Peter Murphy has reunited with David J., to perform their dark fusion of glam, cabaret, rock and reggae on the career-spanning Ruby Anniversary tour. PKM spoke to Murphy about the tour and playing his “miserable” hometown of Northampton, his experience working with Mick Karn on InGladAloneness before he passed away, his thoughts on dying, his upcoming album and San Francisco Residency, and more.
It has been 40 years since Bauhaus first burst onto the UK music scene, rapidly evolving into something more vibrant and dangerous than fellow post-punk pioneers, Joy Division. Led by Peter Murphy, the beautiful bastard lovechild of Ziggy Stardust and Iggy Pop, whose voice could shift from deep baritone to unearthly growls with knife flick speed, Bauhaus darkly fused glam, cabaret, dub reggae and disco. The band—besides Murphy, there was Daniel Ash, David J. and Kevin Haskins—soon rose to fame, opening for the likes of anarchist punk legends Crass and proto-industrial supergroup Throbbing Gristle, before headlining their own tours across the UK, Europe, and eventually the U.S.
“Stigmata Martyr”– Bauhaus – Live at The Old Vic Theatre, February 1982
This past year, Peter Murphy has been touring the globe with David J. in celebration of Bauhaus’ “Ruby Anniversary,” performing their groundbreaking debut album In The Flat Field with an extended encore of other Bauhaus dark delights. The massively influential and now highly regarded release debuted in 1980 to mixed reviews, but it solidified Bauhaus’ status as post-punk icons with a taste of things to come.
“Cuts You Up” – Peter Murphy – Deep
In the years following the end of Bauhaus’ initial five-year run in 1983, Peter Murphy emerged as a successful solo artist, scoring a #1 US hit with his 1989 single “Cuts You Up” which dominated Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart for an impressive seven weeks. Ten studio albums, four live albums, and two EPs later, Murphy is raring to go for album number eleven but not before playing his much-anticipated career spanning residency at The Chapel in San Francisco.
“Seesaw Sway” – Peter Murphy – Ninth
PKM: Can we talk a little bit about how the San Francisco Residency came about?
Peter Murphy: Yeah, I was playing my Stripped tour a couple of years ago where I was doing a sort of 3-piece and we landed in San Francisco and got to The Chapel. I think I played there once before that, but it was a month of spontaneity. I’d been keeping in the back of my mind the idea and wished that, as an alternative to me traveling around, going tour and all things, I would often want and wish for more of a theatrical production type run where I could stay in one venue.
Inspired by The Chapel’s atmosphere (a converted mortuary building dating back to 1914 with an arched 40-foot ceiling along with its own bar and restaurant), Murphy went straight to venue management to put his residency plan into action.
“Hit Song” – Peter Murphy – Holy Smoke
Peter Murphy: I immediately spoke to the manager and started to arrange it
straight away and then announced to the band that they were gonna be learning every single one of my songs that I’ve ever recorded, much to their dismay and doubt. Once you put your mind to something, it happens, as though I had been constructing it very methodically.
The month-long residency, which was initially set for late June 2017, was rescheduled for January 2018 to allow for Peter’s recovery from surgery on his vocal cords, before being rescheduled two more times because of delays with Peter’s O-1 visa.
Peter Murphy: The point is that in this time last year, I had the band rehearsing every one of the songs over a month period, and I wasn’t there physically because of the visa problem. I was rehearsing here, too. I was making lots of notes in terms of the arrangements. So, that process has happened. I’ve got a band who know every single thing that I’ve done, which is fantastic, really, so that’s gonna happen in March.
“All Night Long”– Peter Murphy – Love Hysteria
Peter Murphy: Then I wanted to add what I call the Mr. Moonlight Evening, which harked back to the 35 years of Bauhaus records I did, which I called Mr. Moonlight. That’s a set of Bauhaus songs, so it was in effect gonna be a Bauhaus evening add-on, one Stripped evening, and I’m now thinking of adding on a Bowie tribute night which I haven’t done since he passed away.
