Written by: Michael Mitchell
David J has always struck me as the quiet type.
He always has a very dapper appearance; smartly dressed in a jacket, tie and sunglasses. Consummate cool. When I was asked if I would like to do an interview with him ahead of his tour with Peter Murphy celebrating 40 years of Bauhaus and two solo concerts where one takes him back to the studio where it all began for said band, I was excited to ask him all about these upcoming milestones.
I was also pleasantly surprised to find that he’s not the quiet type at all. He was warm, chatty and full of insight.
David J Haskins started his professional career in 1978, playing bass with the pioneering band Bauhaus which also featured Peter Murphy on vocals, Daniel Ash on guitar and his younger brother Kevin Haskins on drums. The band has been credited with the birth of Gothic Music as a genre due to their first single (which became their hallmark song), “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” Their short, initial lifespan only lasted until 1983, but the mark they left was indelible. They practically created the look for a subculture and a sound that resonated in bands ranging from Christian Death to The Mission U.K., to modern day outfits like Interpol and, especially, the current wave of post-punk bands such as Soft Kill, Drab Majesty, and scores of others. As an entity, they would reform two more times – in 1998 for a string of concerts called, “The Resurrection Tour” and from 2005 until 2008 when they headlined Coachella, toured on their own and with Nine Inch Nails, and released their first album of new material in 25 years before finally imploding.
Love and Rockets started in 1985 and teamed David J with his former bandmates, Daniel and Kevin, as a trio. They set the Alternative music world alight and even cracked the USA charts on the Billboard Hot 100 with their song, “So Alive” peaking at #3. It did even better in Canada, hitting the #1 position. Though the band split in 1999, they had a brief reunion for a Joe Strummer tribute concert in 2007 plus a handful of shows in 2008, including a headlining slot at Coachella and Lollapalooza.
As a solo artist, David J has released a myriad of albums ranging from sincere, Dylan-esque folk-rock to dramatic, theater-esque efforts in collaboration with artists like Alan Moore. All of his work comes with a sincerity and purity unrivaled in any genre that you care to put him in. His “Living Room” concerts provide an intimate experience with the performer as they are literally as the name suggests. He is a storyteller. He is a channeler. He is an artist in every sense of the word. His years in and out of bands have provided him with many stories and many things to celebrate.
Prior to starting the interview, while getting a level check on my recorder, I asked him to give me a quote from a David Lynch movie. “From which David Lynch movie?” he asked. “Blue Velvet” was my reply. He immediately hissed back Dennis Hopper’s infamous, “Mommy!”. We began the interview in laughter and he gave me a little inside scoop:
David J – You know, I missed that scene! I went to see Blue Velvet the day it came out in Hollywood, with Daniel Ash and we both went to this cinema on Hollywood Boulevard. It was real funny because, well obviously I hadn’t seen the film before, but I took in, believe it or not, a can of Heineken, right? So, I’m drinking this beer and they reference Heineken. You remember that in the film? Daniel was just riveted to the screen and I was riveted as well but I tore myself away and I went and had a pee and I come back and it’s like a different atmosphere in the cinema. Daniel’s jaw’s open. I said, “Did I miss something?” He’s like, “…yeah”. It was that whole scene you know where he gets the mask out, so I missed all that! I’ve seen that film many times but…
Stereo Embers Magazine – Great scene, too!
DJ – Yeah. Amazing. Amazing performance, amazing movie, amazing director.
SEM – Absolutely. Totally agree. In some of your most famous photos with Bauhaus, you’re in your Eraserhead shirt.
DJ – Oh yeah, yeah, that’s right. I saw that the week it came out and there had been no publicity or anything. I was just passing the cinema in London, a little art house cinema and saw the poster. It was the middle of the afternoon and I thought, “That looks intriguing”, so I just went in. I asked, “When is this movie starting?” and they said, “In 10 minutes”, so I just went in. I had no preconceptions as to what I was about to see. Blew my mind. I was so into surrealism, well I still am, but very much at that time and it was just an incredible experience. It’s rare to have a pure experience like that, especially these days, without having anything preempting it or setting it up or spoiler alerts.
SEM – Yeah, I was going to say nowadays information just flows so quickly that it is rare to have something be a total surprise.
DJ – Yeah.
