Interviewing your idol

Nich Cave and Shachar Oren 1994At the risk of dating myself (yeah, tough that), I want to share a little story from Lollapalooza 1994, when I got to interview Nick Cave for WRAS 88.5 and photograph him for a magazine I wrote for. Cave was an artist I’ve idolized since the late 80’s, I listened to anything he had released, and I was amazed by his lyrical talent, his musicianship, and his dramatic delivery. I expected to meet an idol. I had no idea what that meant, but I had high expectations. After all, he had developed a strong and unique “brand” for himself. I was green at what I was doing and I was very nervous going into this interview.

Nick CaveThe interview went well: Cave acted a bit sheepish in the beginning, but loosened up as we went and got sarcastic and even foolish at times. He answered all of my questions with interest and I felt I had plenty to write about when it ended – about his experience on the road, his life in Brazil at the time, the latest record he released (Henry’s Dream), things of that nature.

When the interview was officially over, things got really silly. The Bad Seeds – Cave’s band – had been sitting across from us all along in the expansive green room in Lakewood Amphitheater, talking among themselves, drinking beers and entertaining several girls (no idea if spouses, girlfriends or groupies). Cave got up to join them and made his way to one of the girls, grabbed her by both hands, and pulled her down to the carpeted floor with him. They started rolling together on the carpet from one side of the room to the other like toddlers playing a silly wrestling match, while the band members cracked up laughing and cheered them on. So here I saw a new side of Cave: The band’s Jester. The party leader, hungry for attention. 

Nick Cave Lollapalooza 1994I couldn’t quit put together why a man of his age and stature would behave with such adolescent playfulness. But something did click: He was a human being. He was no longer the mysterious persona behind the sounds, lyrics and images of his records. He was no longer the untouchable stage figure who belted out rock phrases and worked the crowd with strong theatrics. He was a human being, a person, someone who can come across as sensitive and childish on one hand and as a confident leader on the other.

This early experience helped me put “stars” in perspective and eased my way into many other interviews I conducted over the years. I still buy anything Cave releases of course, including the last two awesome Grinderman releases. He’s still at it, creating music and performing – and presenting the same “dark knight” (and I mean dark, not in the Batman sense of the word) brand of music to us. And I suppose I am still at it too, listening, observing, and writing about it.

(Shachar Oren, Neurotic Media CEO).

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