“King Volcano” – Peter Murphy, Mr. Moonlight Tour – 35 Years of Bauhaus
Mr. Moonlight Tour – 35 Years of Bauhaus is also a nod to the Bauhaus song “Who Killed Mr. Moonlight” performed by David J. on the band’s fourth album, Burning From The Inside. It is also incidentally, the title of David J.’s 2016 memoir, Who Killed Mr. Moonlight?: Bauhaus, Black Magick, And Benediction.
Peter Murphy: One of the things that happened with Mr. Moonlight is that I thought “Well, I want to bring a sense of reconciliation between David J. and I.” As well as having played the Mr. Moonlight tour five years ago, Emilio (DiZefalo) and I discussed how creative and actually quite brilliant David J. bass parts are. Which I know already, but having someone playing them up there so inventively, the whole band (Bauhaus) was very atonal in its approach. So, I just had the idea of calling David and inviting him to play bass in the Mr. Moonlight evening of that residency.
The O-1 Visa delays, which also delayed work in the U.S. on Peter’s follow up to 2014’s Lion album, became the catalyst for the Ruby Anniversary Tour after someone reminded Peter that 2018 marked the 40th year of Bauhaus.
Peter Murphy: I put it to David for me to go out with him as the featured bass player with my band, (guitarist) Mark Gemini Thwaite and Marc Slutsky on the drums. I put that out to my agent and said, “See what the feedback is.” And it was very strong, so we’re now partway through the world tour and it’s very rewarding. It’s such a good group of people, that group that I gathered. And the first time in many years I’ve been able to afford to bring along a wonderful lighting director, Scott, and so, the whole thing’s quite a spectacle and an experience, really.
The North American leg of the Ruby Anniversary Tour will make its way across the U.S. and Canada with a final stop in Los Angeles on February 28th before the start of Peter’s month-long Chapel Residency on March 4th.
PKM: So, you’ve got a new album you are working on?
Peter Murphy: Yeah, I’ve recorded the demo versions, as it were. It’s all laid down and that’s all ready to record. If you’re interested in the way that I approach it is – even with demos – go in and grab at least two songs a day from beginning to end and not overstrain and overanalyze it. Because I think it’s important to capture performances and ideas that come out of that kind of approach. Where there is no time to think, but there’s all the time in the world to be genius and to create. If you give one person one chance to survive a parachute jump, they’ll make sure the parachute’s working, you know what I mean?
PKM: Yes, absolutely.
Peter Murphy: So, it’s kind of like that, really, and I like to throw myself…hurl myself off a plane and go “That’s it! That’s all you’re gonna need!” It’s a question of when people go “Aaah! That was great!” You go, “Yeah. Next!” You know, what I mean? So, that’s the kind of approach. I don’t like faffing around being anal or over controlling about something, you have to let something appear itself, as it were.
PKM: I’m excited that there’s a new album coming out, that’s a fun surprise!
Peter Murphy: Yeah, it’s one of those things that seems like it’s been forever! My legs are gonna drop off unless I do one! My head’s gonna drop off if I don’t do one. If I don’t do an album, my head tends to drop off. (laughs)
PKM: Like, it’s gotta happen!
Peter Murphy: It’s got to! Why am I alive? Album! Where’s my album? Somebody, where’s the stage? Show me the stage! ‘Let them know, you’re coming, Sir! Let them know you’re coming! Throw up the curtain!’
I don’t like faffing around being anal or over controlling about something, you have to let something appear itself, as it were.
PKM: Brilliant. So, to get back to the residency, you’re going to be doing songs from the first five albums and…
Peter Murphy: I was supposed to be doing all of my albums except for Lion.
PKM: I was listening to Lion this morning!
Peter Murphy: Interestingly, Amanda, I did omit Lion from last year because I just had throat surgery and I wasn’t sure whether I’d be up for the high range vocals that I do on Lion, but now I’m completely fine with that because I’ve been working a lot and singing and I’ve got my voice right back and I do plan to leave what is called The Residency as a project that I can place anywhere at any time in the world, so I will add that (Lion).
“Hang Up” – Peter Murphy – Lion
Peter Murphy and Mick Karn 1984 Interview w/ “The Judgment Is The Mirror” video
This past January 4th marked the 8-year anniversary of Japan bassist Mick Karn‘s passing from brain cancer. Peter teamed up with Mick in 1984 to form Dalis Car, his first post-Bauhaus project prior to the start of his solo career.
