Nick Cave: The Dark Knight’s Revival
In honor of the thirtieth anniversary of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ debut album “From Her To Eternity”, the NME editors decided to recall an interview with Nick Cave, published by the magazine in 1984, during the beautiful and chaotic period following the breakup of his band The Birthday Party.
When Nick Cave created his image at the very beginning of the existence of The Birthday Party, he resembled a woman with tuberculosis from an absurd birthday described in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, sitting in a corner coughing into a handkerchief and showing bloody spots of the assembled company. He was a disgusting exhibitionist, constantly demanding attention. Subsequently, this image was transformed into a slowly and painfully moving snail, turning its own mucus into art.
Slipping between irony and tragedy, last year the snail from The Birthday Party ran to the edge of a knife, but instead of the ugly shapeless mass that you would expect, it produced the best examples of its work in “The Bad Seed” and “Mutiny!” – two mini-albums, including four tracks, which stood out against the background of all the obvious mediocrity, released in 1983. Both records are precepts of romantic courage and sick obsession, full of obsessive guilt and descriptions of murders – terrifying and at the same time mysteriously attractive.
It was then that it became clear that Nick’s work departs from all the canons generally accepted in rock music and stands out in some new variety, shimmering with all the colors of the rainbow, in which the subtle and straightforward is constantly replaced by pathos and exaggerated. At the same time, the band’s music drove itself into a wild, fit state. It seemed that they were driven by sheer insanity, even in relatively restrained moments. The Birthday Party, which was in the process of disintegration, put an excellent point in its work with the Mutiny! Mini-disc, spectacularly encountering its own reflection.
Cave crawled out of the wreckage and recorded the solo album “From Her To Eternity”. Free from any restrictions, Cave’s songwriting rushed into the wild and dizzy poetry of cruelty, pursuing the most nightmarish ideas that carried The Birthday Party. “From Her To Eternity” is a declaration of romance irrationality that stretches it to the limit.
Talking with Nick Cave, you seem to talk with many heroes. Like James Graham Ballard, he sees external reality as a dark romance and tries to play as many roles as possible: an irresponsible artist, a wounded romantic, a hunchbacked freak, a Nietzsche individualist. Now he is playing something similar to that old woman who flaunts blood stains, and also points to her not the best living conditions, as if to say: look at this wretchedness!
“Nice, isn’t it?” He asks with a touch of irony as we enter the room he shares with Blixa Bargeld and guitarist Hugo Rays from Bad Seeds. At the moment, Blixa flew to Berlin, and Hugo to Oxford, leaving Nick alone with a few phone messages, a copy of Moby Dick and a precious portrait of Elvis Presley from the G.I. Blues album era. He runs nicotine-stained fingers over a bird’s nest built on his head, and his surprised look is reflected in the bathroom mirror while he watches a handful of incoming voyeurs stumble in an attempt to find a free spot in the middle of scattered dirty clothes and inhale a heavy smell sweat filling the artist’s space. “I always thought it was very important to show people where you live,” he continues.
Cave’s critics often overlooked the fact that his work was a show of acting full of unholy admiration for his ability to deceive expectations. In his songs, fiction merges with reality, Raskolnikov’s shadow mixes with Hamlet; Cave’s creations – “King Ink”, “The Dim Locator” – are mixed with hybrids such as “Saint Huck”. All of them reflect one or another facet of Cave himself.
His last passion is staring at us from the wall. “I recently joined the Elvis Presley fan club,” he smiles broadly. “They will send me posters; however, I’m unlikely to attend their meetings often.” As with all Cave’s hobbies, his interest in Presley is not connected with the greatness of the latter, but with the decline of his career, with skillful tricks, and not art. “The influence that any fictional character has on me,” he says, “is connected with his caricature, with the trait behind which he turns into a cliche. In this sense, all my characters are also caricatures of themselves; they begin with ready-made cliches that people will be able to perceive and who will make the desired first impression. “