Sign up for our mailing list Real artists creating records on their own terms

Sign up for our mailing list


Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

Grinderman Interview @

Interview by Marc Masters

Grinderman is a new project featuring Nick Cave and three fellow Bad Seeds: violinist Warren Ellis, bassist Martyn Casey, and drummer Jim Sclavunos. The band's self-titled debut is a raw, aggressive affair, a product of the group's down-and-dirty recording approach. Yet for such a short, direct record, Grinderman is surprisingly diverse, with aching ballads and mellow blues deftly mixed in. Pitchfork talked to Cave and Sclavunos before album's release about what makes Grinderman different from the Bad Seeds, why Cave decided to try his hand at the guitar, and their new, self-titled album.

Pitchfork: How did you decide this would be a separate project from the Bad Seeds?

Nick Cave: Well, we went into the studio in order to make a record that was distinct from the Bad Seeds catalog. The four of us had been playing together for a while, working on a lot of projects outside of the Bad Seeds. We found that we were developing a sound that was quite different from the Bad Seeds. So we felt the next step was to record that.

Pitchfork: The album was made in two quick sessions; was the first improvised?

Cave: It was mostly improvised, though that's a strange word to use for it. But we just sat down and played, and out of that came the ideas for a set of songs. We listened through to all the stuff that we'd done, and we found twenty or so pieces that we found interesting.

Jim Sclavunos: That's out of about five days worth of ten-hour sessions.

Cave: And then I started writing lyrics to that stuff. So that when we went into the studio the second time, we knew what we were going to record.

Pitchfork: You used a similar process on the last Bad Seeds record?

Cave: Yes, that has been very successful for the Bad Seeds. We got some quite interesting stuff from those sessions. But when we took the raw stuff to the Bad Seeds, it turned into something very different, because there are more people involved, and the Bad Seeds have a very specific sound. But there was a lot to be said for some of the bits in their original form. There was a rawness and immediacy about them that was quite attractive. So we wanted to do that type of thing again and actually make our own record.

Pitchfork: How did you come up with the band name?

Cave: In those original sessions, the word "Grinderman" came up because of the John Lee Hooker song of that name. I was singing that song, riffing on that idea. Around that time we got this extraordinary loop from Warren [Ellis], and I played around with singing the title over that loop [which became the album's title track]. Later on we were fishing around for a name and having a lot of difficulty finding one that hadn't already been claimed. That might sound ridiculous, but if you Google just about any possible name, six other bands have called themselves that. For some reason no one had called themselves Grinderman, except some act in Vegas. I think it's Mr. And Mrs. Grinder or something like that, and to them we give our apologies. But the name seemed to sum everything up. And it turns out John Lee Hooker's song came from the Memphis Slim song "Grinderman Blues", so having that kind of history behind it made the name feel right.

Pitchfork: One of the goals for the album was to keep things short?

Cave: When I first talked to Warren about going into the studio, that was the defining idea, having everything stripped down and to the point. We were adamant that the album come in under 40 minutes. Not only as a gesture to the way records used to be made, but also, it felt like a manageable amount of information for anyone to take in, these days. The last Bad Seeds record was anything but that. It was a huge double album with over 20 songs, and many of them quite long. We didn't want to make a record like that. Also, when I was writing the script for The Proposition, one piece of advice director John Hillcoat gave me was to get in to each scene at the last possible moment and get out at the first possible moment. That's what we were trying to do with the songs as well.

Pitchfork: What else about the process was different than with the Bad Seeds?

Cave: Well, I played guitar. I've never done that before. That changed things quite a lot. It changed my own approach to singing, and my approach to the music in general.

Sclavunos: Plus Nick hardly plays any piano on it, and Warren hardly plays any violin.

Cave: If he does play violin, you wouldn't know it.

Sclavunos: You won't recognize it. He also plays mandolin, zouki, pedals, and effects. Plus all the loops he made.

Pitchfork: Does Warren make the loops before coming into the studio?

Cave: Some of them he does. In the early stages he would call me up and play me loops over the telephone. I would tape those sounds on a Dictaphone, and then play the Dictaphone and sing along. His loops have the ability to set up a kind of instant atmosphere. There is something very organic about them, and very often they will form the basis of the song.

Continue the article at href="" target="_blank">

Facebook | Twitter

Browse by Artist

1537All Artists 96Tom Waits 61Mavis Staples 54Neko Case 51Lost In The Trees 50Sean Rowe 48Dr. Dog 41Jolie Holland
40Bettye LaVette 40The Milk Carton Kids 37Man Man 33Tim Fite 33DeVotchKa 31Islands 31Grinderman 31Tinariwen 28Son Little 27Galactic 27Wilco 24Michael Franti and Spe... 22Bob Mould 22William Elliott Whitmo... 22Saintseneca 21Nick Cave & The Bad Se... 21The Frames 20Joe Henry 19Booker T. Jones 19Sage Francis 19Doe Paoro 17John K. Samson 17Yann Tiersen 16Ramblin Jack Elliott 16Jason Lytle 15Glen Hansard 15Christopher Paul Stell... 13Daniel Lanois 13Billy Bragg 13Andy Shauf 13Prism Tats 12Xavier Rudd 12Xenia Rubinos 12Peter Silberman 11The Weakerthans 11Lyrics Born 11Rain Machine 11Mose Allison 11Roky Erickson 11The Antlers 11Calexico 10The Swell Season 10The Melodic 10Deafheaven 10So Much Light 10Delicate Steve 9Marianne Faithfull 9N.A.S.A. 9Cameron Avery 8Solillaquists of Sound 8Greg Graffin 8Cadence Weapon 8The Coup 8Ryan Pollie 7Elliott Smith 7Eddie Izzard 7Dead Man's Bones 7Alec Ounsworth 7Beth Orton 7Kelly Hogan 7Title Fight 7Jade Jackson 6A Girl Called Eddy 6Busdriver 6Os Mutantes 6Kate Bush 6Broken Twin 6The Drums 6The Dream Syndicate 6Ben Harper and Charlie... 5One Day As A Lion 5The Field 5Keaton Henson 5Beat Connection 5Japandroids 4Ersi Arvizu 4Marketa Irglova 4Pops Staples 3Danny Cohen 3Sierra Leones Refugee... 3Petra Haden 3Cass McCombs 3Girlpool 3Curtis Harding 3Rafiq Bhatia 3Walter Wolfman Washing... 2Various Artists: RANGO 2Jeff Tweedy 1Tricky 1Joe Strummer And The M... 1Youth Group 1Blackalicious 1Antibalas 1Porter Wagoner 1Various Artists: ROGUE... 1The Locust 1Rogue's Gallery 1Kronos Quartet with Br... 1Simian Mobile Disco 1case/lang/veirs 1Merle Haggard 1Un Blonde
See Full List+