Love & Rockets Interview

By theajaysharma

It's the day after Love and Rockets' penultimate show on their mini-tour about the U.S. to promote their latest record, Lift. Over 1,000 people (not all wearing Bauhaus t-shirts) turned out for free show in Anaheim, California, that more than exceeded their expectations. The band threw themselves into selections from Lift (RIP 20 C, Delicious Ocean, Holy Fool) and included some surprises -- a classic (Mirror People) and a wholly unexpected cover of T-Rex's 20th Century Boy (most recently covered by Placebo for the film "Velvet Goldmine"). Daniel Ash, David J, and Kevin Haskins had just finished a photo shoot in the offices of Red Ant Records in West Hollywood. They were extremely positive about sitting down for an interview, not minding at all that they were inside while outside the cloudless, 85-degree December day passed them by.

Interview by Lisa Y. Garibay

LYG: How did you hook up with Luscious Jackson for "Holy Fool"?
KH: Whilst we were recording "Holy Fool," we felt that it needed some other element, and thought that a female vocal might work. Our co-producer Doug DeAngelis suggested Luscious Jackson, and we were in New York mixing at the time, so it all kind of made sense. They came down and what we did was we took all the vocals out of the track, muted them, so they didn't really know anything besides the words, what the track was about. We wanted Jill to just go in there and be completely spontaneous. So she went in there and did her part and it all happened to gel and fit really well. Kate [Schellenbach] and Gabby [Glaser] played percussion with Kevin. And then Jill went in and did some guitar, a funky wah-wah guitar.

LYG: How did having Doug involved - an outside producer for the first time on a Love and Rockets album - affect the production of this record?
DA: It focused it. We became…we needed some form to just make it cohesive. Some of the stuff we'd done in the past was almost like there were two or three different bands. We liked the idea of that, but for this one we wanted something to sound cohesive all the way through. So there was like a stream, sonically cohesive, at least.

LYG: The album seems to have a cynicism inherent to Lift - it seems to be much about the end of the millennium, with a cynicism about certain things that have happened over the past hundred or so years and an ambivalence on what might be coming in the future. Was that intentional?
DJ: Well, I think… yeah. I think that just reflects a realistic attitude, really. And it's not overall cynical at all, there's a lot of uplifting spirit to it. "RIP 20C" reflects both those sides, you know. Just seeing it not getting sort of caught up in hyperbole and getting carried away with all this millennium fever... I don't think there's anything significant about the date 2000, but I think we are progressing at an incredible rate. Evolution is speeding up, and I think it's very interesting times.
DA: I think that within the next ten years, fifteen years, something, some pretty major things are going to occur.

LYG: In terms of?
DA: In terms of, well, politics, and people. It all points towards the 2012, 2013 sort of time, where there's a complete switch in consciousness of the human race. I think that that's possible.
DJ: It's a date that's pointed to by lots of different cultures, ancient shamanic cultures, and eastern cultures. The Mayans say that that's the end of history. 2012, December 21. Interestingly enough, [author] Terence McKenna arrived at exactly the same date without any prior knowledge of the Mayans or the Hopi's prophecies, but just through feeding data into a very sophisticated computer system, data relating to novelty in discovery and evolutionary leaps going right back thousands and thousands of years. It speeds up and speeds up and reaches this kind of ground zero point at exactly the same date. He's got a very interesting, a really interesting idea, that that time is when this, what he refers to as a "transcendental object", makes itself fully manifest to us. What history is, it's a shadow cast by this object, and as we get nearer and nearer to it, we resemble the object more and more. Also, it's like going towards an energy source, so there's more turbulence experienced. And it's also like a storm, where you get to the eye of the storm, and it's still. But, before you get there…You have to go through all the turmoil. But there is beauty in the hurricane's eye.

LYG: How do you find your music fitting in with all this progress and turmoil?
DA: Well, our music reflects how we feel about our lives in the world. We can't not fit in. If it didn't fit in then we'd be doing something wrong. I don't think we'd be in existence at all.

LYG: Do you see it progressing towards any particular direction?
DA: Yeah, I think that if we carry on any longer to any degree, there's going to be definitely things like lyrics of songs are going to be very much towards a sort of spiritual enlightenment. Like on the track "RIP 20C" there's the "I am god-head, you are god-head, we are god-head, use it." And that's not preaching, but it's sort of something else…I can't remember where I got that from, it was in my head probably from some Buddhist book that I was reading. But I think as a group we're interested in promoting a plus rather than a minus. Within the realms of rock and roll in the past, it's usually people love to hear the bad stories and the bummers, and then you get the other side of the coin where you get this Christian rock which has got no worth whatsoever because the music is so bad. And they sound so pseudo, they sound so innocent, you know, in a useless way. It's not convincing -- because music can convince you, it's very persuasive and changes your state of mind.

LYG: Yeah, its very powerful.
DA: Yeah, it's really powerful. I know for myself but I'm pretty sure I'm speaking for everybody in this band that I feel that we've always been searching, that's always been a theme of us, anyway - the big question. I think that rather than question it anymore, I'm hoping that it's going to be a case where we've actually got solid answers and to actually not preach them, 'cause that don't do any good, preaching, pushing it down people's throats. But we'll be suggesting a positive outcome rather than a negative.

