Behind the Band Name: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

There was apparent rhyme and reason to the band name Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but their epithet didn’t come from anything proselytized or dreamed up. Following the split of Nick Cave‘s previous band The Birthday Party in 1983, he needed a name for what was forming in its aftermath.

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Ultimately, being stamped “The Bad Seeds” saved his bandmates from a more Neanderthal-marked fate.

The Boys Next Door / The Birthday Party

In 1973, Cave joined a band with fellow classmates Phill Calvert and Mick Harvey at Caulfield Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia, and covered songs by Lou Reed, Alex Harvey, and Roxy Music.

As the lineup moved around over time, Cave along with Calvert and future Bad Seed guitarist Harvey called themselves The Boys Next Door, along with bassist Tracy Pew. Guitarist, singer, and songwriter, Rowland S. Howard (1959-2009) would join in 1978, and they released their debut, Door, Door, in 1979.

Leading the charge of the post-punk scene in Melbourne by the late ’70s, after the band moved to London, they changed their name to The Birthday Party. They released their self-titled debut in 1980, along with three more albums — Prayers on Fire, and Junkyard — before disbanding in 1983.

The Cavemen

Following the demise of The Birthday Party, due to some internal strife within the band including songwriting disputes between Cave and Howard, something new was taking form.

Cave, along with Harvey on drums, Einstürzende Neubauten guitarist Blixa Bargeld, former Magazine bassist Barry Adamson, and Jim G. Thirlwell initially formed a new band in London — one yet to be named.

At first, they called themselves Nick Cave and The Cavemen, a label that stuck for several months.

The Bad Seeds

After Cave consummated some outside projects he was working on and returned to London, The Cavemen turned into The Bad Seeds, referencing the final 1983 EP by The Birthday Party, Mutiny/The Bad Seed.

A year later, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds released their debut, From Her to Eternity, in 1984. The project was produced by Flood, who would continue as a longtime co-producer of The Bad Seeds’ albums, along with Tony Cohen, and the band’s later work with Nick Launay. Cave and longtime Bad Seed multi-instrumentalist and composer Warren Ellis later took the helm on their albums.

Through its revolving door of bandmates since its formation, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds have released 17 albums through Ghosteen in 2019.

Photo: Joel Ryan / Courtesy of Nasty Little Man PR

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