NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS were poised to celebrate 30 years of ornery, transcendent existence when the death of Cave’s 15-year-old son Arthur threw the singer’s life into unimaginable darkness. As he relates to MOJO magazine this month, it took the support of fans, family, and band to bring him back to the “beautiful challenge” he’s pursued since he first put pen to paper, and his voice on tape.
In the new issue of MOJO, on the shelves in the UK from Tuesday, May 23, Cave takes us through the artistic ups and downs of his band – their journey recently commemorated on the Lovely Creatures box set – who sought from the off to make challenging, dramatic music. “I was young and undisciplined and just felt I had a right to offend whoever I possibly can,” he tells MOJO’s Keith Cameron.
The phases of the Bad Seeds are explored in depth, including the essential contributions of former bandmates Blixa Bargeld (“the most uncompromising individual I’ve ever met”), Mick Harvey (“In his heart I don’t think he liked a lot of chaos”) and current aide-de-camp Warren Ellis (“about as un-Bad Seedsy as you could imagine…”).
Along the way, he weighs the impact of his romantic entanglements, geographical peregrinations, and narcotic phases (“I was just f**kin’ bad news,” he concedes), before addressing the challenge of a return to public life with the shadow of tragedy hanging over his family.
“I haven’t really written anything, a line of lyric, in over a year.”
“I don’t want to talk too much about Arthur, because I feel now very protective over the memory of him,” he tells Keith Cameron. “I feel that if I start talking about him in interviews, whatever I have left of him will somehow be eroded.”
After the 2016 release of the documentary film, One More Time With Feeling, which showed Cave recording his most recent album, Push The Sky Away, and dealing with the aftermath of his son’s death, the singer found himself inundated with gestures of support from fans and other families who had been cast into similar abysses.
“What people had said, about their own situations, was just extraordinary,” he says. “It seemed like there are a lot of grievers out there.”
Since then, Cave reveals, he has struggled to produce, and a familiar discipline of 9-5 work on his music has stalled. And yet, the compulsion to make another album, and soon, is building.
“I haven’t really written anything, a line of lyric, in over a year,” says Cave. “It’s a process of finding out how I am or where I am… Warren feels like there’s something out there that’s phenomenal. He’s saying, ‘Don’t make your country record yet…’”
Read more in the new issue of MOJO magazine, on sale from Tuesday, May 23. MORE CONTENTS HERE
PHOTO: Tom Oldham, for MOJO