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SWEET D.J.: From Bauhaus to Love and Rockets, legendary bassist David J. does two days at ACM@UCO

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OKLAHOMA CITY – In the mid-70s, at the height of the disco era, four melancholy lads out of Northampton crafted a musical revolution for the depressed punk with self-mutilation issues and an all-black wardrobe in the form of Gothic rock—or Goth, as it came to be known—and through a band called Bauhaus.

Almost 40 years later, they remain as popular as ever and bassist David J., responsible for their signature tune “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” as well as a founding member of the spin-off band Love and Rockets, continues to tour the world as a solo act, and has even written an exhaustive book about his time in the band entitled Who Killed Mr. Moonlight?: Bauhaus, Black Magick, and Benediction. It is highly recommended.

J. will be in Oklahoma City on Feb. 18 to host a free 2 p.m. Master Class in the ACM@UCO Songwriting Room, 25 S. Oklahoma Ave. Then, on Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. in the ACM@UCO Performance Lab, 329 E. Sheridan Ave., J. will host a live acoustic show with a special guest. Tickets to the performance are $20 and available through ticketstorm.com.

I was able to speak with J. a few days before the show about his history, his relevance and his future. Here’ what he had to say. Bela Lugosi might be dead, but David J. is definitely alive and kicking…

Louis Fowler: When you formed Bauhaus with Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins, did you have any idea at the time you’d be creating a new genre that would change music, fashion and film and still continue to even today?

David J.: No, in a word. But it pleasantly surprised us that it did. We were really just trying to please ourselves, trying to create music that we felt was authentic and that we believed in. It was exciting, but we were surprised.

How was the Goth scene different then than when Bauhaus first started?

We didn’t plan to create a scene, it was just sort of stimulated by something that was in the air, I suppose, coming out of the punk scene. I think now the whole movement has become very fragmented and diversified, with factions within factions, whereas when it started, it was more individualistic. It was a system of alienated, disenfranchised youth of a certain melancholic bent finding their way and relating to us as sort of a projection of what they romantically were inclined to want to be.

It was an expression, a certain type of consciousness, but when it crossed over into the mainstream, it became very hybrid and there’s nothing wrong with that; that’s how things survive and evolve. It’s healthy.

I’m a huge Love and Rockets fan. Of both bands, which do you feel that you were more creatively successful with?

They’re very different animals. Love and Rockets wouldn’t have existed in the way that it did without Bauhaus before it. It was a kind of evolution and also a kind of refining. It was also more psychedelic, and that’s was something that was not really shared with Peter, that interest, so much at all, but Daniel, Kevin and myself were in to it, so once Peter was out of the picture, we were at liberty to really let that genie out of the bottle, as it were.

It fits in with the timing because there was a revisiting of psychedelia, the Paisley Underground and all that. It felt right. We have only made music that felt right to ourselves; you’ve got to be true to yourselves and not pander to any kind of commercial considerations or trends. You make trends, you don’t follow them.                                                                                                                                                                         

Bauhaus reformed not too long ago. Any chance for a Love and Rockets reunion in the future?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

No, I really don’t think so. Personally, I’m just so busy with so many different projects that I just can’t get excited at reforming Love and Rockets. That was then and it was great and we told that story, but we’ve got new stories to tell.

You’ve released quite a few amazing solo records, but many of them, including your collaborations with Alan Moore, are hard to find. Is there any chance of re-releases, or possibly a box-set, so a new generation can discover you?

I only own a few of those records so it’s kind of out of my hands because they don’t sell in great numbers, sadly. It’s highly unlikely if the records I don’t own will ever be reissued, and the records I do own, that comes down to money.

For now, I am working on something that I don’t really want to divulge, but it’s a huge undertaking, a huge project that will cover the years from 1976 up until now and…sorry to be cryptic, but I don’t want to divulge this yet. There will be a flood of releases probably started next year, of things that have never been released before, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Your memoir "Who Killed Mr. Moonlight?: Bauhaus, Black Magick, and Benediction," was a very honest, very intriguing bio, but it still felt like there were plenty of stories let to tell. Any chance for a follow-up?

Funny you should say that, because yes! I am actually putting together some notes for that now and it will be more stories from 1980 to Love and Rockets, but it’s not the Love and Rockets story, it’s the Bauhaus story, the complete story, but I only bring Love and Rockets into it when it is germane to the story, when it relates and is relevant.  So yeah, you’re right, there are a lot of stories…many tales to tell.

You are doing to shows at ACM@UCO tis week. So people know what they are in for, what is the difference between the Masterclass show and the Performance Lab show?

In the Masterclass, they want me to do a Q and A, keep it loose and unprepared, so the Oklahoma City audience can ask me anything they want and I do enjoy doing that. I like be unprepared and put on the spot, so hopefully it’ll be a stimulating back and forth, bring the book into it as a reference point.

The performance will be me with two other guys from my band, the Gentleman Thieves, a great multi- instrumentalist Chris Vibberts and a really good bass player singer-songwriter Darwin Meiners and they’re going to be backing me up. It’s an acoustic show, performing songs from right across the board. I might have some very special guests as well.

I noticed that you’ll be available afterwards to meet and greet. Is it important for you to keep a tight connection to your fans?

Absolutely, and more and more so. Especially with someone who is as independent as me, an independent artist. I don’t have a record label to financially support me. That’s why when I do go out and do these living rooms show, when people come up to me and tell how much a song has meant to them, that means a Hell of a lot to me. That never used to happen in the old days, playing really huge gigs—just an airport, a hotel room, backstage—it’s a very different thing now, and it’s great.

Looking back over the years, with kids still wearing your shirts and listening to your music, when it is all said and done, where do you hope to see yourself in rock history?

That I had been somebody who was authentic, even if being, say, pretentious—and sometimes it is pretentious, that’s not necessarily a dirty word—but that I was always authentic.

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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