[Literature and Music History]
Who Killed Mister Moonlight?
the book, by David J
The Incredible Reviewer TV Interviews
by the amazing Reviewer Rob
Rob: We’re here with David J, formerly of Bauhaus, and he’s doing an interview with Reviewer TV– very graciously–
David J: Cheers. [takes a sip of beer and holds glass up]
Rob: Cheers to uh, your new book! Ya know? That’s quite an accomplishment, it’s a big (unintelligible) too. [holds book up to show camera]
And it’s a memoir, of your days in Bauhaus? Or does it go back further– does it go after it? Tell me about the overall–
David J: It’s goes back– right back to the time when I met (unintelligible)– my former partner in crime, which is way to back to uh, the early sixties because we were in kindergarten together, and we didn’t realize that until we had met up again when we were both attending art school in Northampton, we got into a conversation and realized that we were actually in a little group shaking tambourines and woodblock when we were under 5.
So uh, yeah that was an interesting revelation. So it starts there, and then it tells the story of Bauhaus right up until the end which was in 2006.
[sound of wind chimes]
Rob: And uh, on the cover it says Bauhaus, Black Magick and Benediction. And um, the song Bella Lugosi’s dead is kind of credited with starting the goth music in America from what I’ve heard, and can you elaborate on that? What that an intentional thing on your part or did that surprise you?
David J: [shakes head]
Not at all. No. That song just bubbled up like the best songs do, and the mantle of goth– gothic, was laid upon us you know, we didn’t intend to be gothic, and in fact it was a rather limiting label because the band was much more expansive than that and was always evolving so it became a bit of a limiting name and I really believe that we transcend the gothic. Although there was obviously a gothic element there and sometimes we played with that and had fun with it and sometimes we would take it quite seriously- but then you can’t take goth too seriously.
Rob: Can’t be too serious as a vampire.
David J: Um, there was always a bit of tongue in the cheek action going on– sometimes it went over peoples head ya know, and they thought we were being serious but we weren’t, so there ya go.
Rob: Well you’re here in sunny San Diego, which doesn’t seem like the most conducive environment to dark gothy kind of culture, but you’ve been here a long time from what I know– you’ve lived here a long time. You have your family here right?
David J: I’ve been here eighteen years now.
Rob: That’s a long time. (unintelligible) Right by the beach.
David J: Yeah.
[makes a circular motion with finger]
I’ve sort of made a transit around this whole area– Encinitas, (unintelligible), (unintelligible), uh I think it’s a very special place, I’m sure there’s some ley line energy going on.
Rob: What lines? Ley Lines?
David J: Ley lines, yeah.
Rob: Oh what the uh–
David J: Some special energy going on here– some kind of like spiritual vortex.
Rob: Really? Can you give me an example of that, can you elaborate on that?
David J: Well I think it’s exemplified by the self-realization fellowship.
Rob: Oh (unintelligble). Paramahansa Yogananda.
David J: Paramahansa Yogananda had the vision of this place and then came here–
Rob: And he came here early on.
David J: And I had an interesting encounter with a yogi when I first discovered the self-realization fellowship, I didn’t know anything about it I’m actually going to tell the story tonight but it’s in the book.
Rob: Can you tell it to Reviewer TV?
David J: Well, it was when I first arrived here and I was out for a Sunday drive with the misses and we were driving down the 101 and we saw the interesting building that sits proudly up there–
Rob: The temple.
David J: And uh, just decided to investigate. And it was open, and we looked around the gardens which were splendid and also the little building at the top where Paramahansa Yogananda lived and where I found out later wrote his book. It’s the same place so uh–
Rob: What year was this?
David J: This would have been 1999– I believe. And uh, so we just went in there just kind of casually looking around and I was intrigued by all of the Indian instruments that they have on display, and also I saw the photograph– or the painting that is based on the photograph of the yogi, and I was very transfixed by that image, very soulful (unintelligible). And then I went up the little steps and stood at the
threshold of his office– his study, where he wrote his book. And I became overwhelmed with this feeling of spiritual elation– ecstasy. I was completely (unintelligible)
David J: And to such a degree that my legs gave way, and I just felt enveloped by a feeling of absolute peace, serenity, and love. And I saw this golden pinkish light in the center of the room and I was just gobsmacked– my soul was– struck. And I had to be– one of the sisters gently tugged me on the shoulder because there was a line forming of people who wanted to look into the study. So I was just in a dazed state– meandered my way back into the outside into gardens and told my wife what I had just experienced. And she had just been reading this little pamphlet that she picked up on the way which I had not seen and there was a story in there which was very similar, interestingly enough it was a testament of an English lady, who had a very similar experience. So I thought to myself, “Well there’s something going on here.”
