Interview translation: “It’s not just all about fucking and guzzling”

Hello folks,

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.

Cheers

Anna

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

link: http://www.rundschau-online.de/kultur/-interview–ich-hatte-eine-wilde-kindheit–,15184894,28783714.html

Translation by Anna

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Interview translation: “It’s not just all about fucking and guzzling”

  1. Thank you, Anna, for the spontaneous translation! What a lovely surprise!. Sorry about the insomnia. I have the same condition. It’s mostly that I don’t like to sleep at night, which is bloody inconvenient if you have to live in the real world. 😉

    The phrase that you noted: “howling and chattering of teeth” is similar to what we use in colloquial English: “weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth,” which comes from the Bible, and describes the torments of souls damned to Hell. I’m not surprised Nick used it in describing his tormented emotions in the studio.

    Nice interview. Thoughtful answers from Nick. You don’t often hear him talk about his health or that he doesn’t want to die before his friends. I feel like what keeps him robustly alive is the constant touring. I like that he said “we should be able to believe in God.”

    Funny and sometimes revealing back story about 20,000 Days docu. I didn’t know about the psychiatrist. A Freudian? I’m glad that Nick got some practical advice out of it. 😉

    “I had no interest in those standard documentary scenes when you look at people doing the dishes though.” Me, either.

    • Ah my dear welcome to the vampire club. And you nailed it, bloody inconvenient while living in the real world 😉

      Thank you so much for teaching me about the phrase! Awesome! I learned a lot from you and the other ladies who translate 🙂 “Heulen und Zähneklappern” is how its written in german. I like it, reminds me of EN’s “Kollaps” in a way 😉

      Yeah Nick seems to have a thing for psychoanalysis. I get that, I started reading Freud and Jung during edcucation nearly 10 years ago and its a lot of fun, very inspiring stuff though I was never quite sure it really cures any mental disorders, but oh well..I’m not a therapist so I don’t know and don’t want to judge really. What really is written into my brain is Freuds definition of psychosis and neurosis, since I read it I often catch myself wondering if a person has neurosis or psychosis and wonder what psychosis I have 😀

      I have another one ready, but still need to find some time for correcting and editing it a bit so that your eyes won’t hurt from too much Bad Simple English 😉 Plus I will add a very small one to the bigger interview. I saw it in a magazine here and it really is only a few questions, but especially compared to the bigger one its nice. In one interview he says he does not drink any alcohol and is fine with it while in the other one he pities that rock and roll is so “clean” today saying that nobody is even drinking anymore 😀 I like how he rarely allows himself being put in a certain corner (like “the newborn ex-junkie” or “the gloomy old rockstar” or what people might like to project) he always seems to see different sides of the coin. He makes a really interesting statement about being interviewed and journalism today compared to the past, I hope I will have it ready tomorrow night 🙂

      • That’s a great German phrase! It does remind me of Kollaps! Neubauten’s early work is all about wailing and gnashing of teeth, right? Hör Mit Schmerzen.

        Looking forward to the other translations, whenever you get to them.

        The difference between psychosis and neurosis? I’m not an expert on Freud or psychoanalysis at all. But I think psychosis means you have lost touch with reality. My mother used to say, “Crazy people don’t know they are crazy.” Neurosis is a milder form, I guess. More or less involving obsessions, anxiety, depression, and similar torments. Maybe psychosis is kinder. One wonders.

        Arguably, altered states of consciousness are a form of psychosis, involving a loss of touch with reality, hallucinations, etc. Religious visionaries like Hildegard von Bingen; or self-induced trance states accomplished in deep meditation or Shamanic trance (or while watching Nick Cave perform!).

        I studied Anthropology, and non-Christian religions were my area of interest. In the mid-1990s, I attended a guided trance led by a Native American Shaman. Quite an experience. He burned a mixture of herbs, in a closed-in room, and talked for about 20 minutes about what we were to do, how we were to listen to the drum, and what to expect (in general terms). He burned white sage and sweetgrass, not sure what else, but no marijuana. I wanted to be sure that the herbs did not induce the trance. I wanted to experience a self-induced trance brought on by focused attention to a drum. The Shaman instructed us on how to enter non-ordinary reality (the spirit world), and how to look for our animal spirit guide. We were told to look for a hole, or opening – we would know it when we saw it, he said – and to remember how we got into the spirit world because we had to return through the same gateway. We all laid down on mats. The Shaman began to beat the drum persistently, about fifty beats per minutes, slower than a heartbeat. He continued for 30 minutes without ceasing. I was skeptical, thinking nothing would happen, but I found my way to the spirit world, through an opening in a large tree trunk. As soon as I stepped inside, I was clearly in another place. It looked like Earth, green grass, and so forth, but it was not ordinary reality.

