For a band once labeled “doom and gloom rock,” that’s a pretty positive thought to get you through difficult times. “Hope” from Bauhaus reminds us things will get better and this time won’t last forever.
Using that “Hope,” the band is offering a special t-shirt with all the profits going to various COVID-19 causes. Personally, I have wanted to help, but was overwhelmed with charities, so I was excited when I found out Bauhaus was making this possible. It reminded me how much I miss the music of happier times aka the “not adulting” years…
Oh….. the ‘80s. It was such an amazing time in music and so many songs take me back instantly. Although several bands have faded into the background (Nitzer Ebb! Camouflage! I miss you!), some goth/alternative bands continued releasing material into the 2000s. Even more rare though, is the ‘80s band that is still touring today.
Despite years of side projects, break ups, reunions, more side projects, and more break ups, Bauhaus is back together as one, and we’ll see them in 2021 (unless, you know, virus).
Before Bela Lugosi was dead (song wise), Daniel Ash and his friends, brothers David and Kevin Haskins, grew up playing in multiple bands together in England. After another one of those bands ended, Ash was able to convince his friend Peter Murphy to join their next incarnation.
With Murphy on vocals, Ash on guitar, Kevin on drums, and David on bass, they launched Bauhaus in 1978.
Considered the pioneer of goth rock, their music dabbled in multiple genres – glam rock, dub, power pop included.
Influenced by Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, David Bowie, Devo, and Pink Floyd, it’s easy to see why they were so multifaceted.
Despite never writing a song before, Murphy penned “In the Flat Field” at their first rehearsal and they made their demo tape six weeks later. The standout track from the five-song demo, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” clocked in at more than nine minutes long and was recorded in one take.
Released in August 1979, the song received positive reviews and radio airplay (and remains the song they are most known for).
The band released two more demo singles and scored a record deal. They went to work on their first full album, even producing it themselves to bring their vision to life. “In the Flat Field” was released in 1980 and is widely considered the original gothic rock album.
Bauhaus returned to the studio and crafted their second album, “Mask.” The singles “Kick in the Eye” and “The Passion of Lovers” did well on the charts and the full album dropped in October 1981.
Not content to sit around, they went back into the studio the following year for “The Sky’s Gone Out.” While not on the original US version, they showed they could be glam AND goth with a cover of David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.” The track got enough attention to land them on “Top of the Pops.”
Bass player Dave released the book “Bauhaus Undead: The Visual History and Legacy of Bauhaus” in 2018, and it details just how much the guys idolized Bowie and how it led to their role in the vampire film “The Hunger.” They were slightly excited about the chance to work with their idol.
Originally, they were going to simply perform the opening song. The film’s director Tony Scott said, “I love rock ‘n’ roll and impact at the beginning of movies, and Peter Murphy had this sort of ethereal, vampire quality to him, and I thought that would make an interesting opening title sequence in the movie.”
With a live version of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” and Bowie watching nearby, the band made their film debut.
What should have been an exciting time of the high of working with Bowie and the success of their music, Scott’s focus on Murphy during filming ruffled some feathers in the band. Add in Murphy’s modeling career often making him the focus of the band, tensions mounted.
Murphy came down with pneumonia when the band was prepping for their fourth album, “Burning from the Inside.” He could not do much during recording, so Ash and David took over, including vocals. This did not help the already tense situation. Though the lead track, “She’s in Parties,” did well in release, the band decided to break up before the album was released.
In a 2007 interview, Kevin said: “We were getting along really well, but there was an incident that occurred. Some of us just felt that we didn’t want to carry on as a working unit.”
Bauhaus made their final “Top of the Pops” appearance and then announced at their July 5, 1983 show that it was the farewell show. “Burning from the Inside” was released a week later.
By now, Murphy was an incredible showman, and had the legendary vocal range that all lead singers would kill for. He would go on to record TEN solo albums, with the last one, “Lion,” released in 2014. His greatest success came from the 1990 track “Cuts You Up.” Honestly, still a damn good song.
Ash and Kevin dove into their side project, Tones on Tail
With only one full length album and a few EPs, “Go” remains their Uber-hit. You may have heard it in an episode of the ‘80s-loving Netflix phenomenon, “Stranger Things.”
The song was also featured in the 1997 feature film “Grosse Pointe Blank.” The film was set in the 80’s as a black comedy, but it evolved to having a prolific soundtrack with some of the most iconic songs of the era.
That brief stint as Tones on Tail was not their end though. Ash and Kevin reunited with Dave to form Love and Rockets.
The string of hits along with that signature sound immortalized the band in the hearts and minds of their fans. The hit parade included songs like “No New Tale To Tell,” “Mirror People,” “Ying and Yang,” “All In My Mind,” “No Big Deal,” “Ball of Confusion,” “Kundalini Express” and “Haunted When The Minutes Drag.”
Their classic “So Alive” is still alive via radio and satellite.
Love and Rockets would go on to do seven studio albums, one break up, and one reunion tour. Oh, and one more break up.
But between all of those events, Bauhaus also reunited. Their 1998 “Resurrection Tour” included a new song; “The Dog’s a Vapour,” and a live album.
They decided to become an official band again in 2005 and made an appearance at Coachella. In front of 50,000 people, Murphy appeared on stage oh-so- casually…
After their own headlining tour and supporting Nine Inch Nails tour, Bauhaus went back into the studio together for their fifth and final album, “Going Away White.” The disc arrived in 2008 and the band broke up for the second time, without touring to support the album.
“Now, there’s a little bit of an empty feeling because we can’t tour with it. All the same, it’s something we’re very proud of, and we feel a lot of people will be interested to hear it,” Kevin said.
David J said of the breakup: “You have a test tube, and you pour in one chemical, and you pour in another chemical, and something happens. It starts to bubble. Pour in another chemical, and it starts to bubble a bit more. You pour in a fourth chemical, and it bubbles really violently, and then explodes. That’s my answer.”
As for Ash, he was sure this was it. “We’ve worked together since 1980. I really want to work with new people, I’m sure everybody feels the same, “ he said. “I just want to completely break away from all that. It feels like a million years ago anyway. Time to change. Can you imagine working with the same people since 1980? What are we now? 2009?”
Despite sometimes saying some non-positive things about his former band mates, in 2013, Murphy said he considers them family. “But we’re all still very good friends. We’re English. We’re very polite and respectful of each other, in actual fact. There’s no terrible, girly, adolescent language. They’re good people. They’re good people even if they’re bastards. We’re brothers, you know? And you know what that’s like.”
You know what’s coming…
They reformed at the end of 2019 for three sold out shows at the Hollywood Palladium. Even more impressive, the shows came along just months after Murphy suffered a heart attack.
Whether it be wisdom from age, new perspectives after health scares, or just being “family,” Bauhaus is together now and prepared to hit the road. Their 2020 tour dates had to be postponed, but they will be back live as soon as life allows it.
To get yourself into your goth place and do some good at the same time, pick up their “Hope” t-shirt. To get it…