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!