Nick Cave Monday #52: The Bad Seeds

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In our last installment of Nick Cave Monday, it is time to pay tribute to the music mafia who are The Bad Seeds.

As you would expect, The Bad Seeds are kind of a supergroup unto themselves. Though not in an awful Chickenfoot type way. Their longevity with the group proves that something definitely works, and members sometimes rotate in and out depending on their schedules with their other bands and projects.

Ladies and gentlemen, The Bad Seeds.

Clockwise: Rowland Wolf, Barry Adamson, Mick Harvey, Blixa Bargeld, Nick Cave

Clockwise: Roland Wolf, Barry Adamson, Mick Harvey, Blixa Bargeld, Nick Cave

On guitar and vocals, Blixa Bargeld. Blixa has his hands in many side projects, and the one he is famous for is Einsturzende Neubauten. Nick saw the band on TV and immediately fell in love. Blixa was part of The Bad Seeds for twenty years, exiting the group in 2003.

Here is Blixa Bargeld fronting his band for the track “Was Ist Ist”:

For The Bad Seeds, Blixa Bargeld sang a handful of songs including “The Weeping Song” from Nick Cave Monday #6.

Blixa Bargeld

Blixa Bargeld

On guitar, bass, drums, vocals, keyboards—shit, if there were ever a kazoo on a Bad Seeds record he made those funny noises—Mick Harvey. Nick’s longest-time collaborator, they went to school together in Australia and started their first band in 1973. About thirty-five years later, he left The Bad Seeds.

Mick Harvey has a long list of production and collaboration credits, including his role on Teenage Snuff Film, the brilliant solo record by Birthday Party member Rowland S. Howard. Harvey has released six solo records. The first two, Intoxicated Man and Pink Elephants, were English translations and covers of Serge Gainsbourg songs. His other releases cover a wide range of artists and when he covers a band, even if it’s The Bad Seeds, he usually does it better.

Here is Mick Harvey with “Hank Williams Said It Best”:

That video was filmed by Uli M Schueppel, who also filmed and directed the Nick Cave documentary The Road To God Knows Where.

Mick Harvey is the drummer featured in the live version of “Fears of Gun” from Nick Cave Monday #49.

Mick Harvey

Mick Harvey

Barry Adamson was around at the beginning of The Bad Seeds. He left the group after the record Your Funeral…My Trial. He is back with The Bad Seeds on the Push The Sky Away tour to fill in for Thomas Wydler. He was also in the influential band Magazine.

As for his solo career, he is a master crooner himself. Here is Barry Adamson singing “Straight ’til Sunrise”:

Barry Adamson is a master of soundtracks and film music, and some of his best stuff is with David Lynch in the film Lost Highway.

Barry Adamson

Barry Adamson

Also in The Bad Seeds’ sleeping-together photo above is Roland Wolf. He also worked with Einsturzende Neubauten, and the lead singer of Crime and the City Solution, Simon Bonney. He died in 1995.

Roland Wolf appears in “The Mercy Seat” video featured in Nick Cave Monday #4.

roland

Here is another era of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds photo:

Clockwise: Thomas Wylder, Mick Harvey, Roland Wolf, Conway Savage, Nick Cave, Blixa Bargeld

Clockwise: Thomas Wylder, Mick Harvey, Martyn Casey, Conway Savage, Nick Cave, Blixa Bargeld

On drums is Thomas Wydler. He joined The Bad Seeds in 1985 and even let Nick live with him in Berlin when Nick was working on his novel And The Ass Saw The Angel. Along with a solo career, he is probably more known for his part in the German band Die Haut.

Here is Die Haut with their song “One Miss”:

Die Haut also recorded some songs with Nick Cave on vocals. Nick Cave Monday #11 features their collaboration on the song “Sad Dark Eyes.”

Thomas is currently ill and not part of the Push The Sky Away tour. We wish you the best, Tommy, and await your full recovery.

Thomas Wydler

Thomas Wydler

On bass is Martyn Casey. If you want sexy bass, you got it. He is also one of the four members of Grinderman.

He has bounced around on various music projects, and his work with The Triffids seems to have gotten the most notice.

Here are The Triffids with “Wide Open Road”:

Martyn Casey

Martyn Casey

And joining The Bad Seeds on keyboard is Conway Savage. He has released a handful of solo records.

