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Nick Cave's Love In [1994] Juice Magazine Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 August 2006
Australia's dark prince of rock lightens up on his new disc Let Love In.In his adopted home of Brazil, Cave and Mark Mordue lock horns, hymns and hugs.

Mordue: Could you describe for us a favourite walk you take in Sao Paolo,Brazil?

Cave: Well, I make my favourite walk daily. Which is up to my local bar.Out the door, up the street, past the junkyard where the chickens and theold junkyard dog sits. And up a steep hill to my favourite bar, SanPedro's. There's this giant barman there who is the fattest guy I've everseen. He is constantly described by locals as a huge woman, but he's a manwith a moustache. He looks more like a giant baby to me. I sit there andread, drink, and contemplate the meaning of life. Then I walk back down.

M: So what were you reading at the time of Let Love In? I waswondering about literary influences on the lyrics.

C: I draw influences from everywhere, in terms of a line that willexcite me - and maybe a song will develop out of it. It can often come fromthe worst airport novel you could ever find. It doesn't necessarily have tobe good literature to be inspiring. I couldn't tell you what I was readingat the time. I read three, four books a week.

M: 'Let Love In' is a very positive and celebratory statement.

C: It's supposed to be. There isn't much irony in it, although peoplehave expressed that interpretation of the title. It's the idea of lettinglove in and experiencing what love has to give. It's not necessarily allgood - but it's all worthwhile.

M: What about the lines in the first single, Do you Love Me? "I stacked allaccomplishments beside her/Yet they seemed so obsolete and small."

C: Yet I seemed so obsolete and small... Well, I feel that way.That's a very personal song, actually. It's a nice line, I think.

M: Later you say, "Do you love me?/Like I love you?" I think when twopeople are trying to get along, in a way they are trying to make love be thesame. But that is the big miscommunication.

C: Yeah, yeah, that sounds okay. (Laughs) I was really going to trynot to go into what the songs are about. I did that with Henry's Dreamand I always regretted it.

M: How come?

C: I think it demystifies everything. It's like an actor talking abouthis role in a film. If he does a good job of acting it, you don't need himsitting there on some entertainment program talking about what his characteris supposed to be. I always find that immensely irritating. I just didn'twant to have to spell out the songs, that's all I'm trying to say.

M: I'm not necessarily asking that of you. I'm just interested inusing them as points to leap off into discussion. Jangling Jack reallyjumped out at me as the album's sing-a-long track.

C: That was written very quickly. And I hope it sounds like it. It'sabout an Englishman going to America and getting shot. It's my little odeto America. I deliberately wanted it to be as throwaway and as short aspossible. So the only way I could record the song was if I could make it inunder three minutes. We had to pare it down and down and down. It's abouttwo minutes, fifty. It's just a hateful little track about a certain aspectof America which disgusts me.

M: In Jangling Jack I also got an impression of you hating a man beingcool and excessively confident.

C: Well Jangling Jack isn't the object of hatred in it. It's the guywho kills him actually... It's just a quick, throwaway song.

M: Loverman was the other song that I got into. When my friend and Iwere listening to it, he described it as 'a real togs-off rock & roll song'.

C: (Laughs) I don't know about a 'togs-off rock & roll song'. Verybriefly, it's about a guy or person destroyed by his life, feeling that hecan become something if he is rejuvenated by the object of his desire. It'sa flailing mess of a song. And of course he can't be.

M: So you don't think a woman can redeem a lost man?

C: (Laughs) I think it's a myth, but who knows?

M: I like the incantation at the end: "I am what I am what I am..." Itreminded me of some cartoon character.

C: I think it's Popeye: "I am what I am what I am".

M: I love the simplicity of the opening to She's Nobody's Baby Now,where you talk about trying to "unravel the mystery of Jesus Christ, theSaviour". It made me wonder about the first time you had a notion of whatJesus was in your life? And then maybe you rejected that in your upbringing?

C: You want me to talk about that?

M: Yeah, if you could.

C: Well, the line is in a verse in which someone is trying to work outwhy he isn't with a woman anymore. But at some point along the way I hadsome vague religious notions about things. I still read the Bible a lot.And I still think that Jesus Christ is an extremely enigmatic and excitingfigure. But I can't really get my teeth around the resurrection and thevirgin birth. I mean, I just can't believe that. I look at him objectivelythese days.

