Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Oct 25th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Through the Past, Darkly

GT goes back to the future with former Bauhaus/Love and Rockets bassist David J

Throughout his years as bassist for the late ’70s/early ’80s English art rock band Bauhaus, David J maintained a somewhat spectral presence, shrouded in tonal murk, his eyes constantly eclipsed by a pair of shades. But when he emerged from the shadows as a member of Love and Rockets, the light of day revealed him to be one of alternative rock’s most likeable characters, sporting an alien hipness, vaguely C-3PO-ish features and an Alan Watts-like blend of wisdom and intellect. Songs like “Kundalini Express” and “No New Tale to Tell” were clearly the products of a lysergically expanded mind, but this wasn’t your mother’s psychedelia—J’s version of transcendentalism sounded not just cutting-edge, but often futuristic.

This “back to the future” effect has been an integral part of J’s art since he sounded the first morbid bass note of Bauhaus’ 1979 debut single, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” thus summoning the gothic aesthetic to rise from its crypt and shape-shift into a 20th-century guise. To this day, “Bela” is the closest thing the neo-gothic movement has to a national anthem. J, however, finds his status as one of Goth’s founding fathers somewhat ironic.

“It’s funny,” the 50-year-old musician comments in his polite Northampton accent, “because stylistically, [the gothic style] is so contradictory to our [group’s] original perception of the band Bauhaus, which was like the Bauhaus movement [a 1920s and ‘30s style of German expressionist art], and that’s the opposite of the gothic in that there’s nothing extraneous, nothing superfluous about it; everything is designed in its most stark manifestation. Of course, the gothic is all over-the-top and opulent in its extremity, you know?”

In recent years, J has once again done his part to bring 1920s Germany back in vogue by way of Cabaret Oscuro, a project that puts a contemporary spin on Berlin cabaret. Much as the gothic ethos made a comeback in the ’80s, cabaret has been enjoying a renaissance here in the double-Os in the form of presentations like Cabaret Oscuro, Marilyn Manson’s The Golden Age of Grotesque and the “Brechtian punk cabaret” of the Boston duo The Dresden Dolls. J sees the merging of cabaret with more contemporary styles—particularly punk—as a logical evolution.

“You see, [cabaret] was a product of the political and social environment at that time, inasmuch as in Weimar, before the war, it was railing against the fascists, and it was criticizing that whole political movement in a very sardonic, satirical way,” the singer offers. “When punk happened, it was doing the same. It had a social context and a political context that was vital to its form.”

J comes to the Kuumbwa this Sunday to play songs from throughout his career. He shares the bill with former Concrete Blonde vocalist Johnette Napolitano (johnettenapolitano.com). In keeping with his habit of juxtaposing the contemporary with the historical, he plans to play a cover of The Clash’s “Straight to Hell” featuring accompanist Kenny Annis on the sarod, an instrument commonly used in Indian classical music.

When not busy making his own music (www.davidjonline.com), J has recently been DJing, producing albums by artists like Michael de Winter (www.myspace.com/minus12) and Vinsantos (alightawakeinside.com) and playing in the ambient/experimental ensemble THREE (myspace.com/evocations). And, in yet another retro-modern maneuver, he’s been writing, directing and producing the play “Silver for Gold: The Odyssey of Edie Sedgwick,” set to premiere in L.A. in early 2008.  “It’s Edie [an actress in many of Andy Warhol’s films] as Persephone from the Greek myth, and it’s her odyssey told in mythic terms,” he explains.

As will surely come to the dark delight of alt-rock fans worldwide, J also recently convened with the other members of Bauhaus to record the band’s first album of new material since 1983. Titled Go Away White, it’s tentatively slated for release in March of next year.

Now that’s history to look forward to.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Santa Cruz Restaurant Week

A huge part of Santa Cruz Restaurant Week has always been about offering a great dining experience for an affordable price. For some locals, the $25 flat-rate cost has provided the opportunity (or the excuse!) to try new spots, and indulge in Santa Cruz fine dining in a way they might have thought too pricey before.

 

Scorpio Sun, New Moon Eclipse, Mercury Direct

The Sun enters Scorpio’s mysteries Thursday under a new moon and partial solar eclipse (something essential has come to an end, its purpose completed). In Scorpio we harbor secrets, are devoted to something deep, dark and hidden. Sometimes it’s ourselves. We can bring great suspect to our assessment of others. Scorpio is the scorpion, the serpent and the eagle—three levels of development. As the serpent we take shelter in our beliefs. Sometimes we bite (or sting). The eagle vanquishes old beliefs through its sharp intellect, soaring high in the air, seeking to understand through perspective. Understanding releases us from the bondage of fear. The eagle is like the mother soothing feelings of mistrust, offering protection. Knowledge does this, too.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Light Humor

College comedy questions a post-racial America in ‘Dear White People’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Back Porch

Austin Kaye on backyard dinners and why it’s his favorite time of year to be a chef

 

What’s the most outrageous situation you ever saw at a restaurant?

Damani Thomas, Santa Cruz, Chef/Owner

 

Wine Lust

The Spanish Godello grape, plus arancinis, tender butter lettuce and pork schnitzel at Soif

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher