Reflections of a Bad Seed

Goldmine Magazine
March 14th, 1997

by Amy Hanson and Steve Roeser

There is an abridged version on-line of Goldmine's feature on Nick. I have this issue and the original is quite a but longer and more detailed...

...Religious iconography and ritual have been threaded through almost all of Nick Cave's solo work to date, and in all probability it will remain so, in part because of his love for the solemnity and beauty contained therein. He can also thank the church for his first ever recorded performance. His vocal range aside, Cave turned up on vinyl when the choir cut Christmas single of "Silent Night" and "Oh, Little Town Of Bethlehem."

Cave entered the grammar school where both his parents worked, and there was expected to behave and not bring shame upon the family. Unfortunately, although he wasn't exactly a troublemaker, little stunts he pulled caused his parents to pull him from school in 1971, and enroll him in Caulfield Grammar School.

This would prove to a pivotal point for Nick Cave, for it was during this time that he met Tracy Pew, Phill Calvert and Mick Harvey, friends with whom he would form the first of his bands, The Boys Next Door.

Growing up in the Seventies, Cave latched onto superstars of the day, with the Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Alice Cooper at the peak of the pile. Equally interesting (if hardly surprising, given careful listening to the Cave canon), are further favorites, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams.

A self styled music fan, Cave continues to assert that the iconoclastic Alex Harvey remains one of his greatest influences; in fact, Harvey covers were the set standard for most of the jams and rehearsals Cave was involved in. He recalls, "from when we were fifteen or so, I was playing with Mick Harvey and Tracy Pew. We had a couple of our own songs, but basically it was just Alex Harvey's stuff, and a bit of Alice Cooper..."

Obviously, this served them in good stead for the musical revolution which was about to occur; in 1976, spurred on by the fast rising and dying flame of punk, The Boys Next Door was formed.

Although Australia is seemingly far removed from the rest of the world, its colonial connection to England allowed the Punk wave to crash undiluted upon its shores. But because Australia is also a vast country, musical development has never completely duplicated what has transpired elsewhere, maintaining instead its own sense of originality and verve.

Cave, again, was no stranger to the bands of the moment, both from the U.K. and America. Punk defined the moment and decided the direction for many would be hopefuls, the baby Boys Next Door included.

Cave explains, "[Punk] was...for the people who really knew what was going on. We knew, and were huge fans of, the Stooges and the MC5. We were aware of how cool it was to go onstage and be obnoxious, because of Iggy Pop, basically. And that sort of titillated our schoolboy sensibility.

"There was a band in Australia called The Saints, who were a massive influence over us. They would come down to Melbourne from Brisbane and play these concerts which were the most alarming things you've ever seen. I mean just such anti rock kind of shows. It was so misanthropic. They were so loud. They played the greatest punk music. That was already there for us."

But, Cave continues, "we were able to look at Punk with discretion. We had things to compare it to, so that the Pistols, we thought, were a great band, and the Ramones we thought were a great band. But we thought the Dammed were shit. We weren't kind of swept along by the whole Punk thing. We were also listening to a lot of country music, and other stuff, like blues. so there was all that kind of mixed in together."

Unlike its stirrings elsewhere around the world, however, Cave is adamant that Punk wasn't... 'a political thing for us.'

"In Melbourne, where we grew up, there was a river that divides the city, and there was the side of the river I was on, which was St. Kilda, which was where the junkies and the was that kind of area, and that's where we grew up.

"But we were also middle class kids, who'd kind of left home and gone and lived down in that area. On the other side of the river, it was where the Universities and so forth were, so punk was much and we loathed each other. My side of the river was just about taking drugs and making nasty music. The other side of the river was to make music that had a point."...

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