or melancholic has nothing to do with my mood. Depression is not good for the creative process.
Focus: Except being lovesick?
Nick Cave: Yeah that helps a bit.
Focus: Through the film you admit you are a fan of psychotherapy – though Australians like to hide their feelings.
Nick Cave: Yes Australians are like that. But I don’t see a psychoanalyst, thats a completely fictive thing in the movie. I did not know the therapist I sit down with. We thought it’s a better way to interview me. He has the licence to go deep into places where a journalist is not allowed to go. The latter can’t ask when one had sex for the first time…
Focus: One moment please…when did you…
Nick Cave: All right, maybe he could but he would not. Unfortunately. In the early days there was quite an interesting fight between interviewer and interviewee. But nobody knows about that anymore – like that it’s with most things in Rock and Roll. Everything is made sterile today. Nobody is even drinking anymore.
Focus: What can be quite healthy.
Nick Cave: Do we want a healthy Rock and Roll?
Focus: Is Nick Cave becoming a different person on stage?
Nick Cave: I think it’s the same person. I just get my ass a bit more in shape for it.
Focus: The film ends with a long concert scene in which the song builds itself up to an orgiastic peak. Is that like an orgasm for you on stage?
Nick Cave: That would be great. No it’s not really like that. The connection to sex is that you need a bit of fantasy so its not only slapping two pieces of meat on top of each other. When you go on stage you have to dive into another world. And that is not that easy while being watched collectively by the audience.
Interview by Harald Pauli
Translations by Anna
In support of the Facial Palsy charity, Nick Cave has donated a signed Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Push The Sky Away Super Deluxe Box Set plus two tickets to any UK Nick Cave show on the European tour next year. (Prize value £270). The draw will take place and winners will be announced at Facial Palsy.org’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday 22 November 2014. The closing date to purchase Grand Prize Draw tickets is Thursday 20 November 2014. Go here for info on how to buy tickets: http://news.facialpalsy.org.uk/2014/10/03/grand-prize-draw-tickets-now-on-sale/ Open to residents of England, Scotland and Wales, over the age of 16.
Posted at the request of Karen Johnson at Facial Palsy.org
On the 24th of October I was lucky to attend the premiere of Shell Shock at La Monnaie in Brussels. Shell Shock is an opera composed by Nicholas Lens, choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and the libretto was written by no other than Nick Cave. It is basically organized in 12 poems or canto each of them telling the story / point of view of one war participant. A soldier, a mother, a child, a deserter, etc
Here is an example with the Canto of the Survivor.
It is truly a beautiful tribute to mark the 100th anniversary of World War 1 and honor all the men and women who have lost their life.
Pictures taken by Rick Vink. Please do not repost these pictures elsewhere. Thank you for your comprehension. Click them to see a larger version.
Since I think it’s very difficult to describe such an amazing piece of work, I will leave you with a few links and you can see some extracts of the opera on Brussels Nieuws. Also mark your calendar because starting November 14th, the opera will be streaming on La Monnaie for three weeks! Don’t hesitate to explore the site as they have a few interview with Nick Cave and Nicholas Lens.
Some links from the press conference that took place earlier last month:
Nick Cave verovert de Munt (Dutch)
Ik ben voorbestemd voor het donkere en sombere” (Dutch)
The Birthday Party was ook al een soort van opera (short video extract of the conference in English)
Un Requiem pour la Premiere Guerre (French)
Les tristes (mais bonne paroles) de Nick Cave (French)
here is my translation of an interview with Nick released in the german magazine “Kölnische Rundschau” on October 20th. I did it spontaneously because I liked the interview (and suffer from insomnia). I read a lot of interviews and often they have not much that is new. This one has a few things inbetween that I never heard him say before. So here it is for every non-german-speaking who is interested and does not want to contact Kölnische Runschau and beg for the original English version.
Interview with Nick Cave: I had a wild childhood
Sturm: Mr.Cave, reportedly you did not want a documentary about yourself. Why did you change your opinion?
Nick Cave: Usually documentaries like that are just very bad, but I knew the directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard well and worked with them on some projects already. For example I let them come to the studio to film the recording of my latest album. The material was incredible and I did not want to use that up for press stuff. Then Iain and Jane came up with a visual concept for a documentary that convinced me in the end.
Sturm: What exactly convinced you?
Nick Cave: That it’s about a deeper examination of the concept of fame and creative work, though there were moments during the shooting when I was thinking „This is fucked up“.
Sturm: When for example?
Nick Cave: When I lie in bed with my wife or stand in front of the mirror. I thought „No way that I will allow this material to be used in the movie“. But then I did anyway because it works within the context of the film. I had no interest in those standard documentary scenes when you look at people doing the dishes though.
Sturm: Your music often is about philosophic topics, let it be god or love. Does everyday life bore you with its questions like „Who will take out the trash?“
Nick Cave: To be honest I’m really more interested in banal things than the high-flying ideals of love. Maybe that was different in the past but today for me it’s about assimilating everyday life into my imagination. I want to create something great, monumental and remarkable out of the mundane. When you get older, your world shrinks: You have less friends, less relationships, routine sets in. And that’s why your imagination has to work even harder.
Sturm: Does the fact that, like you say, your life shrinks scare you?
