Earthly pur­suits

‘Peo­ple who have in­flated views of them­selves. I ad­mire peo­ple like that.’ Nick­cave comes clean to Tara Brady

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - Adore De­lano.

TRACK OF THE WEEK I Adore U by Fans of Ru Paul’s Drag Race will be fa­mil­iar with Adore’s work, and how her eye make-up game is se­ri­ously on point. I Adore U is a club banger with soul, the ini­tial disco war­bling turn­ing into some­thing more sin­cere in the rap sec­tions – a kind of dance­floor hon­esty, where Adore tries to get her part­ner to stay. “Cause ev­ery time I see you, it’s like all I am is see-through,” she sings plain­tively. The prin­ci­pal who de­nied

the chance to speak at her old high school. Mi­naj of­fered to go back and speak to stu­dents, but was re­buffed. “No need for me to in­spire them, I guess. Smh. I guess I’m not good enough,” Mi­naj tweeted. “That school changed my life and I wanted to pay it for­ward to the stu­dents there now. I was re­ally look­ing for­ward to it.” Come and chat to us in­stead, Nicki.

Nicki Mi­naj

Charli XCX may have been dis­ap­pointed by Brit­ney Spears last year when she sub­mit­ted a track for the star that didn’t get used (“We’ve writ­ten one song and it’s a great track and if she likes it then amaz­ing. It was just an hon­our to be asked,” Charli said at the time), but she hasn’t given up hope. She told Dig­i­tal Spy, “Oh my God, if [Brit­ney] hit me up I would be so down, I’m an end­less fan of Brit­ney Spears. Brit­ney’s punk, she doesn’t care.” Punk Brit­ney? G’wan so.

for ral­ly­ing against stereo­typ­i­cal por­tray­als of teenagers. She told Elle: “A lot of times when peo­ple meet me, they’ll def­i­nitely try to make me feel young or in­ex­pe­ri­enced. Teenagers are such a dis­cern­ing group of peo­ple. They’ll im­me­di­ately sniff out any­thing that feels con­trived.”


Rock lore tells of a younger, an­grier Nick Cave, the sort who might swipe a scythe at an NME jour­nal­ist. As the front­man to waspy noiseniks The Birth­day Party (from 1978 to 1983), Cave rou­tinely at­tracted a mob of angry, screech­ing, piss­ing fans.

“First time we got pissed on was in Glas­gow,” he re­calls. “That was from the rafters. A par­tic­u­larly un­pleas­ant way to get pissed on. One thing to have somebody piss on your leg. But on the top of your head is a whole dif­fer­ent thing.”

To­day, straight-backed on a gilt-edged chair, Cave can boast that his style and ap­pear­ance has changed lit­tle since those pissy post-punk days or since his ear­lier Gothic ones with The Bad Seeds. But he is dif­fer­ent, surely?


His wife Suzie mas­sages his face ten­derly. He takes slow bites from an ap­ple. It seems he now lives qui­etly with his twin sons in Brighton by the sea. “I didn’t like the sea be­fore,” Cave says. “I’m a river guy. My whole child­hood was spent by rivers. Rivers have some­thing that is mys­ti­cal and free-flow­ing and for­ever in the present. They’re non­his­tor­i­cal. There’s some­thing id­i­otic about the sea. It just comes back and forth. It’s taken me quite a while of liv­ing in Brighton to ad­just to that.”

He smiles. “All that id­i­otic lap­ping it does.”

Cave has said that he ceased to be hu­man around the end of the 20th cen­tury, around the time he re­lo­cated to the English coast. “But I bet­ter not talk about that. I think that’s a lovely enig­matic state­ment that would only be di­min­ished by any­thing I say.”

He pauses, then smiles again: “I don’t take as many drugs,” he of­fers, help­fully.

June 24th, 2013, Nick Cave’s 20,000th day on earth, was the first day of record­ing The Bad Seeds’ 15th stu­dio al­bum, Push the Sky Away, which would go on to win an Ivor Novello Award. It was also the tem­po­ral set­ting for 20,000Days on Earth, anew doc­u­men­tary di­rected by the artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pol­lard.