SEM – Wow, that must have been shocking I guess?
DJ – Yeah. I was entranced. It was beautiful to me, it was so strange and beautiful.
SEM – And it is. Still to this day. Even after repeated watching. It’s something that shows the mark of a good filmmaker where you always pick up something new, no matter how many times you watch it.
DJ – Yeah, the man is a genius. I finally met him a couple of years ago and it was not disappointing.
SEM – [laughs] What was he like in person?
DJ – He’s just like you imagine. I went to see Chrysta Bell, do you know the singer Chrysta Bell whom he produced?
SEM – Oh Yeah.
DJ – She is wonderful. We’d been communicating online and then I met her backstage after a performance. It was at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and she introduced me to Lynch. There was a little patch up on the roof of the Masonic Lodge and he was up there with a glass of red wine and a cigarette, with his white shirt buttoned up to the top and his hair looking like it looks, magnificent.
SEM – Perfectly quaffed!
DJ – It was a perfect introduction to come from her. He said, and it wasn’t like a, “How are you doing”, or “Hi”. He put his hand on my shoulder and he goes, [in his best Lynch voice] “There are many trees.”
SEM – [laughing]
DJ – This is the first time I’d met the man. “There are many trees.” Yeah, and he took me over to this balcony and he’s like, “Look…trees. Trees are important.”
SEM – [still laughing]
DJ – And I said, “Well, yeah they make oxygen” and he said, “No! Beyond that. It’s the interconnection of everything. Roots! Roots! Roots!” I said, “Yeah, yeah I get it like everything’s connected and some things facilitate that connection…” and at this point he starts to give me a shoulder rub and he said, “I like what I’m hearing! I like what I’m hearing! Carry on!”
SEM – [continually laughing]
DJ – “Well, I felt like tonight with the music Chrysta Bell was making…”And he’s giving me a really good massage and I’m going all kind of wobbly…
SEM – [cackles]
DJ – “…it was drawing in the spirits..”, “Yes! Yes! I like what I’m hearing!”, “and it was connecting us, the audience, with the spirits and with each other and with the performers..”, “Yes! Yes! Chrysta Bell!” and he just went on like this. It was a wonderful introduction. We just drank wine and yeah, it was great. Like I said, not disappointing.
SEM — No, I guess not. That’s great. So….40 years of Bauhaus…
DJ – My God…
SEM – Did you ever in your wildest dreams think that you would be out celebrating this?
DJ – Well, not when I was 21 and we started the band, no. When I was 31 it was still far fetched but not impossible. When I was 41 it actually happened. So, the level of incredulity shifts over the years. When we first started we didn’t think it would last more than a year. We weren’t sure, you know?
SEM – This past Monday was the 39th anniversary of the single ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’, and you have a concert coming up in the studio that it was recorded in.
DJ – Yes. That’s right…Beck in Wellingborough. Yes. First time I’ve stepped foot in there since ‘84.
SEM – Did Bauhaus record anything more there?
DJ – Yes, we did ‘Rosegarden Funeral of Sores’ there, a version of ‘Terror Couple Kill Colonel’, an early version of ‘Telegram Sam’, so yeah Bauhaus did go back. In fact, we wanted to record our first album there, but Derrick Tompkins the engineer / owner, he thought it wasn’t sufficiently equipped to make an album. In retrospect, I disagree [laughs]. I think we could have made a great album there, you know? Part of the magic of the place was it’s limitations. So, I think it’s a good thing when you have those limitations as an artist because it makes you stretch. Look at David Lynch. No resources, no funds at all, but he made ‘Eraserhead’. It wouldn’t be the same film if it had millions of dollars behind it, so there’s a lot to say for that.
SEM – Agreed. Now in that first session at Beck, you guys of course recorded ‘Bela Lugosi’ and an early version of ‘Boys’ but it wasn’t the actual b-side version, right?
DJ – It wasn’t because we were under the impression that, similar to Derrick, the thinking in terms of, “Well this can’t be as good as this proper studio in London,” you know? “We should go to a “PROPER studio” in London and re-record this song though there’s nothing wrong with it.” In fact, the version we recorded at Beck I think was superior but it’s just this naivete’ really in not appreciating that something that is simplistic can be great. We actually recorded 5 tracks that day.
