Mick Harvey, renowned as a founding member of both The Birthday Party and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and for his collaborations with PJ Harvey, has made a series of solo albums during the last decade – starting with ‘One Man’s Treasure’ in 2005 and culminating with 2018’s ‘The Fall and Rise of Edgar Bourchier and the Horrors of War’ (released with the author/lyricist Christopher Richard Barker).
Harvey started out playing in bands whilst still at Caulfield Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia. Three of his schoolmates, Nick Cave, Phill Calvert and Tracy Pew, ended up with him in his first post-‐ school band The Boys Next Door. Playing extensively around Australia in the late 70s the band eventually relocated to London in early 1980 where they changed their name to The Birthday Party. In the early 80s they were renowned for their wild performances and abrasive recordings which remain influential and unique to this day.
In 1983 The Birthday Party disbanded and Harvey was caught up in the formative years of The Bad Seeds with his Birthday Party band mate Nick Cave and also worked in a variety of line-‐ups with the singer Simon Bonney on his Crime and the City Solution project which continued until 1991. During the mid-‐80s Harvey moved to Berlin where both these bands were based during the late 80s.
After the dissolution of Crime and the City Solution Harvey produced two albums of the songs of Serge Gainsbourg translated into English (‘Intoxicated Man’ and ‘Pink Elephants’ 1995 and 1997 respectively) and began collaborating with the English singer PJ Harvey and producing recordings for Anita Lane amongst others. His participation in Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds continued.
With the advent of the new millennium Harvey was based back in his hometown of Melbourne and was finally able to develop his own ideas for a series of solo albums. Initially based on an extensive wish list of obscure and much loved songs mixed up with some of his own occasional compositions the result was four albums – ‘One Man’s Treasure’, ‘Two of Diamonds’, Three Sisters – Live at Bush Hall’ and ‘FOUR (Acts of Love)’. This series of albums was augmented by 2011’s ‘Sketches from the Book of the Dead’ – a themed album comprised entirely of Harvey’s own song compositions.
By early 2009 the 35 year long relationship with Nick Cave had finally lost its spark and Harvey chose to leave The Bad Seeds. Since this time he has completed the aforementioned series of solo album and continued presenting these works live in various band configurations and, at times, completely solo. He has also been able to find more time for projects such as PJ Harvey’s ‘Let England Shake’, (which he not only co-‐produced but was also able to be part of the touring band) and for his former Birthday Party band mate, the late Rowland S Howard’s final album, ‘Pop Crimes’.
2014 has seen Harvey deeply involved in German culture again with the Ministry of Wolves (whose pther members are Alexander Hacke, Danielle de Piccioto and Paul Wallfisch) and the Dortmund production ‘Republik der Wölfe’ based on the stories of the Brothers Grimm. Much touring has ensued including the odd solo show where he has been able to fit it in and 2 short runs of shows of the songs of Serge Gainsbourg in Australia and Europe – the first time Harvey has performed his translations from the mid-90s.
It has taken 20 years for Mick Harvey to resume his project of translating Serge Gainsbourg’s songs into English and following the release of Volume 3 “Delirium Tremens” in June 2016, Mick Harvey released on January 2017 the final in the series, Volume 4 – “Intoxicated Women”.
“Intoxicated Women” contains many duets and songs written by Gainsbourg, mostly during the 60s, in a period where he was focusing his songwriting on singers such as France Galle, Juliette Greco and most famously, Brigitte Bardot.
Here Harvey has enlisted the talents of guest singers Channthy Kak (Cambodian Space Project), Australian singers Xanthe Waite (Terry, Primo), Sophia Brous, Lyndelle-Jayne Spruyt and Jess Ribeiro and the German chanteuse Andrea Schroeder plus a special appearance by Harvey’s son, Solomon.
Work began on what would become Volumes 3 and 4 in late 2015. Recording in Melbourne with J.P. Shilo and the rest his Antipodean-based live band, 10 songs were tracked at Birdland Studios. The project then relocated to Berlin where a further 9 songs were recorded with Toby Dammit (The Stooges, Residents) and Bertrand Burgalat (of French label Tricatel) who was the string arranger on the first 2 volumes.
The resultant recordings served to whet Harvey’s appetite for more and almost immediately work continued back in Melbourne in order to have enough material to fill 2 new volumes. Along with principle musical collaborator, Shilo (with whom Harvey also worked on Rowland S. Howard’s “Pop Crimes”) and Melbourne based musicians Glenn Lewis and Hugo Cran, Harvey enlisted the aforementioned female singers to help complete this final volume in the series.
Still based in Melbourne, Harvey lives with his wife Katrina Beale, a painter, his son Solomon and a Burmese cat called Misha.