Nick Cave: Well, let me say it like this: I hope that nobody I love will die before me. That would be an experience that would deeply shock me. But I myself still feel very alive – at least when I am working and creating things. Then I feel superhuman or, if it does not work, like the opposite.
Sturm: Do you worry about your health?
Nick Cave: Yeah, about being tired too early. Anyway I don’t worry about that very often. When we are on tour maybe, because that’s exhausting of course. But when we are on stage we reach a state that goes way beyond exhaustion, a kind of hysteria that pushes us forward. The only problem are the days off inbetween.
Sturm: Did you ever ask yourself what happens after our physical existence?
Nick Cave: I strongly believe that we should be able to believe. That means we need the right to believe. I believe in the idea of god, not really in god as a creature. To me it’s a lovely trait of humanity to be capable of that imagination, that it’s not just all about fucking and guzzling.
Sturm: In the film you speak about wanting to reach deeper truths through your work. Do you search for god as well then?
Nick Cave: I would put the word „god“ aside. That just causes confusion, it’s the same with the word „truth“. I want to reach new, unknown places and that makes me feel anxious and excited at the same time. I’m not sure if there is a word for that. I just move forward and while I do that, I feel a huge knot in my stomach.
Sturm: Did you find the answer to the question why we are here during that expedition?
Nick Cave: I don’t know why you are here. I know that I have to move forward constantly. If I don’t do that its getting very dark around me. Thats the necessity of my existance. That’s why I write new songs and go on tour. In the meantime I never know it that really pays off. Thats where the anxiety comes from.
Sturm: And what makes you feel excited?
Nick Cave: While I’m working I have no real control over what I do. There are mysterious strands interweaving into each other, ideas if you like to say so and very, very slowly something starts to crystallize. If you can sense it you think „Ah that’s what it’s all about“. That’s combined with a feeling of euphoria, but before that point you go through hell*, because you never know if you reach that point.
Sturm: What is it like with the audience, are they supposed to feel the same like you when it comes to your music?
Nick Cave: In the past my songs have been a bit more stressful, full of conflicts and unwieldy. But I learned to include the listener a bit more. The music I do now is more mystic, less concrete and that’s why it invites the listener to jump in with his imagination.
Sturm: You did sessions with a psychotherapist for the movie…
Nick Cave: But only for the film. I never met that man before. We spoke for two days but had no contact outside of the shooting. He came on set through one door, I came through the other. But he should interview me like he would do during a therapy session. The man is a Freudian and usually does seminars like „Masturbation today“ – very funny.
Sturm: What did you learn from that?
Nick Cave: It was really fun. I got practical advices but I won’t go into detail on that now.
Sturm: Do we need art for our individual fulfilment? After all it has no direct and practical use?
Nick Cave: We could live without it maybe, but we would be much more poor. And I could not live in a world where I would not be able to interpret my experiences with my imagination. For me and my collegues, art is as natural as breathing. In a world without it I could not survive.
Sturm: You explored art through your father who introduced you into world literature. Was there ever a non-creative job you could imagine for yourself?
Nick Cave: I’d like to tell you a moment when I was thinking about an alternative occupation, but it does not exist. Since my childhood I wanted to be a painter. Then I joined a band – for the same reasons many other young people do it. But I failed at art school and so I continued with the band because I accidentally had one. Anyway there was never the idea to learn a bourgeois profession.
Sturm: Is there a part of you who would like to return to the kid’s world?
Nick Cave: Yes, but that depends on the particular world. If I could return to my childhood, then yes. I had loving parents. We lived in the country by a river, it was kind of a wild childhood because I could wander around and go to the city. A wonderful time, I’d be happy to relive that.
Sturm: Were you happier back then?
Nick Cave: I had no concept of happy or unhappy back then. Life was like it was. I was just free.
Sturm: More free than today?
Nick Cave: You can’t even compare that.
*the journalist used „howling and chattering of teeth“ for his german translation but I am not sure that phrase even exists in English like that and means the same. Its a nice one though, quite an oldschool phrase to say that you have a really fucked up time.
Original interview by Rüdiger Sturm
Translation by Anna
Nick Cave will be touring The UK and Europe this Spring. He will be joined by Warren Ellis, Barry Adamson, Thomas Wydler and Martyn Casey for more intimate concert. According to Nick Cave: “The aim is to try to create a unique show – something special and out of the ordinary.”
Here is the full list of concerts. Note that a 2nd London date has been added on May 2nd at the Apollo Hammersmith. Most cities are already sold out (thank you scalpers!). In case you weren’t lucky to grab a ticket, feel free to join the group I’ve created on Facebook which will help fans get connected to swap/sell their unwanted tickets.
Great vintage pics from The Birthday Party’s live show in Athens, 1982!!
My friends and I got very lucky and managed to buy tickets to the Gala Premiere (doesn’t that sound fancy?) of 20,000 Days on Earth at the Barbican in London. So on Wednesday evening we headed over there, very eager to finally see the movie we have had heard so much about since the Camden Koko show.
Unfortunately we missed the Red Carpet as our stomachs had to come first but thank you to Simone Van Lier for sharing a couple of her pictures. Nick Cave and his wife Susie Bick, directors Jane Pollard and Ian Forsyth were in attendance as well as Barry Adamson, Warren Ellis, Jim Sclavunos, George Vjestica and celebrities like Ray Winstone, John Hurt, etc