Cave lets loose on this song, pouring derision upon someone he can't stand. In a December 13, 2008 article in The Guardian, a journalist named Mat Snow claimed that he was the subject of the song. Wrote Snow: "In 1980 my old school buddy Barney Hoskyns was writing for NME and wanted someone to go to gigs with. I became his plus one. The Birthday Party (an early band of Cave's) were just fantastic, incredibly exciting, wild and feral, and we became part of their scene, which consisted of hanging out, playing records, doing drugs and drinking. I had a straight job and by night morphed into a nocturnal creature. It was an exciting scene to feel vicariously part of. It felt like you were living through a Velvet Underground song. I remember Nick [Cave] setting his hair on fire with a candle: everything was part-Baudelaire, part-Keith Richards. But by 1983 the Birthday Party had broken up and Nick was forming the Bad Seeds. He and his girlfriend Anita were asking for somewhere to crash for a while, and the pair moved in with me. He was still doing heroin but he was discreet. He was a good housemate. It was funny because he was always nagging Anita about her diet, yet he was shooting up! They moved down the road and we lost touch.
I raved about his From Here To Eternity album in NME but then, in a singles review, happened to drop in that the forthcoming - second - Nick Cave album 'lacked the same dramatic tension.' A year or so later I found myself interviewing Nick formally for the first time. He kept me and the photographer waiting for hours. The PR was very jumpy. I got a very unusual interview. I asked him what the problem was and he said, 'I think you're an arsehole' and mentioned that he'd written a song developing this theme. Weeks later, I bought for £1 a green seven-inch flexidisc called 'Scum.' I think it's one of his best songs, and very funny. Like Dylan's Mr. Jones, I'd rather be memorialized as the spotlit object of a genius' scorn than a dusty discographical footnote. My wife to be was a big Nick Cave fan - Scum is 'our song.'"