Dark Beauty is excited to bring you our in depth interview with the founding member of Bauhaus, David J Haskins. Described as the Avant of the Avant-garde his mark is engraved deep into the post-punk Alternative music scene. His lyrics on the nine minute Gothic classic ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ will forever be a part of the global dark community and beyond. In 1983 Bauhaus performed the opening scene in the cult Vampire film ‘The Hunger’ starring David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve. David regrouped with two of his former Bauhaus band mates, guitarist, Daniel Ash and drummer, Kevin Haskins to form the hugely successful Love And Rockets, whose debut single hit gold status in Canada, followed by a top three US single with ‘So Alive’ which the band capped with a million selling album and sold out stadium tours. David’s book ‘Who Killed Mister Moonlight’ is an excellent documentation of his life, we highly suggest you give it a read. It is now time to take a journey into his world, without further adieu, ladies and gentlemen… David J!
Interview Meikee Magnetic- Special thanks to photographer Louis Rodiger (Nylon Magazine)
Where were you born and where do you reside now?
I was born in Northampton, England, right in the middle of the country. “In that dirty old town in the Midlands, the furthest from the sea.” As I sing in ‘Two Thousand Light Years From Gold Street’, a track on my latest album. (Gold Street is a main street there and just around the corner from the location of the old Bauhaus rehearsal space.) I now reside in Southern California (along with the many lovely resident goth girls!) Click to hear > ‘Goth Girls In Southern California‘ – David J.
You’ve written a literary documentation of your musical history and life. Tell us about what inspired your book ‘Who Killed Mister Moonlight’:
Following the end of Bauhaus’ calamitous tour in 2006 when I believe that we were at our absolute peak when it came to playing live but also at the nadir of our personal relations, I simply felt compelled to tell the rather complicated and extraordinary story of the band. I wrote it from the heart, soul and head and I could only tell the truth. (Click on book below)
*The revised and expanded second edition of the memoir, ‘Who Killed Mister Moonlight’ (Bauhaus, Black Magick and Benediction) will be published by Jawbone books on December 12th.
You are available to perform in the living rooms of loyal fans for intimate performances. What kick started this great idea?
Well, that’s an appropriate word as it was in fact a Kickstarter campaign where the star prize was to have me play a live show in your living room. This turned out to be a kitchenette in Los Angeles and was a highly enjoyable experience. There was of course a very different focus to that of a regular club. The small audience were intensely involved in the performance which was inspiring for me. Also, meeting everyone after the set was such a soul satisfying experience with them telling me how much the music meant to them and how they came to discover it in the first place. There was no middle man involved, just me and the music lovers and I relished it. That night something clicked and I perceived the whole experience as the template for a new model when it came to performing live.
What influences you these days as far as newer artists?
I have always had very eclectic taste and a keen and sensitively tuned antenna so it’s what ever I happen to pick up that arrests my attention. This can come to me by via the radio, online or something I overhear in the street or which someone tells me about. Of late I have been listening to and loving the Dutch band, Warhaus, The Liminanas from France, K. Flay and also Cigarettes After Sex and The Soft Moon from the USA. Although I am into these artists none of them have been that influential as far as my own music is concerned. One new artist whose influence may have possibly seeped through is Annabel (Lee) partnered with Richard Lee. I was enraptured by her ‘By The Sea’ album and this haunting classic has just been followed up with a new album,‘The Cleansing’.
Where are you now as an artist and what have you learned through out the years?
There is a certain confidence that can only come through experience and that is a great resource to draw upon. Also, as the prospect of mortality becomes ever more real there comes with it a sense of ‘fuck it!‘ type freedom where things are very much put into perspective and this is also extremely liberating. One of the main things that I have learned is that it is very important to really ‘listen’ in all senses and applications of that word.
Peter Murphy has enlisted you to play for three nights at The Chapel in San Francisco. We’re excited to see this happening, what prompted the decision to revisit the material with Peter?
I was very surprised and also delighted to receive Peter’s invitation especially in light of the acrimonious circumstances of the band’s final split which I describe in some detail in my book. When writing the memoir, aside from it being personally cathartic it was also my earnest desire that it could be ultimately healing as far as my friendship with Peter was concerned which might seem strange to some as it is written with brutal honesty and that truth is often ugly but there is also a great deal of compassion there. Without wanting to sound at all preachy or patronizing in some ways I saw the book as a kind of mirror that potentially all of us (including myself) could look into and learn from and then possibly change for the better. I see this new collaboration as a further chance of reconciliation, in fact that is the main reason why I accepted Peter’s offer.
Any hope for guest appearances from each other in each other’s oncoming recorded work?
I really haven’t thought about it but that’s not to say that it won’t or can’t happen. Peter did sing some wonderful backing vocals on an old track of mine called, ‘Candy On The Cross’ from the ‘Urban Urbane’ album. He is a great artist with one of the richest voices in the business so should it come to pass that he should guest again then that would be a blessing. I would also be up for possibly contributing to one of his projects in the future. We’ll see!
The day that David Bowie died, what do you remember and where were you?
