Surprisingly, Bauhaus ex-bassist and legendary David J played in my neighborhood a few months ago, and I got invited to the show! He played a few Bauhaus songs (that obviously everyone was waiting for) plus many others of his new album ‘An Eclipse of Ships’ as well as many he released with his other band ‘Love and Rockets’… He has had a long and rich career as a songwriter, a goth music pioneer, a stage production writer and producer, and he is now telling stories behind the scene in a new memoir entitled ‘Who Killed Mister Moonlight? Bauhaus, Black Magick and Benediction’.
The book is described in a press release as ‘a breathtaking ride where he [David J] offers a no-holds-barred account of his band’s rapid rise to fame and glory in the late 70s, their sudden dissolution in the 80s, and their subsequent reunions.’
‘In between, he explores his work as a solo performer, and with acclaimed trio Love and Rockets – culminating in the devastating fire that ripped through the sessions for their 1996 album Sweet F.A. He also delves deep into his exploration of the occult, drawing together a diverse cast of supporting characters, including William S. Burroughs, Alan Moore, Genesis P. Orridge, and Rick Rubin. Bristling with power and passion, music and magic, Who Killed Mister Moonlight? is a rock’n’roll memoir like no other.’
The book is not published yet – but set for a October 15th release on Jawbone Press – and because it’s impossible to write about something you haven’t read, I will let others talk. Famous musicians had apparently a preview of it, and I liked the review by Pixies’ Black Francis, although it brings even more mystery about the book:
‘I’ve just read David J. Haskins’s memoirs,’ writes Francis, ‘I had expected drugs and sex and rock music; I had not expected the kaleidoscopic parade of sheer insanity, the loads of blood and punch-ups, fantastic egos, dark arts, creeps and cons, curses, witches, gurus, psychological warfare, superstars and nameless angels, demons and doomed types, fire, arrests, legal battles, gods and doors to other worlds, astral projection, ASTRAL FUCKING PROJECTION….AND it’s actually quite a hilarious read, save all the creepy crawly bits.’
Alan Moore, author of V For Vendetta and From Hell, also had an interesting take on the book:
‘In a breathtaking ride along a flume of ink and sequins, David J. plots the delirious trajectory of a band who sparked the gothic movement’s second extraordinary emergence from among the cut-throat history and thousand-year-old churches of Northampton; who invented an epic fin de siècle mythology and then became it; who pushed their art and their performance far beyond the boundaries of what was safe or even survivable; and who ably demonstrated that pop music will send you mad even faster than magic.
Heroic and absurd, scurrilous and profound, Who Killed Mister Moonlight? charts the descent of four intelligent young men with faces like ruby-eyed dime-store skull rings into a glittering and very modern maelstrom. Fast, compelling, and disarmingly honest, this is an invaluable account of a strange and spectral cultural twilight era that we shall almost certainly never see again.
And if you are not sold on this already, here is an excerpt of the book, about Ian Curtis that David J posted on his Facebook page a while ago:
‘This colourful and seedy area of London became the backdrop to our residency at Billy’s in Dean Street. The dingy little club was a seething cauldron for the witches’ brew that would eventually be labelled ‘goth’ and would soon host the infamous Batcave nights. During the course of our five shows at the venue, we saw the audience evolve and establish its own code, in terms both of dress and attitude.
Black was of course the only way to go: the colour of night and death, and always the distinguishing mark of those who wished to stand outside of the norm, from existentialists to beatniks to goths. It is the flag of morbidity under which the anarchic troops of apolitical revolt rally before storming the barricades of convention.
The nineteenth-century decadents believed that it required a highly refined sensibility to truly appreciate and savour the delights of sensual sadness and the beautiful phosphorescence of decay. The goths would no doubt agree. In their disdain for the vulgar and their celebration of all that is wan, delicate, and slowly dying, they were and still are the true descendants of those poets of exquisite unease.
On one of those rainy Soho nights, we were visited by an icon of this as-yet-unnamed melancholic subculture when Ian Curtis appeared at the end of a set during which a wild and abandoned Murphy had laid waste to a wall of mirrors. We had always felt that there was a sympathetic resonance between Joy Division and us. The tall, gangly singer told us that he had come with Factory Records boss Tony Wilson, who had apparently left after the first number as he strongly objected to bands that wore makeup.
‘It were ’is fooking loss, man,’ he told us. ‘He really missed out tonight. Fook him. He’s a cunt, anyway!’
Ian said he thought the gig was great, that both our singles were excellent, and that he had been hoping that Joy Division’s recent recording sessions (for Closer) would coincide with one of our live shows.
Many years later, I would get chills when reading of this desire in Ian’s own hand, in a letter to his mistress, Annik Honore, a copy of which had been lent to me (with the rest of Ian’s letters) by Michael Stock, the screenwriter and would-be director of an early biopic about Ian. Although Ian was cheery and warm that night at Billy’s, I remember a look in his watery blue eyes that was so sad and haunted. Three months later, he hung himself in his kitchen.
On May 3, we played a gig at the Russell Club in Manchester. Joy Division bassist Peter Hook was there, helping us load out our gear as he often would. After we had packed up, we went out with Peter and his manager, Rob Gretton. The band had recently released a limited edition single on the Sordide Sentimentale label consisting of ‘Atmosphere’ on one side and ‘Dead Souls’ on the other. It was only available in France, so I had been unable to find a copy. I mentioned this to Rob, and he very kindly said that he would send me one. It turned up on my doormat, two weeks later, the day after Ian’s death.
I had never heard ‘Atmosphere’ before. I slipped the seven-inch out of the beautiful, elaborate sleeve, which featured a painting of hooded monks on a mist-shrouded mountain by the artist Jean-François Jamoul. There was also a striking photograph of the band by Anton Corbijn. In light of the tragedy, the majestic track was almost unbearably poignant. With some trepidation, and a tear in my eye, I called Rob to thank him and to commiserate over the terrible news. He could hardly speak.’
His style is simply amazing and totally engaging, and this is obviously a must-read for Bauhaus’ fans and post-punk scene lovers. I know that David J will do a book reading and signing at Book Soup in Los Angeles on October 31st which will be followed by many others in Seattle, Portland and New York…. Check his Facebook page for more details!
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