I hear you have a new novel coming out
One thing you will not learn from the
following conversation that nonetheless deserves mentioning: even at
11:30 in the morning in a midtown Manhattan hotel room, Nick Cave
still dresses like it’s 2 a.m. on a riverboat casino. (Dapper dark
suit, several large necklaces and no less than three large rings, in
case you’re curious.) Although he has been on the road supporting
this year’s full-throttle rock record, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!,
multitasking apparently comes to him as easily as lushly nocturnal
songwriting. In addition to touring, Cave is working on a both a new
script and a new score for cinematic partner John Hillcoat, who
previously directed 2006’s outback epic The Proposition from
a script written by Cave. As if that weren’t enough, next year he
will release his first novel since 1989’s Southern Gothic tale And
the Ass Saw the Angel. When Paste caught up with him, Cave
was cordial, discussing his upcoming projects, time-management
techniques and when we can expect a new album from his side project,
I hear you have a new novel coming out
Paste: I hear you have a
new novel coming out.
Cave: Well, its coming out
should find that out, actually. It’s coming out next year. I write
on tour, late at night after the shows, after the parties and all
that kind of thing. I go back to my room and just sort of sit there
and write. I have no idea how to describe it. It’s about a
Paste: I’ll have to
read it to find out, I guess?
Cave: You have to read it, mate.
It’s not like The Ass Saw The Angel, put it that way. It’s
very contemporary. It’s extremely contemporary.
Paste: I was surprised to
hear you had the time to write. You’ve had two albums in two years,
plus plenty of touring and your recent film work. Do you really have
to discipline yourself and try to get some writing done every night?
Cave: It’s not discipline;
it’s just a love of doing something, you know? Some people love to
masturbate. They do it all the time, compulsively. It’s not like a
discipline; they just feel a certain need to do it. I’m a little
bit like that with the writing, I get back [at] three in the morning
or whenever it is from when I’ve been doing a gig or whatever, and
I come back and sit up and write away. It’s quiet. I’ve been
doing it on the tour bus as well; that’s not quiet. But the novel
is something where you enter a world that’s unique from the world
that you live in, and I’m able to do that. I’m able to just sort
of find a way in there very quickly and work.
But a lot of what I do, it’s about
the form more than what I’m actually writing about. It’s about
the idea of writing a film script, let’s say, or a film score or a
novel or whatever. The process is kind of interesting to me, to see
ways in which this sort of thing could be done. And I did set out to
write a novel, which is seen as this grand thing, in the time that
in the back of taxicabs going to the airport, let’s say.
It’s all done in long hand. On tour buses, in the middle of the
night, breakfast. I was just writing the thing the whole time. And it
worked really well. I got it done really quickly.
Paste: You wrote it in
Cave: Yeah. Then I put it into a
Paste: Speaking of film
work, do you have any script work coming up?
Cave: Yeah, I do. I finished
this, and now I have a script to write for John Hillcoat, which is an
American story. It’s already a novel called The Wettest Country
In The World [by Matt Bondurant]...
Paste: So, you’re
adapting it to film.
Cave: Yeah, that’s a whole
different thing, I’m not sure how that’s going to go. We shall
Paste: The Proposition
was your own work, so this looks like its going to be a new challenge
Cave: Yeah, it has a different
appeal. It feels a little more like a job, then something that’s
actually coming out of your own head. But thankfully this book is so
good, the dialogue is so great and the story is so strong and unique,
in that respect it’ll be a real pleasure to do.
Paste: Did you read the
book and campaign to write the script?
Cave: No, the production company
wanted John to direct it and me to write it, and it’s such a good
story, and it's set in the ’30 or something.
Paste: I hear you and
Warren Ellis are working on a score for The Road?
Cave: We’ve finished that,
pretty much. We’ve got a few more days after we finish this tour to
put some strings on it and stuff like that, but [it’s] really
Paste: When writing
novels and writing scripts and working on music for films, do you
learn anything that you take back to music?
Cave: Yeah, totally, all the
time. Because to do a score, particularly, you’re forced to write
music that you wouldn’t normally write, because you are writing
music for something else. For someone else, as well, and the movie
that you are working on requires a certain type of music or certain
sounds, and you have to find those sounds or find those melodies and
find those moods, and they don’t necessarily correspond to what you
would normally do in your own songwriting, and by doing that, some of
those things could be quite successful and then you kind of bring
them over into your main work, or my main work, which is writing
songs and making records.