Nick Cave’s Disdain For The ‘Godfather Of Gothic Rock’ Label

Gothic rock, known for its melancholic melodies and darkly poetic lyrics, has influenced the music world since the late 1970s. Nick Cave is a significant figure among the artists associated with this genre. However, the singer himself has consistently rejected the notion that he is the godfather of gothic rock.

During a conversation with NME’s Jack Barron back in 1988, the interviewer told Cave about the myth, saying that his work significantly inspired the formation of many goth bands. The rocker responded:

“Heh-heh. Unfortunately, all the worst sides of my output in my creative life seem to have been adopted by people as the most influential ones. What you become is that which is taken up and aped by other people. But when the things that people take from you are the most repulsive misconceptions about you – the way the goths do, for instance – that’s all pretty frightening.”

Detailing why he rejects the title of the godfather of gothic rock, he went on to explain:

“I’d hate to go down in history as the number 1 goth, the man who spawned a thousand goth bands with stacked hairstyles, no personality, pale, sick people. I really don’t want to be responsible for that sort of thing at all. I think there are a lot more interesting things about what I’ve done than what seems to have most affect on people.”

In a May 2023 chat with NME, Cave again reflected on being labeled as a ‘goth band.’ He explained how being called as such was something they didn’t appreciate in their early days but also expressed his fondness about the issue, saying:

“I think the goths have endured in a way. That was the bane of our existence when we were young: that we were called a ‘goth band.’ It was the last thing you wanted to be called because we just weren’t. We were a comedy act! But I do have a weird romance for that and their capacity to endure.”

Gothic rock emerged in the UK as a subgenre of rock music influenced by punk rock. Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Bauhaus were called some of the early gothic rock bands. Additional bands associated with the goth genre include the Damned, the Cure, and Sex Gang Children. Later, its influence extended beyond the UK, appearing in Germany, America, and Australia.