Legendary Goth icon David J talks to SHOCK.
Rising out of the ashes of 70s punk and blending a love of abstract art and horror cinema, Britains legendary dark rock outfit Bauhaus inadvertently invented the sub-genre of rock and roll known as Goth.
But there was so much more to the band, more than any pithy label could contain. Bauhaus front man Peter Murphy often gets much of the credit for the bands sound and image, but the pulse of the group was the throb of co-founder, lyricist and bassist David J.
The iconic musician would, after Bauhaus initial bow, go on to form the group Love and Rockets with bandmates Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins and then go off to collaborate and conspire with a myriad artists, dabbling in every sort of sound. Hell, he even co-performed the theme song (with Ego Plum) for the hot Nickelodeon kids show HARVEY BEAKS.
But now, David J is a solo act, currently on tour (SHOCK is sponsoring the man’s Toronto stop this coming Sunday at Cherry Cola’s). In honor of that, and of his enduring legacy, we sat down with David J. for an exclusive interview.
SHOCK: Horror cinema has been part of your creative identity for some time, dating back to Bauhaus’ signature song “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. Are you an admirer of the genre? Can you talk about that relationship and how it affects your work?
DAVID J: Yes. Of course there is a whole range of horror I admire. From the early classics such as DRACULA starring our boy, Bela, and the original FRANKENSTEIN to the rather camp Hammer Horror films of the ’60s and to the deliciously overwrought and psychedelic Italian horror of the 70’s such as Argento’s SUSPIRIA to the German Expressionist films of the 1920s, all of which I love but it was the latter sub-genre that was especially influential on Bauhaus as far as atmosphere, lighting and an over all aesthetic.
SHOCK: You’ve led many lives but what can fans expect from this tour? Where will the focus be?
DAVID J: The focus is really on intimacy and vital connectedness. Spontaneity is also a big part of doing these shows and I will often riff off of the audience, changing the set list and sometimes abandoning it entirely. Telling stories sparked by some random comment. It make for a very alive and engaging experience for the punters as well as myself.
SHOCK: You collaborate with many interesting artists, from Alan Moore to Fairuza Balk. Do you seek out these collaborations? Do they come to you?
DAVID J: More often than not they come to me and love that, being thrown a challenge or a task.
SHOCK: On the Balk tip, man, I LOVED that track you recorded under the name Armed Love Militia. Any more work with Fairuza on the horizon?
DAVID J: Yes, me too! Fairuza is an extraordinary person and artist. Very powerful. I haven’t seen her in a while and there are no plans to do another collaboration. However, there are several collaborative efforts in the pipeline that I am extremely excited about. One which was just completed in Detroit is an album entitled ‘Carpe Noctem’. On this I am singing as well as co-writing and producing with the very talented, Joshua James. The band is a great twelve piece swing jazz ensemble, The Theatre Bizarre Orchestra. For this project I have adopted the pseudonym of M. C. Nightshade. We will be releasing the album on vinyl only, initially, in October with a few selective live dates to follow.
SHOCK: You seem to be an artist that is constantly looking forward as opposed to consistently mining the past. Is this the key to all creative longevity do you think?
DAVID J: Well, I think it’s a matter of honoring the past (although sometimes being irreverent towards it can be healthy) as well as maintaining an active curiosity and willingness to explore new frontiers and sometimes even blending all of the above which is something that I have done with the previously mentioned project.
SHOCK: My kids love HARVEY BEAKS. Has that show opened up a new fan base for you?
DAVID J: Ego Plum is a genius! And I do not use that word lightly. I was delighted when he invited me to play on the theme tune of that delightful show. We have collaborated on other projects in the past, most notably the music for my play about the Black Dahlia murder, ‘The Chanteuse and The Devil’s Muse’ which is a million miles away from HARVEY BEAKS! I am not aware of whether or not my fan base now includes a legion of eight year olds but I would be most pleased if it does…
SHOCK: The optics are that you’re constantly working, but what do you do to relax? What brings you the most peace these days?
DAVID J: As ever, curling up with a good book or movie, making visual art but most of all, simply sitting out on the porch with my wife in our Southern Californian retreat, sipping something from the top shelf and engaging in the type of conversation that only we can have…
Visit David J’s official website here.