LYG: I'm curious to know who's influencing you at this point in time as opposed to who influenced you when you guys first got into music.
DA: Well, the whole electronica thing has influenced us for about ten years, if not longer. We really, as Dave said before, we were into electronic music as in Kraftwerk, and stuff like that, years and years ago. That's why we made that album "Hot Trip to Heaven" - that was a big… For me it was the Orb and Happy Mondays. It was mixing rock and roll, if you like, with electronic beats. And then you get the ambient stuff like the Orb as well.
DJ: And acid house music. Because when we were recording our fourth record we were in London and we'd turn on the radio and tune it to these pirate stations and they were playing acid house music, which was very new. The effect of it on us, we were intrigued by it because it was really different, it was very long, very trance-induced, and it would just go on forever, you know. And the bass would be very, very subsonic. We went to a couple of raves that were happening there - this is like '89 - and it immediately started to make an impression on us and came into our music. We did one track called "Bikedance," from that time, which was a part of an EP, the "Motorcycle" EP, and you hear it and it's like an acid house piece, it's us doing acid house. So that was the genesis of it. But it does go right back to the early 70's, that interest in electronic music.
KH: But I think that you also hear Beatles and Pink Floyd and dub reggae in Lift also.
DJ: Yeah, it's very melodic.
DA: Yeah. It's funny how that Pink Floyd thing keeps coming back because none of us own any Pink Floyd. [grins] Well, Dark Side of the Moon…
KH: I've got two. I've got Meddle.
DJ: I haven't got Dark Side of the Moon anymore I lost it.
DA: So did I. But that's the only one I…Syd Barrett stuff, yeah, but all the other stuff, that's a different thing. But, you know it's weird because we're not from there.

LYG: Maybe you pick it up from other people, the newer bands who influence you that in turn have been influenced by Pink Floyd.
DA: I'm not into Pink Floyd as a band at all, I would never go see them live or anything, it doesn't interest me at all. But I will always maintain that Dark Side of the Moon is just a brilliant, brilliant album. It was all said and done in that album, it didn't have to carry on, really. All they did is repeat themselves after that. But it is a classic.
DJ: See, with that, I think also that it's . . . it's very psychedelic music, it's very trippy, but also it's just liberally laced with kind of arch, cynical wit, all the way through it, and that gives it a balance and that's what distinguishes that from New Age crap.
DA: Yeah, it's realistic.
DJ: And there's humour to it as well, which is really important, and that's always been part of what, of us, you know. And it's sexy as well.

LYG: I saw you guys at Underworld a couple of weeks ago. Are there any plans in the works maybe to collaborate with them?
DA: We're all very open-minded about collaborations, but there aren't any plans to do anything at the moment since we're just concentrating on being this group.

LYG: Since you guys have been together for so long, when you do disagree about things like writing and recording and performing, what are the specifics that you disagree upon?
[all laugh]
DA: Um. . . lyrics. Singing badly. We usually, most of the time, resort to physical violence.

LYG: Hey, that's no way to do things.
DA: It's a joke, folks! I mean, sometimes somebody'll bring something to the band and we just say outright, "You know what, I just don't like that song." And then the other person will push for an amount of time, and then it either goes away or the person convinces the other two or whatever it is, the two convince the one that it's worth it, and then we thrash it out.
DJ: It's a working process.
DA: Yeah, that hasn't really sort of changed. If anything, we've become more honest about that, because there's stuff in the past where we've let it go, because you just . . . But as human beings get to know each other more and more, it's like you can become more and more honest, like really honest, and the other person or people accept it. We'll be brutally frank now.

LYG: How did you select 20th Century Boy as your encore on this mini-tour?
DA: Well, I just started playing it just when I was waiting for Dave or Kev or something to show up, with my amp really low. I had never played it before and I just started playing the riff. I'm a real big believer in the subconscious working and playing it I thought, why? I really, really just wanted to sing that song, and play it. It's very different from everything else we're doing but I wanted to do it for the fun of it, just for the fun of it.
KH: You told me that you believed Marc Bolan --
DA: [laughs] Oh, I know what you're going to say now!
KH: -- Came into your body.
DA: Yeah, yeah. [laughs] No, that's Pete's line, that's Peter. You're getting me mixed up with Her Majesty, darling. No, he did say that once.
DJ: But then, to make it fit in, Doug DeAngelis did a great job. He listened to us play it, and he went away for a day to his studio and put together an assemblage of rhythms and programmed them into Kevin's set-up. So, it adds that electronic asset to it. We're thinking of recording it and putting it out maybe as an additional track.
DA: Yeah, I think we should. It would be [snaps his fingers] a day in the studio and I think it would be brilliant.