        At once point, I was confused, not sure which way to go. My grandmother appeared to me and pointed to a teepee where she said I had to go and prepare myself. Inside, it was pitch black. I sat down, filled with dread. Inside the teepee was a large furry animal that I recognized as a canine, although it seemed too big for a dog. I leaned against her for warmth. She gave me strength. When I was ready, I left the teepee. Immediately, I began running, faster than was possible in the ordinary world. I looked down at my legs, and I had shape-shifted into a deer. I could clearly see my hooves pounding the ground, running for my life. I was being hunted. The fear was sharp, metallic, indescribably intense. Then, I felt a sharp pain and fell. I was lying was on the ground, but I could see ahead of me a man in a loincloth, with a bow and arrow. It was his arrow that had pierced my side. I knew I was dying, and that my body would feed him and his family. I experienced a terrible sorrow – but a sense of acceptance that this was the way of things. I prayed for help, because the Shaman hadn’t told me what to do if I died in the spirit world. I saw a black wolf in front of me. He was very calm, and he stared at me. I asked him to help me. I felt my spirit rise out of the dying deer. The wolf began to run, and I followed. We ran down a wide path in the forest, with trees arching over our heads. I could see an opening at the end, with bright light. I knew that if I made it to that opening, I would survive. But I couldn’t run fast enough. Time was running out. I ‘heard’ the wolf telling me to enter his body, and that he would run for me. That happened instantly. I felt his power, his speed, his fearlessness. Then, I burst through into the sky, into this sublime freedom and weightlessness, floating, as if I had wings. It was glorious. The sun was so bright and beautiful. Then I heard the drum, calling me back. I felt regret. I didn’t want to go back, not through that dark forest, nor into that deer, nor back to the dark teepee, nor into ordinary reality, but I knew I had to leave. The wolf was waiting for me. Patient, watchful. With his help, I retraced my journey, accomplishing it quickly, and with complete emotional detachment (a relief). I made it out safely.

        These rituals are meant to impart knowledge. You don’t go through it for kicks. You do it knowing there is a certain risk. There was one woman in the group who was too frightened to stay in the spirit world and came back, bursting out somewhere. The Shaman kept her with him afterward to talk to her, in case she was unstable. I don’t know what happened, exactly. I remember she asked a question before we started, “What happens if I see snakes? I’m terrified of snakes.” She had already programmed herself to expect a certain situation and was afraid of it coming true. I knew she was going to have a problem. I think the Shaman did, too, but it was her journey. Her free will. Most everyone else was very relaxed. A couple of people fell asleep and missed the whole thing! Two people lying close to one another described similar experiences, as if they’d shared the dream. The person I was next to said she was in ancient Egypt. She didn’t want to talk about it in specifics but she was enthralled. Fear and wonderment go hand in hand in these journeys. The lessons you learn are important to everyday life: courage, patience, self-trust, self-reliance, and survival.

        Anyone who is interested in Native American Shamanism should read the works of Carlos Castaneda. The first of the series was The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, written as an anthropology master’s thesis, when Castaneda became an apprentice to the sorcerer/medicine man, Don Juan Matus. It’s a thrilling account, starting with the ceremony where he chews his first peyote buttons (dried pieces of cactus plant, which are used to make mescaline). The experiences and emotions he describes are (at times) similar to mine. In this part, he encounters a dog:

        “Every memory came back to me at once, and suddenly all was clear in my mind. I turned around to look for don Juan, but I could not distinguish anything or anyone. All I was capable of seeing was the dog becoming iridescent; an intense light radiated from his body. I saw again the water flowing through him, kindling him like a bonfire. I got to the water, sank my face in the pan, and drank with him. My hands were in front of me on the ground and, as I drank, I saw the fluid running through my veins setting up hues of red and yellow and green. I drank more and more. I drank until I was all afire; I was all aglow. I drank until the fluid went out of my body through each pore and projected out like fibers of silk, and I too acquired a long, lustrous, iridescent mane. I looked at the dog and his mane was like mine. A supreme happiness filled my whole body, and we ran together toward a sort of yellow warmth that came from some indefinite place. And there we played. We played and wrestled until I knew his wishes and he knew mine. We took turns manipulating each other in the fashion of a puppet show. I could make him move his legs by twisting my toes, and every time he nodded his head I felt an irresistible impulse to jump. But his most impish act was to make me scratch my head with my foot while I sat; he did it by flapping his ears from side to side. This action was to me utterly, unbearably funny. Such a touch of grace and irony; such mastery, I thought. The euphoria that possessed me was indescribable. I laughed until it was almost impossible to breathe.”

