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Legendary Goth Rock Bassist David J Plots Intimate Fort Lauderdale Visit

Sunny Fort Lauderdale gets just a little darker this weekend with an appearance by post-punk icon David J. A veteran of legendary British acts Bauhaus and its offshoot, Love and Rockets, the bassist and songwriter often comes in third in the fame lineup behind former bandmates Peter Murphy and Daniel Ash. Still, his contributions to the goth canon should not be overlooked. It was Mr. J who penned the artfully fragmented lyrics for Bauhaus' genre-defining opus, "Bela Lugosi's Dead," and he who later crooned Love and Rockets' "No New Tale to Tell."

Still, from early during his tenure in bands, he was penning his own solo material, exploring similarly dusky themes as reflected in album titles like 1983's Etiquette of Violence. It was the third of these efforts, though, 1989's Songs From Another Season, that yielded David J's biggest commercial solo hit, "I'll Be Your Chauffeur."

It's been some seven years since his last proper album, Mess Up, but a single released earlier this year on iTunes, "Hank Williams to the Angel of Death," may signal a return to more prolific writing. Find out when he DJs at the Monterey Club on Friday night, preceded by a stripped solo performance at Radio-Active Records. New Times caught up with David J to garner details on his Twilight-friendly new release and gauge the climate for a goth luminary gone independent.

New Times: What have you been doing since the demise of Bauhaus and the reunion shows of Love and Rockets?

David J: Well, I have a band that I put together, the David J Ensemble. Different talented musicians based out of San Francisco and New York. Sometimes I travel on my own, which makes more sense economically, but they are all excellent players. I'm also working on a new album to come next year. And in the interim, I'm writing screenplays with another guy, so I'm getting into that area.

Your Florida visit will be an acoustic and DJ set, but do you see yourself doing a tour with your full band?

Next year, when the album comes out. Just to specify, the in-store is more karaoke than acoustic. Prerecorded backing tracks, and I might bring the guitar and do a song. And then, of course, a DJ set.

A lot of independent artists have reconnected with their fans by doing these intimate performances, which give the audience something unique in return for their support.

I'm very happy to support record stores. Unfortunately, they're going, and I love them. So anything that I can do to support that, I will.

Do you have a label for your next release?

Yes, the label is called Saint Rose, who are actually based out of an independent shop in Santa Rosa called the Last Record Store. Hopefully that's not prophetic!

You'll have a new seven-inch single, "Blood Sucker Blues"/"Tidal Wave of Blood," with you for your appearance here. Could you give us some information on that?

It's a double A-side 45 single. The theme is vampires. We're jumping on the bandwagon, you see! Two very different pieces of music, both of which feature Jill Tracy. It is pressed on high-quality vinyl from the Czech Republic. We also filmed a video for the single as well. To view this, you'll need to look on the back of the sleeve, where you will find a coded graphic. When you hold this up to a video-cam, it will interpret the image and translate it into film.

What's the climate like for an artist with a vast back catalog to start over independently?

The whole industry is different now than what it was when I first started. The notion of a label is different; the relationship between the artist and the label is different. It's much more of the DIY ethos now, which is great on one hand. Labels are now just becoming redundant. It probably would have been harder for [Bauhaus or Love and Rockets] now to get a deal because you have the internet, and there is just so much around, and it's becoming harder to find your way in the marketplace. Nevertheless, I think we would have made an impression still.

The Bauhaus and Love and Rockets' catalogs are available, but your solo albums have been out of print lately. Who has the rights for these albums?

The labels do. Beggars Banquet. All my publishing is owned by Universal. That goes the same for the bands as well because we signed away our lives basically when we were naive young men. I own very little of my catalog, but anything I do in the future I will own.

Does this also apply to your early solo records off of the Glass label?

Universal owns the publishing for those, but I own the masters. The first two solo albums were reissued off of the Runt label in limited editions a few years ago, but that label has folded now.

Those albums showcase you in a different light than what people would expect from a member of Bauhaus. Even the early Jazz Butcher records have a quirkiness to them that many people wouldn't expect from you. Then again, Bauhaus had that alter-ego as well.

Oh absolutely.

Bauhaus' demise is pretty well-documented, but where does Love and Rockets stand as of now, since you reunited for some concerts and even had a tribute album recently released?

It is defunct. We all feel that, you know, time to move on. We all have different interests, and that's what we'll pursue.

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Arielle Castillo/Interview by Mike Ramirez

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