Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are an Australian alternative rock band, formed in Melbourne, Victoria in 1983 by frontman Nick Cave, multi-instrumentalist Mick Harvey and guitarist Blixa Bargeld. The band has included international personnel throughout its career and currently includes Cave, violinist and multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis, bassist Martyn P. Casey, keyboardist Conway Savage, and percussionists Thomas Wydler and Jim Sclavunos.

The band was founded after the demise of Cave and Harvey's former group, The Birthday Party. Alternating from the noise rock roots of their contemporaries, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have a distinctive take on alternative rock that has been influenced by various genres, including punk rock, gothic rock, no wave and blues. Their early material--From Her to Eternity (1984), The Firstborn Is Dead (1985), Your Funeral... My Trial (1986) and Tender Prey (1988)--had a primarily post-punk sound; however, as the band progressed, they began to incorporate more refined singer-songwriter elements. Their latest release, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (2008), also experimented with garage rock, inspired by their side project Grinderman.

They are best known for "Where the Wild Roses Grow", a collaborative single with Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue from their ninth studio album, Murder Ballads (1996). The song was an international commercial and critical success, giving them exposure in pop charts; the band also has a large cult following, due to their extensive back catalogue of fourteen studio albums and frequent international touring.

History

Formation and early releases (1983-1988):

The project that would later evolve into Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds began following the demise of The Birthday Party in August 1983. Both Nick Cave and Mick Harvey were members of The Birthday Party, along with guitarist Rowland S. Howard and bassist Tracy Pew. During the recording sessions of their scheduled EPs Mutiny/The Bad Seed, internal disputes developed in the band. Cave and Howard's different approaches to songwriting was a major factor, as Cave explained in an interview with On The Street: "the main reason why The Birthday Party broke up was that the sort of songs that I was writing and the sort of songs that Rowland was writing were just totally at odds with each other." Following the departure of Harvey, they officially disbanded. Cave also said that "it probably would have gone on longer, but Mick has the ability to judge things much more clearly than the rest of us."

An embryonic version of what would later become The Bad Seeds was formed in London, United Kingdom--where The Birthday Party was based--in September 1983 with Cave, Harvey (initially acting primarily as drummer), Einstürzende Neubauten guitarist Blixa Bargeld, Magazine bassist Barry Adamson and Jim G. Thirlwell. The band was initially formed as a backing band to Cave's solo intended project, Man Or Myth?, which was given the green light by Mute Records. During September and October, they recorded a number of songs with producer Flood although the sessions were cut short due to Cave's touring with The Immaculate Consumptive, another project formed with Lydia Lunch and Marc Almond. In December 1983, Cave returned to Melbourne, Australia where he formed a temporary new line-up of his backing band, due to Bargeld's absence, including Pew and guitarist Hugo Race. The band performed their first live show at Seaview in St. Kilda on 31 December 1983.

Following a short Australian tour, despite lack of management, they relocated back to London. Cave, Harvey, Bargeld, Race and Adamson formed the project's first consistent line-up. The group, which up to now had been nameless, adopted the name Nick Cave and the Cavemen, under which they performed for the first six months of their career. However, they were later renamed Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in May 1984, in reference to the final Birthday Party EP The Bad Seed, which was not released until 1989. They began recording sessions for their debut album in May 1984 at Trident Studios in London and these sessions, together with the abandoned Man Or Myth? recordings from September-October 1983, were released as From Her to Eternity on 18 June 1984 on Mute.

After the departure of Race and Anita Lane, Cave's longtime girlfriend credited as a lyricist on the album, the four remaining members relocated to West Berlin, Germany in 1985 and released The Firstborn Is Dead. The album meditated upon their obsession with the gothic Americana found in the American South and blues music, exemplified in songs like "Tupelo" and "Blind Lemon Jefferson", which reference the birth of Elvis Presley and the blues singer of the same name respectively. Released the following year, the cover album Kicking Against the Pricks explored these influences more directly by featuring covers of material by Johnny Cash, John Lee Hooker and Lead Belly. The record also marked the arrival of Swiss drummer Thomas Wydler, a member of Die Haut, and saw guest appearances from Race, Pew, and Birthday Party guitarist Rowland S. Howard, who had briefly toured with the Bad Seeds as a substitute member in 1985.

