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Nick Cave’s fondest memory of Mick Harvey is when he brought him cigarettes in jail

By | Published on Monday 25 October 2021

Nick Cave

Nick Cave’s fondest memory of being in the company of former Bad Seeds and Birthday Party bandmate Mick Harvey was when he was in jail and Harvey, er, was not. Obviously there’s more to this story than that. Although I think the conclusion is probably still the same.

A wider conversation between Cave and Harvey will be released later this week, as part of the promotion of new Bad Seeds compilation ‘B-Sides & Rarities Part II’. But the NME has already published Cave’s answer to a question about his favourite memory of being with his former bandmate.

“This is not by far the best moment, but it is a testament to many things about your character that I valued”, he tells Harvey.

So the story goes, the band had travelled from Iceland to the US on tour. When their tour bus arrived in New York, Cave promptly got off in order to go and buy drugs, but managed to get himself arrested. He ended up spending two days in jail and missing the show.

“No one knew where I was, because we were staying at the Iroquois Hotel, and I was given one phone call and I said I want to ring the Iroquois hotel and they said how do you spell that and I couldn’t spell it”, Cave recalls.

“So, I didn’t get my phone call, so I was never able to alert the band as to [where I was]. It’s a difficult word. It’s a difficult word to spell. And especially when … you’re in a cage full of like 20 other reprobates. Anyway, what happened was that no one knew where I was, I guess. And I missed the gig”.

Meanwhile, Harvey rang around hospitals and police stations and eventually tracked Cave down. “And then you arrived at the jail, and you had a carton of cigarettes”, says Cave. “Do you remember that? You gave me this carton of cigarettes and it was like the best thing. I’ll never forget that and that you found me, and you bought me a carton of cigarettes. Thank you”.

It wasn’t simply having a pack of cigarettes pressed into his hand that was memorable though. Cave continues: “I had the cigarettes, and I was in a cage full of a lot of people and … someone came up and said, ‘Can I have a cigarette mate?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, sure’. And this other guy came up and said, ‘You never never do that. Never do that’. I’m like, ‘Do what?’ and he goes, ‘You have to sell the cigarettes’. And I’m like, ‘Why?’ ‘Because you’ll get no respect, man’, you know, right”.

“OK, so the next person came up and I said, ‘Yes it’s a dollar’ and they went ‘Ah alright’, and then I just sat there handing out cigarettes and getting a dollar for each cigarette”, Cave goes on. “And I was like the king of the cage. So, thank you again”.

So, er, an important lesson there in both friendship and how to get respect while in police custody. If you want to hear the full conversation between Cave and Harvey – and another with Cave and Warren Ellis – it’ll be available at 10am on Wednesday here.