LYG: Listening to you do it last night, there is definitely your own energy to it. Did you happen to see Velvet Goldmine?
DA: Yeah. [others nod]

LYG: What did you think about that?
DA: Well, Dave really, I think he phrased it great: Not as good as the real thing.
DJ: Entertaining, you know, entertaining hour-and-a-half.
DA: But, you know, that guy, the main character, it wasn't . . . I was expecting something of the sort of quality of Trainspotting, to be that punchy, because there were just so many rave reviews about it in Europe when we were there. It was like, 'this thing's going to knock us for six, it's going to be brilliant.'
DJ: I love the idea of Oscar Wilde being involved and all that. That was very imaginative.
DA: But it didn't much get there. I went to see it twice, I went on my own once and with Dave, because I wanted to see it the second time to see if I get more out of it, and if I'd missed things the last time. But it just ... I loved it, I mean that whole thing is where I come from, and I love all that stuff of the early 70's. I mean I'm still in love with the stuff that goes way beneath that whole glam rock thing. There's glam, the real stuff, and then there's the imitators. That film had its moments, but . . . you can't imitate Iggy Pop 'cause there's only one Iggy Pop. You can't imitate Ziggy Stardust, 'cause there's only one Ziggy. You know, I can't think of anybody who can really do that, because it was so special.

LYG: Right - and why would you want to imitate them when you've got the real thing.
DA: Well, for the sake of making a good film and documenting that time, that's why you'd want to do it. But I don't think there's an actor out there that looks so... just so oozing that particular type of charisma. I mean, Bowie around then when he was 26, he looked like nothing else on earth, he was completely fascinating visually. And also the songs, and the whole thing -- you can't relive it, he's the one, there's no one after him. He's one in a billion.

LYG: About the elusive Love and Rockets Swing EP: do you have any plans to get that out soon?
DA: I think we should get the damn thing out there, yeah. I think we should put it out there sharpish. That's what I think.
DJ: It still sounds good, it's great.
DA: It is good! It's stood the test of time. I haven't even heard it in a while and I know it's good still.
DJ: Usually when we're asked about this, we're asked what it's like, and you [points to Daniel] say, "It's a combination of Glen Miller, the Andrews Sisters, and Captain Beefheart." [laughs] It's not Captain Beefheart, it's Syd Barrett. It's got the whimsy of Syd Barrett. It would be very fashionable now, wouldn't it? But I mean it's not really swing music, as such, it's very perverted swing music. It's not the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, that's for sure.
DA: No, it's in that area though.
DJ: It is, yeah, it's got an Adam Ant thing . . .
DA: You never know - I think we should get it out there, get it released.
DJ: Or we should wait 'til Lift becomes an enormous success and then . . .

LYG: And then on the heels of that, release Swing.
DA: Yeah, and if Lift doesn't become an enormous success, we should release it anyway. [everyone laughs] We should!

LYG: I'm telling you people want to hear it.
DJ: If they want to hear it, they have to make Lift a big success. [grins]
DA: It could be a big, big thing, you never know. A big thing.
DJ: You know, we have released one track from it.

LYG: Really? Which one was that?
DJ: We leaked it out. There was a rare, limited edition --- in fact, it's one of my favorite things, that EP - a limited edition EP or CD-5 or whatever called "The Glittering Darkness" [1995]. It has a track called "Bad Monkey" from those sessions.

LYG: Can you enlighten me as to your plans for the upcoming full-scale tour?
DA: No. [smiles]
DJ: Yeah, as much as we can.
DA: Well, March of next year we're going on the road. There's a plan to go on the road with a DJ set up and one other band. We don't really want to comment on who that is yet because it's not decided. But it will be so that it's one big party that goes on the road, with three different set-ups.
KH: It's an idea for us so that after we play, the DJ then goes back on and carries on the evening instead of having everyone go home.

LYG: That's a great idea.
KH: And visually we want to pull out the stops again, much more so.
DJ: You see, we set a precedent by doing that Bauhaus tour. On some level we've got to meet there. That's the level.
KH: I mean, we've always felt that's very important about the whole show. And we used to, in the past, called up some pretty spectacular lighting effects, and we'd like to get into that again.

LYG: What was your reaction to the incredible response that you got from the Resurrection tour?
DJ: Well, it was [eyes widen, hands spread out in front of him] - it was just . . .

LYG: Were you expecting anything near that?
DJ: Not on that level, no. [others nod] Didn't expect the first two shows here to sell out in fifteen minutes. And then, just the whole world tour was just incredible. Checking it out on the internet, which we were doing all the time, that was really unique, because I've never had that experience before where you get a feedback. And it's a different type of feedback, you see, to being backstage, because when people come backstage, there's this whole dynamic there, and there's only a certain type of person who wants to come backstage anyway. So you were privy to the people that don't want to come backstage.

LYG: Who feel safer, sort of, or are content on their computers.
DJ: Yeah, and they write about it, and it was really interesting. We actually took a lot of notice and we changed things in the set based on if there was some constructive criticism, and if there were some things that were really going down great we would remember those things to make sure we did it again. So it was really interactive. And I thought it was great the way it was all set up the way they were sharing lifts and accommodations and it was all organized like this big network.

LYG: There was one guy's page that was phenomenal, illustrating this whole incredible system of people setting up parties and rides and helping each other get to you.
DJ: It was sort of like the Deadheads. It was the Undeadheads. [laughs]