SEM – Right. The other tracks that weren’t released, do you foresee them ever getting released?
DJ – I think there is quite a good chance that they will see the light of day. That’s all I can say on the matter.
SE< – [laughs] Nice teaser.
DJ – There is a lot of interest in that session. So we’ll see.
SEM – Good. Now, post-Bauhaus. Your first 2 solo albums, “Etiquette of Violence” and “Crocodile Tears and the Velvet Cosh” were recorded at Beck. What was it that took you back there to make them?
DJ – The main thing was Derrick. Derrick was a wonderful man with really good ears and a very open minded guy. He was an older guy. He was in his fifties when we worked with him. We thought he was ancient. Seems funny now, but he was just very open minded and [pauses] you could just trust his musical mind. He was very forthright in his opinion, you know? He wasn’t at all afraid to criticize something if he thought it was inferior. It was actually hard to impress him. That was another thing that was good because we were goaded into trying to impress the old bugger.
SEM – And by the time your solo career started you had already worked with many other producers, so it was almost like getting back to your roots.
DJ – It wasn’t that so much as it was just being enamored of Derrick. Just loving the man and the way he worked. We worked very simpatico. I loved Beck as a studio. There was just something magic about that little studio. It was just so close to where I was living in Northampton, just up the road. So, I recorded the whole of “Etiquette of Violence” there, most of “Crocodile Tears” and I also recorded several EP’s after that. I recorded the “V for Vendetta / This Vicious Cabaret” E.P. there with Alan Moore; Alan writing the lyrics. So, it was always a favorite studio. Then when Derrick passed away I think it had, well I know it had closed down. Then somebody stepped in and renovated it but with quite a lot of respect towards what it used to be. So, it’s sort of like a refurbished, vintage studio. It looks great from the photos I’ve seen and what I’ve heard about it. I’m really looking forward to going back. I just had this idea, I mean, playing a lot of living room shows, literally living rooms, for about 8 years now and loving that circuit, I had a gig booked in London already this year and I thought whilst I’m over there perhaps I could do another one near to home. I just had this light bulb moment, I thought, Beck! Beck Studios! What a great idea to go back to that studio and actually play in that place. It’s very exciting to me. Very nostalgic, of course.
SEM – Absolutely. Is it going to be a retrospective show or will you only do songs that were recorded there? How are you planning to lay it out?
DJ – It’s going to be all over the shop, but obviously I’m going to feature songs that were recorded there, yeah. I’m also going to tell the stories about them. There’s going to be a Q&A. There’s going to be an interview with the author Andrew Brooksbank before I play. It’ll be a very different, special gig. Then the next day I’m going to record something new at Beck.
SEM – Nice!
DJ – I’m also going to film a video there for a track from my forthcoming album which is a new version of the first song on side one of “Etiquette of Violence”, ‘I Hear Only Silence Now’. I’ve recorded a very new take on that. It’s a duet with an artist called Emily Jane White. It turned out really great. That will be the last track on my next album which will probably be my last album because I just feel like that’s how it should be. I’m still going to make records and record my work, but as far as the old traditional album format, I feel like there’s some sort of closure, just intuitively. I just want to do one off singles, EP’s, collaborations, theater work, film music. I think this forthcoming record will be the last album as such.
SEM – I think that’s going to make a lot of people sad.
DJ – It’s just a format, you know? There’ll still be music.
SEM – Sure.
SJ – And also, I’m not adverse to doing collections. So, if I put out a series of singles then they can all be, at one point, collected and put together as a compilation. That’s also really interesting and great for me because I just signed to Glass Modern which is the rebooted Glass Records with Dave Barker at the helm. It’s like going home because he put out “Crocodile Tears” and he put out a compilation album called “On Glass” and various other EP’s most of which I recorded at Beck. Actually all of them I recorded at Beck. So, he’s putting out the new album. He’s also putting out another project which is a collaboration I just finished with a band called Duende who are from Detroit. It’s a really exciting record called, “Oracle of the Horizontal”. It’s like psych-garage. There’s a real kind of Stooges / MC5 vibe, that real gritty Detroit sound.
SEM – Yeah, real lo-fi.
DJ – But it’s real psychedelic. It’s got Warren DeFever from His Name is Alive on it. He’s great. Dave Barker is putting that out as well, so, I’m really pleased about that.
SEM – I guess that is what I found most shocking about what you just said about not making any more albums, per se. Vinyl has made such a comeback and there is a whole new generation buying. I’ve been collecting since I was knee high to a grasshopper and that is how I’ve brought my kids up as well.
DJ – Well, there is a resurgence and for the first time last year, vinyl outsold CD’s, but that’s not saying much because neither format sells that much. The main thing that is popular, unfortunately in a way, is streaming and downloading. The quality is nowhere near as good. I mean you can’t beat the quality in vinyl. I will always make vinyl records,; 7” records, 10” EP’s, but it’s just such an intensive labor of love making an album and it costs me money. I mean, I haven’t made money from any album I’ve ever put out on my own because it doesn’t sell enough. I pay the musicians what they deserve and I pay for the studios. I put a lot of love and work into making those albums. It’s very time consuming and it doesn’t pay me anything.
SEM – I recently saw a quote from Peter Frampton who was saying, and I’m paraphrasing, that “Show Me the Way” had been streamed about 15,000 times in a month and he received a check for a little over $1,000.
DJ – [laughs] Exactly.
SEM – He went on to say something to the effect, if an artist like me is getting streamed that much to receive that little, then how can any independent artist ever make any money? Such a sad state.
DJ – Exactly. The only way to make money is to have a song placed in a film, a TV show or an advert.
SEM – Even with the extensive touring that you do, does that generate a lot of money for you?
DJ – You’re kidding?[both laugh]
DJ – No, I have to keep hustling constantly solo-wise just to pay the rent. I mean, I live month to month. I’m sure there is a misperception that I’m loaded because I’m well known for making music but I’m not. In fact none of us are, I know that for a fact. Then again, if you’ve got a “marquee name” as they say, like Bauhaus, then you can make some good money. Or Love & Rockets to a lesser degree, but still significant. You have to have that name though. The individuals, their names are not as significant as the band name. Even a band like The Rolling bloody Stones. Mick Jagger, when he goes out solo, or Keith Richards, they don’t make any money. It has to be The Rolling Stones, then they make mega-bucks.
SEM – We’ve been Facebook friends for quite a while and it seems like you are constantly on the go.
DJ – Yeah, I have been.
SEM – So, how many days are you actually home out of a year?
DJ – Increasingly less and less. My home has become the road [laughs].
SE M– It seems like there is always a show and I just wonder, when does he get a chance to just take a breath?
DJ – You can always find time. You can always take the time to just meditate wherever you are. Find that quiet internal space.
SEM – That’s important!
DJ – It’s vital.
SEM – Outside of the Bauhaus reunions, is this the first time that you and Peter have collaborated? I know he did backing vocals for you on ‘Candy on the Cross’ from “Urban Urbane” but I don’t know if that was just studio magic or was he there with you?
DJ – I invited him to come and sing on that as he was in London at the time and he just popped in for the day, you know? But yeah, that was the only time we collaborated outside the band.
SEM – Was this reunion out of the blue for you?
DJ – Totally. Very unexpected. I hadn’t seen him or spoken to him for 12 years, then he invited me via e-mail to join him on his run in San Francisco where he’s going to play all of his albums and then end with 2 nights of Bauhaus. He wanted me to play on the whole thing but I said, “No. I appreciate the offer Pete. I can’t do the whole thing but I’d be interested in doing the Bauhaus.”So that’s how it started. Of course, you know, he couldn’t get a visa, so those shows have had to be rescheduled like 3 times. This third time it was left until the 11th hour hoping it would come through but it didn’t. So frustrating. Now he’s put the U.S. back until next year and still we don’t know if he’ll be able to get the visa or not.
SEM – Sure and with Trump and his travel bans…
DJ – Yeah and Pete is a Muslim living in Istanbul!
SEM – Right! So what are the chances? Probably pretty slim sad to say.
DJ – Well I don’t know. We’re trying to do everything we can. He went to Ireland to see if he could do it that way, so we’re just waiting to hear. You just don’t know.
SEM – How did everything come together for that initial reunion of Bauhaus back in 1998?
DJ – How did it come together? I had made a magickal spell to bring that into manifestation.
SEM – [nervous laugh and a good 3 seconds of silence] Really?
