(This originally appeared on ABC’s Double J on November 30, 2020 and is by Mark Mordue)
(Even though the title alludes that this is primarily Nick Cave-related, I was riveted and bemused by Rowland’s anecdotes here and it’s an excerpt of the excerpt from the book Mark Mordue’s Boy on Fire: The Young Nick Cave)
(I don’t want to get in trouble with HarperCollins if I include the entire thing, plus I want to share the Rowland excerpts of the excerpt)
Rowland S Howard continued to be stunned by his behaviour. ‘Nick was a real tearaway,’ the band’s guitarist says, describing how Nick would climb out of a car bassist Tracy Pew was driving and ‘just hang there like a big black spider’ as they careened on down the sweeping curve of The Boulevard in St Kilda. ‘We’d be on our way to a party in two cars that Tracy Pew had stolen,’ confirms friend and fellow musician Greg Perano, ‘and you’d look across and see Nick on the roof. He used to do it all the time.’
One incident stands out: when Pew, unfortunately, was not behind the wheel. Rowland and Nick had been drinking and taking Serepax. The pair hitched a ride with a fan after a Boys Next Door show at the Tiger Lounge. Nick did his usual trick, opening the car door at high speed and clambering out on top of the vehicle.
For a joke Rowland told the driver to hit the brakes, not really expecting him to do so. In one version of the story, Rowland admits the driver probably hit the brakes ‘because he was so scared of us’. Nick came off instantly, rolling over the bonnet and skidding across the road on his back.
More than 15 years later Howard would say, ‘He’s never forgiven me.’ In telling this story, the guitarist emphasised, ‘Nick enjoys taking risks. He probably wouldn’t take a risk if he thought he’d wind up dead. Nick doesn’t have some asinine “death wish”, but a craving for more … It’s as if real life just doesn’t measure up, so he feels obliged to increase its sensory qualities.’