You know, an idea is just an idea. There seems to... the kind of epiphanies that you have, like the little sudden bursts of light, they're very small and they're very short and it's the pursuit of the idea that's the important thing. . . . I know a lot of people who have way better ideas than I do that-much more frequently than I do that just can't sit down and actually do it. Ideas are such are a little overrated really; it's the work behind the idea that's the important thing.
One thing that I'm really interested in is the kind of esoteric detail that surrounds these great figures. And Wikipedia is full of that kind of stuff, whether it's true or untrue. It staggers me: why, in the short space assigned to a person or an event, that kind of random information is there. To be honest, that's wonderful fuel for songwriting.
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It's very intuitive, the way that I approach my work. I only buy something that has a pulse. I may not know how I'm going to use it, but I know it has a pulse and it has multiple readings - if I shift it one way or another, it can be read this way or it can be read that way, but both readings are critical and very much ground the work.
As people buy less and less records, it's become more and more important for me to spend more and more on them - to lavish that much more attention on them. The Bad Seeds were always quite protective and old school, but Grinderman has opened us up to do anything and be shameless. We're not so precious about it.
I was about 12 years old and I was sitting watching the television and it was some kind of talent show, you know, and on marches this monkey, this ape, in a pair of red-checked trousers with a little matching jacket holding a ukelele and it started jigging around playing it, and it was looking straight into the camera, straight at me, and I remember thinking, that's it, that'll be me, you know, that'll be me.
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I'm not religious, and I'm not a Christian, but I do reserve the right to believe in the possibility of a God. It's kind of defending the indefensible, though; I'm critical of what religions are becoming, the more destructive they're becoming. But I think as an artist, particularly, it's a necessary part of what I do, that there is some divine element going on within my songs.
I don't particularly believe all love is doomed. But I guess, one is usually kinda suffering from some aborted love affair or association, rather than being at the peak of one. I think it's fairly obvious that a lot more suffering goes on in the name of love than the little happiness you can squeeze out of it.
Who knows their own story? Certainly it makes no sense when we are living in the midst of it. It's all just clamor and confusion. It only becomes a story when we tell it and retell it. Our small precious recollections that we speak again and again to ourselves and to others, first creating the narrative of our lives and then keeping the story from dissolving into darkness.
All of our days are numbered; we cannot afford to be idle. To act on a bad idea is better than to not act at all because the worth of the idea never becomes apparent until you do it. Sometimes this idea can be the smallest thing in the world, a little flame that you hunch over and cup with your hand and pray will not be extinguished by all the storm that howls about it. If you can hold on to that flame great things can be constructed around it that are massive and powerful and world changing - all held up by the tinniest of ideas.
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I lost my innocence with Johnny Cash. I used to watch the 'Johnny Cash Show' on television in Wangaratta when I was about 9 or 10 years old. At that stage I had really no idea about rock n' roll. I watched him, and from that point I saw that music could be an evil thing - a beautiful, evil thing.
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What I think about when I frequent the Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan [Museum of Art], and I look at these artifacts that are taken out of context and how we're forced to view them as objects, as relics, as sculpture- static. But what's interesting is what it allows me to do in my head in terms of imagining what the possibilities are or imagining the role in which they played within a particular culture which I'm fascinated by.
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Music is storming, driving, relentless, devotional, slinky, subtle, heartbreakingly-beautiful sounds that, lyrically, switch from the cynical to the sanguine, the defeated to the defiant, dealing in love, war, beauty, children, romance, rejection, Pethedine, poetry, panties, God, Auden, Johnny Cash, cold potatoes, too-much-money, not enough money, writer's block, flowers, animals and more flowers. But maybe I'm projecting here.
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The idea of songwriting is a transformative thing, and what I do with songwriting is take situations that are quite ordinary and transform them in some way. Apart from things like the murder ballads, the songs I write, at their core, are quite ordinary human concerns, but the process of writing about them transforms them into something else.
The reason I've gotten into script-writing, which was accidental to begin with, was that I found it was a far more effective medium for violence. Which is something that I'd always written in songs, but the violence always sat strangely within a song. And I was always interested in the way in which you listen to murder ballads and things like that - these weird lines would kind of come out, like, I drug her by the hair or something - that sat weirdly in the song. Film seems to be a medium designed for betrayal and violence.
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We cannot afford to be idle. To act on a bad idea is better than to not act at all. Because the worth of the idea never becomes apparent until you do it. Sometimes this idea can be the smallest thing in the world, a little flame that you hunch over and cup with your hand, and pray will not be extinguished by all the storm that howls about it. If you could hold onto that flame, great things could construct around it, that are massive and powerful and world changing, all held up by the tiniest of ideas.
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Outside the world of politics, one person in the world of the arts I would mention as an influence is Nick Cave, another person who has been around since the late 1970s. He has developed and changed remarkably, whilst remaining true to his vision. He has been a great help to me as well, without his knowing it.
Everybody tends to overplay live. That's just the nature of playing live. And that can be great, but it can also kill something that's special, and intimate, about a recorded version of a song. You find out very quickly which songs you can play, and which songs you do damage to by playing them live.
It was about the preciousness of that, and how they viewed those birds as art, as something valuable. I didn't care one way or another back then, but now, thinking about my grandparents - who are still alive but getting older - I see the birds as sort of time capsules. Now I go home during the holidays and they hold a lot of weight in terms of nostalgia and memory. Now they mean everything.
I was reading The Bible a lot through my 20s, mostly the Old Testament, just because I was knocked out by the language and the stories. I felt that the God being talked about there, who was this insane, vindictive patriarch - it was kind of thrilling, and titillated something in me at the time.
Not my biggest fear, but my biggest problem onstage is over-emphasizing what I do. I'm pushing too hard. You need to engage an audience. They need to be able to involve their own imaginations as well. They don't need everything thrust down their throat, and I have a tendency to do that. I always have had a tendency to do that.
I don't have any authority to talk about the domestic policies of America. But as an outsider, I am mystified by the fact that you are encouraged to buy a gun, but if you use it for the purpose that it is expressly designed for, you get the death penalty. That aspect of America is kind of mystifying.