NICK CAVE

INTERVIEW

3RRR 1999

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Cuz: Itís time to welcome Melbourneís favourite son Nick Cave.

Nick: What's that? Iím Melbourneís favourite what?

Cuz: Melbourneís favourite son.

Nick: Oh! Son. How sweet.

Cuz: Since you released ĎThe Boatmanís Callí what has Nick Cave been up to?

Nick: Iíve been doing lectures in London and Iíve been touring around with my little band, whatever theyíre called around Europe and so on. I put on a festival called ĎThe Meltdown Festivalí in London which was 10 days of extraordinary music, painting and film and so on. I got married, that was good. I donít know. Stuff like that. Written a bunch of good songs, itís been a good year actually. 

Cuz: The transition between your albums ĎThe Murder Balladsí and ĎThe Boatmanís Callí was a real contrast. Where did the idea come about to do such a stripped down sound with ĎThe Boatmanís Callí?

Nick: It pretty much came about just sitting down at the piano and writing these songs and seeing that they worked in that basic form. That the songs didnít need a lot of embellishment. I sat down in the studio and played them and sang them. I think we were recording something else and I did them at that time. Martin P. Casey played a bit of bass while I was playing the songs and we listened to them back and they sounded great exactly as they were. They didnít need a lot of decoration and we tried to stay faithful to that.  

Cuz: Youíve made an extreme shift to the other side of the spectrum to go from the intense ĎMurder Balladsí to the dare I say sweet sounding ĎBoatmanís Callí.. If I can call it sweet.

Nick: You can call it what you like Mr Creep.

Cuz: Have you had a chance to hear ĎJimmy Littleís version of ĎAre you The One That Iíve Been Waiting For?í ?

Nick: I have and I love it, itís beautiful. I think he did a beautiful job of that.

Cuz: You appeared in two films around the same time ĎWings of Desireí and ĎGhosts of the Civil Deadí. Have you had any other film offers?

Nick: Yeah. I get offered lots of film parts actually and turn them down pretty much. I donít really have much interest in doing that sort of thing. I sort of see that as being an indulgence of my younger years. I donít really enjoy it that much. 

Cuz: Your performance in ĎGhosts of the Civil Deadí was impressive.

Nick: Well, that was great, I was given pretty much free reign in that part and was allowed to do what I liked. There just a kind of gap in the script I was supposed to come on and scream racial abuse at someone, run around and all that sort of stuff. And it was really enjoyable, but flicks like that donít come about very often.

Cuz: The last few times youíve toured has been part of The Big Day Out. Do you still get cultural cringe when you come back to Australia? 

Nick: I never suffered that, I love Australia very much. Iím aching to get back to Australia. The older I get the more I wonder why I ever left actually. 

Cuz: At one time in Australia you were part of the absolute fringe with your earlier work and youíve now gained a very middle audienceÖ

Nick: What does that mean?

Cuz: Well maybe the track you did with Kylie helped..

Nick: Well maybe. I donít really know what my profile is like over there. For me Iíve always been Nick Cave and I donít really know. I think if it was because of that then that would have been sad and I think that in a lot of ways itís unfortunate that it has taken so long for that sort of thing to happen in Australia. I'm not really saying that from my point of view, so much as for a lot of other bands that are there who I think should be recognized much more than they are. And they should be household names, I donít really know to be honest. 

Cuz: What about writing, any chance of a follow up to ĎThe Ass Saw the Angelí?

Nick: No. I haven't written any other fiction. I've written quite a few lectures about things which get published and that Iíve preformed. But I stay away from fiction, I donít really read fiction any more and I donít have much interest in writing it. I've been writing a lot of songs and thatís been really good. Thatís pretty much what I spend my time doing these days. I think I kind of got over the idea of wanting to write another book. I think I wasnít really writing that sort of stuff for myself, it wasnít what I really wanted to do. Iím still very happy about being a song writer and feel very proud to be a song writer and thatís kind of what Iím concentrating on.

Cuz: Which artists would you say have inspired you or influenced you over the years?

Nick: Iíve always had an interest in certain country music singers I guess Johnny Cash being a particular favourite of mine. Certain blues singers Leadbelly or Johnny Lee Hooker and theyíve had a massive influence over what Iíve done. Lyrically in the way they phrase their stuff in the sounds of their voices and the kind of music that they play. So theyíve had a huge impact on me. 

Cuz: Why has the bible been such a major source of material for your songs?

Nick: Have you ever read it?

Cuz: Yeah I was forced to a while back butÖum

Nick: Maybe itís time to read it again. Itís a extraordinary book. Perhaps if you can let go of the way it was presented to you and see it of what it actually is. Itís the most extraordinary piece of writing you could ever want to read. And I am very influenced by what I read as well across the board really. 

Cuz: So what then was the inspiration initially for ĎMurder Balladsí?

Nick: Well, I donít really remember. What happened with that record we were making before that, I had written were I guess Ďmurder ballads'. They were two very very long songs ĎNellieís Barí and ĎSong of Joy'. They were great songs and they were floating around but they didnít fit thematically on that record. So we decided to write a whole album of murder ballads in order so those songs could be released in some way. Itís a kind of pretty dubious idea to begin with. We approached the idea with a sense of humour and made I believe essentially a comic record. I love that record the freedom that we were given in order to make it. Because we didnít approach the record so seriously which it would be the death of great music. Seriousness. We approached it with a lot of fun and passion and we made a really good record. I think a really strange record.

Cuz: The ĎStagger Leeí track is a cack!

Nick: Well it is yes.