Peter Murphy: Is it 8 years?
Peter Murphy: Oh, God rest his soul!
PKM: I was wondering if we could talk a little bit about the InGladAloneness EP?
Peter Murphy: Absolutely!
PKM: Terrific! How did that come about?
Peter Murphy: Well, I just heard through the grapevine that Mick Karn had a crowdfunder to pay for his medical bills because I think he was living on an island in Greece and had no money, has a son, a wife, of course, and I thought, “Wow! This can’t be happening! That’s not very British!” You don’t have to pay for health care but, obviously, because he was in Greece. It just like jolted me into action because even though we weren’t great, great friends, we only worked on one album, I felt that – I did read that there were various artists that were doing fundraising. There was supposedly a fundraising gig by all these well-known people and that didn’t come about. I thought, “This is not good enough.” I mean, I identified with the cause because I’m a father and he was my age and I worked with him, so I have a connection with him as a human being and even though we hadn’t spoken.
Murphy, who was working in an Oxford studio at the time, secured financial backing from a French Lichtenstein fan and benefactor, who had first approached Peter about funding a Bauhaus album, to which Peter graciously declined. With financing in place, Murphy contacted Mick about working together on the album.
Peter Murphy: And I think that really came as a great injection of positivity of life for him because you can imagine people sort of waiting until the day you drop dead, basically, when you’ve got cancer. And he happened to have brain cancer.
PKM: Oh, terrible.
Peter Murphy: And he was way into treatment and having seizures, I found out, but he was so happy and enlivened, re-enlivened and wanting to do this very much. And I just said get whatever you’ve got, whatever sketches you’ve got, bring them along. So, we arranged it. So Fred Bury kindly donated the money for which I budgeted the album recording and we brought Mick down with his wife and his assistant and his son and we spent a week together. During that period, he was very sick, still. He was having intermittent seizures, which were treated. He was in and out of the hospital, even in Oxford. And he was still able to be with me and he was giving me all these backing tracks and all his ideas. It ended up being an EP of, I forget how many songs (5 songs) and one of the songs I wanted to do was always “If You Go Away” by Jacques Brel. In fact, the very plaintive thing was that on the EP there’s “If You Go Away” reconstituted by a long, very plaintive instrumental introduction which goes into one verse and ends. And that introduction is the very last thing that Mick played ever as an artist, which was actually quite beautiful, really.
“If You Go Away” – Dalis Car – InGladAloneness
Peter Murphy: It was very moving and it wasn’t grim, even that Mick was there, I mean I would wheel him out of the hospital after a serious brain seizure. He could’ve gone at any time after one of those, at the hospital in Oxford and I was wheeling him out of it and he was joking about Dalis Car, right? Like, “My wheelchair is Dalis Car.” It was hilarious! It was wonderful! And he talked about how it was his turn and people would be following, anyway, and it was just his turn and all this stuff. It was just great to do that because it was a positive life-affirming thing and it was nothing to do with waiting around to die which is really a great lesson. You only die when you die. The moment you die is when you die, not before, really.
Mick’s condition continued to worsen over the course of production, prompting Peter to work quickly on vocals, as he found himself traveling between Oxford and the London hospital where Mick had been transferred. Peter, along with Mick’s good friend and former Japan drummer, Steve Jansen, as well as King Crimson’s Jakko M. Jakszyk worked diligently to complete work on vocals, drums, and guitar parts for the mixes that would become the 5-song EP.
Peter Murphy: Steve Jansen the drummer has his own studio, so he took the mixes and supplemented them, inserted live drums over the top, little bits and bobs there and that really worked, seemed to bind it all together. I already, even when I was planning the idea of doing an album, I created the artwork, the cover, (with German visual artist, Thomas Bak and painter Jarosław Kukowski) before we’d even started to record, so, it was good to go.
That introduction is the very last thing that Mick played ever as an artist, which was actually quite beautiful, really.
PKM: It’s a gorgeous cover.
