Deirdre O Callaghan Nick Cave never struck us as the sentimental type, but it…
- Posted on Sep 10th 2010 12:15PM by Julian Marszalek
Spinner is sipping tea with Nick Cave and Jim Sclavunos in the ornate surroundings of a Soho members in London to discuss the return of Grinderman, the band made up of four members of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds that, Spinner is assured, is emphatically not a side-project but a band in its own right. Quite so: with Grinderman moving into a more feral territory than the Bad Seeds, the band's second album, 'Grinderman 2,' finds the quartet -- bassist Martyn P. Casey holds down the bottom end -- unleashing the kind of sonic torrents previously thought unimaginable. At times verging on the psychedelic, 'Grinderman 2' builds on the foundations of its predecessor to ensure that band's creative streak remains undimmed.
You said a few years back that the first Grinderman album made an impact on the last Bad Seeds album. Did the last Bad Seeds album make an impact on 'Grinderman 2?'
NC: Everything impacts on everything else.
JS: Everything converges. It converged on the Bad Seeds in a way that shook things up a bit and it gave us a new outlook. We try to make every album as fantastic as it can be and better than the previous one. There's no room for complacency.
NC: We just do the best that we can at the time. I mean, they're just a bunch of records but they're all hugely important to me. I've never been in a studio thinking, 'This record isn't as good as the last one.'
Do you feel the hand of history on your shoulder when making records? You've a massively impressive track record between you all?
NC: Yeah, I do. Because I want to find new places to go to and sometimes it feels like there are less and less of these place to visit. But that's what the creative process is about: it's a determination not to do what you've done before.
'Grinderman 2' has made a huge stylistic leap from the first album. 'When My Baby Comes' is really psychedelic. Was that by accident or design?
JS: That track happened by impulse in the studio.
NC: Yeah, if you listen to that track, Marty really comes through at the end. He kind of nodded off during the recording of that and you can hear his re-awakening at the end; it's a really beautiful moment. The thing about Marty is that he can actually lose consciousness and still know how many bars of music he's been out for. He's a genius.
JS: I wouldn't say that it's a psychedelic record but it has those colourations.
NC: Yeah, it has those elements and it's hallucinatory in places. The guitar wig-outs came about through playing the first Grinderman record live. There just wasn't enough material to fill out a full-length set and so we'd jam a lot of the stuff out and from doing that, that's what's informed the new record. But I enjoyed that element; the guitar is a very forgiving instrument, unlike the piano actually. You play a bum note on a guitar and it's no big deal because you got distortion and stuff all over and that just adds to the general chaos.
Did you the songwriting process differ on this album? The first Grinderman album was quite improvisational...
NC: It was kind of the same but more so. There was more improvisation and I certainly spent more time on these lyrics but I stayed true to the themes that came up through those initial improv sessions.
JS: We spent a bit more time on this record as it was spread out over a broad period of time as we were all quite busy last year what with the Bad Seeds and various festivals. So we had these little pockets of time that meant there was more time to consider the stuff we'd done with some fresh ideas and perspectives. We could certainly meditate and ruminate on our efforts.
The new album is populated by a number of different characters. Are you no longer interested in writing from your own perspective?
NC: They're all written from my perspective as I have no other perspective to write from. There are narrators telling different stories.
How important is humour to Grinderman's records?
NC: Yeah, it's kind of important and I'm a funny guy. That's just the way I write. Humour, to me, is a way of enticing people into what I'm doing; I'm relaxing them.
What kind of artistic freedoms does Grinderman give you that the 'day job' doesn't?
NC: For me, the entire process is different. I mean, I've got to start writing the new Bad Seeds record and that means going to the office, sitting on my own with a blank piece of paper and starting to write lyrics and with Grinderman, I get to bypass all of that. Grinderman is just a joyful experience because I don't have to approach original creation all by myself. With Grinderman, I'm shifting responsibility. But it's really important to me to go through that writing process [for the Bad Seeds] and just sit down and write the considered songs that I do. These are songs that are really important to me and I feel it's a duty to continue to do that.
JS: Because there are four of us involved with Grinderman, we communicate differently with each other than we would in the Bad Seeds. The rapport is more instantaneous and we write more intuitively. It's a more compact band.
Given your ferocious work rates, are you more aware of your mortality and the need to produce new pieces?
JS: I am a bit more.
NC: Only in that sometimes things take longer and that I've got to hang on in there. But I look forward to the day that I don't have to do anything. Do I envisage such a point? Yeah, sure; I'll retire one day when the family are long gone! I'll sit on a beach in Thailand and it'll be great. But at the moment, I really enjoy what I'm doing and it's something that I can't do without but one day I'm going to dispense with the whole lot [of artistic endeavours]. There's a real urgency to what I do and I'm glad that I'm successful at it.
'Grinderman 2' is out in the UK on Monday.