An Interview with Nick Cave

Nick Cave is renowned as the lead of both the Bad Seeds and the Birthday Party.

In 2006, following an extended period writing songs of death and misery, some of his fellow musicians created Grinderman which was akin to a raw garage-rock version of the Bad Seeds, with Nick as vocalist and guitarist.

This left those who had anticipated he’d settle down on the Vegas strip surprised.

Nick Cave, who is now 51 years old, opted to discontinue his heroin use a few years back. Despite attending rehab and doing some time in prison, this did not deter his drug use.

He doesn’t chastise heroin or drug consumption, claiming that it was getting in the way of his creativity, so he ultimately ceased.

In the slow intervals before transforming into Nick Cave the performer, he can now focus less on his next hit and more on writing, both filmscripts and fiction.

His screenplay, The Proposition, was directed by John Hillcoat, and he has just finished penning his second book, The Death of Bunny Munro, which was originally intended to be a script for Hillcoat.

However, when the director began working on the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which Cave also scored, the project was put on hold. Instead of leaving it as is, Cave changed it into a novel about a libidinous door-to-door salesman.

While Cave was touring with the Bad Seeds for the album Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!, I had the pleasure of visiting him in his San Francisco hotel room.

He noticed my rings and I remarked that someone would have to sever my fingers to get them as they were rings my grandparents purchased in the 1940s. He then revealed he had pawned a lot of his rings in order to purchase drugs.

— Anthony DuShane

Tony DuShane’s words serve as a reminder that life is fleeting and that we should strive to make the most of our time here. Anthony DuShane encourages us to remember that our days are numbered and that we should aim to make the most of them.


I had the opportunity to attend both of the Grinderman performances in San Francisco.

Nick Cave is of the opinion that the Bad Seeds’ tours in the US do not yield a great deal of money due to the vast number of people and the high costs. However, with Grinderman, he felt reconnected with the US in a way he hadn’t in a while.

He was excited to find that there were still parts of each city that hadn’t become homogenised and corporate; it reminded him of the America of fifteen years ago.

With the current Bad Seeds tour, he’s becoming aware that the more money you make, the more the details of your experience, like hotels and cars, change without you really noticing. All in all, he has been having a great time.

Question:Would the Bad Seeds have toured America if you hadn’t taken on those few shows with Grinderman?

NC: I was quite insistent on returning to the Bad Seeds to do a respectable American tour.

It’s been quite a while since we last talked.

NC: It has certainly been some time since I was last here. The United States is a wild and wacky place, but I find it so amazing.

There is a certain energy that exists here that I haven’t found anywhere else in the English-speaking world. In comparison, England just feels dull, grey, and hostile. There is simply nothing to excite the senses.

BLVR: How is the situation in the US compared to other places?

NC: As difficult as it is, something is happening. I am not sure what it is. I am glad to be out. But, since this is only the third day of the tour, if you ask me again in two weeks I will probably tell you to get me out of here.

It appears that the performances of Grinderman have had a significant impact on the Bad Seeds’ concerts.

NC: My involvement with the band is primarily through playing guitar, but I don’t always do that in every song. At one point, I felt like I wasn’t a full-fledged member of the group. When leading the group and singing, it can be easy to lose touch with the music.

BLVR: Is there any risk associated with being a leader?

NC: If you don’t have an instrument, you can’t really have any control. However, with a guitar, you have an abundance of power over the course of the song, even if you are a vocalist. Playing guitar is something I enjoy.

BLVR: After all this time touring with Mick Harvey and the same crew, what would you say is the difference between being on the road with them today versus two decades ago?

NC: Lately, I haven’t been having as many issues with leaving my luggage behind. Even though I did forget to bring half my clothes with me when I left LA in a rush.

It’s not a regular occurrence anymore, and I was simply reflecting back on how often it happened before. It was constantly happening, there was always some catastrophic event taking place.

BLVR: Nowadays, do you require more time in the morning for your wakeup routine?

NC: In the past, it was often necessary to take people to the hospital or give them mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but nowadays things are much simpler.

If someone isn’t answering the door, a bit of extra knocking is usually all that’s required instead of calling an ambulance. Things have definitely changed.

Question:Despite having to be revived with resuscitation, they still managed to appear on stage for the night?

NC reported that occurrences of the event were frequent.

BLVR: What enabled you to succeed?

It is always possible to reunite with someone.


Question:What would one encounter if they lived in Brighton?

NC: It’s quite beneficial to me that I’m left alone. I have this boat hull that I can find my way to and secure myself so no one disturbs me while I’m doing my work. That’s what works for me and I’m able to accomplish more there than I would be able to if I were in London.

Question:Do you believe that this is due to the level of acknowledgement?

NC: There’s usually someone to do activities in London, but I’m not always able to partake in them due to the distance.

In Brighton, I’m an hour away, so I’m not as accessible to the same extent as I would be if I were in London. Consequently, I can’t attend certain events or get togethers.

Question:Are Grinderman currently working on a new album?

NC: Indeed, that’s the following activity we have planned. Next year is going to be all about Grinderman. We intend to create a new album and tour, and so on. We only have one album and when we tour, we only have eleven songs, which is quite absurd.

We have a few new ones since Wim Wenders asked us to write some music for his upcoming film, and I told him the only way we’d do it was if Grinderman could be involved, and he agreed.

When Grinderman created their most recent album, they used an approach which involved a lot of improvisation and quick recording.

