Nick Cave photo by Polly Borland. Interview by Andres Lokko, published 4 Mar 2008.
Nick Cave is in his best and most superior mood when Andres Lokko meets him in Hove, Brighton. “I don’t want to move to Hollywood. It seems awful. I just want to go to my office here in Brighton in the morning, sit down at the piano all day with only a short break for a bowl of chicken soup”, he says.
Nick Cave has just celebrated his 50th birthday, he has written a script to a comedy about a sex fixated door-to-door salesman and is currently releasing a new record. Andres Lokko took the train down to the English south coast and met the all-rounder artist.
Dressed in a red shirt, unbuttoned from the stomach and up, with at least one ring on each finger and a hairdo that is still dyed black even if it’s becoming more and more thin, Nick Cave is reclining in a Chesterfield armchair in the library at The Hove Club. It’s an ancient membership club in his adopted hometown Hove, nowadays practically a part of Brighton. The walls are covered by framed photos and strict paintings of men with medals – nobility, judges, priests and conservative politicians.
– Of course I hope they some day will put up a picture of me too, Cave giggles. He is in his best and most superior mood.
– I think it is a nice place. Really it is my English wife who wanted to live here, I myself don’t care much about where I wake up in the morning.
But Cave has always been on his way to this classical brown library. All since he more than 30 years ago started his first band The Boys Next Door he have had a bit controversial respect for society’s most conservative forces.
– Well, yes, but it was more at a point when everyone around me in Australia was surfing and smoking pot that I agitated for a stricter work ethic, discipline and results, he laughs.
On Wednesday ”Dig Lazarus Dig!!!”, Caves fourteenth record with The Bad Seeds will be released. It is released close to his celebrated Grinderman-project and the score to The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford.
– My record company thinks I’m a promotion disaster. You’re supposed to be everywhere – during an extremely short period of time and then disappear for three years – not immediately make a new record.
Parts of the record could – musically thinking – accompany a party scene from optional 60s movie.
– Maybe more a 70s party.
Okay, very late 60s then?
– That I can accept. I started to write lyrics I felt were bad – nightmare bad – and I wanted them to come to life in an easy, almost swinging context. I hope you can listen to it and like its swing without even noticing what’s going on under the surface.
– Privately I mostly like to listen to instrumental music. Like Miles Davis. Everything to escape thinking about how others sing or what they say. But the party feeling undeniable present on ”Dig Lazarus Dig!!!” also springs from some kind of funk. I like lyrics which just want to say ”Get down!”, ”Huh, baby!” or ”Oh Yeah!”.
Basically you like exclamation marks?
– That’s one way of summarizing it. I’m not that kind of composer who observes the world around me and writes a song about waiting for the bus. My music always emerges from my subconscious. It never rise up from something I read in The Daily Telegraph. When I’m in the middle of music there is something I can’t control. The process possesses me and I feel like Dr Frankenstein who is stitching an arm where it really should be a leg or an ear.
You’re dissing Charles Bukowski in one of the lyrics, aren’t you?
– Yes, and that was about time, don’t you think? People always wanted me to read a lot of rubbish when I was young. Like Bukowski or Kerouac, those terrible journal writers. I’m always more interested in how someone phrases something than what he or she is trying to tell. I love personal styles, someone you immediately recognize. My all time favorite is the American mystery writer James Lee Burke. It doesn’t bother me that he writes exactly the same novel over and over again, because it’s so damn good. He is one out of few writers I dig myself into as soon as he releases a new book.
Soon starts the shooting of the film ”Death of a Ladies Man” – named after a Leonard Cohen record – which Cave has written the script for.
– It’s mainly taking place here in Brighton and is about a middle-aged traveling salesman who goes from door to door selling substandard beauty products. After my last script (for the violent western movie ”The Proposition”) everyone wondered if I didn’t wanted to move to Hollywood, as it was some kind of holy Grail. But I don’t want to move to Hollywood. It seems awful. I just want to go to my office here in Brighton in the morning, sit down at the piano all day with only a short break for a bowl of chicken soup.
Outside of the window the gulls are squeaking. Cave quiets and listens to them.
– I’ll most likely stay here in Hove until the day I die. In Australia we only had sandy beaches. I can’t stand sand. Here in England the coast is penurious and rocky. You can lie down on the rocks still wearing your suit, without changing into swimming trunks.
- Nick Cave is born in Warracknabeal, Australia September 22, 1957.
- In his hometown a bronze statue of him soon will be raised.
- He has four children, all boys. The oldest is called Jethro, named after the progressive flute orchestra Jethro Tull.
- Cave wrote, together with his compatriot Russell Crowe, a sequel to the movie Gladiator. The director Ridley Scott did though refuse the result.
Original text written by Andres Lokko
Published March 4, 2008 in Svenska Dagbladet.
Translation by Ellen, layout & final edits by Morgan. All rights reserved.
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