In keep­ing with its sin­gu­lar sub­ject, the film rarely re­sem­bles a reg­u­lar rock­u­men­tary. In­stead, it pieces to­gether glimpses of stu­dio work and home life un­der Cave’s narration, a stream of po­etry weav­ing through can­did rec­ol­lec­tions of grow­ing up in ru­ral Aus­tralia, gar­ret life in Berlin and heroin days in London. Cameo ap­pear­ances from for­mer col- “Ithink­they­ounger mewould­like whatI­donow. Idon’tsee whynot.I knowthatwhatI lis­tened­towhen I was­inTheBirth­dayPar­ty­had­very lit­tletodowith­howwe­sounded.We lis­tened­toTheCar­pen­ter­sand Tam­myWynet­te­be­forewewen­ton stage.Oratleast Idid.” lab­o­ra­tors Kylie Minogue and Blixa Bargeld add fur­ther splashes of colour.

Cave de­scribes his early years in War­rackn­abeal in north­west Vic­to­ria as an idyl­lic time of play­ing by train tracks and kiss­ing girls. His fa­ther was a school­teacher, his mother a li­brar­ian. “I had a good child­hood,” he says. “I wasn’t beaten. I wasn’t sex­u­ally abused. I had a lot of free­dom. I had loving par­ents.”

So where did all the dark­ness that hangs around his writ­ing and mu­sic come from? “Well, it’s a para­dox. As long as I can re­mem­ber I’ve had a pre-dis­po­si­tion to­ward vi­o­lent thought. As a schoolkid I re­mem­ber a vis­ceral thrill from writ­ing about vi­o­lence. But we’d be wast­ing our time if we tried to fig­ure out why I write the way I do. Maybe it’s just DNA.”


Maybe. Dis­ap­point­ingly, he can’t point to a sin­gle trans­ported con­vict among his an­ces­tors: “Un­for­tu­nately not. My grand­fa­ther was Ger­man and my grand­mother was English. All Aus­tralians want a con­vict past th­ese days. But I don’t have one.”

The one recog­nis­able shadow across Cave’s younger life was the pre­ma­ture death of his fa­ther, a fig­ure he dis­cusses ex­ten­sively in the new film.

Cave­has fre­quent­ly­col­lab­o­rat­ed­with­women, amongth­emLy­dia Lunch, PJ Har­vey and Neko Case. He honed his sto­ry­telling skills telling bed­time sto­ries to his sis­ter. I won­der about his fe­male in­flu­ences. I won­der about his mother. “My fa­ther was one for the grand ges­ture. But I’m far more like my mother, who is still around, who has a sort of slow steady move­ment that goes through her life. That flow has more of an in­flu­ence over me.”

Like a river? “Ex­actly,” he grins. “My mother is like a river. My fa­ther’s like the sea.”

Be­fore mov­ing to Brighton, Cave lived in Berlin, London and South Amer­ica. He is, he notes, part of the colo­nial gen­er­a­tion that “had to go to the UK in or­der to find out if your art was worth any­thing”.

That’s dif­fi­cult to pic­ture. Cave’s pro­lific and of­ten ex­per­i­men­tal out­put points to some­one who isn’t afraid of fail­ure, some­one who is happy to work with­out a safety net. “Well, the cre­ative process should be un­com­fort­able. It should be scary. I’m al­ways look­ing for a sense of un­ease. Of dread. If you write another song and you think it’s good when all that’s hap­pen­ing is that you’re be­ing re­minded of things you’ve al­ready done.

“That’s why I like ec­cen­tric peo­ple. And on some level, I like pre­ten­tious peo­ple. Peo­ple who have in­flated views of them­selves. I ad­mire peo­ple like that. It’s one of the as­pects of Aus­tralia that I never liked. That sense of push­ing peo­ple down if you stick your head up too high. Aus­tralians aren’t unique in this. The Ir­ish have it too.”

All th­ese years after leav­ing, is there any part of brain that still thinks Aus­tralian? “My sense of hu­mour. That self-dep­re­cat­ing hu­mour. A need to de­flate your own pre­ten­sions. But like I said, I also like pre­ten­sions.”

Cave smiles again: “Another para­dox.”

‘As long as I can re­mem­ber I’ve had a pre-dis­po­si­tion to­ward vi­o­lent thought’

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