NICK CAVE AND THE RED HAND FILES #2 Wow man, you’re looking good!

At the end of January, whilst COVID-19 was spreading through Wuhan province but yet to emerge into our collective consciousness, we published an article about a Serbian Nick Cave tribute band that had become instantly famous thanks to an endorsement from Cave himself or, perhaps more accurately, his wife Susie. Nikola Krstić, aka Nik from the Cave Dogs, had written to Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files (#80) and had received a typically lovely response from Nick plus a promise to send Nik one of his suits and a shirt. So, did the clothes ever show up? ALAN SCARLETT investigates.

In those last three months the world has changed. The ability to attend a gig now seems a distant memory. To see a crowd gathered together collectively enjoying the vibrations in their bones and the tingles down their spines as they experience live music together, up close, now appears strange as if in a parallel universe. For many artists, this is a time to find new ways to create, to deliver and to connect. After much deliberation, Nick Cave has taken a different approach to the situation.

In Red Hand File #90 Nick Cave reflects: “As an artist, it feels inapt to miss this extraordinary moment. Suddenly, the acts of writing a novel, or a screenplay or a series of songs seem like indulgences from a bygone era. For me, this is not a time to be buried in the business of creating. It is a time to take a backseat and use this opportunity to reflect on exactly what our function is — what we, as artists, are for.” So, what has Nick Cave been doing if not writing new songs, new novels etc? He has been doing what I guess many of us have been doing: sorting out our closets. In particular, selecting a suit and shirt for his Serbian imposter.

Serbia is now deep in isolation and Nik Krstić fears “the government is using the occasion to try and steal as much money and power before this whole thing is over.” A fear that resonates around the world. Coronavirus is a dictator’s dream and even the most democratic leaders appear to relish their new found authority. Like many of us, Nik has been trying to navigate what’s OK to do and say but has also been pondering what to do with what he admits are some “bad recordings” of the Cave Dogs’ last gig before the lockdown. Only a few bits of phone recordings were available to stitch together but, with a publish-and-be-damned attitude, the Cave Dogs’ rendition of Jubilee Street is now available on YouTube. Despite the poor quality of the recording, the live vibe comes across as refreshing, especially as the song climbs towards its climax. This was the first outing for THE SUIT and will probably be the last for some time.

The morning after the gig, Nik found what was once Nick Cave’s clothes draped over his piano. To Nik, they looked like a “snake had shed its skin”. He photographed them but, being an artist, rearranged them and changed the lighting so that the clothes appeared to be a “bit more Human/Nick-like in shape”. When asked if he liked the shirt, Nik stated that he would have been happy to receive any typical shirt of Nick’s. However, what he received was a rather famous golden garment. Readers with a keen eye will no doubt be able to spot it in Cave’s movies.

Where will we be in another three months or even a year? Nick Cave has rescheduled his European tour for 2021 so presumably an Australian tour will follow. Despite his statement about now not being a time to be buried in the business of creating, new songs will surely emerge. In fact, Nick Cave has recently released a cover of T.Rex’s Cosmic Dancer and a 24 hour random playlist of songs and interviews, some new, has appeared on BAD SEED TEEVEE on YouTube.

In the meantime, Nik Krstić is working from home and is progressing towards finishing his art doctorate. We hope he will eventually find some time to start making original music but who knows where life will take us? Perhaps now that the snake skin suit has been discarded it will find a new home in Nik’s closet and will eventually be passed on to another impostor. However, that is a great suit Nik and wow man, you’re looking good!

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