Nick Cave on playing live being part of his grieving process: “The care from the audience saved me”

Nick Cave has discussed finding comfort throughout the grieving process in his audience when performing live, following the deaths of two of his sons in the past seven years.

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Cave’s son Arthur died in 2015 after falling from a cliff in Ovingdean, near Brighton. In May of this year, Cave’s son Jethro Lazenby also died, at the age of 31. The musician later thanked fans for sending their “condolences and kind words”, adding that they were “a great source of comfort”.

In a new, in-depth interview with The New York Times, which arrives ahead of Cave’s book Faith, Hope and Carnage being released later this month, the singer-songwriter talks about how the support he received from fans has helped him throughout his grieving process.


“When Arthur died, I was thrust into the darkest place imaginable, where it was almost impossible to be able to see outside of despair,” Cave said. He goes on to say that part of he and his wife Susie’s ability to “pull ourselves out of” that period was the response he got from those who wrote to him saying, “This happened to me, and this is what’s happening to you, and this is what can happen.”

Cave goes on to say that the concerts he performed following Arthur’s death also provided comfort. “The care from the audience saved me,” he explains. “I was helped hugely by my audience, and when I play now, I feel like that’s giving something back. What I’m doing artistically is entirely repaying a debt.

“My other son has died. It’s difficult to talk about, but the concerts themselves and this act of mutual support saves me. People say, how can you go on tour? But for me it’s the other way around. How could I not?”

Later in the interview, Cave is asked about learning to try move forward again after following the death of Jethro earlier this year. “I don’t know how to say this, really, but I do know there’s a way out,” the musician responds.

“The terrifying thing about when Arthur died was that it felt like, how could this feeling ever be any different? I don’t want everything I talk about and everything I am to revolve around these losses, but I feel compelled to let people in the same situation of grief know — and there are hundreds of people like that writing in to [Cave’s website] The Red Hand Files — that there is a way out.

“Most people who write in, especially early on in their grieving, simply cannot understand what I’m talking about in that regard. I know exactly how they feel. I understand it around Jethro.”


Cave’s new book, Faith, Hope and Carnage is set to arrive on September 20. The book is based on 40 hours of interviews between Cave and Observer journalist Seán O’Hagan, and covers Cave’s perspective and personal life over the six years following Arthur’s death.  Cave had also narrated the audiobook edition of the work.

Late last month, Cave and Warren Ellis announced a tour of their home country, Australia, in support of collaborative 2021 album ‘Carnage’. The tour will begin in Adelaide in November, and continue along to the the Macedon Ranges, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Tamworth, Newcastle and Sydney. See dates and ticketing information here.