That’s the cavernous isolation and agonizing emotion that comes from listening to goth rock. It’s one of the most divisive genres of music, reviled by those who pigeonhole it and adored by those who give it a fair chance. What exactly is it, and why should you want to spend your time listening to such gloomy, self-indulgent sounds?
This is excellent – a LONG article on Nick Cave as Daniel Dylan Wray traces the story of the Birthday Party’s messy dissolution, and of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ phoenix-like emergence the following year. Including interviews with Mick Harvey, Flood, Jim Thirlwell, Barry Adamson, Nick Launey, Chris Bohn, Henry Rollins, Jessamy Calkin and Hugo Race.
During their brief and often revelatory existence, The Birthday Party consisted of Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Tracy Pew, Rowland S. Howard and Phill Calvert until 1982. While only active for five years, only three of which were outside of their home of Melbourne, Australia, the impact the band had during that time was seismic. The most common expression when speaking to those who saw the group live, and even from those who were in the group themselves, is a deep, windy intake of breath as they relate – with a flurry of adjectives and nonpareil comparisons – their memories.
Hillary pulls a stack of records from our Ikea shelf. She’s purposefully picked from the area of her taste that doesn’t cross into our indie rock Venn Diagram.
The top record is the Birthday Party’s “Prayers on Fire”, a moody work from Nick Cave’s pre-Bad Seeds band. ’70s post-punk — the music that deepened and darkened the possibilities opened up by the Ramones, the Sex Pistols and their contemporaries as New Wave acts pushed in the opposite direction — is one of Hillary’s favorite eras, and a time that’s only hit-and-miss for me.
It’s June, 1999, or thereabouts. I’m sixteen years of age. I’m in a nightclub for the first, perhaps second time in my life. The nightclub is called Spiders, and it’s located on the edge of an industrial estate in Hull. The air as my friends and I queue up outside is foul with burnt cocoa fumes wafting from a neighbouring factory. The smell inside the club is worse.
Mick Mercer is, among other things, a goth legend, notably for chronicling of the goth and alternative scenes from the beginning through to present day (see the excellent “Gothic Rock” book below… and see all of Mick’s books here on Lulu).
Anyway, Mick recently launched a radio show described as “Gothic, Post-Punk and Punk, every Sunday night. An International perspective, with new bands galore alongside classics and curios.”
Facebook: Mick Mercer Radio.
Ah, if only time machines had been invented already. We would each be free to zip back and visit the desired nightclub/live venue/social scene of our choice, to revel in a world we can now only read, or dream, about. I’ve thought about this before, of course, and most of my preferred time travel destinations were located in and around New York City in the 70s and the 80s.
Bauhaus – In The Flat Field – 1980
It’s the sonorous grit of a reverberating guitar, interspersed by the the siren call of a distant sonar on ‘Double Dare’ that first beckons you into the unknown. Soon discordant percussion will judder your spine and the piercing shriek of Peter Murphy’s voice will wrap itself around your throat like a cold trembling hand: but by then it’ll be too late and Bauhaus have you in their grasp.