Because that was just out of the blue, like a lightning bolt. So I decided to pick up his biography there and read it straight away. And I was really charmed by his sense of humor I was quite surprised by that because he was quite cheeky, and ever since then, I have felt very blessed to have discovered Paramahansa Yogananda and having him on my side having him in my corner. Yeah, it was quite an experience.
Rob: That’s spiritual!
David J: Yeah, deep.
Rob: That came on you like– almost like a muse or a spirit coming on you.
David J: Yeah, it was something of an epiphany.
Rob: What about– has that ever been like the songwriting experience for you? Can you tell me about when you wrote Bela Lugosi’s dead? Was it inspired by movies, was it inspired by a book?
David J: It was inspired by a conversation that I had with Daniel, and at the time in England they had been showing all the old vampire films, it was a season of vampire films so we had both been enjoying that one, on the phone just arranging to go to our rehearsal, we would talk about these films and one that had just been on was Bela Lugosi, classical Dracula, so that was in my consciousness when I was riding home on my bicycle from my boring warehouse job the next day.
Rob: In Northampton?
David J: In Northampton, and I was struck by this idea of Bela Lugosi. And Bela Lugosi personified the elegant vampire figure, thought he was dead– but the guise of the vampire of course– he’s undead.
Rob: And in Hollywood, he’ll never die. In Hollywood (unintelligible)
David J: Quite. So I just started writing these lyrics down on the packing labels that were attached the boxes that I would send out. And by the time we got home I had the whole thing written down on the labels. And then transcribed it– gave it to Peter the next night at rehearsal, and we all just started playing at separate parts, I wrote the lyrics but we all contributed that was very much a four-way collaboration that song, but we didn’t plan it or anything we just started playing– basically what you hear it on the record. And Peter did that, the vocal as pretty much what you hear on the record. As if we had been doing that song for a long time!
Rob: One take?!
David J: Well when we went into the studio it was one take, yeah. All played live. But I’m talking about the very first time we played it in the rehearsal room when we were writing it. It just flowed very naturally, and that was our first group collaborative song.
Rob: About what year was this? About how old were you?
David J: 1978 so I would have been like 21. My brother was 19.
Rob: Absolutely. So tonight you are going to read from the book, or are you just going to sign the book– or?
David J: I’m going to read some selections from the book yeah, uh–
Rob: You’re at (unintelligible) a beautiful (unintelligible)
David J: Exactly, and uh– I’m actually going to tell the tales that I’ve just told you because they are (unintelligible) to this locale.
Rob: Well thank you for taking the time to talk to us about your new book, Who killed Mr. Moonlight. And it’s available on the internet, but what is the publisher that printed it for you?
David J: Jawbone press in London. I’m just about to go out to London and then to carry on through Europe on a book promotional tour.
Rob: When will that start, right away?
David J: Well I go to Canada next week, and then New York, and then I go to London and then I’m out there for about four weeks.
David J: Yeah.
Rob: And people can expect to see you at some book stores in London, or in Europe?
David J: Yes, yes, I’m mostly doing living room shows which I’ve been doing of late– sometimes it’s actually a living room but sometimes it’s just– it can be anywhere that the host, who is just anybody
who wants to come on board and book one of these shows– they host the event, so I’ve played in all kinds of places from used chapels to warehouses, to art galleries, as well as living rooms, so– we’re tying those in, and there’s a couple of club dates as well. But it’s all based around the book so i’ll be combining the readings with live music.
Rob: are you going to be playing tonight?
David J: Not tonight no, tonights just a reading.
Rob: And if people want to send you an email they can go through your website which is–?
David J: It’s DavidJonline.com
Rob: Any dash in there? Just all one word?
David J: Yes, There’s also a Bandcamp. The best place to get the book really online is Amazon.
Rob: Of course, of course. [laughs] Amazon the great book store love, that all the book store owners love. But yeah what can you do right?
David J: Right, right, whenever I can I support the independent stores like (unintelligible, Duckies?) [points to store] Ya know?