Peter Murphy: Isn’t that lovely? The idea that I did it in mind because it was like, in glad aloneness. It’s kind of like ascending out of view. That, also sitting up there on a swing, surveying such a beautiful, heavenly place that you’re leaving, basically, in a sense, or one is arriving at, perhaps, and the idea in that the title In Glad Aloneness, where I make it into one word, InGladAloneness. So, now I lead into the fact that of course, we are alone and we die alone but that’s nothing to do with loneliness, and we become ourselves, if you like. We go home to ourselves, if you like.
PKM: Inner peace.
Peter Murphy: Hope so, yes. I bloody hope so. (laughs) Unless my head drops off.
PKM: We can’t have that!
Peter Murphy: No!
PKM: By the way, you’re probably aware of this but, do you know that you have a Facebook group dedicated to your cheekbones?
Peter Murphy: (Laughs)
PKM: I was just thinking with all this talk about heads dropping off…
Peter Murphy: I’ve got two children (son Adem and daughter Hurihan) with very high cheekbones and they’re very dedicated to me. I call them Vikings, they’re taller than me and my wife (Modern Ballet choreographer Beyhan Murphy), giant Vikings! My children, honestly! Here come the Vikings!
PKM: That’s good, they’ll be strong and sturdy to take care of you!
Peter Murphy: Quite right.
“Dark Entries” Peter Murphy & David J (40 years of Bauhaus) Roadmender, Northampton, 2 Dec 2018
PKM: So, how was it playing Northampton, this past December?
Peter Murphy: Oh, god! Dave and I, it was like two days before, the closer it came, Dave and I looked at each other and I went “Ugh, Northampton. Ugh. Ughh nooo, it’s so miserable there.” That’s where we were engendered. The band went out and said, “I get it.” I wouldn’t go out (laughs) I’d say, “I’m not going into town. No, not going. Nope, not doing it. So, I’m staying on the bus. Nope.” So, anyway, the venue was great. It was where we played, god knows, we played there in 1978 at the Art School Christmas Ball, one of those. So, it was alright, it was fine.
One of the wonderful English in-house technical people said, “You know, that was such a good show! It’s such a good thing to have people who do visuals and really do perform!” I said, “Darling, we own this place, we were born here, we made Northampton what it is!” What do you mean a band who do this, don’t you know who we are?
Anyway, Dave took me on a date. He bought me tickets for Russell Brand at the Theatre Royal which is where we played, too, once in Northampton. It only holds about four people but it was great. And so Dave took me on a date to see Russell Brand and we invited him over but I don’t know if he was able to make it. On the first show, when we played a song called “Adrenaline,” David said, “This is for Iggy Pop” and I said, “Fuck Iggy Pop” on stage, so then the next time we played Northampton three or four days later, on the second show, we were doing the song called “Adrenaline” and this girl had made this silkscreen wonderful scarf with “Fuck Iggy Pop!” on it! (laughs) So, I grabbed it off her and sort of waved it like a flag. Oh yeah! Oh yeah, fuck Iggy Pop! Fuck Iggy Pop.
PKM: I was gonna ask you about him, too.
Peter Murphy: Fuck Iggy Pop.
PKM: Well, there ya go!
Peter Murphy: There’s my answer.
PKM: Yep, thank you!
Peter Murphy: (Laughs) There you go! You don’t practice it, you just get and it lands. What better context could you have for that than asking about Iggy Pop?
PKM: Nothing’s gonna top that!
Of course, we are alone and we die alone but that’s nothing to do with loneliness, and we become ourselves, if you like. We go home to ourselves.
Peter Murphy: That’s how songs will be easy. But that girl cracked me! She’d done it (the scarf) beautifully. It was a completely beautiful silkscreen on silk on this big colored scarf-type thing, it was pretty big, with “Fuck Iggy Pop!” on it. I grabbed it off and waved it like a flag and then showed it to David, “Look!” and the audience went completely bonkers, it was brilliant.
It was great fun and it is very iconic coming from one of those shows where people walk up and look at me like (gasp) “He’s there! He’s in the corridor. He’s walking!” Well, one has to do stuff like that. There’s far too few of us, nowadays.
PKM: So, I also know you have a box set. Beggar’s Banquet (Records) put out a box set not too long ago.
Peter Murphy: Yes, that’s right! They did it in time for what was going to be the residency. Yes, there’s a box set and it’s well done! It’s on Beggar’s Banquet and it’s got all of my five Beggar’s Banquet album releases.
