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As mentioned before, I'm just amazed with the diversity of the projects you've worked on, past and present. What are some of your inspirations, and who are some of your influences?

David J: What inspires me is just... living. What is going on, what is the most prescient, what is on your mind. Those are the thing that you should write about, and that's what I do.

And it has an urgency, you know? I'm much more like that now than I was in Bauhaus, because Bauhaus had more to do with ideas and it didn't have to be about my life at all. But for a long time now, it has been about what's going on. In my personal I try to articulate the universal.

As far as influences, they're really broad when it comes to songwriting. Lou Reed, Nick Drake, John Cale, Bob Dylan.

On your website you have a great selection of artists you've been listening to recently. I was quite surprised to see Iron and Wine listed.

David J: I love that record [The Creek Drank the Cradle]. I kept hearing it on the radio, and I just had to get it.

It's definitely a keeper.

[ photo by chris carroll ]
photo by chris carroll
[ give a listen! ] "Time in the Sun" MP3

David J: I like Neil Halstead from Mojave 3 a lot, as well. I met him recently. He's really a nice guy. There's a free CD that's available with my album that has a cover version of one of his songs, "My Life in Art." It's a song I've always really loved. He is a really good songwriter.

After the art auction and the play, what next do you have lined up?

David J: The Desierto project, which we've already discussed. I'm also writing music for two independent feature films. One is a Japanese movie, which I recorded most of the music for that when I was in Tokyo recently. The director is Toyoda Toshiaki, and he's got real vision. The film is based around Japanese biker gangs, and I recorded it with two really good Japanese musicians -- a drummer and a guitar player. Basically, we just improvised it in the studio during a really good session together. The other film is based around the "Black Dahlia" murder mystery. Very abstractly based around that -- it's quite surreal. Ramzi Abed is the director for that. I'm really enjoying doing the music, and I've been working with John Neff, who is David Lynch's engineer.

What are the names of the two films?

David J: At the moment they're both untitled, but they do have working titles. The Japanese film is called I am Flash, and the other one is just called Black Dahlia at the moment.

Another thing I should mention is that I have a very talented protégé by the name of Renata Youngblood, and I'm writing songs for her. She writes her own songs, which are great, but we're combining on a project and I really think she could go places. She's very talented.

How did you find her?

David J: Really by chance. She was working with a producer, and I bumped into him on the street and he asked me if I would be interested in writing some songs. So I went down to the studio and met her. We had a conversation and she played me some her songs, and I was really impressed. Then just as I was going she began telling me a story about how she was taken under the wing of this producer, and they were trying to groom her as this kind of plastic Britney Spears-type act. Although she's 23, they're like, "It's okay, you can say you're 17." That just stuck in my head, so I wrote a song the next day called "Pseudo 17," and it's all about that manufacturing process and the industry. It's a reaction to it.

I've actually just come from her house. We were going through that song and it's sounding great. That is funny, as well. I didn't know that she lived on the same street as me. Last night I was going for a walk and in the dark she called my name. I thought, "Who's that?" And it turned out to be her. She lives 20 doors down from me. It never came up before. So I've been going around there and working on new songs with her, and that's been going well. I had an idea of recording another album, and what I'm doing is I'm giving her all the songs because I think she's so potentially amazing.

It's funny about how small the world is sometimes.

David J: Absolutely. Your life can just change on a random choice of turning left or turning right.

Given life's chances, is there anything you would go back and change? Anything you would do differently if you could? Any regrets?

David J: No! Because I believe that everything is a lesson -- and whatever you do, you need to do that. "There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be," as John Lennon said. And for him, that includes being outside the Dakota building in 1980 at Christmastime.

I bring that up because you said, in reference to Estranged, that the album "is, in part, about regret and what we do with it."

David J: And I believe that. We need to just learn from our mistakes.

Wasn't it Frank Zappa who said that if you make a mistake play it twice and act like you meant it?

David J: That's musical and something entirely different, but it's really true. That's really true. If you make a mistake you do it again. And I've done that. You do it again and it sounds intentional -- it sounds like art. And if you do it three times it's jazz!

[ photo by mitch jenkins ]
photo by mitch jenkins

[Both laugh]

David J: I love mistakes in work -- in art and music. I cherish mistakes; inadvertent, common mistakes.

Are mistakes something you look for?

David J: Oh, yeah! I have my antennae tuned into that all the time. I just think it's all there to be used, and a so called mistake can be an inspiration that can lead you down a path that you would never have gone down otherwise. So you just have to think of it in a very different way.

John Cale is a big influence on me in that respect. I've heard some good stories about him. For example, we were in recording a Bauhaus album and he had just been in before us recording a Nico album. We were talking to the engineer and there had been something wrong with the recording desk. It was making this humming sound, and they couldn't work it out. They couldn't fix the wires, and they were all panicking and saying, "Cale's going to be in soon and he's going to go mad!" Cale comes in, hears the sound and says, "Let's mike up the desk!" So they put these contact microphones on the desk and started to generate music from this hum.

I love that attitude!

Taking that kind of inspiration from life's sometimes unintended beauty and getting back to Estranged, given everything you had to go through to make the album, with hindsight and perspective did it become something that you didn't expect it to?

David J: Well, when I was in the middle of recording that record I didn't know where I was going in my life, and I didn't know where the music was going. The music became therapeutic. It became a form of divination in a way. A strange process, but it just reinforced my belief that music has such power and that it can be healing for you as the creator, and for the listener as well. I don't know how many times I've turned to music for salvation.

Everybody has their soundtrack. For me, there's always been a song or a snippet of melody that has been the background soundtrack for all the great, beautiful, intimate, happy, sad and dull moments of my life.

David J: I think it's like that for everybody. It's all about context.

Indeed, very much so. Okay, I have one vanity question for you.

David J: Umm... okay.

When Lift came out in 1998 I was looking at a press photo of Love and Rockets from that time and a photo of the band back from 1985. Comparing the two it looks like none of you have aged. At all. So, uh, I'm wondering just what exactly your secret of youth and longevity is?

David J: Vampirism!

[Both laugh]

David J: If you're doing something that you love, it helps to keep you young. Definitely.

On the web:
David J

[ photo by annie g ]
photo by annie g
[ give a listen! ] "Estranged" MP3

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