Here he is with “Old Soul With A New Hole”:

Seriously, on one of the next Bad Seeds tours can we just do some twelve-hour shit where all of the members perform with their various groups and solo projects?

Conway Savage

Conway Savage

Wait! I have just witnessed a travesty of all travesties. “Breathless” by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds has not appeared in Nick Cave Monday. Forever my apologies. Let’s take this commercial break to enjoy “Breathless”:

The lesson we learn from that is bunnies will be killed even though we love each other.

Back to The Bad Seeds.

And yet another photo of The Bad Seeds around 1997:

Left to right: Blixa Bargeld, Thomas Wydler, Jim Sclavunos, Nick Cave, Martyn Casey, Conway Savage, Mick Harvey, Warren Ellis

Left to right: Blixa Bargeld, Thomas Wydler, Jim Sclavunos, Nick Cave, Martyn Casey, Conway Savage, Mick Harvey, Warren Ellis

On violin, flute, samplers, and possibly defibrillators amplified from a second heart that beats as fast as a hummingbird’s is Warren Ellis. Warren joined The Bad Seeds in 1997 and was the fine, clean-cut chap who played violin in the background. When Blixa Bargeld left the band, Warren became more of a collaborative partner with Nick; he has also worked on film scores and is part of Grinderman. Before he was added to Bad Seeds royalty, he was in a band called Dirty Three. I believe they are still active when he isn’t working with Nick.

Here is Dirty Three doing about a twenty-minute set for NPR:

That was such a great capture of Dirty Three it was too hard to pass up for one song.

Warren Ellis

Warren Ellis

On percussion and drums, Jim Sclavunos. Jim is currently the only American Bad Seed. He was a major part of the no-wave scene in New York City and has spent time in bands like Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, Sonic Youth, and The Cramps.

He is also the lead singer of The Vanity Set. Here they are performing live:

Peter from Bellmer Dolls is on guitar in the above clip. The whole show is available on Youtube—follow the suggested links to find the other parts of their 2008 set.

Jim Sclavunos

Jim Sclavunos

One cowriter—and Nick Cave’s early girlfriend and muse—is Anita Lane. Anita is credited on the songs “From Her To Eternity” and “Stranger Than Kindness.” She also helped with some lyrics for The Birthday Party.

The woman behind the young Nick, here is Anita Lane:

Isn’t she amazing and lovely?

Anita Lane

Anita Lane

On guitar, Kid Congo Powers.

Kid was a Bad Seed for Tender Prey and The Good Son records. He is probably the only person who can say he has been in this holy trinity of bands: The Gun Club, The Cramps, and The Bad Seeds.

After that run, you would think all is accomplished. Time to trade in the stocks and shack up with your boyfriend on a beach in Tunisia. Not so—he is still very active with his band Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds.

Here they are with “Rare As The Yeti”:

If you see them live, he usually includes a song by The Gun Club and by The Cramps. I always thought, Why not Nick Cave? Then realized, Ah, Nick Cave is the only one still alive. I get it.

Kid Congo Powers

Kid Congo Powers

On guitar was Hugo Race. He was in the very early days of The Bad Seeds and continues to perform solo. His other bands include The Wreckery, Hugo Race & The True Spirit, and Hugo Race Fatalists. Here he is with “I’m On Fire”:

Hugo Race

Hugo Race

Who did Tony forget? No one, we’re still going.

Ed Kuepper is the current guitarist for live gigs, kind of taking Mick Harvey’s old spot. He is from the seminal Australian band The Saints. Check out “I’m Stranded”:

The lead singer of The Saints is Chris Bailey. Chris sang “Bring It On” with Nick as you can find in Nick Cave Monday #5.

On organ and sometimes guitar was James Johnston. James was around The Bad Seeds and joined in 2003. He left in 2008. His band Gallon Drunk is absolutely brilliant. They are recording a new record right now and touring in 2014. James, come to North America—please?

Here is “You Made Me”:

James Johnston

James Johnston

To become a god, you have to have some great goddamned angels around you. Nick Cave’s lot has done him well. Thank you, Nick, and all of The Bad Seeds past and present, for making us boys and girls continue to swoon for you.

Thanks for reading. This has been the final edition of Nick Cave Monday.


Tony DuShane is the author of Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk. His writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, Penthouse, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Believer. And, if you’re a Nick Cave fan, check out Nick Cave Monday. More from this author →