Nick Cave Plants New Bad Seeds

Excerpted from the magazine for

Tired of being bound by the traditional major-label album-tour-album cycle, Nick Cave marks a new chapter in his career -- one focused on spontaneity and capturing of-the-moment energy -- with the release of he and the Bad Seeds' Anti-/Epitaph debut, "Nocturama," out Tuesday (Feb. 11).

A mix of Cave's piano balladry with more rollicking tunes reminiscent of his work with goth heroes the Birthday Party, "Nocturama" is the first of three albums Cave and the Bad Seeds plan to issue over the next three years. Each album, he notes, will be released in February.

"We were sick of having to wait three years," Cave says, referring to the major-label promotion routine. "You record the record, then there's this massive amount of promotion you have to do, and a fucking tour ... the whole cycle is so long."

Like "Nocturama" -- recorded in a week without any overdubs -- each album will be written and recorded quickly, he adds. The idea, Cave says, is to "do it like they used to. In the old days they used to do two a year, some of those people, and they were great records. [Bob] Dylan is a great example. 'John Wesley Harding' was recorded in two hours -- and mixed; we haven't got quite to that point, but to me it's amazing. And Van Morrison's 'Astral Weeks' took two days, and there's a beautiful and important record."

With this being their 12th album together, Cave says he and the Bad Seeds have reached a point where the thrill of the studio has dissipated, where they are no longer tempted to indulge themselves in the studio, thus clogging up songs with unnecessary information.

Actually, on the 10-track "Nocturama," they've begun doing just the opposite. While the group abides by an unwritten, anti-overdub law -- "If you can't sit down and play it live, then it doesn't get on the record," Cave says -- for the sprawling "Babe, I'm On Fire," the version of the song that appears on the album is the recording of the only time the band ever played the entire 15-minute, album-ending cut.

"We played it all together for three minutes and it was like, 'Alright, that's it. 1-2-3,' and we taped it, and that's the only time we ever played the thing." (The first 40,000 copies of "Nocturama" will include a DVD video of the song.)

Cave says approaching recording this way creates a "sense of adventure about the actual playing of the music, the sense of, 'Who knows what's going to happen, who knows even what kind of version we're going to do?' " He notes, "There's a sense of imminent collapse within ["Babe I'm On Fire"], like it's just struggling to stay together, which gives it a beautiful kind of tension."

Excerpted from the Feb. 15, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the members section.

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