Nick Cave has offered his somewhat damning opinion on the future of rock music with a brutally honest reflection on the genre that he has dominated for years.

Much has been made of the rock and roll’s struggles in recent years. As other genre’s dominate the mainstream, rock continues to slide away into the shadows and the new bands seem to struggle for relevance.

When asked by a fan on his new open forum Red Right Hand Files for his opinion on the current state of modern rock music, Cave replied in a detailed and thorough manner which suggests its a debate he has been mulling over for quite some time.

“Rock music has lurched and shuddered its way through its varied and tumultuous history and somehow managed to survive,” he began in the opener of his response. “It is within the very nature of rock ‘n’ roll to mutate and to transform – to die so it can live again. This churning is what keeps the whole thing moving forward. As musicians we are always in danger of becoming obsolete and superseded by the next generation’s efforts, or by the world itself and its big ideas,” he continued.

Cave was quick to point out that the major focus of rock bands has changed, no longer is the “big idea” freedom of expression: “It looks like the new big idea is moralism. Will rock music survive this one? We shall see,” he said.

He continued: “My feeling is that modern rock music, as we know it, has anyway been ailing for some time now. It has become afflicted with a kind of tiredness and confusion and faint-heartedness, and no longer has the stamina to fight the great battles that rock music has always fought. It seems to me there is little new or authentic, as it becomes safer, more nostalgic, more cautious and more corporate.”

“As far as rock music goes, I think that the new moral zealotry that is descending upon our culture could actually be a good thing. Maybe, it is exactly what rock ‘n’ roll needs at this moment in time. Contemporary rock music no longer seems to have the fortitude to contend with these enemies of the imagination, these enemies of art – and in this present form perhaps rock music isn’t worth saving.”

While Caves’ response started somewhat optimistic, his honest and painful consideration of the rock genre continued to unravel. What next, really? Does we keep plodding along somewhat aimlessly without any drive? Not likely. The Bad Seeds frontman battles with the idea that rock music needs a total overhaul, a moment to turn it off and start again, hitting the reset button: “Perhaps a painful reckoning is needed – a great crushing of creativity that descends and lays its self-righteous ice across art – so that in time, a wild, dangerous and radical form of music can tear its way through the ice, teeth bared, and rock ‘n’ roll can get back to the business of transgression,” he said.

Cave goes on to detail his opinion that rock and roll music is lacking real personalities, real artists who rally against the man and live on the outskirts of society. It is in these outskirts that Cave believes the true creatives of rock music reside, battling with issues in their own lives that ultimately transcend into the sound we’ve come to understand as rock.

“In this instance though, at this depressing time in its history, perhaps they can serve a purpose, perhaps rock music needs to die for a while, so that something powerful and subversive and truly monumental and can rise up out of it,” he concedes.

You can read Nick Cave’s full take on rock music, below. Alternatively, follow this link to view Cave’s website.

“What are your thoughts on the current state of modern rock music?”

“Rock music has lurched and shuddered its way through its varied and tumultuous history and somehow managed to survive. It is within the very nature of rock ‘n’ roll to mutate and to transform – to die so it can live again. This churning is what keeps the whole thing moving forward. As musicians we are always in danger of becoming obsolete and superseded by the next generation’s efforts, or by the world itself and its big ideas. Not so long ago the big idea in the world was freedom of expression. It looks like the new big idea is moralism. Will rock music survive this one? We shall see.

“My feeling is that modern rock music, as we know it, has anyway been ailing for some time now. It has become afflicted with a kind of tiredness and confusion and faint-heartedness, and no longer has the stamina to fight the great battles that rock music has always fought. It seems to me there is little new or authentic, as it becomes safer, more nostalgic, more cautious and more corporate.

“As far as rock music goes, I think that the new moral zealotry that is descending upon our culture could actually be a good thing. Maybe, it is exactly what rock ‘n’ roll needs at this moment in time. Contemporary rock music no longer seems to have the fortitude to contend with these enemies of the imagination, these enemies of art – and in this present form perhaps rock music isn’t worth saving. The permafrost of puritanism could be the antidote for the weariness and nostalgia that grips it. Perhaps a painful reckoning is needed – a great crushing of creativity that descends and lays its self-righteous ice across art – so that in time, a wild, dangerous and radical form of music can tear its way through the ice, teeth bared, and rock ‘n’ roll can get back to the business of transgression.

“Transgression is fundamental to the artistic imagination, because the imagination deals with the forbidden. Go to your record collection and mind-erase those who have led questionable lives and see how much of it remains. It is the artist who steps beyond the accepted social boundaries who will bring back ideas that shed new light on what it means to be alive. This is, in fact, the artist’s duty – and sometimes this journey is accompanied by a certain dissolute behaviour, especially in rock ‘n’ roll. In fact, the nature of rock ‘n’ roll is dissolute. Sometimes an individual’s behaviour is purely malevolent, and this surely needs to be exposed for what it is – and we must make a personal choice as to whether or not we engage with their work.

“However, in the world of ideas the sanctimonious have little or no place. Art must be wrestled from the hands of the pious, in whatever form they may come – and they are always coming, intent on trampling and destroying creativity. In this instance though, at this depressing time in its history, perhaps they can serve a purpose, perhaps rock music needs to die for a while, so that something powerful and subversive and truly monumental and can rise up out of it.

“Love, Nick.”

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