NC emphasises not wanting the upcoming record to be like the last one, but instead something new and unique. She and Warren discussed various ideas, but that could easily change from one month to the next.

Grinderman’s record is a great example of that, as it contains many diverse songs that all point to different paths the band can take. For instance, “Electric Alice” is incredibly different from “Love Bomb,” showing how the group can explore a wide range of possibilities.

BLVR: What about the musical scores you have created, like for The Road?

NC stated that the project was completed and the parties involved were all satisfied with the outcome. Additionally, the finances and the individuals in power who watched the film, often referred to as “the suits,” gave the go-ahead.

He added that these same people had the capability to reject the project and request someone else, like Hans Zimmer, to take on the task.

BLVR asked if they would receive remuneration if they were to be let go.

NC: Even though the pay isn’t great, I’m still thankful for the work I do with Warren Ellis on soundtracks. I would’ve despised it if the outcome wasn’t so wonderful.

BLVR: What did you think of the movie? Did you get a chance to watch a preliminary version?

NC was enthusiastic about the movie, expressing that it was really good.

BLVR: It’s a brilliant idea to join forces with Cormac McCarthy.

NC: Ridley Scott asked me to rewrite Blood Meridian, which he owns. After reading it, I decided to not take on the task as I didn’t want to be the one to ruin it.

To turn the story into a “Hollywood film”, a great number of changes would have to be made, something I was not prepared to do.

BLVR: Your focus has recently shifted to scriptwriting.

When asked, NC usually declines most offers. However, they are currently working on a project with John Hillcoat and have adapted it into a novel.

With only five pages remaining, they were last seen working on it.

BLVR: Are you telling me that you only have a few pages left to go on your initial draft?

NC declared that this wasn’t the first draft, and that they were only doing the last one, as the hero had already died.

Question:What is the source of your ability to manage your time?

NC: I was engaged in the activity before, and now I’m located here.

I cut you off while you were speaking.

NC: Yes, you cut me off when I was almost done.

I’m the one who’s in the wrong.

NC: Make sure to share this with your grandchildren. If the story suddenly goes downhill near the fifth to last page, you can take responsibility for it.


BLVR: Last year when we talked, your response was, “I may possibly write another novel in a decade.”

NC revealed that Penguin had published And the Ass Saw the Angel twenty years ago, yet he had not read it at that time. He discovered the book had a few issues, and he wanted to edit it and re-release it as a five-box CD set.

NC contacted Penguin and they were enthused about the prospect. He also asked Canongate if they would be interested in this endeavour, suggesting he write another book for them if they accepted. Then NC decided to turn the script he wrote for the movie Bunny Munro into a novel.

BLVR queried if the person was content with the situation.

NC confirmed that they thought it was true.

BLVR: What was the number of drafts you put together?

NC:During our European tour with the Bad Seeds, NC took advantage of the time on the bus to compose the work by hand. It is composed in three parts, and was almost finished by the end of the tour, which lasted three or four weeks.

Afterward, he then transferred it to the computer, but he was very mindful in the process. He plans to sit with an editor soon to do any minor alterations, but he believes that the content is complete.

BLVR: Have you managed to find out who the editor is? Are you familiar with the editor’s previous writing from other books?

NC commented that he had been having a great time writing fiction, which he had not done for two decades apart from screenplays and film scripts.

He noted that when writing a novel, there is a huge amount of freedom compared to creating a musical piece as there are certain points that cannot be surpassed due to the length of the song.

Additionally, people don’t want to listen to something that is too narrative-heavy, but with fiction, it is possible to be as violent, pornographic or whatever else one desires.

BLVR: So then, do violence and porn appear in this work?

NC: The explicit material.

BLVR: Was a lot of investigating required to complete that task?

NC: As for the pornographic element, I must admit I’m quite familiar with it. We are debating between calling the book Sex Maniac or The Death of a Sex Maniac.

It is a story of an individual who is unable to view life in any other way than his own limited, sexual perspective. He would likely engage in intercourse with an airborne object if it were possible.

As the narrative progresses, it becomes clear that he is mentally ill. Writing this tale has been an extraordinary experience.

Question:Do you think that we all possess aspects of Bunny Munro’s character?

NC believes that there is something of Bunny Munro in all of us. Many readers have noticed the similarities of thought. The purpose of this character was to create something that was initially monstrous, yet still relatable.

Though Bunny Munro is a serial rapist and not a good person, NC believes that the predatory nature and violence are instinctive, part of our DNA and will not disappear.

Question:Would the outcome of the novel have been distinct if you had not composed it as a screenplay initially?

NC claimed that it was easier to write the screenplay first due to the focus on dialogue. He further stated that this was challenging when it came to writing a novel, as the dialogue had to be convincing. According to NC, this was a vital element of both the screenplay and the book.

BLVR: Has there been any talk on converting Bunny Munro into a movie?

NC: If I’m presented with an exceptional sum of money, I could set up shop in Florida, for sure. I have a very clear idea of who I would like to portray the Avril Lavigne character.

BLVR asked who the individual would be.

NC: Certainly, Avril Lavigne is the one that comes to mind.

It Could Be of Interest to You

The advent of technology has had a tremendous impact on our lives, transforming them in significant ways. We can now use gadgets to do a variety of tasks that would have taken up a lot of time and effort in the past.

Technology has changed the way we communicate with each other, shop, do business and entertain ourselves. It has made the world smaller and more interconnected. Additionally, it has enabled us to access information quickly and easily.

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