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Nick Cave talks about Lou Reed & upcoming 2014 North American tour, which goes on presale today

by Jonathan Dick

Rock n’ roll’s enigmatic everyman and dark poet, Nick Cave, spent an hour last week fielding questions in anticipation for his upcoming tour with The Bad Seeds as well as his most recent live album, Live from KCRW (to be released November 29). Tickets to those tour dates — including Prospect Park on July 26 — go on presale today at 10 AM via Cave’s tour site. You do need to register with the site before gaining access to the presale.

Much of the press conference concerned Cave’s touring experiences as well as his relationship to his songs both old and new. Cave’s songs, known for their incredibly dramatic narrative threads, have a tendency to divide fans and critics alike, concerning their possible meaning and implication. For Cave, however, the meaning isn’t important, as he says: “It’s more where the songs take me and to the places they take me. I can kind of reconvene with the ghosts of my past in a way, and that can be a beautiful thing.” When asked what a perfect audience was, Cave explained: “It’s about the kind of tension between the people that I can see – the first few rows – that kind of empowers me on stage. Rather than the kind of looking out at the mass, I get a lot of power and energy from one to one performances with people.”

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Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds @ Beacon Theatre(more by Dana [distortion] Yavin)
Nick Cave

When it came time to talk about the change in aesthetic and departure from other Bad Seeds releases with Push the Sky Away, Cave was quick to note: “I don’t really know what you expect from a Bad Seeds album anyway. If you look through all the records that we’ve made, they’re all very different from another. There are a lot of things that had an effect over this record, and one of the main things I think was that we used Tommy as the drummer all the way through, and that we didn’t have Mick Harvey in the band. Tommy plays much quieter and, I guess, in general, more expressionistic drumming. Mick Harvey had left the band, and there was suddenly no guitar. That opened up an enormous kind of breathing space for this record to become something really different. Suddenly there was all this space that was left behind by the absence of the guitar.” Push the Sky Away is the fifteenth album for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and that’s only one of Cave’s many projects: including the Grinderman side project, his solo work, film scoring, a multitude of collaborations, acting, screenwriting, and an upcoming pseudo-documentary on his life (slated for a 2014 release) titled 20,000 Days on the Earth.

This kind of restlessness has seemingly come to define Nick Cave as an artist and as an icon of essentially remaining on the fringes of the mainstream. Cave calls his songs “memory machines,” saying that “they are very effective ways of being thrown back to earlier times. When I sing these songs on stage I’m very much engaging with memory.” Cave’s lyrical obsession with faith, specifically Christianity, was a point referenced more than once with Cave offering that “The idea of faith is certainly important in my songwriting, for sure. Because it’s an imaginative world. It’s an absurd world that I’m writing about, and it’s a hysterical world – a violent world.” When asked what he saw as the biggest challenge facing an artist attempting to create something in our world today, Cave remarked: “I think it’s difficult to be an individual, and I think with the internet and the opportunities of the internet, it’s allowed everybody to get involved or a lot of people to get involved in the making of music. This can be a great thing, but it also…I think it’s very difficult for individual voices to rise up out of that. It’s harder than maybe it used to be.”

Though initially reluctant, Cave addressed a question concerning the death of Lou Reed, saying “The thing about Lou, for me, was that it isn’t something where I look back at the older records and say ‘What an amazing body of work.’ It was about Lou’s life lived and how extraordinary that was, and how challenging that was to people. How polarizing it was, and how exciting it was. It’s a huge loss.” Cave was quick to confirm that the Bad Seeds would be reentering the studio again very soon to record the follow-up to Push the Sky Away saying that “A lot of records you make, and they shut things down. It takes some years to recover from it and find out where you go next. Other records seem to point in a million different directions. I think Push the Sky Away is very much like that. We just want to get back in the studio and find out where this next record will go.”

A few random notes:

Cave graciously (and hilariously) fielded a question positing him as a dirty old man, simply remarking that: “There’s a lot of problems to suggest that men of a certain age aren’t allowed to have sexual feelings or to write about them. It’s a problematic question, but I will continue to go where these songs take me.”

Cave and Bad Seed Warren Ellis will be scoring an as of yet untitled French film.

Concerning acting: “I don’t enjoy acting at all. You gotta have a certain patience for that sort of thing, which I don’t have.”

When asked what his obituary would say about how he spent his life: “I don’t really care. What else have you got there? I don’t know what my obituary will say.”

Cave also noted that his voiced had changed over the years saying that “Sometimes I actually hear myself on stage, and it sounds almost enjoyable to listen to rather than filling me with absolute horror as it has for most of my career.”

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