Interview Translation – Die Welt: “Sick Bags are just perfect for poetry.”

Hi folks,

There is an interview with Nick Cave published in German press and I still have not found out why, but I always find the German interviews hilarious and once again I present you a once English now German interview translated back to English in the middle of the night due to insomnia. How much reality makes it through will not be known probably, so take it or leave it 😉

This one was published in Die Welt. Frédéric Schwilden sat down with Nick Cave in Berlin.

Photos are by the incredible Chris John Dewitt whose photographs of more than three decades Berlin are wonderful and fascinating to younger folks who have a thing for it – like me. I choose some of my favourites. They are from the year I was born, 1985 when Berlin according to Nick was an artistic wonderland. The last one is a place that according to the photographer still looked basically like that in 2008. Some junkyard’s never get old it seems.

Links to original authors and photographers below.

The great musician and poet Nick Cave recommends steroids if you have trouble with your voice but thinks that Oskar Roehler uses the wrong syringes. An interview about racism and stew.

Nick Cave is in Berlin for a concert. During the 80s he lived here. Recently he wrote a poem about a tour of North America he did last year. It is called „The Sick Bag Song“ and is published as a book. He wrote it on airplane sickbags.

Frédéric: Did you have a pleasant journey?

Nick: Yes one can say so. I even slept which is very interesting. Usually I do not sleep well. Today I indeed slept 6 hours.

Frédéric: At dinner I recently sat next to a very successful lawyer. She said that after a 14-hour workday a glass of red wine and a Xanax do it for her. What is your formula?

Nick: I tried everything and experimented for a long time. Now I consciously try to avoid things like that but I am not always successful with that of course.

Frédéric: Nick Cave, I initially wanted to start this interview with the following sentence: I have to thank you, to your song „Jubilee Street“ I maybe had the best sex in my life.

Nick: I am very happy to hear that. Astonishing that you made it through the song. It is longer than three minutes.

Frédéric: You just wrote a poem. It is called „The Sick Bag Song“ and you wrote it on airplane sickbags. Aren’t these bags incredibly beautiful? They look so classy, like they have fallen from time and they are so well designed aren’t they?

They are just perfect. Plus there are many interesting things written on them.

For example: „Please ask your flight attendant for the proper disposal of a used needle“. You never asked the stewart didn’t you?

Nick: No. Never.

Frédéric: „The Sick Bag Song“ is a poem about life on tour. How do you prepare?

Nick: Before we go on tour? We rehearse a little. Of course not too much. But we do not pray or have a circlejerk, that is not our kind of thing.

Frédéric: You sleep in the Sheraton, in the Ritz, in the Grand Hyatt. How do you know that a hotel is good?

Nick: I don’ t really care for hotelrooms. They are just functional rooms that are there. I also don’t care about the bar or the bar food.

Frédéric: A huge problem when you travel long distance is jetlag. You write that steroids help with that. Can you recommend that without hesitation?

Nick: Right, I wrote that. But the steriods really help me more with my flu. I am a singer and when you don’t have a voice in the morning, steroids are genius. The only problem is that they have the tendency to cause some psychological problems. They lift you up totally. But they are really magic when it comes to the voice. If you can’t sing at all, you can do it like Maria Callas once you’re on steroids.

Frédéric: Your poem describes a tour of North America. Do you feel welcomed there? I have a hard time doing so.

I feel very welcomed. Is it because you are German? Do you feel like an Arab? Look, that is your mustache. Shave it off and America will be happy to welcome you.

Frédéric: It is also that kind of expressionistic police work.

Nick: You have the advantage of being white. If you are black, it is completely different. There are so many Afro-Americans in prison compared to white people.

Frédéric: Is the American police racist?

Nick: Are you fucking kidding me? Of course. The police has a terrible problem. The cops do not look like polite policemen but like army guys, like Sci-Fi soldiers with Sci-Fi equipment. On top of that their perception is disturbed. They think: If two black people shoot each other, it’s their own business. A black business. Nevertheless America is one of the best places you can visit.

Frédéric: Let’s rather talk about art again. You have created a list of things that stop us most from being creative. The biggest obstacle is procrastination, the tendency to put something off for as long as possible. Do you do that?

No, absolutely not. I just heard about it. I personally just have a thought and then realise it. That is how I work. It is not about motivation it is just about realisation. Maybe my work would be even better when there would be a moment between thought and realisation.

Frédéric: One of the possibilities of procrastination, you write, is a terrorist attack. When I saw the Twin Towers crash as a child I wished for a war in Europe cause of a terrorist attack because I thought then I would never have to go to school again. Is that reprehensible?

Nick: No, not at all. It is an astoundingly good idea indeed. In the end you always find a good excuse for not doing things.


Frédéric: Oskar Roehler just made a movie about the 80s in Berlin. Blixa Bargeld and you are in it as well.

