My emotional commitment to a song is always much stronger than the moral.
The article below is a translation of an interview written by Sebastian Stebe, originally printed in the Swedish music magazine POP #17, April 1996 and re-printed in a blog publishing old POP articles. Notice that the article is divided into three pages.
The Einstürzende Neubauten- and Bad Seeds-member Blixa Bargeld sang Kylie’s part in the original version of ”Where the Wild Roses Grow”. It was also he who suggested that Nick Cave should do a murder record. And after almost twenty years of punk, drugs and art it was this cavalcade of horridness that got Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to the first place on the Swedish top chart.
Doglover Sebastian Stebe meets the anecdotist Cave in London.
A LATE NIGHT in Sao Paulo, spring 1994. Nick Cave sits in the front seat of a cab on his way to the red district of Sao Paulo, on his way to one of the sex clubs where the video for the upcoming single ”Do You Love Me?” will be shot. When the car passes a peeling, whitewashed stone wall he points and tells with low-key guiding voice, that the wall is hiding one of the city’s oldest graveyards. During the days almost deserted; during nights an invisible community of outcasts, people so far down in the social order that they sleep with gravestones as their pillows. In the cab on the way to the sex club ideas about life and death in the darkness behind the wall are just as unreal as they are unpleasant. On the radio they are playing ”Temple of Love” with Sisters Of Mercy. A high snort, a laugh and then silence.
A couple of days later I sit together with Nick Cave and two English journalists round a table outside the club The Jungle. Everyone (except me) are drunk and it’s a heated discussion about two world-famous songstresses going on. ”Come on, you can’t be serious”, the most red-cheeked Englishman says. ”She is neither better nor more awesome than Madonna, no way. And you just like her because she’s Australian”. Nick Cave looks up from his fifth, half-empty glass of Brazilian beer. ”You don’t understand”, he says. ”Kylie is something completely different. Kylie is fantastic. She’s an angel. If I ever will hear her sing words I’ve written I will be so lucky.”
Fast-forward to Christmas 1995 and a hotel lobby close to Portobello Road in London. On the other side of the dream.
– It’s strange … Yesterday, in the store, I heard a couple of twelve years old girls whispering to each other: ”Oh, look, it’s him, he with Kylie”. And well, that’s cute.
Nick Cave shrugs.
– As long as it doesn’t happen all the time.
”Where the Wild Roses Grow”, Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue’s duet, became his transcendently biggest commercial success so far, a real super hit – even though the lyrics are fairy tale romantic black and tells the story about a man who takes a beautiful woman down to a river and kills her with an image of ”all beauty must die” as his only motivation. After fifteen years as an underground rock’n’roll-hero, digging in literary visions of violence and passion, Nick Cave has become a pop star, one who twelve years old girls recognize in the grocery store. In this special case it was as a supporting actor, but as I’m writing this Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ latest album, ”Murder Ballads”, has been number one on the Swedish sales list for two weeks and the second single ”Henry Lee”, a duet with Polly Harvey, in climbing upwards. Nick Cave has all of the sudden became famous even among the masses, and that at a point when his lyrics contains more violence, more evil fantasies and more dark humor than ever.
The night before this interview I carefully listened to all of ”Murder Ballads”, and for the first time I read the lyrics while I was listening. Face to face with Nick Cave I admit I maybe wasn’t all fighting fit when I began, but the record’s perpetual cavalcade of disgusting things made me feel directly sick.
– I must say it has a similar effect on me, he says without looking concerned.
– I remember when we had finished working with the record and I had it on tape. I said to my mother – who I was living with at that time – ”eh, mum, I have my new record here, would you like to sit down and listen to it?”. And she was enthusiastic. So I put on the tape, sat down on the couch, and after three or four songs I began to think ”what the hell kind of record is this really… it’s just grotesque and disgusting”. But my mother still was enthusiastic – ”this is fantastic, oh, I love it!” – so I said ”okay, you continue listen, I’ll go and take a hot bath or something… ” So I agree, it is a pretty disgusting record.