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David J Haskins, the singer and bass player best known as a founding member of British goth-punk and alternative rock icons Bauhaus and Love and Rockets returns to play an intimate acoustic set of songs spanning his career. Since Bauhaus called it quits in 1983, David J’s solo albums have illustrated a profound growth as he has evolved from his avant-garde beginnings into a formidable, contemporary songsmith. These days Haskins' songs are rooted in stories based on his real-life encounters both at home and abroad.

For this performance, Haskins takes center stage to sing and play a nylon-stringed Spanish guitar. Expect to hear a blend of classic older numbers, along with some newer songs, rendered with both raucous and introspective revelry.

Throughout the night, Haskins will be joined by special guests James Hall, Jaz Jillette, and Sasha Vallely of Midnight Larks. The Hot Place opens the show with a stripped down acoustic set of fan requests and songs from the group's forthcoming second LP. Seating is extremely limited for this show.

$25 (RSVP only). 7 p.m. Electron Gardens Studio. Address provided with ticket purchase.

What were the circumstances when you decided to put out your first solo record, Etiquette of Violence.

I started recording when Bauhaus was still extant. I felt like I needed an outlet outside of the band, which was quite telling in retrospect. Some of the lyrics I had written I didn’t want to give to Peter Murphy because I didn’t want that kind of interpretation. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. He’s brilliant in his own way. I had my own idea of how they should be delivered. They were mainly put together using the Burroughs cut-up technique, and I wanted to do them. I started recording these tracks when I had a little bit of down time, in the Beck Studios where we recorded the original “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” I would just go there whenever I could and lay down tracks, so it was already sort of half done by the time Bauhaus split in ’83, so I naturally carried on and finished it. 

When you cut up lyrics, and mixed and matched them, did you find a lot of happy accidents were happening? Things were lining up and new stories were being born?

All the time. The whole thing is that it introduces the element of chance, which makes for certain juxtapositions of words and lines which you could never come up with in any other way. That triggers the subconscious so you might write a few lines and put them into a hat as it were, and pull them out and then put them down on paper and see how they line up. They often would just connect in some surprising and sort of delightful way, and that would trigger a line in my head and I’d write down that line. And that was the process. It’s an interesting way of working. I was really into it at the time. I don’t use it at all now.

We used it in Bauhaus to a degree as well. A lot of Daniel Ash’s lyrics are cut ups. I introduced him to the Burroughs cut-up thing.

There’s a song on your first record called “The Fugitive.” Do you ever play that song during your live sets? 

I don’t think I’ve ever played that one live.

That’s one of my favorite songs on that record. The atmosphere and the melody are all very evocative in ways that make me keep it on repeat. The kind of storytelling in that song, though, is quite different from how you approach your more recent songs on An Eclipse of Ships and “The Day That David Bowie Died.”

A lot of those tracks are like little short stories. They’re not necessarily about me, and that’s a big difference from the way I write now. Pretty much exclusively I write about first-hand personal experience. These were more like being an outsider looking in and coming up with characters. There were some personal experiences that went into the fiction. But it was pretty much fictional. Very different way of writing to how I write now.

When you released Etiquette of Violence did you realize that it was the beginning of a new chapter for your career?

I knew it wasn’t going to be an isolated, one-off record. I already had other songs that didn’t go on the album — that I had already started writing when I was in Bauhaus — that ended up on the Crocodile Tears and The Velvet Cosh, including the title track. I wrote that one when we were recording in Monmouth for the last Bauhaus album. I knew it was an ongoing process.

As we’ve talked about a little bit, your evolution as a songwriter has kind of done a complete 180. You went from writing songs based in fiction to telling tales of real-life experiences. Did you focus on making that change or is that just how you’ve grown naturally?

Completely that. These things are never planned out, as far as I’m concerned. It just evolves.

Were there other songwriters at the time that were catching your ear? People you thought of as influences? I know you’re a Bob Dylan fan, but who else were you listening to? 

Back then: Leonard Cohen, Jacques Brel, Nick Drake, were all very much in the mix. Lou Reed. And John Cale was a big one. Albums like Fear, Vintage Violence, Paris 1919. I would see John Cale when he played in London — I made it a point of doing that.

Much later on I recorded a version of “Antarctica Starts Here” from Paris 1919. I went to that gig with Pat Fish of the Jazz Butcher at a Cellar gig in London. That record had just come out, I had my CD and very nervously went backstage and handed it to Cale. He was quite gracious. He’s sort of kind of scary to start with. He wants to know your agenda. And once the agenda is stated, if it's passed his muster, then he’s very genial. That wasn't the only encounter we've had.

I had the idea of recording that song in the early ‘90s for the Urban Urbane record. I contacted him to get his approval, and I got a personal fax from him. He’d rewritten the lyrics for me, for “Antarctica Starts Here,” with some notes. It was fantastic to receive that because I’m such a big fan. Although I stuck to the original lyrics because I like them. In retrospect, I really like the lyrics that he came up with for me.

You also did a cover of the Clock DVA  song “4 Hours.” You experienced a rich era for music in the U.K. There was punk, post-punk, Throbbing Gristle was making industrial music, Nick Lowe was doing his thing. Were audiences open to a broad variety of music back then? Did you see a lot of the same faces at every show?

There was a lot of an open-minded attitude back then. The post-punk era was really interesting, I thought, because it came from punk. That was the spark, but it evolved and became more sophisticated and much more individualistic, and rich and complex. Those gigs were very exciting. I’d go to gigs all the time. It was a real underground scene. It was a very hungry, appreciative audience for that. Bands like the Pop Group, you mentioned Clock DVA, Gang of Four, it was a vibrant time. Cabaret Voltaire, early Human League — they were a very different band from what they became — much more avant-garde, minimalist, electronic. And bands from America, like Suicide, were coming over. They were very much ahead of their time. They come over with the Clash and were pummeled, basically. Which is a shame — it’s sad because they were such an innovative band. But after that they came back in the post-punk era, late in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, and there was more of an appreciation for that. Bands like Cabaret Voltaire had come up and had that electronic element, so it made more sense. It had already made sense to some of the more discerning members of that scene. But it was a bit too far out for others.