The band garnered an increased following thanks to 1986's Your Funeral, My Trial, which coincided with Adamson's departure. The record replaced the propulsive grind of the previous records with a quiet menace, introducing carnival and cabaret elements while marking a significant step towards singer-songwriter composition. Tender Prey, their dark, brooding 1988 followup, saw the arrival of American guitarist Kid Congo Powers (moving Howard to bass) and short-tenured German keyboardist Roland Wolf, featured the signature song "The Mercy Seat" (which was later covered by Johnny Cash), and further increased the group's critical acclaim and commercial attention. Despite the increasing success, the band was struggling with personal problems related to drug and alcohol abuse.

Cave and his band mates also pursued extra-musical ambitions around this time. In 1987, the Bad Seeds made an appearance in the Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire, and Cave was also featured in the 1988 film Ghosts... of the Civil Dead, which he co-wrote. Cave's first novel, And the Ass Saw the Angel, was published the following year.

Growing success (1989-1996):

Cave relocated to São Paulo, Brazil soon after the release and subsequent tour for Tender Prey and, after successfully finishing rehab, began experimenting with piano-driven ballads, resulting in 1990's The Good Son. Seeped in sorrow and longing, the comparatively refined and understated album was well-received critically and commercially, yielding the singles "The Weeping Song" and "The Ship Song".

Two established Australian musicians, bassist Martyn Casey of The Triffids and solo artist and keyboardist Conway Savage, replaced the departing Powers (moving Harvey back to guitar) and Wolf. Their next record, 1992's Henry's Dream marked a step back towards harder rock, utilizing producer David Briggs, known for his work with Neil Young. The album's tour is documented on 1993's live album Live Seeds and showcases the new group's aggressive yet accomplished sound. In mid-1993, Cave relocated to London where Henry's Dream's follow-up Let Love In was recorded and released in 1994. The album moved further down the alternative rock path established by Henry's Dream, balancing vicious angry rock with moments of graceful restraint and yielding several popular songs, including "Red Right Hand" and "Loverman", which were featured heavily in the Scream film series and covered by Metallica, respectively. During the album's supporting tour, American percussionist and drummer Jim Sclavunos joined the group.

In 1996, the band released Murder Ballads, their best-selling album to date. Centered around the subject of murder, the album includes a cover of the folk song "Henry Lee" - a duet with British rock singer PJ Harvey, with whom Cave had a brief relationship - and "Where the Wild Roses Grow", a duet with Australian pop idol Kylie Minogue. The latter was a mainstream hit in the United Kingdom and in Australia, winning three ARIA Awards including Song of the Year. Having previously contributed to the Let Love In recording sessions, Australian violinist Warren Ellis of The Dirty Three began regularly working with the band at this time, and played an increasingly significant creative role in their output.

Further musical refinement; Bargeld's departure (1997-2005):

Their 1997 followup, The Boatman's Call, took a radical shift away from archetypal and violent narratives to biographical and confessional songs about relationships, loss and longing, often utilizing sparse arrangements. The album's subsequent tour was later documented on the 2008 live album, Live at the Royal Albert Hall. After the release of the album, Cave took a short break to rehabilitate from his 20 years of heroin and alcohol abuse, during which time he also remarried.

Following Cave's rehabilitation in the late 1990s, the band oversaw the release of Original Seeds, a compilation of material from other artists that influenced the group, as well as their own best-of album. They properly resurfaced with No More Shall We Part in 2001. Their most refined effort, the record featured guest appearances by Kate and Anna McGarrigle and garnered generally good reviews: critics hailed it as the "entire album of deeply tragic and beautiful love songs without irony, sarcasm, or violent resolution" of which Cave and band seemed capable, while also recognizing that the proceedings threatened to devolve "into schmaltz". The followup, 2003's Nocturama was an attempt to return to band-oriented and collaborative arrangements, as opposed to the decreasing input of Cave's band mates seen on the previous releases. It met with mixed reviews, generally hailed as a mature and satisfying work that nonetheless failed to deliver on its promise to return to the group's former sound. Shortly after the album's release, Bargeld left the band after 20 years to devote more time to Einstürzende Neubauten.

In 2004, the band released the acclaimed two-disc set Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, with Bargeld replaced by the English guitarist and organist James Johnston, a member of Gallon Drunk and former guest member of the Bad Seeds from a Lollapalooza tour ten years prior. Conceived as two separate albums packaged together, the set featured a diverse palate of arrangement styles, including both aggressive rock and choir-driven ballads. Around this time, the band released B-Sides & Rarities, a three-disc, 56-track collection of B-sides, rarities, and compilation tracks, and The Abattoir Blues Tour, a two-CD, two-DVD boxed set with performances from the album's promotional tour, which featured supplemental guest backing vocalists expanding the band.

