A group of Brisbane artists have combined their talents to perform and re-interpret the “bloodthirsty and brilliant” music, as part of Brisbane Powerhouse's Wonderland festival, with a show that re-imagines the music with a mix of “creativity and spontaneity.”
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds fan and Murder Ballads co-producer and guitarist, Craig Spann wants audiences to hear more of Nick Cave “tipping his hat to tradition”.
“Songs like 'Stagger Lee', that's Nick Cave's take on a very old song. We've done a show previously where people play lots of different murder ballads and lots of different artists. When we went through that process a couple of years ago, it was fascinating [to see] how much history there is in that genre. If you think about society, society has been quite violent for some time and music is an expression of that.”
The show's individuality is personified by its performers, with producers purposefully straying from the norm expected by the audience. “We've got a lot of vocalists sharing the singing but the majority are women. We have a guy called Avi Misra, who is an Indian-born Australian singer, whose got that incredible, dramatic, deep Indian voice.
"We've tried to kick it on its head by having women and non-white guys sing the songs. It's kind of just different, they bring a whole different perspective to it.
“We're kind of taking our own approach, which is all you can kind of do anyway. There are songs that are 15 minutes long that are based on one chord. You have to get that feel for it. I don't reckon the Bad Seeds play the same song the same way twice anyways,” Craig says.
Even the band joins the audience in the sense of the unknown, with the show's spontaneity being a prime factor. “We're trying to keep an air of spontaneity to it as well, there is a ball park of how the song goes, but who knows how it's actually going to pan out.
“It could be slightly different, it could be; well, who knows? Yeah, it's gonna be super fun and it's not a huge venue, so I think it's gonna be pretty in your face, which I think is kind of cool.”
The production is described as a celebration of 20 years of “bloodthirsty brilliance” and self-proclaimed “old guy”, Craig believes the album is great because that is how records “used to be made”.
“'Murder Ballads' is the one, it's kind of just the best line-up of The Bad Seeds for me. If you listen to this record, there's just such an amazing collaborative approach. Just, the stories are very wordy and very heavy, word wise. But the band kind of gives it this texture and narrative that's amazing. The more we've listened to it to learn it, the more you hear of it and the more surprising it is, because it's so random,” he says.
'Murder Ballads' is part of Wonderland Festival at Brisbane Powerhouse on 24 November.