DJ – Mm hmm. It felt right. I was very immersed in practical magick, ritual magick at that time. So, I conducted a ritual to make that happen and I personally believe that is what made it happen. I wrote about this extensively in my memoir. I’ve written a memoir, “Who Killed Mr. Moonlight (Bauhaus, Black Magick and Benediction)” and I write about the whole process.
SEM – Unfortunately, I’ve not read the book. My ADD just doesn’t allow me the concentration.
DJ – Focus, man!
SEM – [laughs] I’m going to try! I promise you I will try! I did see an interview you had given a while ago where you said you never really practiced “Black Magick”…“Off-white maybe”. [laughs]
DJ – Yeah!
SEM – Is it an O.T.O or Thelemic path or…
DJ – No, I mean…Thelemic? Elemental Thelema, yeah. Crowley has kept a major reference. But it’s sort of my own interpretation of that. It’s Kabbalistic and drawing from many, many different practices. Chaos magick very much so at that time. A focusing of the Will. I didn’t call myself a magician when I was a kid, but when I was a kid, I was. I realize that now. Very psychically in tune. Alan Moore really focused me in that direction because he was fully immersed in the business of becoming a magician. I was courted by Alan and entered into his Cabal, into his coven and boom, I learned a lot from him. I also did extensive reading at the time and stayed fascinated by it. It became rather overwhelming because it’s so powerful and it’s so..it’s just such a wild thing to harness. I think that anybody who thinks they can wield ultimate power and harness the elemental and the powers of the occult are fooling themselves. I think Crowley fell foul of that and most magicians do. I think the ego comes into play and they think they pull off a few tricks and then they become very egotistical and think ‘I’m really powerful,’ but you are a conduit and you have to respect the forces that are coming through you and the energy that is around you. You have to respect that and be in tune with it and follow, it’s more like that Wiccan path. It’s very nature based, it’s pantheistic and it’s respectful. So balance is very necessary.
SEM – You’re not still on that sort of path are you?
DJ – No, I don’t practice ritual magick but I do practice spontaneous magick quite a lot. It’s a very different thing. It’s more subtle. I certainly focus my Will and use visualization to make things manifest. Sometimes I manifest an opportunity to make money. That’s why it’s “off-white” Magick because sometimes I need material things. Not to be like, super rich or anything. Just to help someone else out or just help myself out, you know? There’s a situation where a certain amount of money is needed. The thing is not to be greedy and ask for riches beyond your wildest dreams but again it’s that thing of being respectful and things being in balance and also to give back. When you receive, give back.
SEM – Right, because whatever you put out into the universe you get back in spades.
DJ – Absolutely. That’s why it’s idiotic to practice black magick. That’s going to come back on you and do you a lot of harm, you know? It’s completely against my nature to do that. That’s why I’d never dream of trying to hurt somebody or anything by using magick. That’s very abusive.
SEM – After the initial reunion of the band, you guys went on with your solo careers. Love and Rockets continued for a while after that. Was there an agreement, or unspoken agreement, that you’d get back together again as you did in 2005?
DJ – Peter really wanted to carry on in 1999 but we’d made this album, “Lift”, that we were really proud of and we wanted to put it out and promote it, so we did. Towards the end there was quite a lot of tension in the ranks as there always was. It was always a very volatile situation with Bauhaus. It was an easier little group to get along with in Love and Rockets, so we decided to do that. I think it would have been very interesting if we had carried on. Tony Visconti wanted to make an album with us which would have been intriguing. But…we didn’t. Then the second time we got together in 2005, that again was out of the blue and there was no magick involved. I wasn’t trying to make that happen. I was thinking I was in a dire situation as I think most of us, or all of us were financially not very well off. I was concentrating my Will to make that situation change without practicing anything, you know, in the magick circle as it were. Just a fixed intention that this is going to change. It’s a state of Zen really where you’re not clinging to what you want to manifest but you’re putting intention out there and in a very subtle subconscious way you’re focusing on it. I really think you can make your world if you train your mind in that way. Anyways, I got a phone call from someone at Goldenvoice asking if Bauhaus would be one of the headliners at Coachella and he said he’d pay us a quarter of a million dollars.
SEM – Wow. Kind of hard to turn down!
