50THIRDAND3RD INTERVIEW: Kevin Haskins

photo by Diva Dompe
Writer, producer, Poptone drummer, and co-founding member of Tones On Tail and Love And Rockets takes us back to his Bauhaus roots with The Bela Session EP and his new coffee table book, Bauhaus Undead and teases a few hints at what he has in store for 2019!

 

Bauhaus – photo by Graham Trott

Kevin Haskins, the elusive Bauhaus drummer is quietly powerful behind his placid, penetrating expression. The jazz trained boyish younger Haskins brother who drew more inspiration from Stephen Morris than Gene Krupa paid his dues in bands with older brother, David J. before forming what would eventually become Bauhaus with friend and fellow art student, Daniel Ash and Daniel’s friend, Peter Murphy. The band’s chemistry was instant and Bauhaus began playing shows wherever they could and on January 26, 1979, the band recorded their iconic debut single, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” at Beck Studios in Wellingborough a mere six weeks after forming the group.”Bela” was just the beginning and soon Bauhaus found fame and an early fan in the late John Peel who kept the band in heavy rotation on his legendary Radio 1 program. By 1980, the band released their groundbreaking debut LP In The Flat Field to mixed reviews further solidifying their status as post-punk icons with their dark fusion of glam, punk, jazz, dub, and disco and gained a rabid cult following among the cool kids in black on both sides of the pond.

 

 

Shortly after Bauhaus called it quits in 1983, Kevin and Daniel continued a fruitful collaboration in the short-lived and lightyears ahead of its time, Tones On Tail with bassist and former Bauhaus roadie, Glenn Campling. TOT scored a dancefloor hit in the US with their 1984 “Lions” b-side “Go!”.

 

Two years later, Kevin and Daniel reunited with David J. to form Love And Rockets, who found success with early singles “Ball of Confusion” and “No New Tale To Tell” before scoring a breakout hit with their ubiquitous 1989 single “So Alive” which spent 20 weeks at #3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

 

 

After 40 years of forward motion with not one but two highly influential post-Bauhaus bands, Kevin takes us back to his Bauhaus roots with his new coffee table book, Bauhaus – Undead “The Visual History and Legacy of Bauhaus” and The Bela Session EP which features four previously unreleased tracks along with the iconic 9:37 opus that started it all.

Photo: Jenna Putnam

50thirdand3rd: So, can we talk about Bauhaus Undead?

Kevin Haskins: A good friend of mine who works at Cleopatra, Matt Green, suggested the idea. He knew that I had this big container full of memorabilia. I was the guy who collected everything, kept everything. So, he says, “Why don’t you make a coffee table book?” “Matt, that’s a great idea.” And then he made me an offer to put it out on Cleopatra and I just felt that I would like to self-publish it. So he said, “Of course, that’s your decision. Go ahead and good luck. Wish you all the best.” And so, I went off on my merry way and so along into the process, I ran into this guy, Jeff Anderson, at gigs. And it seemed like fate kind of brought us together. On the third meeting, I said, “What do you do?” And he said, “I make box sets and re-releases for bands and so, I went to his house and I saw these amazing box sets from Sigur Rós and Roger Waters and Beck, Nine Inch Nails, The Pixies – beautiful ones! I thought “This was a no-brainer, let’s do the book together!” He was really excited working with me on that. He brought in a great design team and off we went. And I just sat down and started writing stories which I’ve never done, before.

 

 

So, it all took about two years and we designed this huge book with a slipcase and it was this huge, crazy size book! Basically, we really didn’t figure out how much it was gonna cost to make and how much it was gonna cost to ship and Jeff really wanted to use his regular printers in LA. Anyway, a month before, we put on a pre-sale to raise money to have it made. A month before the pre-sale ended, I found out how much it was gonna cost to have it made and it was ridiculous, it was like over $100 to make, in the end! (laughs) I spoke to publishers after the fact, who were very impressed with how many I sold, because it was like $180 or something. But I didn’t raise enough money to get it made, so I had to refund all of the money. Then I went to a bunch of publishers and got a lot of interest from boutique publishers, but they really didn’t have the means to do what I wanted to do, but I did decide to make this book a regular size book, so that we could sell it at a decent price and make it cheap for people.

And basically, about two years or three years after Matt gave me the idea, I went around his house and he showed me a book that Cleopatra had just put out. I think it was Hanoi Rocks or something and he said it was a great deal for this band it was really great deal and I said, “Oh Matt, could you do the same deal for me, please!” Because I was back at square one, I had nothing, but I did have a book already made, all the layout was all done, all the stories were written, it was proofread. It was just ready to print. So, I was kinda handing him a gift, really, on a plate and he said, “Kevin, I think we can do your good deal.” Which they did and it ended up coming out on Cleopatra, so I did this complete circle, so, now I know everything about printing and shipping and fulfillment companies.

50thirdand3rd: You got a real education on the process.

