Nick Cave discusses his relationship with his fans
Following his "Conversations With" Q&A tours, Nick Cave set up a website, The Red Hand Files, where people can ask him questions and he writes posts with his responses. His answers are considered and thoughtful and have included everything from his take on "modern rock music" to his top 10 love songs and 10 songs that stand out to him the most. Recently he combined two questions asking about his perception of his fans to write about his relationship with his audience. Given the nature of his live shows, which find him doing quite a bit of crowd interaction, it's a particularly interesting question. "Our fans have grown to be uniquely devotional," Nick writes, "that is to say, devotional to the transcendent experience itself, just as the Bad Seeds and I are more devotional to the audience and their needs. We are all just completely needed and in need."
Nick also specifically addresses a questioner who claims to be "kinda involved with my third Nick Cave fan. They are all just, er, impossible to resist." "Be careful with that third Nick Cave fan you’re kinda involved with," he writes. "Be nice. Treasure her or him. They are indeed kind and special people, full of a formidable beauty and may just end up being the very best part of you."
Read Nick's full response below...
When I stand on stage I feel a tremendous need emanating from the audience. I recognise this need because it exists within myself. I think we all see the opportunity for rapture and recognise its importance. Ultimately, this is a relationship of mutual dependence, that surpasses simple entertainment and moves into the domain of the sacred. I say this because the performative act, for me, is a process of peeling away one’s ego and self-importance, of letting go and laying oneself open to the audience, in a mutual acknowledgement of each other’s humanity. In doing so, a simple but profound connection is made. This connection is the responsibility of both the audience and the performer – we take each other’s hands and move beyond ourselves to a higher place of spiritual reciprocity in order to restore each other. If we can do this together, we have achieved something sublime.
I feel that over time my audience and I have come to fully understand this relationship. I think we have brought each other to this heightened place, and we all feel a mutual and urgent call to traverse our individual suffering and just fucking lose ourselves.
Perhaps there are some performers who see the performative process as a one-way street, where the artist is dominant and simply delivers, whilst the passive audience receives. Personally, I do not see it in this way, at all. As the writer, Greil Marcus says, the performer needs “an aggressive, critical audience, with a conscious sense of itself as an audience, … one whose complexity and diverse needs can push an artist beyond comfortable limits.” This is how I experience it. I feel, on stage, that the audience is making me, just as I am making them, in an act of shared, primordial creation.
As a consequence of this, Florencia, our fans have grown to be uniquely devotional, that is to say, devotional to the transcendent experience itself, just as the Bad Seeds and I are more devotional to the audience and their needs. We are all just completely needed and in need.
And, You, from Xx, whoever you are and wherever you may be, be careful with that third Nick Cave fan you’re kinda involved with. Be nice. Treasure her or him. They are indeed kind and special people, full of a formidable beauty and may just end up being the very best part of you.
Nick said earlier this year that he has a new Bad Seeds album is "nearly finished."