M: So you don't find yourself becoming more religious?

C: I don't find myself becoming religious at all.

M: A song that made me laugh was Lay Me Low, about when you die. Andthe cavalcade of cars and the six page feature articles that will bewritten. It made me wonder if you ever fantasised about having one of yoursongs played at your own funeral?

C: No, I don't. I've never thought about it.

M: Never thought about a song in particular? Or never thought about dying?

C: I've thought about dying. Everyone has thought about dying! Butno, I haven't made a list of songs I want played at my funeral. I haven'twritten all my good songs yet, so that would be a bit premature. I'm notplanning on dying in the near future.

M: Is Let Love In a breakthrough for you?

C: Every record has its difficulties. Mostly for me it's in the actualwriting of the songs, and this was equally difficult. There was as muchpanic and fear that I wouldn't have it done as there was with any otherrecord. But once the songs were recorded it fell together so easily. And Ibelieve that is because we worked with people we knew, and who understoodour work. Especially Tony Cohen, the guy who produced it with me. We knewthat we were doing something that was going to be good. Right from theearly stages, the foundations of the record were really strong. We didn'trelax at any point, but we could play around with stuff a lot more. And itwas a lot more of a creative experience than the last one (Henry's Dream).

M: Tony Cohen must be amazingly talented - producing the Cruel Sea'sThe Honeymoon is Over, Dave Graney's Night of the Wolverine, and nowthis. He apparently brings out the best in people.

C: He has an understanding. He knows what to do, and gets on with it.And he's great with sounds. He enjoys making offensive records, I think.He just enjoys it. It's not a job to him.

M: There's a real energy to this record, more so than for a long time.I wonder if you wanted to come out towards your audience more, and seducethem, invite them in at the same time? Some of your records aren't easy toapproach, but there's something inviting and playable about Let Love In.

C: With Henry's Dream I wanted to make an incredibly aggressiverecord with acoustic instruments - a raw, nasty record. And it isn't that.It's basically a rock record - and not much more - and that's not what Iwanted to make at all. Let Love In has a wide range of song styles, thereisn't such a concrete idea about it. The songs are joined very closetogether lyrically. But musically it's quite diverse.

M: Have you gone through times when you've thought, "Is my talentslipping? Are things falling apart? Do I have the strength to be the kindof performer that I used to be?" And with these questions, were you lookingto refocus your power with Let Love In?

C: I've always gone through that feeling. I've always been in a panicabout these issues. Right from The Birthday Party. I used to approach eachrecord with a great fear - that it wouldn't be accomplished enough orwhatever. And it continues. It's always very difficult for me to writesongs, and I don't expect that will ever change.

M: Why is it so difficult? The image, in spite of the songs havingtheir work, is that they do pour out.

C: Or fall out of the sky? Well, they don't. It takes me ages,months, to write a song. Occasionally I get what I describe as 'given' asong, where you just suddenly find you've written a song and you don't knowhow or where it comes from, but it sounds okay. Normally, songs take a verylong time to write, and a lot of consideration. With the artwork for thisrecord, behind the actual lyrics I've tried to put various pages from theworking process of the songs. They're like a backdrop to each lyric,showing how much writing goes on. Some of them have ten, twenty verses, toend up being a three verse song. I'm always very finicky about that side ofthings. Probably too finicky. I guess that's a strength and a weakness atthe same time.

M: There is such a thing as letting your conversational expression tellthe story that needs to be told, and forgetting about the style or technique.

C: Yeah. I Let Love In is like that. And Red Right Hand wasalmost completely improvised at the moment of actually singing it. But theother ones, like the two Do You Love Mes took ages to write. I don'tthink any one song is better than the other. I just think you have to getto a point, one way or another.

M: Currently I'm perfecting hunching over at the right moment onLoverman and singing along to it, or doing "Do-da-de-doo" down the streetto Jangling Jack. I really do love this record, I think it's a beauty.

C: I love it too. I'm really very happy with it. I've survived inSao Paolo for two months now. Usually by the end of the first month,because I just sit here and do nothing really, I'm champing at the bit toget out and start working again. Which is a basic panic thing that I getinto. But here I am, sitting back with this, because I feel like I've really done something worthwhile with this record.

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