Cave, Nick

Born 1957 in Warracknabeal, Australia, lives in Brighton, UK

Any description of the music of Nick Cave, whose sprawling career covers a period of more than thirty years, is bound to feel incomplete: At times, it is a visceral whirlpool rising from untamed currents, all sound and fury; at other times, it has the subdued grace of something beautiful, broken into pieces. Cave’s complex body of work is full of intensity and unbridled emotions and universal themes: Love, Death, Religion. There is no denying the literary substrate running under Cave’s lyrics: a penchant for southern gothic literature and a tradition of reinterpreting myths, Christian stories and traditional figures. And although his obsessions are not new, the way he makes them his own is what makes his works so powerful: songs of unrequited or broken love, sad eroticism, tales of men and women as flawed as they come; sinners, salvation, surrounded by prophecies, curses, a distant god. Tales filled with the grotesque and the sublime, beauty lying in the margins. A mix of high and low that is also reflected in his music, which merges noise, free jazz, rock and post-punk with more traditional ballads, folk music and orchestral arrangements.

Cave’s longstanding career in music and the arts has resulted in a broad range of output. It all began with his fronting the band The Birthday Party, which gained cult following, including famous DJ John Peel. In 1983, Cave formed the Bad Seeds, the still active mainstay of his musical career, which garnered him significant critical acclaim and a large following. Besides the Bad Seeds, he has engaged in several other projects as well: solo touring, numerous collaborations and more recently his side project Grinderman. Cave has also contributed the music for a number of stage plays and films (along with Bad Seeds member Warren Ellis). In 1988, he published his first book, King Ink. Since then he has published a follow-up, two highly praised novels (by both authors and critics alike), compilations of lyrics, and several screenplays. It is this restlessness that makes Cave a magnetic and endearing figure. His core themes and personal concerns may not have varied much over time, but the form and medium certainly have, and it is tempting to regard Cave’s body of work as his own personal Bible.