Nick Cave on Vampires, Dragons, & The Sick Bag Song


despite what a lot of people say I’m not actually a vampire yeah you didn’t rescue the dragon or I didn’t find a dragon Nick Cave understands the contradictions of the heart of rock and roll this is why for my money he is both true rock and roll star but also an iconoclast of the genre he is probably one of the finest lyricist working in popular music today more importantly in 2015 is delivered a heavyweight livery statement in the form of the sick bags on his new book published by calico this spring Nick that’s mania hi the sick bag song is a road poem / horror story think The Hitcher meets the Book of Psalms meets John Berryman meets a bit of Indian is mo meets the wasteland meets blues meets Nosferatu meets Marilyn Monroe Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin and anyone else who’s drowned in their own sick the sick bag song it’s a Ron seal title it does what it says on the tin it is a song or maybe you’d say an epic poem written on sick bags do you want to tell us where this idea came from it basically happened because I was involved in a kind of experiment if I actually stated something out loud with enough conviction it might come true and I was having trouble writing some songs and I thought on this American tour which was 22 dates I would write 10 songs and so I was on the plane going to Nashville and I thought you know I’ve got better start writing these songs and I didn’t have a notebook so I grabbed the sick bag as one does out of the back of the seat and started to write my first song which I called for one of a better title the sick bag song at some point through five or six sick bags into the exercise I started to realize I was writing a poem and not a song and that was a huge leap for me because I have always had a terror of writing poetry once I’d realized that I was writing a poem and the kind of strictures of writing a song the economy of writing a song was lifted off me I started to ride a lot it sort of opened the gates to something that I hadn’t done before the conceit in a way is that it’s this guy on tour who bears a striking resemblance to myself that’s kind of musing on all manner of things on some small level it’s a tour diary because it goes from town to town but it’s really about other things with you writing poetry is this for want of a better phrase a leap into the unknown you know for me there was song writing which I felt I could do and I’ve written hundreds of songs but poetry was always something up up there it was on another on another level I felt like I was a kind of imposter I always feel like I’m kind of dabbling in something that I don’t really know that much about this can cause a lot of anxiety but it also can be quite a freeing there’s a sort of ignorant and naivety about the process of writing something that you’re not really supposed to be doing so the book opens with you as a young boy standing on a bridge facing a very serious dilemma I was wondering if you could explain what our dilemma was is myself as a as a boy and this is a true memory as much as memories these sorts of things can be true a young boy climbs a riverbank he steps onto a railway bridge he is 12 years old the boy starts to run along the tracks he arrives in the middle of the bridge he stands on the edge and looks down at the muddy river below and this becomes I guess a kind of metaphor I guess that runs through the the book about this decision that’s made as an artist whether you are willing to kind of leap into something it leap into the unknown very quickly we realize that it’s not a boy is the memory of a boy running through the mind of a man in a suite at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Nashville Tennessee who is being injected in the thigh the steroid shot that will transform the jetlag fluid and singer into updated I think it’s important that the book is written on sick bags it is a looker in some ways at the aging process and your own mortality isn’t it basically the sick bag in this in this extended poem becomes this thing that everything gets put into right yeah so it has a physical representation of the bag and I’m often looking inside the sick bag the sick bag that I’m filling up through these 22 dates and inside the sick bag is everything that I loved and loathed my influences and the people that I that I kind of worship in a way the people have had huge impact on me over the years I was interested to see the poet the revered 20th century poet John Berryman crop up and I was wondering to what extent he’s kind of playful and sometimes quite funny confessional style of poetry has been an influence on you anytime a new crew well he’s been a huge influence you know there’s a definite nod to the dream songs takes very ordinary things that are happening in his live and articulates them in some way that they become these kind of massive incidences basically what I do in songwriting is to take the smallest of instances of gestures of things that happen that that are that are small and ordinary things and kind of inflating them and making them kind of epic in some way and the idea of being on tour and having certain anxieties about what’s going on at home becomes the kind of engine of this particular book because my wife isn’t answering the phone throughout throughout this when you got to the end of the tour whose was all you had 22 sick bags you know the sick bags that are basically the kind of notes of that day but I had started writing the the poem I took my kids away into France somewhere and it was kind of writing it crab-like on the side pretending I wasn’t doing any work but and a lot of it got done then so each chapter starts with a bag a sick bag and with the notes on it and then there’s the there’s the sort of the relevant poem I spoke to your publisher he told me that it went through an incredibly intense editing period I in my way I got very excited about the idea of doing this very early on I took a photograph of two of these bags which had a couple of things scribbled on them and kind of sent a a message to him saying um that I’m writing this thing I don’t know what it is it’s called the sick bag song his two sick bags will you publish it and and Jamie goes well right-back going well maybe it needs a little developing as an idea before I kind of commit and I