Nick Cave opens up about grief following death of son

Arthur, 15, passed away in July 2015

Nick Cave has spoken in a new interview about his grief following the death of his teenage son Arthur.

Cave and The Bad Seeds recently hit the road for their first live shows in three years – the first since the tragic death of his 15-year-old son in July 2015. His family’s ordeal became the subject of subsequent film and documentary ‘One More Time With Feeling‘, also based on the recording of the acclaimed 2016 album ‘Skeleton Tree’.

Speaking in a new interview with The Guardian, Cave said: “We’re going to have to talk about Arthur for this, aren’t we?”, adding: “The thing is – I feel like there are things I’d like to say about Arthur, but I’ve been too frightened to say them.”

Describing the difficulty he faced in writing about his song’s passing, Cave explained: “Like there’s just this thing, and there’s no way to navigate it. It just sits there and it fills up all the space. It fills up your body. It’s like a physical thing. You can feel it pressing against the insides of your fingers. There’s just no room for the luxury of creation.”

He continued: “I wrote a bunch of songs after Arthur died, but I felt they were somehow a betrayal of what we were all going through at the time or worse, a betrayal of Arthur himself; that they didn’t possess the required emotional reach, so I scrapped them… Anyway, they are floating around. But I am writing new stuff. Lots of new stuff.”

“It’s hard to know what to say that is helpful,” Cave added. “People often say they can’t imagine how it would feel to lose a child, but, actually, they can – they can imagine what it is like… A lot is said about grief, especially the conventional wisdom that you do it alone. I personally have found that not to be the case. The goodwill we received after Arthur’s death from people who I did not know, especially through social media, people who liked my music and kind of reached out, was extraordinary. This had much to do with Andrew’s film and I will always be indebted to him for this. The rush of emotion it unleashed in people and the way they wrote about their own sadnesses and their own griefs was monumental and amazingly helpful for me and my family.”

“Initially, I thought it would be impossible to do this in the public eye. The impulse was to hide. But it turns out that being forced to grieve openly basically saved us. Of course, there is something that feels almost heroic about suffering on your own, to be locked into a world of memory, almost a nobility, I understand this, but it is an illusion and a very dangerous, life-threatening situation to put yourself in. Susie and I have grown to understand this. We are vigilant around each other, watchful that we don’t shut down.”

Cave also said that he didn’t want his grief to overshadow his band’s live dates: “I don’t want is people having to come along and involve themselves in someone else’s drama. I don’t want the shows to be like that. I want the shows to be uplifting and inspiring and for people to walk away feeling better than when they came, not some sort of empathetic contagion that goes through the crowd and people walk out feeling like shit. I don’t want that. Because I’m not feeling that way. On stage I feel great. It just sort of feels beautiful and inspiring. The songs are strange things, you know. They’re patient, and wait for the meaning and then meaning changes through the years.”

Before Cave and co return to tour the UK and Europe, they will be releasing a brand new, career-spanning collection of their finest tracks. ‘Lovely Creatures‘ will be released on Friday (5 May).

See the band’s UK live dates below:

September
24 Bournemouth UK Bournemouth International Centre
25 Manchester UK Arena
27 Glasgow UK The SSE Hydro
28 Nottingham UK Motorpoint Arena
30 London UK The O2