Nick: Personally I was amazed by Blixa’s actor. Fucking hell, that is really Blixa. But the Nick Cave guy, he had a completely different body type. Look, that was more a big guy. Big bones. On top of that the drug scenes were not correct. When film people try to show drugs, they always do it wrong basically. It just is not like that. Look, that guy just opens a casket with a syringe. And this syringe is just too fucking big. You put something like that into horses.

Frédéric: Lets talk about Berlin. What do you think of Berlin today?

Nick: I have no idea about Berlin how it is now. The only Berlin I know is the Berlin of the 80s. That Berlin had a society within the society. An artist society. We were unhappy and felt alienated and we flew from something. And we found refuge in Berlin, this city gave us an artistic unity. I have never experienced that kind of creative bond again. But what happens in Berlin today – I have no idea. What really comes up to me when thinking about Berlin are these sticky dumplings with red cabbage and stewed meat, that is genius.



Original Interview:

Translation: Anna

Sick Bag Song Reading in New York Review + Audio / Video Goodies

Review by guest writer inez.

Full audio of the reading can be found at the end of this post.

So I am going to thank VALERIE and her commitment to keep the updates running, that I actually decided to write a few lines in a way slightly more comprehensible than ‘OMFG, it was AMAZING!!!’ which I diligently emailed to a bunch of my friends the same night.


The venue for the NYC reading was the same place called Florence Gould Hall that had hosted the prescreening of “20,000 days on Earth” followed by Nick’s piano set back on August 6th 2014 (those who missed my tape of that piano set can collect it on dime – or elsewhere). It’s a cute little venue with a layout of a smallish movie theatre.

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Sick Bag Song Reading in London Review + Audio / Video Goodies

It was completely unreasonable considering the European tour is coming up but I still had to travel for The Sick Bag Song reading in London. After all London is only a Eurostar away! I had tried to stay as “spoiler free” as possible and thus not reading too much about the Los Angeles and New York events. Not an easy task when you have to update this blog! Anyway the reading was taking place in the beautiful Porchester Hall. Instead of a regular theatre/venue setup we were treated to big round tables which, I think, gave a completely different atmosphere to the event.  It was also a great way for fans to be able to sit together and have a drink which you have to admit is always a great part of these events. It felt very festive and much more intimate that way.

Craig McLean (you might remember him from this interview) introduced Nick Cave in a pretty amusing way. We were then treated to the preview film made by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, followed by Nick Cave walking on stage reading a passage of the book. The first part of the evening consisted of Craig interviewing Nick, as well as other chapters being read and the New York short video being shown.


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Sick Bag Song Readings in L.A. & N.Y. – The Ship Song with Beth Orton


Picture by John Geralis.

If any of you have attented the readings in L.A. or New York, feel free to share your experience in the comments.

Rolling Stones did a great review of the L.A. one.

While on the West Coast Nick Cave also joined an eclectic cast of musicians/actors to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Alan Ginsberg’s Howl.

He performed The Ship Song with Beth Orton.


Adina NYC on YouTube recorded quite a lot in N.Y.


Nick Cave also confirmed that he will be touring North America at the end of the year. It’ll probably the the same solo tour as the upcoming European one, but that has to be confimed by the powers that be of course. 😉

Speaking of tour, the European one is fast approaching and lots of fans are still looking for tickets. If you are based in The UK I highly recommend Twickets which allows members to resell their tickets at face value. I have also created a group on Facebook where you can request or swap tickets.

The Sick Bag Song by Nick Cave #thesickbagsong

Just when you thought it’d be all quiet on the news front before the European tour, Nick Cave drops a new book on us: The Sick Bag Song. The inspiration for this very original project started during the 2014 American tour when Nick Cave started scribbling on airlines sick bags. The result is a chronicle of this tour.


The book, published by Canongate (@canongatebooks) , will be available in two editions. The £30 one will include the book as well as digital downloads of the audiobook as the e-book. If you are feeling more spendy, have just won the lottery, or sold your soul 😉 the collector’s edition is made for you. Ten book per US city (where the Bad Seeds have performed) will be made and hand-customized by Nick Cave. It’ll truly be a real piece of art as the sick bag contained in this edition will be embelished with lyrics, notes and doodles. A very unique and original item for sure!

To promote the release of the book, Nick Cave will be doing three readings / Q&As in Los Angeles, New York and London. Tickets will be on sale on the March 23rd for the US dates, and March 26th for London.

Ian Forsyth and Jane Pollard have also created 5 unique videos that will be released over the coming weeks. You can already see the first one:

For more information and to order your book, be sure to check the official website: The Sick Bag Song. You can also use #thesickbagsong if plan to talk about it over social media.

And good luck to everybody (including me) who will try to get tickets to one of the readings!