believe there’s like a very special edition is walking his house were those there is 220 limited edition versions ten for each city it also has a sick bag which I’ve written onto and designed which is taken forever I’ve just finished writing a book I don’t want to draw an equivalence but what I will say about it was I found it one of the most distressing and unpleasant experiences of my life I wouldn’t wish write in a book on my worst enemy yet you’ve written three do you see yourself doing it again yeah I mean I’m sorry to hear that and I’m sure maybe the second one won’t be like that I’ve always found writing books to be really pleasurable because you you’re kind of pursuing one idea once you’ve got the idea once you’ve kind of got over the hurdle of what you’re going to write what the things going to be about you’re kind of often running I find whether they’re any good or not I don’t know but I’ve always found the writing of books to be something of that I’ve been able to kind of disappear into do you not find it contradictory the fact that somebody who’s so prolific is you seems to spend so much time worrying of our inspiration songwriting is is is really fraught with dread the whole the whole thing because because there’s a sort of history of songwriting and there’s all these songs that are kind of breathing down my neck that I don’t want my new songs to be like for me the process of being able to continue to work is of absolute importance to me and there’s the kind of complacency that goes with repetition if you start writing the same thing over and over again you get complacent you get bored and eventually the work suffers so the anxiety comes about for me about finding a new voice each time or at least finding a new way of saying perhaps the same things my current favorite from the sick bag pages is a jihadist rides a unicorn into a cafe in Jerusalem or on the actual printed pages on the next table a homo antecessor female in sequin Stetson scoops the brains out of her husband’s decapitated head the part of the book that I really enjoyed writing this was that kind of riff on professional vampirism the idea that we’re all sucking off everybody else to put it that’s probably not the right way to said 26 years previously you know we did have another look at the Bad Seeds on tour but it couldn’t have been more different it was the kind of the road film the road to God knows were a more cynical young man’s look at life on the road but this couldn’t be more different could a road to God knows where I was come to the road to God goes where yeah I was basically straight out of rehab on tour so it was a nightmare yeah I agree with me like you’ve had some experience in this which I’m sure you have but was suddenly I was not drinking and I wasn’t taking drugs and I was on a tour of America things are different for me now first of all I enjoy going on tour a lot more these days than maybe I used to especially in America that feel like a whole different thing than we’ve done and I think that we’ve ever done mostly because a lot of younger people I guess bought this last record for some reason God knows why but they did they don’t give a about Tupelo and the mercy seat and all that sort of stuff they just want to hear the new stuff and they they don’t have they haven’t invested anything and so there’s this kind of excitement that’s going on it’s changing the bad seats in a very profound way quite wisely you know you don’t invite people into your house to see the real Nick Cave at home washing the car or doing the dishes or any of that stuff for Mike well I don’t do that yeah of course not because you’re a vampire who keeps dragons like anyone who buys like you know the seatback song or goes to see 20,000 days on earth expecting to see the real use it’s kind of like either mistaken or an idiot has it become easier over the years for you to curate the Nick Cave miss is it kind of self-sustaining now I guess the word myth suggested it’s not real you know if you invest enough time and enough attention to something you become that thing there’s no going back this kind of idea that someone can come into your house and see behind the mask I think for a lot of people in my profession that the mask just doesn’t it just doesn’t come off just what it is there’s not there is nothing behind the mask a colleague of mine claims I was working in a bookshop once and you came in and said in a really thunderous way where do you keep the Bibles and the more I think about it or I think about this the more it cracks I need one yeah where are they I think like everyone knows that they do know that the Good Book has had a maybe profound influence on your life as an artist over the years I think you know that there was there’s a for me there was a lot of beauty in the Bible but there was a lot of horror too and this some hopping voice that goes through the Bible that I found really interesting of you must do this and you must you should not do that and I find that kind of bizarre up instructional text quite interesting I mean it actually looks it’s designed to look like a sort of instructional manual of some sort and there’s a kind of riff going through the book that becomes like part motivational manual or part instructional manual in a similar way just some of the stuff in the Bible I guess I think the book is genuinely very deeply touching does your wife Susie like it shouldn’t read it really oh you seem to suggest in it that you might get a flack from a depending on different things I was wondering are you a district or over your lyrics no no she doesn’t but she’s she’s very connected to those songs not just that a lot of the songs are about her if she recognizes where these songs are coming from which is what which is what I’m talking about these tiny ordinary moments between a husband and wife let’s say that becomes songs and become much greater greater things but she also understands that it’s not a lot that goes on between us that I’m not prepared to write about in some kind of way the process of writing is so anxiety-ridden especially about the idea of having nothing to write about that you just got to write about everything that’s given to you you can’t kind of pick and choose a fine well I’ve got so absolute pleasure reading this book I really thoroughly enjoyed it thanks very much Roger thank you you