PKM: And there’s an unreleased track called “Critics Choice”.
Peter Murphy: Oh, yeah, yes, yes. Cringe. I don’t like that one. Tell every one of your readers to ignore that one. Scratch that part of the CD with a knife.
PKM: Duly noted.
Peter Murphy: It’s alright but it’s one of those duds, you know, and the label just grabs anything that’s on the old master tape, anything that’s not released and shove it out. I did ask them not to but they said, “No, no, no, no, no!” So, I said, “Oh, bugger it, go on, then!” That became something else, later. It became…I forget. “Critics Choice” stupid title! Ridiculous.
PKM: The truth comes out!
Peter Murphy: The truth comes out, “Critics Choice” comes out! Like an old, sturdy old snake that had been lurking under the floorboards for a long time.
PKM: So, the tour kicks off in Mexico City, do I have that right?
Peter Murphy: That’s right, that’s exactly right and the Guadalajara and then straight over to wherever we go, next. I think Portland, isn’t it?
PKM: Yeah! There’s like a couple of California dates (one in Anaheim, actually) and then Portland.
Fuck Iggy Pop.
Peter Murphy: Yes, and then we work our way down, again. I like Portland, it’s like a nice miniature Seattle and anything goes, I think.
PKM: Yeah, it gets pretty weird up here, it’s cozy, though…
Peter Murphy: That’s right. Within the weird, there must be some wonderful.
PKM: Oh yeah, so many great record stores and the music scene, there’s a lot of great venues.
Peter Murphy: That’s right, I remember playing last time and there was this one band, I forget the band’s name, they were beautiful and there’s a lady in it, a husband and wife. Who were they? (Swansea) I really liked them. They were Portland and they were very free with their art and very kind of cultured.
PKM: And people really support the bands out here. They hit the shows, it’s great.
Peter Murphy: That’s great, so there’s an actual scene, then. A lot of music industry technicians move up there. All sorts of people and roadies, techs. Cheaper than LA, apparently.
Indeed it is Mr. Murphy, for now, at least.
Catch Peter Murphy: 40 Years of Bauhaus Ruby Celebration Featuring David J. on his tour:
Tue, Jan 22 – Salt Lake City UT @ The Depot
Thu, Jan 24 – San Diego CA @ The Observatory North Park
Fri, Jan 25 – Phoenix AZ @ The Van Buren
Sat, Jan 26 – Albuquerque NM @ Sunshine Theater
Sun, Jan 27 – Oklahoma City OK @ Tower Theatre
Mon, Jan 28 – Kansas City MO @ The Truman
Wed, Jan 30 – Dallas TX @ Granada Theater
Thu, Jan 31 – Austin TX @ Paramount Theater
Fri, Feb 1 – San Antonio TX @ Paper Tiger
Sat, Feb 2 – Houston TX @ White Oak Music Hall
Mon, Feb 4 – New Orleans LA @ Civic Theatre
Wed, Feb 6 – Miami FL @ The Ground at Club Space
Thu, Feb 7 – Orlando FL @ Plaza Live
Fri, Feb 8 – Atlanta GA @ The Masquerade – SOLD OUT
Sat, Feb 9 – Carrboro NC @ Cats Cradle-SOLD OUT
Mon, Feb 11 – Baltimore MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
Tue, Feb 12 – Philadelphia PA @ Union Transfer
Thu, Feb 14 – New York NY @ Terminal 5
Fri, Feb 15 – Worcester MA @ The Palladium
Sat, Feb 16 – Montreal QC @ M Telus
Sun, Feb 17 – Toronto ON @ Phoenix Theatre – SOLD OUT
Tue, Feb 19 – Detroit MI @ St Andrews Hall
Thu, Feb 21 – Columbus OH @ Columbus Athenaeum
Fri, Feb 22 – Chicago IL @ Rockefeller Chapel – SOLD OUT
Sat, Feb 23 – Chicago IL @ Rockefeller Chapel-SOLD OUT
Mon, Feb 25 – Denver CO @ Oriental Theater
Tue, Feb 26 – Denver CO @ Oriental Theater – SOLD OUT
Thu, Feb 28 – Los Angeles CA @ The Novo