Also in 2005, Cave completed work on his script for The Proposition, a western film set in 19th century Australia by director John Hillcoat. Cave and Ellis collaborated on the film's score; their film score composition collaboration would later yield numerous soundtracks, including most notably those to the films The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and The Road (2009).

Grinderman; Harvey's departure (2006-present):

After operating for several years as a touring "solo" band backing Cave, Bad Seeds members Ellis, Sclavunos and Casey formed the new side-project Grinderman with Cave in 2006. The band, featuring Cave playing guitar for the first significant time, took a step away from the lush orchestral sound the Bad Seeds had been developing and played garage rock-influenced music that nonetheless retained much of The Bad Seeds' aura. They released a self-titled debut album in 2007. That October, Cave was also inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, and expressed his intention to induct the Australian members of The Bad Seeds (excluding Race), plus the members of The Birthday Party (excluding Phill Calvert) in his acceptance speech.

The Bad Seeds released their 14th studio album, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! in 2008, to overwhelming critical acclaim. Inspired by the biblical story of the resurrection of Lazarus of Bethany by Jesus Christ, the album continued the punk and garage rock-inspired arrangements explored by Grinderman, resulting in what NME termed a "gothic psycho-sexual apocalypse". The group next embarked on a North American and European tour supporting the album, with a seven-piece lineup omitting Johnston, who had left the group after the album's completion.

Cave and the band curated Australia's first edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival, held the following January in various Australian locations. On 22 January 2009, after the festival's completion, Mick Harvey announced his departure from the band after 25 years citing professional and personal reasons. It was the end of a 36-year-long musical collaboration between Cave and Harvey and left Cave as the group's only original member. The band performed summer festival dates with the addition of guitarist Ed Kuepper, formerly of the influential Australian bands The Saints and Laughing Clowns, acting as a touring member.

Following this string of activity, the Bad Seeds became dormant while Grinderman reactivated and produced Grinderman 2, and Cave completed and released his second novel, The Death of Bunny Munro. Mute Records embarked upon a series of reissue projects that year, packaging remastered versions of the Bad Seeds' albums with documentary footage surrounding the making and reception of each record directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. The group also attracted further attention when their song "O Children" appeared in the 2010 film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1.

Late in 2010, Cave announced in an interview with Spinner that the Bad Seeds are presently planning a 15th record. In December 2011, Grinderman disbanded immediately following an Australian tour.

Members

Main article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nick_Cave_and_the_Bad_Seeds_band_members

Current lineup

Nick Cave - vocals, piano, organ, harmonica, percussion, electric guitar, string arrangements (1983-present),

Thomas Wydler - drums, percussion, vocals (1985-present),

Martyn P. Casey - bass, vocals (1990-present),

Conway Savage - piano, organ, vocals (1990-present),

Jim Sclavunos - percussion, drums, organ, melodica, vocals (1994-present),

Warren Ellis - violin, fender mandocaster, loops, mandolin, tenor guitar, viola, bouzouki, accordion, flute, lute, piano, programming, percussion, string arrangements, vocals (1997-present; as guest, 1994-1997),

Former members

Mick Harvey - electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, drums, organ, percussion, piano, loops, string arrangements, vocals (1983-2009),

Blixa Bargeld - electric guitar, slide guitar, pedal steel guitar, keyboards, vocals (1983-2003),

Barry Adamson - bass, electric guitar, drums, organ, piano, percussion, vocals (1983-1986),

Hugo Race - electric guitar, vocals (1983-1984),

Anita Lane - lyrics (1984),

Kid Congo Powers - electric guitar, slide guitar (1986-1990),

Roland Wolf (deceased) - piano, organ, electric guitar, vocals (1986-1989),

James Johnston - organ, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals (2003-2008; as guest, 1994),

Guest and touring musicians

James G. Thirlwell - uncredited studio session (1983),

Tracy Pew (deceased) - bass (1984),

Edward Clayton-Jones - guitar (1984),

Christoph Dreher - bass (1985),

Rowland S. Howard (deceased) - electric guitar, organ, vocals (1985),

Ed Kuepper - electric guitar, vocals (2009)