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

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THE FIRST BORN IS DEAD
(Mute, 1985)
The band’s obsession with American music leads to a plan to make a blues record. With interesting consequences.

Cave: “The idea of that record was that we were going to make a blues record. We were all – and I know Blixa was – listening to a lot of blues music at that time, but I don’t think any of us knew how to play blues music. I certainly didn’t know. I only played the piano, and I didn’t have a clue how to play blues music on the piano. I wouldn’t have a clue now.”
Harvey: “Some of the songs were half written, on the first couple of albums – we’d go in and work them out in the studio. Some of them were very sketchy: we’d put down a weird bit of something and start working on it. Nick would have lyrics, so often it would push the music in a particular direction, and we’d just start doing it, you know?”
Cave: “What songs are on that record? ‘Tupelo’? I have an idea we recorded some of this in a studio in Soho somewhere, but I could be completely wrong about that. It’s a good idea to talk to Mick Harvey, who was relatively sober. We started off making a blues album which ended up being nothing like a blues album at all.”
Harvey: “It became an exercise in trying to find something elemental in that kind of music and the atmospheres of that kind of music, going really deeply into that side of it, rather than going into the styles of that type of music as a genre.”
Cave: “Lyrically there’s an obvious influence, but you can’t call them blues lyrics either – they’re way too florid and congested, as all my records are.”

  1. 1. Introduction
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