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I've been reading through Ian Shirley's Bauhaus book, Dark Entries. Following the Bauhaus reunion tour, when Love and Rockets recorded Lift and then disbanded after touring behind it, you said that you couldn't see the band pulling off a similar Lazarus as Bauhaus. How did it feel to be doing Bauhaus again at the same time that Love and Rockets appeared to be winding down? And why did you feel that you couldn't see a similar resurrection with Love and Rockets?

David J: There was a real heightened energy to the Bauhaus reunion, and then after Lift when we got back to playing live gigs as Love and Rockets, it just wasn't there. And also, the crowds weren't that big -- we were playing small clubs. Coming off of the Bauhaus tour back to that... it was like a comedown. If you haven't got the energy and the enthusiasm, it's going to be perceptible by the audience, and it's the time to stop. It just really felt like it was the time to stop. I said to Daniel before Lift came out that even if the record does well the feeling just isn't there any more for me. I still had the love there for Love and Rockets, but it didn't have the spark. It wasn't like it had been previously.

It's interesting, because after six years since playing our last gig there's a feeling now amongst the three of us that it would be fun to do Love and Rockets again. We've also been approached by some promoters. We're seriously considering doing it again, but we'd like to go out and play festivals and play more of the rockin' stuff that we're known for. For the first time in a number of years, that is appealing again.

Sounds like all the fun without the liabilities.

[ photo by mitch jenkins ]
photo by mitch jenkins
[ give a listen! ] "Ruined Cities" MP3
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David J: It is. And also, we could stand to make a bit of money on it.

One of the things I really enjoy about your solo stuff is how quiet and more organic it is from your Love and Rockets and Bauhaus catalog, especially your love for using pedal steel in the music. When you write a song, how do you decide how to dress it up musically?

David J: It always seems very obvious. It's just a matter of listening, And I hear those instruments, whatever they are. I wanted pedal steel before I thought of who could play it, then I remembered Bruce Kaphan from American Music Club. He played on Love and Rockets' "Shelf Life" track. He's such a good player and I thought he would be great, so he came in and played.

His playing is very tasteful. It gives it a nice country flavor without subverting the song.

David J: Yeah, Bruce is quite inventive. He can play regular honky-tonk stuff, but he's really into using different pedals, creating different sounds and taking things further.

Tell me about Cabaret Oscuro.

David J: Cabaret Oscuro is really my take on 1920s Berlin cabaret, but with a contemporary context. I've always loved that whole style and its essence. I equate it with punk rock.

In the '20s it was very politically charged and challenging. It was rough and ready and combative. There was a lot of friction that went on between the performers and the audience. It was commenting on the social climate and it was challenging the status quo, and that's all very punk rock.

I also love the whole look of it, like the German expressionist kinda stark visual presentation, which was always a big part of Bauhaus. So what I'm doing is bringing that into my solo music, and really having some fun with it. It's just great for me to put down the guitar and not have to worry about it.

Do you usually play a solo set and then the cabaret?

David J: No, the cabaret is the whole thing. But we have a section in the middle where we have an acoustic set, and I pick up the guitar. There's a cellist, Joyce Rooks, and a guitar player by the name of Mark Miller. Then we go back into the cabaret. A lot of the stuff that's backing us is pre-recorded in the studio. That's currently on a CD, but when we do it again it will be on a laptop so we can control it better.

How's the response been?

David J: Surprised. They see the connection with early Bauhaus -- those that are familiar with that.

You're also involved with the Nortec Collective, which I'm really interested in hearing more about.

David J: I don't know how much you know about Nortec, but they're all based in Tijuana. What they're doing is taking from traditional northern Mexican music -- norteno -- and taking samples and processing them into loops and creating electronic music that has the energy and the culture clashes that you get at the border. It's very, very invigorating and exciting stuff.

I didn't know until I met them, but they were very influenced by Bauhaus and Love and Rockets. They used to listen to 91X which, at the time, was an independent radio station in San Diego. It's a very different animal now than what it was then. It's been taken over by Clear Channel... alas!

[ cabaret oscuro - photo by kelly ashkettle ]
photo by kelly ashkettle

Haven't we all.

David J: It's a sadly different thing from what it used to be. Back in the day, in the early '80s, they were very adventurous and really like a college station, but with a wider range. Those who would go on to start the Nortec Collective would hear this stuff and be influenced by it. So it's quite a natural fit.

I'm working with Pepe [Mogt] from Fussible and Roberto [Mendoza] from Panóptica on a new project called Desierto. It's very cinematic, atmospheric electronic music. I'm playing bass, and am doing some guitar as well, but will be playing bass when we do it live.

I've played recently with Panóptica. There was a big festival in Tijuana which was promoted by the Mutek Festival, which is out of Montreal. It was very spontaneous. Roberto just asked me if I would play. He's got this track where he sampled my bass line from "She's in Parties" -- a Bauhaus track.

I heard about that! Isn't it called something like "She's in Fiestas"?

David J: Yeah! So Roberto wanted me to play that live, and it was great. It went down a storm!

And if all that weren't enough, you also have a play you wrote that's being performed at Dad's Garage in Atlanta, called Anarchy in the Gold Street Wimpy.

David J: Yeah! That came totally out of the blue. They were asking for submissions for plays that were 11 minutes and were based around punk rock, so I had a go. I wrote the play in one rush, submitted it, and it's been chosen. So, that's really nice.

Have you seen it performed?

David J: Not yet. Opening night is January 23rd. I think I will be there, if not the opening night then at some point, because I'd really like to see it. I'm intrigued and I'm nervous, because it's not like I have any control over it apart from sending out he script, but I might be doing is some sound design for it.

Did they ask you for that or did you offer to do it?

David J: They didn't ask me, but at least that's some degree of control that I can have with it, you know?

I find it interesting that you'd be nervous to see someone else perform a piece of yours.

David J: It's... It's like letting your child go off with some stranger. [Laughs]

Have her back by 10pm or else!

[Both laugh]

Has the experience inspired you to write other plays?

David J: I don't know. I've enjoyed the process. I'm going to see how it comes across and take it from there.

[ aspiring playwright - photo by mitch jenkins ]
photo by mitch jenkins

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