Nick Cave and Mick Harvey discuss their career from the Birthday Party “crossover” of From Her To Eternity onwards...

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In this archive feature from Uncut’s March 2009 issue (Take 142), Cave and Mick Harvey discuss their career, album by album – from the Birthday Party “crossover” of From Her To Eternity, to the “general chaos” of Abattoir Blues/Lyre Of Orpheus…

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On the telephone the day before his December 2008 tour begins, Nick Cave seems drily amused by the prospect of a discussion of some of his many works with his longstanding group, The Bad Seeds. As it turns out, however, both he and founder Seed Mick Harvey are expansive with their recollections of the band’s gothic Americana – even if Cave, particularly, is surprised to remember much at all. “When you wake up with a hangover and wonder what you did last night,” he says, “there’s always that sort of feeling around my records…”

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FROM HER TO ETERNITY
(Mute, 1984)
Their previous band dead, if not yet cold, former Birthday Party members Nick Cave and Mick Harvey return with guitarist Blixa Bargeld and kindred spirit Barry Adamson. Their first album establishes a palette of theatrical arrangements and dark Americana, enduring mainstays of the band’s sound.

Nick Cave: “The Birthday Party very much had its end – I went back to Australia and I think we did a few shows without Mick Harvey, who basically broke up The Birthday Party, in the sense that he made the phone call to say, ‘I don’t think The Birthday Party should go on any longer.’”
Mick Harvey: “It’s attributed to me. It was me who said ‘we should can it, really’ – and initially Nick and Roland [S Howard, Birthday Party guitarist] agreed with me unreservedly. But afterwards, they started to get cold feet and carry it on a bit longer. I kind of blithely charged off into the unknown, I didn’t really care.”
Cave: “I think for maybe a year I just kind of wandered around Melbourne, and then Mick found me and suggested starting another band, and that ended up being the Bad Seeds. The consequence of that was that it became much more of a lyrically driven affair, because I felt that at the beginning of the Bad Seeds that was where my strength was, and it’s taken me longer to get a handle on music.”
Harvey: “There was no template at all, there was no preconception of what kind of album was going to come out at the other end. I think the last [Birthday Party] shows were in April. We mixed [last Birthday Party release] the ‘Mutiny’ EP in August, and we were in there recording by September – there was kind of a crossover.”
Cave: “What happened was we went in to the studio without any kind of idea of what band we were or might be, we just wanted to get together and make a record – we didn’t know how we were going to sound, and that was really exciting. It’s one of my favourite records because of that – you can hear a band attempting to discover something about themselves. When you make a record the wisdom is that you get the bugs out, and then you make the record – well, all the bugs are well and truly in there, and I love it because of that.”

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