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The Gothic Tale Behind Bauhaus' Return

July 08, 1998|KASTLE WASERMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

When word went out that the '80s Goth rock pioneer band Bauhaus would reunite for two shows in Los Angeles this week, it was easy to picture fans of the British group reacting with excitement--and suspicion.

Was Bauhaus re-forming to promote "Crackle," the band's new compilation CD on Beggars Banquet, or merely jumping on the recent train of '80s rock comeback tours?

Whatever the questions, the response to the shows was immediate. When tickets for the Friday and Saturday shows at the Hollywood Palladium were put on sale weeks ago, they sold out in 15 minutes, leading to a third Palladium date being added Sunday. That show also sold out. The band warms up for the Palladium dates with a performance Thursday at the Hollywood Athletic Club. (Approximately 200 $50 tickets for that show went on sale Tuesday through Ticketmaster).

Why all the interest in a British band that that never cracked the Top 100 in this country with any of its five albums before breaking up in 1983?

Along with such acts as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus was one of the seminal bands in the colorful Goth rock movement that began in England around 1980.

The group--which consists of lead singer Peter Murphy, guitarist Daniel Ash, bassist David J. and drummer Peter Haskins--combined the beauty of glam, the volatile energy of punk and an art-school fascination with gloom.

Though its sales were limited in the U.S., Bauhaus attracted a strong cult following among androgynous nightclub crawlers who were interested in vampire lore and who dressed in black clothes and dramatic makeup.

It's a movement in rock that continues to fascinate young fans, which helps to explain the enthusiasm for Bauhaus' reunion appearances. Murphy believes he is able to relate to his young fans.

"I relate to them as a father and as human beings," he says. "I think I've learned to look past the uniform and appreciate these people as individuals. They like to belong to a certain group, and that's what people do in all walks of life--it's just that they're more beautiful!"

Murphy believes the reunion concerts are also opportunities to clarify some of the myths that surround the band's legacy.

Although devil worship and occultism were and are part of the Goth scene's darker side, Murphy wants to make clear that they were never a part of Bauhaus.

"There are elements of the Goth scene that are pretty stupid and very destructive," he says. "I definitely don't relate to that at all. We are not this occultist, cloak 'n' dagger, smack-taking, woman-abusing sort of band. We do the gig, go home, have a cup of cocoa and go to bed--because it all happens on stage."

Though Bauhaus will follow up the Los Angeles shows with concerts in 13 cities, Murphy doesn't see the group continuing as a unit.

For one thing, the other three members are devoted to their band, Love and Rockets, which has a new album coming out on Red Ant Records in October. Murphy also is busy with other career matters.

The musician, who lives in Turkey, is a devout Muslim who spends his time studying Arabic, writing and translating books as well as writing music for his wife's modern dance company.

Is he still the same person he was in the impassioned days of Bauhaus? "I'm a Muslim and to learn what a true Muslim is, you must learn about what a Muslim isn't. So you're constantly stripping away your preconceptions. Yes, I'm exactly the same person. I feel I've got my devil still--but he's been made a Muslim."

*

* Bauhaus plays Friday-Sunday at the Hollywood Palladium, 6215 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. 9 p.m. Sold out. (213) 962-7699.

For audio clips of Bauhaus' latest album, go to: http://www.calendarlive.com

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