By Vish KhannaHe is a sex maniac but you've chosen to divulge his innermost thoughts, as plainly as possible. Y'know, the thing that was important to me was that this character, as monstrous as he is, is recognizable to us. Or that we actually recognize something of ourselves in this particular character. It's an examination of the sexually predatory seam that runs through the male psyche that, happily, a lot of men that I've talked to about this book have admitted feeling.
You really feel like you're revealing something about men in this book. I think so, yeah―something that men get very uncomfortable talking about. And women seem to be very thankful for the creation of this particular character because it seems to expose something in men that they've long suspected (chuckles).
It's insightful, I see. Music figures heavily in this book, particularly that of female artists like Kylie Minogue and Avril Lavigne, whose body parts are described in vivid detail here. What were you trying to convey about Bunny based on his musical tastes? I think Bunny's not really that concerned with music, right? He's more concerned with who's making the music. So, he's a big fan of Beyoncé, Avril Lavigne, Kylie Minogue, and so on.
Beautiful, beautiful women. Yeah, very beautiful women.
But he does seem to get into the songs, eroticizing the music itself. That particular song, yeah. I don't want to go into detail about that Kylie Minogue song, "Spinning Around." But yes, that's his theme song for various reasons, which you'll find out if you read the book.
You've proven to be one of the most prolific and compelling songwriters of our time yet your output as a novelist has resulted in two books, released 20 years apart. How do you suppose your work as an author relates to your impulse to write music? Well y'know, I'm basically a musician, a songwriter. That's what I'm primarily concerned with. That's what I've put an enormous amount of time into doing over the years. But I don't think I could've done that or carried on making records unless I was doing other things as well. Once I've made a record, it takes a lot out of me to do that and the desire to get as far away as possible is intense. So, I do something else ― write a screenplay or, in this case, write a novel. I find that kind of reignites my desire to get back into music again. Very soon after writing The Death of Bunny Munro, I went back into the studio and recorded a new Grinderman record. So, these other projects that I work on, really keep the music alive.
Do they happen simultaneously? No, no they don't.
You just take a break from music completely to write a book. Yeah, although, having said that, I did write this novel on tour. I wrote it on the tour bus and hotel rooms. I wrote some of it in a hotel room in Toronto actually.
Did you not write part of this book on your iPhone? Well I, yes, I wrote a little bit of it on my iPhone.
Why would you write on your iPhone? Well I'd just got this iPhone; I'd never had one before. Y'know, I'm not very good with technology. But it's got this very simple little keyboard and you can type on it. It seems to have a mind of its own. You can type one thing and it puts the right thing in its place. So, basically, I didn't even write the first chapter. The iPhone technicians wrote the first chapter of the novel.
Well, they seem to know what they're doing if I might say. Now that's he's fully formed, do you think Bunny Munro has ever manifested himself in any of your songs? No I don't.
Have there ever been moments where a song idea has turned into a story or a screenplay or vice versa? No. They're very separate things, y'know? I don't write songs in the way I think a lot of musicians write songs, in that the songs just basically come out of them over a period of time and, once they've got a certain amount written, they'll go and make a record. I actually sit down on a particular day ― it's on my imaginary calendar ― "Today I start the new Bad Seeds album," and I sit down and I write it. The purpose of this is that I want to be able to create a particular, separate, idiosyncratic kind of world and that means having to immerse myself, for a period of time, in that particular bunch of songs. That's why all my albums all have a specific kind of sound from each other. They are different worlds.
They are, actually. I read somewhere that you treat it like shift-work. You'll go into an office space and, as you say, "Today's the day I'm gonna write the record," and you work on it they way someone else might work an office job. Yes I do, yeah.
And you can do that? Well, why not, y'know?
You don't get writer's block or anything? Yeah I do get writer's block but, just because a worker doesn't feel like working, doesn't mean they don't still have to go into the office, right? I sort of see myself like that; I see myself as a worker. It's not to say that I despise my job or something like that; I actually love doing it. So, it's not really a discipline. I'm driven to go into that office and I love doing it. But I see myself like a worker who, happily, loves his job.