Did you think of Clock DVA as a post-punk band?

They did fit into that. How I discovered them — Bauhaus were on tour with the percusionist Z’ev. We were traveling on this little bus, and he turned me onto them. He said you have to check out this track — that track in particular, “4 Hours.” He was raving about it, so I checked it out and I instantly loved it and wanted to cover it. Then we played a gig with them at a club called Heaven in London, where we filmed the Hunger shortly after that. They were good live. I really liked it.

What was it about the song “4 Hours” that drew you to it?

The story, really, of this alienated outsider, individual who’s moving through modern cities. It had this kind of surrealist element as well. With “the piano crashing” — a piano falls from above, which could be seen as also symbolic. It was a kind of an uptight time, you know. There was a feeling in the air of imminent doom. That’s very much the case now in a more visceral real way. But there was a sense of unease, and it captured that. There was something Kafka-esque about that song that I liked. 

You mentioned the sense of both impending doom back then, and now. Your most recent release is a song on a 7-inch with the Gentleman Thieves, titled “Gentrification Blues.” How have you been affected by gentrification?

On a personal level, I’m hit by it every day. I travel a lot and I have favorite haunts in different cities. Be they record stores, book stores, or dive bars. I’ll go back to visit my old haunt and it’s gone, it’s such a slap in the face. You see this wonderful independent record store and it’s all boarded up. What’s it going to be, another Starbucks? Another wonderful little bookstore gone. Condominiums going up instead. Bars, all over the place, great places with great jukeboxes, gone. It’s not just entertainment, these places are hubs — places of fertile creativity for artists and musicians to meet and become inspired. It’s being swept by the way, mainly because of greed. Landlords are hiking up the prices to ridiculous extent so small businesses can’t survive. There are all of these great little music stores in London that are all gone. They were wonderful places where musicians would meet people, exchange ideas and pick up instruments. It’s just the character of places are being ravaged. New York was the first one — New York is always an indicator, I think, of things that come to pass in other places, because it’s ahead of other places. I fell in love with New York in the early ‘80s and it breaks my heart when I go back there now it’s so different. It’s hard to find what was magic and special about it. You can, it’s still there, but it’s been diminished.

It’s not completely black. I know some of these places where gentrification is going on were really sketchy places. They were dangerous to go there, and people who lived there weren’t living good lives. But when there’s some sensitivity that goes along with how the place is treated as it’s coming up, that’s different, but it’s not about that anymore. It’s about greed — making a fast buck and to hell with the consequences. It has even become criminal, like what’s been happening in the Mission in San Francisco, with arson. Places being set alight when people are sleeping in their beds. That’s the only way they can get people out. Then they have a contract and they come in and use the land and gain financially from it, to hell with the consequences. Writing that song, it really came from a hurt place. I used to live in a fantastic building in L.A., on-and-off, Villa Carlotta, which was wonderful. It’s been there since the 1920s and was filled with artists and weirdos. Rent was very cheap for what it was. It was crumbling, and sort of seedy, but that was part of it’s charm. I left just before the gentrification process took effect. These guys took over the building and did a real mean number on the residents and got them out in a very underhanded way. Now it’s all boarded up. That’s another one that really breaks my heart. I drive past that building and the building looks sad. It feels sad, and it was the opposite of that when I lived there. It was very vibrant. A beautiful place, and a lot of creative souls passed through that building.

Do you play "Gentrification Blues" live during your living room shows?

I do a version of it. When I do it with the band, the Gentleman Thieves, it’s a rock ‘n’ roll version. But when I do it solo it’s really stripped-down and acoustic. It’s kind of Dylan-esque. I do it a bit slower and put an emphasis on the lyrics. Actually, it’s been really making a connection with audiences. They relate to it. Everybody has first-hand experiences with what the song’s about. They come up to me afterward and tell me their sad stories, from eviction to losing their favorite record store.

Are you working on other new songs that you’ll play at the show.

I’m changing the set up, as I’m revisiting places. I am including songs that I haven’t played in previous shows. Not necessarily new, but I am changing it up a bit. I do have some new songs. I’m putting together a new album, and I’ll play at least one of them from the new record. It wasn’t a planned thing; I record whenever I can. I’ve been recording through the auspices of the Patreon site that I have set up. That’s been great. It gives me enough to pay musicians, and to go in and pay for time in proper studios, and make recordings. I’ve been doing them every now and again, when I get a song. And I looked at it the other day and, very similar to the last one — in fact the last two records have been like this — I have an accidental concept album. I’ve been writing on the road, so it takes that on board, and these songs are associated with certain places. So this is going to be songs from the road. I’ve got more than enough songs for an album. I’m actually recording that at the moment, whenever I can.

And are you still working on your second book?

It’s coming along — slowly coming together. I have some really good stories to tell. It’ll just be done when it’s done. It took seven years to finish the last one. It looks like it’s going into a third edition, which I’m pretty pleased about.

Do you make changes to the text with each new edition?

I try to weed out all of the bloody typos. I think I’ve got it pretty much pristine. Very minimal changes to the actual content. I changed a couple of very minor things with the second edition, but I’m not going to touch it now. Famous last words, I know, but I mean that.

$25 (RSVP only). 7 p.m. Electron Gardens Studio. Address provided with ticket purchase.