DJ – So I called the others up and told them and it was like, “Yeah, ok! We’ll do it!”[both laugh]
DJ – It really was for the money but as soon as we got together to rehearse, there was something there, like a spirit and feeling for the music. We were into it and excited to be doing it and thinking let’s carry on doing this. This is a great feeling. So, then we started writing new material.
SEM – And you recorded “Go Away White”.
DJ – Yeah and that was very fractious. We nearly split up about three times doing that recording.
SEM – There was no tour following the release of the album but there were a lot of shows leading up to it.
DJ – Yes with Nine Inch Nails. Trent asked us to go on tour with him and that was something he regarded as paying tribute to us, which was very nice. He was a true gentleman on that tour. We were treated very well with a lot of respect by him, if not by his fans who were notorious, you know? They were only into Nine Inch Nails. I remember the very first gig, I think it was the Sasquatch Festival. I was out watching this band, Wolfmother, who were really good. They were really bringing it and the audience weren’t supporting them and they were heckling them or completely ignoring them, you know, just throwing a beach ball around. I stood next to Trent watching this and then I had this thought. I went back to the band and I said, “Ok, look, this is the deal…we’re gonna make an impression here. So here’s the idea lads…see if you’re into this. We go out there and we don’t play a fucking note. We just stand stock still and stare the bastards down until they shut the fuck up.”
SEM – [laughing]
DJ – “However long that takes. It might take 20 minutes of our set. But that’s what we’re gonna do.” They were all into it, “That’s a great idea! Let’s do it!” So, that’s what we did. We go out there, stock still and there’s jeering and the focus is just not there. Then they start to notice, like, nothing’s happening and we’re just staring. Then they start charging the stage and throwing stuff and we’re just standing stock still! “Alright you motherfuckers. Shut the fuck up…and we’ll play” we’re thinking. Then there’s this moment, because it’s up to me to come in first on this track ‘Double Dare’ and the bass starts it, “bwaaaaaaaang”, you know, so I just waited for that portal. It was very powerful. We did that on every gig.
SEM – Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see you all that time. I saw the ‘98 Resurrection tour.
DJ – There was a lot more edge to the band at that time in 2005. Then in 2006 I think we were at our total peak. So much fire and energy and grit to the band. It was just like a gang together, you know, a little army.
SEM – I’ve seen online where people are saying this 40th anniversary tour is a reunion tour, but it’s not a reunion tour.
DJ – We’ve never said it’s a reunion! No one from our camp has said it’s a reunion. That’d be ridiculous. I mean we’re not calling it “Bauhaus”! That’d also be ridiculous. It’s Peter Murphy with me as his special guest and two other great musicians who are fans of the band, but they’re individualistic players. Peter and I are encouraging them to bring their own character to the music. Not just a copy. I mean, to have the essence of it, but to interpret in their own way, especially the guitar player, John Andrews, who’s brilliant. It makes it alive again.
SEM – I’ve seen the video that is online from a festival you all did in April this year performing ‘Double Dare’, I thought they did a phenomenal job. Who is the drummer?
DJ – Thank you. Yeah, Marc Slutsky. He’s very good. Very solid.
SEM – It was eye opening to see how well they melded with you two. How did that feel for you being back on stage and playing the old tunes, seeing Peter walking around onstage?
DJ – It feels great. I’m getting on great with Peter. For that gig he was a joy to be around and he’s very focused and he seems to be in a very good place, you know?
SEM – I know you’ve said before that he has kind of “owned up” to some of what happened to Bauhaus. So I’m sure that’s changed his attitude in a sense?
DJ – Yes. The whole thing has been reconciliatory which is great. I feel really great about it because I don’t want to be his enemy. I love the guy. I don’t want to be at war. I want to go out and make the music with him and that was a great initiation. It set a really good tone for the rest of it. It was really key, that gig setting the tone for all that follows.
SEM – How are rehearsals going? You’re doing “In the Flat Field” in it’s entirety, right?
DJ – That’s right and I think it’s a great idea. We haven’t started rehearsing yet. We rehearse next week. Just 2 rehearsals. I’m rehearsing on my own.
SEM – What’s it like doing songs like “Nerves” and “Small Talk Stinks” which haven’t been performed in a while?
