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.

FrĂ©dĂ©ric: 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.

FrĂ©dĂ©ric: 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.

FrĂ©dĂ©ric: „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.

FrĂ©dĂ©ric: 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

Interview translation: ” I’m still a punk but I have a tailor now”

Hello again,

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…

Have fun!


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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.



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