I was in a room at the Crystal, Hotel in Portland, Oregon. As with every David Bowie album from ‘Hunky Dory’ on, I had purchased ‘Blackstar’ on the day of it’s release. I was on a living room tour at the time and had set aside the evening of Saturday, January 9 to immerse myself in the album (post show) via headphones in the dark, dark basement of that night’s venue, an old house in suburban Seattle. The album blew me away. Once again Bowie had dared to dive into wild uncharted territory and it was thrilling to tag along. The following day I traveled by train to Portland, having booked a recording session there on the Monday. That night David Bowie left the planet. I learned of this news via a text from my son, Joe which said: “Very sad about David Bowie!”. I had no idea what he meant and phoned him right away. Following the call where Joe filled me in on Bowie’s death and in a state of shock, I played the new album for the second time. This time with an entirely different perspective. Listening to it in that very weird, poignant and strangely exalted state I was struck by the notion that Bowie had intentionally created an incredibly complex and layered swan song and had, in effect, transformed his death into an astonishing work of art. By the time the final track came on I was weeping copiously. Those tears needed somewhere to go. They ended up in a song. One that simply poured out of me. I recorded it the next day.
You have on intertwining history with Bowie, from covering Ziggy Stardust to appearing in the classic movie The Hunger. Is there an intimate Bowie story you could share with our readers?
On the set of The Hunger we were camped out in a makeshift dressing area right next to Bowie’s dressing room. There was an old 1950’s jukebox there and at one point I was thinking of making some selections when Bowie came out and politely asked if he could pick a song. I was not about to say, no! He chose ‘Groovin’ With Mister Bloe’ an instrumental track from the early ‘70‘s by Mister Bloe. The intro kicked in and he immediately launched into a full-on arms above the head type dance with me nodding along and mentally pinching myself. Listening to this track, it reminded me of ‘A New Career In A New Town’ from Bowie’s ‘Low’ album. I mentioned this to him and he smiled behind his blue tinted shades and silently put a finger to his lips and kept on dancing! Going back to the day that he died, one of the things that really moved me when listening to ‘Blackstar‘ again was the reference to the same harmonica part from ‘A New Career’ on the final track, ‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’. My perception was that he was referencing this in a very profound way as the ‘new town’ was the afterlife and the ‘new career’: whatever it was that he would be doing there. This revelation coupled with the lovely memory of meeting him that time impacted on me heavily and I broke down in tears. Then I picked up my guitar.
When did you discover your passion to start making art and how can we purchase something for our own?
Oh, when I was very young, around 2 or 3. I was always drawing as a kid. My dad would bring home these huge rolls of blank paper from the printers where he worked and I would make endless friezes featuring pirates, skeletons, airplanes, ships, cars, monsters, robots etc etc. I have continued to make visual art. These days it usually takes the form of multi media pieces which incorporate elements of collage and painting. There are some pieces available via my site: www.davidjonline.com
Photo Louis Rodiger
You produced a brilliant remake of ‘Toxic’ with Adrian H featuring actress/ DJ Sasha Grey. We love how you made it your own with a slowed down tempo, low end piano and Sax, this version is more to our liking. How did this track come together?
Ha! Funny story! I was actually preparing for a gig with The Adrian H and The Wounds as my backing band in Portland, Oregon which is where they are based. I had stopped off at a supermarket to pick up some bottles of water and Britney Spears‘ original track was playing over the in-store speakers. I suddenly got the mad idea that we should cover it and include it in our set the next night. I called Adrian while still in the store telling him of the idea which he loved and by the time I got to the rehearsal room he had worked up two alternative versions. It clicked right away and we decided to take it further by recording it and then making the video. I thought Sasha would be great as this kind of predatory succubus character and indeed she was!
We’d love to know about your future plans:
Well, I now have enough songs for a new album. I feel that the material is very strong. Again, some of it was written and recorded while on the road. On the European tour that I have just completed I wrote three songs, one of which I recorded on the fly in Prague with some brilliant local musicians, including Karel Holas who is one of the greatest violinists in the world. He also joined me for my gig in Prague the night before the session. I had written the song in Porto a couple of days before. I would love to return to Prague to complete the recordings and to that end will be launching an indiegogo campaign in November. Next year will see the release of an album called, ‘Loner’ which is a collaboration with a great English musician, Tim Newman who also contributed to some of the tracks on the current album. On ‘Loner’ we have revisited an original track called, ‘Albino Dog’ that I recorded with Mia Doi Todd back in 2000. It was never released as it didn’t really fit in with anything. We have used elements of the original track and produced some rather experimental variations. The original will also be included. I am very pleased with the results. It will be released on vinyl on the Erototox label in the winter of 2018. I am also working on a book of poetry that will be published by the same label.
Photo Louis Rodiger
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
What immediately comes to mind is the book ‘The Flowers of Evil’ (‘Les Fleurs du Mal’) by the great nineteenth century French poet, Charles Baudelaire which is simply oozing with beautiful decadent dark delights! The photograph on the inner gatefold sleeve of my new album, ‘Vagabond Songs’ shows myself sitting in the temporary green room at a gig I played in Coimbra, Portugal a couple of years ago. On the wall is a photograph of Baudelaire amongst other symbolist poets including Arthur Rimbaud who was also no stranger to the concept of ‘dark beauty’.