100 thoughts on “Nick Cave on Vampires, Dragons, & The Sick Bag Song

  1. In did América is the land of opportunities , there's a market to everyone, is so easy to sell, what for me is rubbish for others is gold, I'm really sorry because I live in such lousy country. That's why not many people emigrate from America out , and millions emigrate from other country's in , the same England…fuck why did I had to come my lousy country after the war…so many talent , no one never will even heard about me or others

  2. Nick Cave was born where I live, the only reason I'm here to see if he says anything about it.

  3. Fuck me, most people in this comment section have no idea. Nick Cave has influenced so many legendary artists, and if they were here they'd be the first ones to tell you. He's one of the best lyricists ever. If you don't like his music, fine, but you sound like the people who were asking who this Paul McCartney guy is when he did that thing with Kanye. Dummmmmbbbbb people who can't appreciate REAL fucking legend. Nick's lived the life and his songs will chill your fucking blood, they're so well-written. I'm not even a fanboy, but who the fuck doesn't know about Nick Cave? Why are there so many dumbshits in the world? 

  4. Nick Cave is an ass clown. He's Australian but writes a book about the American South: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_the_Ass_Saw_the_Angel . Nick Cave is like the Iggy Azalea of Southern Gothic novellas. What's with Australians and their detachable identities? It's disturbing. Vice should do a story on the Australian detachable identity. I thought Robert Downey, Jr. as Kirk Lazarus in "Tropic Thunder" put a stop to Australians doing this type of thing. Evidently not. 

  5. Wow.   Judging by the comments, what a bunch of douche bags that have watched this video.  

  6. Thoroughly enjoyed this interview, but what's up with all the bastard comments? It's Nick Cave, take it or leave it. Vice has a fucking garbage userbase. Grow up or leave.

  7. All I have to say is, if you found this video boring, then it wasn't for you.  Derp.  Good interview, Vice.  John, you did a very good job with this.

  8. Nick Cave is one of my favorite artists. He seems very honest… I have read some of the comments below. Its quite sad to see all the jealous pimple butts talking shit about a guy who has made it 10 times over while you die off in obscurity… 

  9. Yesterday I was totally drunk while watching this interview after coming home and try to snooze away. But Iwas constantly asking myself "Why is Nick Cave interviewing himself?" 😀

  10. A vampire that keeps dragons? Can we run with this idea in a movie somewhere?

  11. kinda thought this clip would be about a satanic heroin junky who pukes into a bag.

  12. I didn't watch the video. I just came here to tell you that this looks really, really uninteresting.

  13. I didnt know why but i thpught of the movie scream and i was right the song red right hand was from him

  14. Say what you will about Nick Cave but give him credit for working endlessly since he began his career in the late seventies early eighties and at times produced some seriously great work and don't take my word for it because the people who approve of his work know more about what makes it good than those who negatively criticise it. It seems to some degree that he's aware of and plays off of the myth and legend that precedes him, to satisfy the fans and to annoy the anti-cavers. (Note: "seems")

  15. Apart from being an amazing songwriter, being in kick ass bands (Birthday Party, Bad Seeds), he's also into writing screenplays (The Proposition) and original film score (Assassination of Jesse James).

    So, what the fuck have YOU done lately?

  16. I'm fucking disgusted by some of the simpletons in this world. Nick cave is the fucking man, he's completely open in this interview. Thoroughly enjoyed it start to finish, some of you trashy fucking hicks talking shit about such a great honest artist please stop wasting precious oxygen and die

  17. Ignoring the fuckton of astounding songs and written words in this guy's catalog, he is still a million times cooler than any of us can ever hope to be just for those one or two scenes from Get In The Van.

