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  More on: Mick Harvey

B-sides & Rarities
  Album Review - 5-4-2005
Mick Harvey: 'One Man's Treasure'
In songs' honour
Mick Harvey - one man’s treasure of songs

Within few weeks Mick Harvey, the man who’s been behind Nick Cave for the man’s entire career, faced the future and [re]visited the past. After playing one of the biggest indoor UK shows [at Alexandra Palace] with The Bad Seeds, the man will be back fronting his three-piece outfit at the Camden’s Underworld - a small club about the size of a venue Cave and he played in the long gone days after coming over from Australia as The Birthday Party.

Mick Harvey - celebrated arranger, multi instrumentalist, producer, film soundtrack composer and once a leader of his alternative band, Crime and The City Solution - has finally made a proper solo album. ‘One Man's Treasure’ is also an inspired and moving collection of classic songs: some are original tracks, some of these cuts are by Lee Hazelwood (the yearning 'First St. Blues'), Tim Buckley (the ominous 'The River') and the late Jeffrey Lee Pierce of The Gun Club (the bitter sweet reverie that is 'Mother Of Earth').

There are songs of humorous wisdom ('Hank Williams Said It Best'), inquisitive songs ('Will You Wonder?'), songs filled with hope ('Come On Spring'), wonder ('Bethelridge') and despair ('Demon Alcohol'). But, it all started like being made for his own soul and sake, without any design to have it released. Or, so the press release goes…

“Pretty much so but I’ve always been recording a lot at my home studios, it’s not like I’d go into a studio and work on finishing an album. I record a lot of things that are so different - like instrumentals and cover versions - and most probably will never see the light of day but this one had a purpose… Still, there was no particular project on my mind.”

“I’d cover a lot of songs because I don’t write a lot of original material. There are a lot of songs out there that I’d like to cover but a lot of them are known and I prefer to have some that are more obscure. The other possibility was to do a version that it could be done in a different way, be justified… There is a lot more there but, when I presented it to Daniel [Miller, head of Mute label], he got really excited and encouraged me to get it as an album. I’m a musician and don’t really finish things, so I need to have a deadline to get me focused.”

One of the songs covered on the album is by Mr Cave; any particular reason?

“'Come Into My Sleep' [originally issued as a B-side on The Bad Seeds single, '(Are You) The One That I've Been Waiting For?'] is one of the song I thought Bad Seeds never nailed properly and I wanted to redo it. It was originally a good song but we really didn’t get to grips with it. So, I decided to work out this version, about five years ago, and can tell you that Nick likes it very much.”

As a long-term member of the Seeds, what is your expectation when releasing a solo album?

“I don’t really know; if I were really ambitious I’d done something serious about it 15 years ago but now… I think it is a just a personal ambition of testing myself nowadays, it is simply a side-project, an outlet for my other ideas, like doing soundtracks or other kinds of music. It’s about finding my own voice and presenting my own ideas of what music could be. I’d say I’m doing it for myself, it’s not about being a pop star.”

“Unfortunately today’s music industry is all about fame and I’m well passed it. I’m after an interesting musical experience, or a creative fulfilment… Y’know, it is very difficult to put a finger on why I do this… I’m trying to find some inspiring and interesting songs that I want to share with people.”

Some other things you gonna share with masses is a second compilation of your soundtrack music?

“Yeah, I’m working on compiling it and there are going to be some instrumentals, some accidental music and has all to be edited and nicely packaged, I can’t release too many albums under my own name. I’m planning to finish it by October and have it released early next year.”

[One of the movies Harvey soundtracked was the notorious ‘Chopper’, one of the most (in)famous films to come out of Australia; he’s also won a handful of awards for his cinematic work.]

What’s this story about you working on a hard rock album, as well?

“Yeah, I’ve been working on it for a number of years and it is something that’s really interesting me. I come up with hard rock songs and whether they’ll find a place on an album is a big question. I’m hoping to finish it sometime in not so distant future… Yeah, I have a material of that kind and I like bands like AC/DC, early Black Sabbath, some Guns N’Roses… There are a lot of great hard rock songs.”

In a couple of years time it will be 30 years of forming Boys Next Door, a precursor to The Birthday Party that turned out to be one of the greatest inspirations to a few generations; sadly, no acts of that ilk appear to be emerging these days…

“Sadly it seems to be the case and if you are asking why - it is all to do with the industry. They try to be in control but the more they do the less they are… For me, those were pretty exciting days, my youth… It is all very much a touchstone of the time and I know we were an exciting band to see. It was free, wild, we had an attitude and didn’t really care about anybody else’s. We had the courage, emotion, power to go for it…”

“Will there ever be bands of that ilk - I don’t know for sure but it is doubtful. I know bands like Franz Ferdinand but I doubt they’ll ever be able to create the buzz that once had been done. There is complacency in the industry, among artists and public… It is hard to say why but these are different times.”

Tour dates:

08 September - Maroquinerie, Paris
09 September - Melk Veg, Amsterdam
10 September - Botanique, Brussels
11 September - Kalkscheune, Berlin
13 September - Magazzini Generali, Milan
15 September - Underworld, London

Mick Harvey's album 'One Man's Treasure' is released 29 August 2005 by Mute