DJ – Well, we haven’t gotten in to those particular tracks yet. We are doing a few festivals first, then when we do the proper full tour we’re gonna do “In the Flat Field”. Then we’ll come back on a play a selection of tracks.
SEM – Right, so there are the festivals, your two solo gigs and then the tour starts in earnest, correct?
DJ – Exactly.
SEM – I believe you start in New Zealand and Australia?
DJ – We might be playing somewhere else before then but I can’t say anything about it. It’s not confirmed. The intention is to play everywhere. Asia, South America, hopefully the USA! Russia, I’ve never been to Russia before, so yeah, everywhere.
SEM – Have you ever been to Australia and New Zealand before?
DJ – No, the band never played there. The only time I played in Australia was when I guested with Amanda Palmer. I came on and she did “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. Quite a theatrical version of that. Plus I did “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” with her in Melbourne. That was a few years ago. That’s the only time I’ve performed in Australia, so I’m really looking forward to that.
SEM – Switching gears now away from Bauhaus and back into your solo work, “Crocodile Tears” is getting a re-issue on Dave Barker’s reactivated Glass Records. Did you have a hand in the project?
DJ – Oh yeah. I worked closely with Dave. It’s being mastered from the original tapes and the mastering session is by a really great mastering engineer, Gary Hobish in San Francisco. It sounds great. The quality of vinyl nowadays is so good. Much better than it was in the ‘80’s so it’s nice to have that quality.
SEM – Your latest album, “Vagabond Songs”, was only on vinyl. Do you see that getting a wider release?
DJ – The thing is the label that put it out wanted to sell out first before they would make it available as a download. It’s nearly sold out, I think there’s about 30 copies left. They will make it available as a download when that happens. They’re a label that just do vinyl.
SEM – I understand there is a project going on that goes through your old cassettes to digitize your trove of unreleased material?
DJ – Well there’s two, there’s a splinter project. First of all this mad Hungarian named Gabor, said he wanted to digitize all of my bedroom demos. I said, “Gabor, do you realize the Herculean task that you are taking on here because I have boxes and boxes?” He said, “Sure, sure! Ship them over to me in Budapest and I will do this. I will pay for the mailing”. So I said, “You’re crazy but, alright!” I’ve sent him all these tapes and he’s done a fantastic job and mastered them. He’s sent me all these files and it blows my mind. I can’t remember doing a third of this stuff. What we will do eventually is cherry pick the best ones. I mean, these go back to like 1978 up to when I stopped recording on a tape recorder and used my iPhone, which was about 8 years ago I suppose. There is a lot of stuff there. There’ll be like 3 or 4 CD’s and it will be a limited edition of probably around a hundred. It will be in a nice box and have some lithographs in it and one of the actual cassettes. Every one is unique and you’ll have whatever it is on that cassette. I’m going to do some artwork based on tape spools using that as a stencil, so it’ll be a nice little art package. A real collector’s thing.
SEM – That is a fantastic idea!
DJ – What has also come about, and this is really interesting, this is where it gets magickal in a way; there is this guy in England, brilliant musician, Tim Newman, and what he’s done is taken little fragments that were on these tapes, like me playing piano for 20 seconds, some little idea, little riff, whatever and he’s looped these and recorded instruments on top, then processed them and made new recordings! We got together when he came over from Bristol to the USA and setup a little studio. I had a cache of dream transcripts and I did spoken word over these soundscapes. We made something new out of this old material and it’s really good. It’s worked out great. That’s probably going to be a double album on vinyl of all this material. I really like this idea. It’s like playing with time.
SEM – It sounds like that will be pretty intense.
DJ – Yeah, Tim’s great and he’s really brilliant and doing a great job.
SEM – Is there a projected release date for this?
DJ – No, it’ll be done when it’s done.
SEM – I’ve also seen where the Bauhaus albums are getting a vinyl re-release.
DJ – Yes. That was the record labels idea, Beggars Banquet. We are actually in the process of trying to reclaim the rights to our own music which would be very nice. We don’t own anything apart from ‘Bela Lugosi” and “Go Away White”.
SEM – What a shame!
DJ – There is a little opportunity here that we might be able to get the rights back. Gary Numan’s just done it, I think the Cocteau Twins did it. We’ve got the same guy working for us on that. I’m really hoping that comes through because that’s how it should be. We bloody deserve to own our own music after all these years and after the money that’s been made off of it. Not by us, but by the record company.