    Save for a few spot-on remarks, the comment section here reads like the twitter feed of some waffle house waitress from a Bill Hicks joke. Learn the difference between British and Australian, egotistic and revelatory. At least then your criticisms will sound intelligent.

  18. The book looks interesting. I'll probably read it.

    And I rather enjoyed the airplane setting, it fit the topic.

  19. So much strife in the comments for this video. I think Nick Cave can come across, to some people, as being arrogant. Me, I don't know what he's really like and I don't see why it should matter. All I know is he has written many songs that have touched me in some way or another. I've been listening to Push The Sky Away a lot lately. There's so much in there, it's a great album IMO.

  20. I wish Nick Cave and John Doran had sat on the seats next to each other, faces inches away. I feel this interview lacked intimacy and awkwardness

  21. Great interview – thanks guys and thanks to both John and Nick for being soooo authentic ! 😉

  22. why is Nick Cave such a sweet soul? Like i've been fan of his music but this is the first time i've seen an interview of him. He looks at the interviewer straight in the eyes when he's talking, pays attention and everything he responds is so interesting to me.

    "there is nothing behind the mask" my favorite part hands down.

  23. I am 23 I love the old stuff and the new stuff and I am buying this book now.

  24. Amo incondicionalmente a este sujeto oscuro. No tiene idea de cómo me ayudó a sobrellevar muchas cosas.

  25. A lot people in the comment section seem to hate the guy passionately, like he fucked their women or something lol

  26. An interview is self indulgent at it's core. It's the only social situation where your obligation to the interviewer and audience is to talk about yourself, you are the focus. You could argue that any participant in an interview is an egotistical narcissist.

  27. shit! i hope the bad seeds aren't touring in that big ol' jet airliner!

  28. cant watch the tv vice channel no mo
    alwys has the overweight cooking o so kool guy….
    sad

  29. He seems like a nice guy but his music is an acquired taste as far as I'm concerned.

  30. Well I'm a bad motherfucker don't ya know, that I'd crawl over 50 good pussies just to get to one fat boys asshole………said Stagger Lee

  31. Used to like him, untill he played the Apartheid state Isra hell for big bucks, what a sellout !

  32. John Doran is the most under appreciated writer/music critic. He really pulls the best conversations out of any artist he talks to.

  33. anyone that doesnt see the humour in caves position doesnt understand his australian backround.

  34. Weird to hear this start without “My name is John Doran and I write about music”

  35. I for one would love to have the old stuff AND the new stuff. I'd be lucky if I could spend my own money on the music I love. Nick Cave is one of the geniuses of our time.

  36. Nick Cave sold out to Apartheid Israel.
    For him, money came out ahead of supporting the struggle for human rights and justice.
    The world will remember.

  37. Nick Cave to me has long been the greatest musician and lyricist. To others that is Dylan, since 1988 Nick Cave been that to me.

  38. @10:14.
    "We're all sucking off everybody else"….Nick laughs at his own funny choice of words.

  39. The man is one of history's greatest poets. Most of our bands inspiration is rooted from Nick's work. Story telling lyrics with the musical tone of post punk and God condemned country ballads. Southern nights cursed by storm clouds that baptize good folks in the ink of sinners. Without him and the Bad Seeds, the modern Folk Noir movement might not exist. <3 Mr. Cave

  40. All Cave stuff after Boatman & Murder Ballads Suuuuuuuu uh uh ooh ah ah uh uh ucks….
    Lame washed up half-bright
    Sad sack looking hair plug wearing fool. His last good tour was on that “Best Of” album/Video. You should see what that fool looks like up close on 3 hits of double dipped blotter…He’s weird looking enough when yr straight. “Tender Prey”, “Kicking against the Pricks”
    “Henry’s Dream” that’s the good dope. He’s a weird old lady now….

  41. Mainstream Cave is bullshit!

    But Nick E. Cave is grandeur! Artist no 1 in the world!

    Realy NC is in the twelve-thirteen oldest albums!!! Including The Birthday Party period!

    He was true frend (not in really) over the years of my fall!

    Nick, please, do not be eaten by the "cultural establishment"!!!

    Be the hero like when you rejected a nomination for MTV!

    Do not abandon The Bad Seeds!!!

  42. The Secret Life of the Love Song is a must-listen for any fan. Seek it out.

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