In retrospect, we
probably should have seen it coming…
By Fred Mills
A number of media outlets, including Australia’s LiveGuide.com and our own Pitchfork,
are reporting on the breaking news surrounding Mick Harvey’s departure from Nick Cave’s
Bad Seeds. Harvey,
of course, has been Cave’s right-hand man since the Boys Next Door and Birthday
Party days, so a lot of observers are reacting with shock.
For a variety of personal and professional reasons I
have chosen to discontinue my ongoing involvement with Nick Cave
& The Bad Seeds. After 25 years I feel I am leaving the band as it
experiences one of its many peaks; in very healthy condition, and with
fantastic prospects for the future. I’m confident Nick will continue to be a
creative force and that this is the right time to pass on my artistic and
managerial role to what has become a tremendous group of people who can support
him in his endeavours both musically and organisationally. It was a fantastic
experience to finish my touring days in the band with the recent shows in
Australia and the unique events that took place in conjunction with All
Tomorrow’s Parties, especially Mt. Buller, which was one of the many highlights
of my involvement with the band throughout the years. I shall continue working
on the Bad Seeds back catalogue re-issues project over the coming year and look
forward to the new opportunities I shall be able to accommodate as a result of
my changed circumstances.
However, thinking about it now, there were early signs that
all was not well between Cave and Harvey.
Back in May of 2007, in an interview with BLURT precursor Harp magazine, Cave responded cryptically to questions regarding
Harvey, and while the general context was about his then-project Grinderman,
you can subtly see the writing on the wall in these excerpts from that
interview, conducted by A.D. Amorosi:
JIM SCLAVUNOS: Where is Mick Harvey in this process? Not that I imagine that
you leaned on him for everything.
NICK CAVE: I had at one point.
HARP: Was there
anything odd about the process of recording without him? I mean, you’ve
recorded everything you’ve ever done, since you were kids, with Mick Harvey.
N.C.: Look, Mick’s role in the Bad Seeds has changed over the years. No More Shall We Part? Mick had a big
part-string arrangements and such. Some of the earlier records, I was writing
stuff that I didn’t have the capacity to play. I was playing rudimentary piano
so he’d show me anything else. I’d then work out from that amount of
information how to play the song in a more convincing way.
N.C.: And over the years I’ve learned the instrument. And I don’t need Nick,
I mean Mick, I don’t need Mick to translate the instrument anymore. Mick feels
these days-and he’s happier about this-that when he comes to a Bad Seeds
record, he brings his guitar and plugs in. Because that’s what he is: the
guitarist. So to not have him there… I wasn’t standing in the middle of the
studio all trembling knees and limp with drool running down the side of my
Apparently at that point in time Cave no longer felt as reliant on Harvey, a
gifted multiinstrumentalist and arranger as well as a solid guitarist. At any rate,
we wish Mr. Harvey well, and we’ll be looking forward to his next project.