To ypogeio.gr

Mick Harvey


If you drop by the St Paul's Anglican Church this evening (12/11) for the Taste The Music events, or by the Soundtrope Festival in Ioannina tomorrow night (13/11), you will face one of the most important and consistent musicians of the last 30 years. It's Mick Harvey ladies and gents, who will give us two unforgettable live shows, along with his musical comrade, J.P. Shilo. And, yes, Mick is definitely a very significant and influential artist, although he's chosen all these years to be the "unsung hero" behind Nick Cave's glorious work with the Bad Seeds from Day 1 (and that's The Boys Next Door and The Birthday Party era) to the end of 00's and the quiet creative strength of P.J. Harvey's stunning "Let England Shake" album of 2011. And it's not only that of course. It's also his great and very interesting solo releases, his tributes to Serge Gainsbourg, and also his work with Crime & the City Solution band in the mid 80's - early 90's. Α pretty busy man, isn't he? 

Before his upcoming shows in Greece, the legendary Mick Harvey stopped by The Basement for a quick chat with us. We are obviously deeply honoured and extremely happy for his presence here...


 

 

The Basement: Hi Mick! We are so honoured and happy to have you in the Basement. We would like to start straight from your upcoming shows in Greece. What should we expect?
Well, it’s an interesting show - a double bill with J.P. Shilo. So we are using the same musicians, the four of us, in both sets. J.P. is presenting songs from his new album ‘Invisible You’ and I’m revisiting my solo albums after a couple of years of playing Serge shows. It has been very interesting for me, so far, to re-engage with that material and I’m playing a couple of new things in the set as well so it’s probably helping me formulate what I’m interested to do next. Lovely band too with Glenn Lewis on bass and Steve Shelley on drums. It’s basically the band which played on J.P.’s album, including me, and they are backing my stuff too which is excellent and has brought forth some new versions and variations.


The Basement: You’ve been to our country numerous times. Could you share with us the top experiences from your visits and live shows in Greece all these years?
Obviously the one that always comes up is The Birthday Party show in 1982. It was a pretty amazing event. But also some of the experiences around the shows have been fantastic. I remember being in a restaurant in Thessaloniki and everyone stood up and started dancing to the traditional music. Also, a great restaurant in Athens where they serve ancient Greek food. We had a feast there with The Bad Seeds in a banquet room and it was amazing - with honey wine and an incredible fruit salad dessert.


The Basement: What’s your general view of Greek audiences?
They are very enthusiastic and passionate. They have also been quite loyalty to my projects over the years so obviously I appreciate that.


The Basement: What are your future plans in terms of new music? Will there be more Gainsbourg stuff?
I am not planning any more Gainsbourg recordings. I think I’ve done quite enough. In fact I can say pretty categorically I will not be doing any more Gainsbourg. As for everything else - I am in a contemplative period trying to work out what it is I really want to do. I have a couple of music projects in mind but I’m not sure which I will do or if I will do any of them. As I said earlier, being on this tour is probably helping me focus on what it might be. In fact the next things I might do are write a book of memoirs as people keep asking me to do that and to try and work on a film idea I have. We’ll see. Music tends to have a way of pushing into the front of the queue. After all, it is my livelihood.


The Basement: How did your love for the French musician start at first place?
Serge? Oh, I’m tired of answering that question. You could look up dozens of other interviews I’ve done about him and find me giving the same tired answer to that quesion. It’s not so different to how anyone comes to like any music or artist. In fact, it’s the same.
 

The Basement: Why did you leave The Bad Seeds?
It was time. Things had changed in the dynamic of the band and in the role I was playing. After more than 3 decades of working together and much of that time being Nick’s principle collaborator things were not really as positive and easy as they used to be. It just felt like I should get out of there before things turned sour or became more unpleasant. And it was time for a change too. There were things I needed for my private life and for my own career which were starting to be at odds with being in The Bad Seeds.


The Basement: What things do you miss from your being there?
Just being a part of it, really. In some ways it was, for me, a continuation of the band I had been in at school. It’s odd seeing Nick continuing on without me but that’s all. I don’t mis the touring in that unit nor the general dynamic. The music, or at least what they are trying to do, is still very special and that’s what matters.


The Basement: Your career in music is stunning. But which parts of it you consider as highlights, for which aspects you feel really proud?
That’s hard to answer because I feel strongly about so much of it. The Birthday Party were the band I started out with and it was like a gang mentality and we made great breakthroughs in creative possibilities with that group which became the foundation for everything. Then The Bad Seeds was the band where I really came into my own as having a very strong creative input and a bigger influence so The Bad Seeds from 1984 through to say, the mid-90s was a very intensive creative period for me. The Gainsbourg project has been huge and obviously my solo albums and perhaps especially the ones where I have written more of the material have come to be very dear to me. And then I would have to mention albums I have made with Anita Lane and PJ Harvey, in particular Sex O’clock and Let England Shake.

In the end, I guess I feel most happy that I’ve been able to continue making things which are challenging and exciting to listen to. Pride is a luxury. Not sure I like to indulge in that about my own work.


The Basement: On the contrary, are there things that you feel that you shouldn’t have done?
I always say that being in two full-time bands at the same time between 1986 and 1991 was a mistake. It put a huge strain on my relationships and my general demeanour. Not only was I working really hard on the recordings and tours but I was also managing the fundamental business of both bands. It was simply too much and probably made me a very edgy person to be around.


The Basement: Thank you so much, Mick! We wish you two great shows in Greece!


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