David J: And I’m doing independent stores on the European store so that’s all very good.
Rob: When you go out David J, today, to your favorite clubs, what are some of your favorite clubs right now? I know that a lot have come and gone in San Diego, I saw you at the (unintelligible) the other night to see a London band, uh, Fat white family.
David J: I love the– the (unintelligible) is my second home, it always has been since I’ve been coming here. I like the belly-up and especially these days when they have a really good booker, they get some really good bands, really good acts there.
Rob: Who’s the booker?
David J: Chad. And in fact I may be doing a show there with my bandmates, I have a full band, The Gentlemen Thieves, and so that’s another avenue.
Rob: Anything up in L.A. you’d like to mention? I saw you up in L.A. one time, years ago, when they were doing a Suicidegirl show up there one time, I think you were DJIng, weren’t you?
David J: That is quite a time ago. Yes, I was DJing.
Rob: That was like 15 years ago.
David J: It was that long?
Rob: I think so– maybe it was right after 911, I don’t know.
David J: Yeah, I did Booksoup up there, and I may have a show again with the band there, and maybe some more living room shows that are pending.
Rob: In L.A.?
David J: Yes.
Rob: And would that be something that people can find out about online and get an invitation to go to?
David J: Yeah it will be posted up on my site.
Rob: Nice. Well good. Thank you again, is there anything else you’d like to mention?
David J: I think we’ve covered it all.
Rob: Well thank you from our watchers at Reviewer TV, David J, and looking forward to hearing you talk about the book.
Rob: This is Reviewer TV and we’re back with David J, and he just did a very good reading of his new book, Who killed Mr. Midnight. And, there was one story in there where you were talking about the intellectual property you called it–trademarking, of uh, the name of the band Love and Rockets. Tell us about how the name came about.
David J: We stole the name from the comic book, Love and Rockets, uh–[unintelligible] Which was made by the Hernandez brothers.
Rob: How did that happen?
David J: We were trying to think of a name for the band, and I just had a bunch of those comics because I was a big fan of that comic and it was just like– What about this? You know– Love and Rockets. So everything thought– Yeah that’s great, you know. But you know, will we get into trouble? But we didn’t know so we just thought– Oh well we’ll just go and do it and see if they slap a cease and desist on this. And then, sure enough, we actually made our first record– through all of our confusion, so that was out and then we got a call from– Jaime Hernandez, one of the brothers saying, “What’s all this about, you’re using the name..”
Rob: Yeah, how did that happen?
David J: I mean because it was known, it was out there.
Rob: you know when something like that’s about to happen you kind of sense it or feel it, you hear rumors and stuff, you didn’t have his lawyer contact you or anything, he just got your number and called you?
David J: Yeah, he actually got it– when he contacted the record company, and they contacted me, they said, “This guy needs to get in touch with you can we give him your number?”
Rob: Oh, so you were expecting it?
David J: Yeah I was expecting it, but initially you know I wasn’t expecting it. Anyway and so he calls me up and I said yeah, “It’s really a tribute.”
Ya know, and uh–
Rob: Seriously though, was it?
David J: Yes, of course it was, because I love that company, And it was a great name for us and it was just right for the times, but he said uh– “The thing is that’s cool and everything but my brother and I were thinking of making a band and we were going to call it Love and Rockets.”
And so I said, “Then go ahead, we’ll think of something else.”
And he said, “well no, it’s okay, just send me your record, send me your music and we’ll check it out and we’ll go from there.”
So we sent him a copy of the record and fortunately enough he liked it. So he said, “Music is cool, it’s okay you can use it.”
So we have his blessing which was lovely.
Rob: So if at that point if he would have asked you to back off, would you have?
David J: Of course! Just out of (unintelligible) not anything legal but just like– sure. We knew we were being a bit cheeky, but we also stole the name Bauhaus! And the logo. This is the official viper Bauhaus Seal [points to Cd cover] and we had no rights to do that but we were just like– we just stole it.
Rob: Those guys were all dead, they lost the war didn’t they?
David J: After the war came down we got a very scary letter– which I write about in the book, from these lawyers in Berlin who were questioning our use–
Rob: They sent you a threatening letter?
David J: Yes and it was scary you know because we had been using this for years! [points to Bauhaus CD cover] [laughs]
Rob: How did that happen, how did that happen?
David J: We just ignored it and it went away. [laughs] So hopefully it will stay– away.