SEM – It only makes sense.
DJ – It’s only fair. I mean, we were naive when we signed to that label. We were 21, we didn’t know any better. I have artistic control which is great and that’s all we really cared about at the time but money would be nice too!
SEM – Next year after everything winds down from the 40th anniversary tour, do you foresee yourself doing more of the Living Room shows?
DJ – Very selectively and for more money. I’ve got to make it work for me.
SEM – Are you still working on the follow up to the book “Who Killed Mr. Moonlight”?
DJ – Real back burner but I definitely will do that one day, yeah. There are still a lot of good stories that need to be told.
SEM – The first book was more the Bauhaus years and now you want to focus on the Love and Rockets years?
DJ – Well…yeah but it’s not as focused on the band as the last one was focused on Bauhaus. It’s very tangential. It’s not just about Love and Rockets. It will not be sequential. It’ll be a much more looser format. I’m not sure. It’s a bit of a Chinese puzzle and I’ve got to put it all together. I think it will be an interesting little book.
SEM – Is there anything left for you to do that you haven’t done?
DJ – Yes, but I don’t know what it is yet.
Pre-order “Crocodile Tears and the Velvet Cosh” vinyl re-issue on Glass Modern : https://glassmodern.bandcamp.com/album/crocodile-tears-and-the-velvet-cosh
Pre-Order Duende with David J “Oracle of the Horizontal” on Glass Modern :
Stop This City https://youtu.be/I5uNddVo6sY
YouTube full LP playlist goo.gl/zho4bm
Feel Like Robert Johnson at The Three Forks Saloon https://youtu.be/dNj0HoTSm68 W-Fest 40 years Bauhaus Preview https://youtu.be/DhovzmAiDLc
Keep up with David J
TOUR DATES (all dates with Peter Murphy except Aug. 25-26)
Aug 15 – Kluisbergen, Belgium @ W Fest
Aug 17 – Taranto, Italy @ Cinzella Festival
Aug 23 – Vilar de Mouros, Portugal – Vilar de Mouros Festival
Aug 25 – London, UK @ The Islington **David J solo show**
Aug 26 – Wellingborough, UK @ Beck Studios **David J solo show**
Oct 18 – Wellington, New Zealand @ San Fran
Oct 19 – Christchurch, New Zealand @ Foundry
Oct 20 – Auckland, New Zealand @ Powerstation
Oct 22 – Adelaide, Australia @ Governor Hindmarsh
Oct 25 – Brisbane, Australia @ The Zoo
Oct 26 – Melbourne, Australia @ Max Watts
Oct 27 – Sydney, Australia @ The Factory
Oct 28 – Perth, Australia @ The Capitol Theatre
Nov 6 – St. Petersburg, Russia @ Aurora Hall
Nov 7 – Moscow, Russia @ Glavclub
Nov 9 – Belgrade, Serbia @ Dom Omladine Beograda
Nov 10 – Frankfurt, Germany @ Das Bett
Nov 12 – Zurich, Switzerland @ Mascotte
Nov 14 – Paris, France @ Bataclan
Nov 18 – Madrid, Spain @ La Riviera
Nov 19 – Barcelona, Spain @ Razzmataz
Nov 21 – Rome, Italy @ Orion Live Club
Nov 22 – Milan, Italy @ Fabrique
Nov 23 – Munich, Germany @ Ampere
Nov 24 – Bochum, Germany @ Christuskirche
Nov 26 – Wroclaw, Poland @ A2
Nov 27 – Berlin, Germany @ Columbia Theater
Nov 28 – Hamburg, Germany @ Knust
Dec 4 – Manchester, UK @ O2 Ritz
Dec 5 – Glasgow, UK @ SWG3
Dec 6 – Northampton, UK @ Roadmender
Dec 8 – Leeds, UK @ Leeds Beckett SU
Dec 9 – London, UK @ O2 Forum Kentish Town
Dec 11 – Copenhagen, Denmark @ Store Vega
Dec 12 – Stockholm, Sweden @ Nalen
Dec 14 – Athens, Greece @ Gazi Music Hall
Dec 15 – Thessaloniki, Greece @ Principal Club Theater
Order tour tickets http://www.davidjonline.com/tour.html