David Haskins – Legendary Bauhaus Guitarist, David J.
As a founding member of the innovative, seminal, early Eighties band Bauhaus, whose atmospheric, gloomily rich, post-punk music led to the rise of “gothic” rock, Kirk Originals wearer, David J. (Haskins) exudes a worldly, intellectually artistic cool. Yet not withstanding the persistent reputation of the influential Bauhaus, David’s career beyond “that” band has seen him continue to expand his artistic horizons with solo work, forming Love & Rockets with other former members of Bauhaus, writing and staging plays alongside a great number of high profile collaborations and an involvement in the underground film scene, all of which has combined to make him a multi-faceted and highly dynamic modern artist.
With Bauhaus reputation far outliving their mere 5 years together first time around (1979 to 1984), something attributed to their enduring influence and the genre defying nature of singles like “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, their cover of “Ziggy Stardust” and their four acclaimed albums, David himself reckons that their lasting reputation is down to sticking to their guns in creating and maintaining the band’s distinctive qualities. “I think it’s because we were true to our own code of artistic integrity. We never compromised. We would sometimes over-reach ourselves, and sometimes be grossly under-rehearsed but we would always play with total conviction.”
However the story was far from over with the band’s split in 84. As David expanded upon his solo work (on which he was working during Bauhaus’ first period) and formed Love & Rockets, Bauhaus was put well away for a number of years. Yet pressure to re-form ultimately yielded a result, firstly in the 1998 “Reformation” tour and more recently as the band re-convened to perform at Coachella in 2005 before undertaking a world tour in 2005 / 6 and supporting Nine Inch Nails on their summer 2006 tour. This in turn has led to a new Bauhaus album, their first in over 20 years, recorded last year and due for release in the Autumn of 2007.
“We recorded the album last year in the U.S. following extensive touring, so as a band, we were cranked up and very tight. It was recorded quickly, taking just over two weeks and we went in without any preparation and consequently, it has a very raw, vital feel which I love. The sound and form is somewhat reminiscent of German ‘motorik’ meets Iggy & The Stooges but very contemporary. “There’s a solid thickness to the sound which has never been there before, a driving and relentless intensity. It is extremely well recorded. Soon we shall be doing some minimal mixing, ‘minimal’ as we want to retain that raw edge to it.”
Yet beyond Bauhaus, David has enjoyed a varied and highly successful career as a solo artist (releasing 5 original albums between 1983 and 2003) and with Love & Rockets (9 albums 1985 to 1999) as well as with an eye watering series of collaborations with other artists. Luminaries such as Jane’s Addiction, Wayne Kramer, T-Bone Burnett, author Hubert Selby Jr (Last Exit To Brooklyn) and more adorn his CV but asked to isolate a couple of stand-outs, David talks of the author Alan Moore (Watchmen, V For Vendetta, From Hell) who played with him in the short-lived band “The Sinister Ducks” as having “the most incredibly creative mind” and also of the Bauhaus poet and broadcaster, Rene Halkett with whom he recorded a single, “Armour / Nothing”.
“The collaboration with Rene Halkett was a very special thing for me. To have met somebody like that who was at the original school in Weimar, who studied under Klee and Kandinsky met with Bertolt Brecht and most of the French surrealists was such a privilege. He once told me about the time he performed in a cabaret in Weimar and danced on a piano whilst firing off a pistol.”
Having always held interests beyond music, creating artwork, supervising stage lighting and directing videos, it seems that David J is something of the archetypal renaissance man, able to work across multiple forms and arts. He has exhibited internationally as an artist and in 2004 his first play, “Anarchy In The Gold St Wimpy” was staged by the renowned Atlanta theatre company, “Dad’s Garage”. “I’ve always been interested in all facets of the arts, the scope of which has expanded over the years. I enjoy the challenge of working in diverse areas and plan to continue. The concept of ‘retirement’ does not really exist for me, you see.”
With this in mind 2007 seems to be as busy and richly filled as ever for David J. A new play “Silver And Gold” based on the life of Edie Sedgwick is due to be staged and he will be continuing with his critically lauded cabaret performances which draw on his Bauhaus, Love & Rockets and solo or collaborative material, all interpreted in a European cabaret style, about which a CD and DVD are due to be released later in the year. In addition, he has collaborated on “The Devil’s Muse” CD with Ego Plum and several notable vocalists which takes as its inspiration the life and mysterious death of Elizabeth Short, The Black Dahlia, some of which will be appearing in the forthcoming independent movie, “Black Dahlia Movie”, directed by his friend and collaborator Ramzi Abed.
Given David J’s artistic catalogue and prowess, it is ingratiating that he chooses to wear Kirk Originals, pictured here in a pair of Amelia shades from the Jet Collection which he chose because “they are so goddam mean looking”. Elaborating on this, he declares that he likes “the simplicity of the designs and the bold use of colour.”
“In fact, the whole design approach has something in common with the original (Weimar) Bauhaus ideal of function dictating elegant form.”
Words : James Masters