Published Sep 13, 2010When their debut album dropped in 2007, Grinderman hit the ground running. Propelled by the one-two punch of lead singles "Get It On" and impeccably clever not-getting-any anthem "No Pussy Blues," Grinderman impressed hardened admirers of Cave's work and turned on neophytes daunted by his hulking back catalogue. Like its predecessor, Grinderman 2 sees the band cranking open the release valve on the rawer, angrier, more indulgent energies lingering in the Bad Seeds' creative vault. This time around though, the results are less convincing. Grinderman 2 is more digressive, lacking the frantic concision of the first record. Still, many of these jams impress over multiple listens, with the extended breakdown of "When My Baby Comes" (a spiritual successor to the male inadequacy jibes of "No Pussy Blues") and the catchy chorus howls of opener "Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man" emerging from the fuzzy, psychedelic ether as the record's obvious highpoints. Elsewhere, Grinderman 2 sounds like a bit of a joke, with Cave too focused on crafting laboured double entendres ("My baby calls me the Loch Ness Monster/Two great big humps and then I'm gone") and cultivating some sort of weird garage rock werewolf persona. But as anyone who has seen the video for "Heathen Child" ― which, among many other things, features Cave and company dressed in Life of Brian-style centurion costumes, bucking plasma blasts out of their crotches ― can attest, the band have a sense of humour about the project. Maybe we should also.
This album is much denser than the first. Was that the plan: to do something that wasn't as raw, basic and stripped-down?
Drummer Jim Sclavunos: Yes and no. I wouldn't call it a "plan"; you always want to do something different than what you've done before. We strive, whether it's Grinderman or the Bad Seeds or whatever, to take the next step. This album had that sensibility in place before we even know what it was going to be. But we certainly didn't have a "plan." There were no ground rules, no limitations.
Is this approach what distinguishes Grinderman from the Bad Seeds?
Songwriting process ― yes. In the Bad Seeds, I'd say 99 percent of the time Nick is coming in with something that he's written on his own and laboured over in private. With Grinderman, Nick is more sunk into the band; he's fully integrated. His vocals operate almost as another instrument.
Elements of the first Grinderman album infiltrated the last Bad Seeds record; it sounds as if the boundaries between Grinderman and Bad Seeds are blurring or collapsing.
Surely that's inevitable considering we're the same people. After we made that first [Grinderman] record, the distinctions between the two bands became less important to us. There are going to be some resonances hanging over from whatever you've done just prior.
The Bad Seeds have tried, and accomplished, so much musically that it sounds as if the band are just a bundle of energy and ideas, and that Grinderman are almost an outpouring of the surplus.
It's more of an outgrowth of an outgrowth; we don't see it as a side-project, that's for sure. It's not a one-off; it's not even a two-off. One of the reasons we called the album Grinderman 2 is not because it's a sequel, but to suggest that there could be a Grinderman 3 or Grinderman 4.
So, Grinderman 2 is not the Bat Out of Hell 2 to the first album?
It's not a return to the first one; it's the second of a series. The implication is that this is going to go on. (Anti)