Someone would make some awful noise, and we'd all get excited and start playing along with it."
The sole American member of Grinderman and the Bad Seeds and a onetime member of the Cramps and Sonic Youth laughs abruptly when I ask him to describe his dynamic with Cave: "Hah! Complicated!" They talk a lot, about matters beyond music. "There's such a tendency, such an anti-intellectual streak in rock 'n' roll music," Sclavunos continues. "Such a fear of seeming to know things and such a tendency to dumb things down for the sake of trying to make it seem more real or give it more integrity. Don't let it get too complicated or it starts smacking of prog rock or something! But Nick's not afraid of ideas, and he's not afraid to try out ideas, and in that sense we're all of the same mind."
Grinderman is likewise as collective minded as possible. "We do it in very much the traditional democratic manner of bands," Sclavunos offers. "Whoever can be bossier in expressing an opinion about something has the opportunity to speak up, and if there's anything really objectionable going on, you can certainly count on people raising a fuss!"
The idea was to try something different, Cave confirms. "I asked Warren Ellis what I should sing about lyrically because we had a pretty clear understanding what the music was going to be like, and he said he didn't know but just don't sing about God and don't sing about love," Cave details. "A piece of information like that initially throws me for a six, but it's actually enormously helpful for me as a writer because it kind of cuts down your options and pushes you into another place." Contrary to belief, the idea was not to re-create Cave's cacophonous early combo, the Birthday Party. "The Birthday Party were actually way too complicated," Cave says mirthfully. "We don't have enough brain cells left to be able to cope with that kind of thing."
Sooo ... what with all the "No Pussy Blues" and the odes to "Depth Charge Ethel" shoved down Grinderman's trou, one wonders what Cave's wife, Susie Bick, must think of the lyrics? She likes the band and the shows, he says, then sighs, "Um, yeah. You know, I think there may have been a certain confusion to begin with, but I cleared that up." As in, who exactly you were writing about? "Yeah. Exactly. Yeah."<\!s>*
Thurs/26, 9 p.m., $26 (sold out)
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell, SF
Also Fri/27, 9 p.m., $26 (sold out)
333 11th St., SF
UK punk pop with enough energy and provocation, thanks to the Femlin-perpetuated sex and violence in the video for "Men's Needs," off their new Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever (Warner Bros.) to shiver your baby bunker's timbers. With Sean Na-Na and the Hugs. Wed/25, 8 p.m., $11<\d>$13. Slim's, 333 11th St., SF. www.slims-sf.com
BAT FOR LASHES
Another kick inside for Kate Bush lovers? Vocalist Natasha Khan is an ethereal ringer for the lady. I dug the all-girl folk-and-art-song combo when they played South by Southwest and the affection is catching: Bat for Lashes' Fur and Gold (Caroline) was recently short-listed for UK's Mercury Prize. Mon/30, 8:30 p.m., $10<\d>$12. Café du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. www.cafedunord.com