The singer, songwriter and author, Nick Cave, is now nothing short of a cult legend.
Through exclusive concert footage, rare archive and his most candid television interview ever, The South Bank Show looks at the extraordinary songwriting world of this most unique of artists.
God, the Old Testament, murder, drug addiction, Southern gothic, Johnny Cash, Nina Simone, bluebells and, most importantly, love are just some of the elements that feed into the prolific repertoire of the 45-year-old Cave.
When Cave and his band, The Birthday Party, arrived in Britain in the early 80’s, they became the Aussie bad boys of post-Punk Britain. Their concerts were orgies of self-hatred, audience disdain and ear-bleeding intensity.
A skeletal and confrontational front man, Cave's lifestyle was as extreme as his performances and he seemed to be heading for a Sid Vicious-style, drug-fuelled implosion.
However, beside Cave’s violent persona and desire for self-destruction lurked a serious musician and, after the break-up of The Birthday Party in 1983, and the formation of a new band, The Bad Seeds, his true talents as a songwriter started to emerge.
He also began to write screenplays and, during a five year, drug-addled residency in Berlin (“he was the reigning King of Darkness” – Wim Wenders), Cave penned his debut novel, And The Ass Saw The Angel.
Yet he did not abandon his songwriting and during this period wrote some of his most acclaimed music, including the “Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds standard”, The Mercy Seat - a song combining harsh Old Testament morality, a man pondering his mortality and power-rock chords - a typical, potent, Cavean concoction.
Today, 20 years after forming The Bad Seeds, Cave is considered to be one of the most acclaimed songwriters of his generation. However, despite years of self-loathing, drug abuse and itinerant living, Cave now views himself primarily as a writer of love songs – with a difference.
Says Cave, “…for me, the great love songs…are the ones that have in them an ache. It’s this ache that gives it its depth. It’s the melancholy…’ . This documentary culminates with Cave's own idiosyncratic take on this most traditional of pop-song genres.
With contributions from Wim Wenders, Will Self and members of Cave's legendary backing band, The Bad Seeds, this is the ultimate guide to one of rock’s most unique and enduring contemporary songwriters.
You can find out more about Nick Cave at his website, www.nickcaveandthebadseeds.com