“It’s a pain in the ass”

Nick Cave has opened up about his experience with tinnitus, calling it “the musician’s curse” and “a pain in the ass”.

The musician was answering a question about his Red hand files website, from a fan who asked if Cave suffered from tinnitus himself.

“Do you have tinnitus? the fan – Denise from New York – asked, “What do you do when the ringtone gets loud? I’ve had it for 15 years and have adapted, but as I get older and seek more solitude, the chorus of crickets is always with me, screeching at full volume. I try to appreciate their alarm as the message “we are alive” but in a calm and quiet house they are very loud guests who never leave.

Cave then replied, “Warren [Ellis] says his tinnitus is so bad that other people can hear it. I think that’s nonsense and I told him, but he says the reason I can’t hear his tinnitus is that my own tinnitus is muffling it.

“Still, it’s funny that I should read your question now because I’m sitting here alone in my hotel room in Melbourne, just got back from rehearsals with Warren and the band, and my own ‘cricket choir’ screams his silly head off I wonder if I should go down to the hotel restaurant, which for some reason thinks it’s cool to play incredibly hideous music extremely loud while you eat, to drown out the little assholes.

Nick Cave. Credit: Francesco Prandoni/Getty Images

Cave continued: “Dear, sweet tinnitus – the curse of the musician. Mine is actually pretty manageable most of the time, it comes and goes, and only really kicks in when I’m playing live music, which I now think it is most of the time. An ear specialist once told me there was little I could do but ‘love my tinnitus’ – and then charged me three hundred pounds. But, you know, I don’t like my tinnitus, I don’t like my tinnitus at all, it’s a pain in the ass.

“So, I feel sorry for you, Denise, sitting there in your solitude, with your tinnitus for company, and I don’t really have any advice for you, except to tell you, if it’s any consolation, that not only does my cricket choir sing, loud and very clearly, but so does Warren’s, and Larry and Colin’s (Greenwood), and Wendy’s, Janet and T Jae’s – all our sad crickets singing their endless silly serenade , you, wonderful and tortured person, in your quiet but noisy house in New York.

Ending the response with a joke, Cave said, “Don’t try to call a tinnitus helpline, it keeps ringing.”

After a busy summer of festival dates and the release of her new book Faith, Hope and CarnageCave and his frequent collaborator Warren Ellis return home to Australia this month for a landmark tour, which concludes on December 17 in Sydney.

The singer also confirmed that he plans to start writing a new album at the end of this year. During a Q&A at London’s Southbank Center last month (October 27), where he spoke to journalist Sean O’Hagan about their new book as part of the London Literature Festival, Cave confirmed that after the tour was over, he would start writing a new recording.