        “I had the clear sensation of not being able to open my eyes; I was looking through a tank of water. It was a long and very painful state filled with the anxiety of not being able to wake up and yet being awake. Then slowly the world became clear and in focus. My field of vision became again very round and ample, and with it came an ordinary conscious act, which was to turn around and look for that marvelous being. At this point I encountered the most difficult transition. The passage from my normal state had taken place almost without my realizing it: I was aware; my thoughts and feelings were a corollary of that awareness; and the passing was smooth and clear.But this second change, the awakening to serious, sober consciousness, was genuinely shocking. I had forgotten I was a man! The sadness of such an irreconcilable situation was so intense that I wept.”
        — Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge.

        You can find it online: selfdefinition.org/shaman/Carlos-Castaneda-Teachings-of-Don-Juan.pdf (If that link doesn’t work, just Google the title.)

        Well, that was an EPIC, OFF TOPIC, COMMENT. But it’s nice to chat about things.

        • Its your blog, hehe…why not make epic offtopic comments that are freaking amazing Morgan!

          Thank you for that. Its stunning what you experienced during that trance session – without drugs. That really amazes me though its not suprising me anymore at this point of my life that it works without. Its seldom that people get in a state like that without some substance, but I know its possible and that really makes me hyper, that all of that is within us, I really can freak out about it, about the endlessness of our imagination and all the unused possibilities of our brains.

          I think in today’s society the power of the mind and what it does to us is highly underrated. We are so much into what we can touch, into material stuff and what is obvious, into technology and the idea that it makes us better or helps us with everything that I often have the feeling people forget about what their brains can do all on their own when they dig deeper and just try some different task. We have pills for every disorder and wonder they don’t work but how can they when nobody has at least a tiny idea about how their psyche works?

          Its not that I think its a bad thing to invest in technology, its just that I feel like the balance is lost in a way. I feel that the arts are often viewed like something only stupid people do or better said people who are unrealistic towards life. Yes I admit I also study/studied literature, culture, history and philosophy and go university for that cause thats what interests me up to a scientific level but I feel its not something serious these days. Most people nod like “Oh yeah thats funny” or the straight answer is “What will you do with that?”, meaning “How the fuck will you earn a lot of money with it?” while when somebody studies economy or becomes a teacher it makes sense of course, and if you MUST study arts…at least you have to become a teacher – that is a very safe job in Germany 😉 I have no bitter feelings though it might sound like that, but really I haven’t. I have build my own little world quite some time ago I think, so its just something I observe when I go to work or talk to people I usually would not really talk to or even read newspapers or something awful like that 😉 And sometimes it worries me maybe, but more on a global level when I see what I know about human history in front of my eyes and imagine what happens when we just put all cultural and psychology and philosophy and so on in the bin cause we tag it with “useless”. I personally have my own goals and ideals and I really don’t give much about the opinion of most other people who I don’t feel any connection with anymore. Its what you learn somewhen I think, that what you feel has a kind of sense is really important and it will take you nowhere when you don’t follow that impulse somehow, sneaking your way through. I have enough connection to the ground when I sit and work in boring office jobs to pay my Nick Cave tickets, right? 😀

          I really do not know much about Shamanism but you made me very curious about the whole thing, I feel I have a big knowledge gap now, hehe. Thats true of course, I have no idea! But its like that with everything before you realize you have missed something that to you seems to be a very impressive thing.

          Your mother was right about it, hehe. The essence is that psychosis is something you do not realize you have while neurosis is something that you know you have but is quite hard to get rid off. Severe personality disorders for example are something the person can’t really see usually while like you said panic attacks or phobia is something you see very clear.

  2. You`re welcome dear 🙂 There are two other german ones that came with the movie starting in cinemas here that had some nice or funny or new stuff, I’ll try to do them as well. I was also suprised, the journalists seemed to have some a bit more inspiring questions than when he is interviewed about his music it seems.

Leave a comment or a fix.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s