Kevin Haskins: Yeah, it was a mixture of extreme pain and pleasure. (laughs) I’m really proud of it, it’s over 300 pages and it has some great content. We were all very art inclined so we do a lot of drawings and doodles and I kept all those and I think that’s the stuff that’s very interesting for people. Very personal stuff like that and handwritten lyrics. And when we went to shop “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, Daniel wrote out all the names of all the companies we went to, EMI and Polydor, all the huge companies and what they said. They all rejected us, so he wrote a kind of note to them, it’s very scruffy, very Daniel and all over the place and there’s drawings of Bubble men all over it. It ended up the last piece that went into the book. I was kind of done and he had just come back from England and raided his mum’s attic and said, “Look what I found!” I’m like, “Oh my god, I’ve gotta get that in the book, it’s so cool!” So, it’s got a lot of funny stories and great memorabilia.

50thirdand3rd: Awesome! I understand you did a book signing at Rough Trade in Brooklyn, this past summer, was it? How did that go?

Kevin Haskins: It went great! We were on tour with Poptone and I set up an In-store for my daughter’s band, Automatic, they were supporting us. 

50thirdand3rd: And that’s your daughter, Lola’s band, right?

Kevin Haskins: Yes, Lola (Dompé), Izzy (Glaudini), and Halle (Saxon Gaines). And then after they played, I did a signing and it was nice, you know, it was my first time in Brooklyn if you can believe that.

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We’re playing rough trade tn bbs come through

A post shared by Automatic (@automatic_band) on

 

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50thirdand3rd: Wow, how’d you like it?

Kevin Haskins: We loved it. My wife came out and we rented a really nice Airbnb and got to really walk around, check it out.

Photo: Jenna Putnam

50thirdand3rd: Very cool! How’s the response been with the book?

Kevin Haskins: Really good. Yeah, it’s been great, people love it! I don’t wanna boast but I’m very proud of it and people respond really well to it. There’s a lot of good content in it and I was really happy with the quality and the printing and everything.

50thirdand3rd: It sounds awesome and you had some of the other Bauhaus historians kind of help out, too, with the timeline, did I read that right?

Kevin Haskins: Oh yeah, a guy called Andrew Brooksbank and also I should mention Vincent Forrest and they were very helpful. Andrew is kind of the Bauhaus historian and when our old label, Beggars Banquet, put out re-releases, he always writes the sleeve notes. He’s an extremely organized guy and he’s a good writer and he created this timeline of every show and every radio, like interviews, TV appearances, that type of thing. So, that was really so valuable to me because I can’t remember what I was doing.

 

 

50thirdand3rd: Right, because you were like in the center of the storm.

Kevin Haskins: Yeah, I was. And he was a great resource and I think he gave me a few items. A few scans of this and that and also helped out in that way. So, it was nice to have fans included, there were people whose names, sorry, I can’t remember, right now, who sent me some great pieces to put in, so it was nice to include people, as well, like that.

50thirdand3rd: That’s really exciting! Seeing it all together in the context of a timeline, how was that? I imagine that would have to be a little awe-inspiring, like “Wow, I did all this!” Like, looking back on it?

Kevin Haskins: Yeah, I’m surprised at how many shows we played because I didn’t think we played that many, but, we did. We really worked! We started from nowhere and the only really then to get known was to play, you know, to get the ball rolling. So, there was a two year period where we were just slogging away. Just trying to get shows when we started, we played in the weirdest places. (laughs) Like, I got a gig, there’s a little village called Ilchester and it was a Sunday lunchtime community center and it was bright sunshine. It was in a modern kind of bland hall with big glass windows, very bright, and there were kids running around playing, parents just eating, and Bauhaus were playing to these people. It was completely ridiculous! And then Peter got us a similar thing but in a working men’s club on a lunchtime.

 

 

50thirdand3rd: Oh, wow! How was that?

Kevin Haskins: After our first number, this old character, this old guy who worked there came up to us and he said, “What are you trying to do? Blow the bloody roof off? Play something that people know! You know, something we can tap our foot to!” (Laughs)

50thirdand3rd: Character building, I imagine!

Kevin Haskins: Yeah, blow the bloody roof off! So, we would play anywhere we could. Actually, and I wrote about this in the book. Really, our first show, I think went kind of undocumented. Daniel got us this rehearsal room at a teacher training college in Northampton and we were in a kind of portacabin, this kind of a prefabricated classroom, you know, it was kind of like a trailer. 

50thirdand3rd: Oh, okay.

Kevin Haskins: It was outside the main building, just adjacent. And it was adjacent to the student union room where they would have bands play and they had a bar. It was winter and it was snowing, I remember, and The Pretenders were playing that night. So, we were rehearsing late afternoon and we kind of finished and we were like, “Is anybody going to see The Pretenders?” “Yeah, I am.” Kinda fancied that and then one of us had this idea that why don’t we just follow them? “What do you mean?” So, the next minute, we open the door, dragging up our gear up this, it was like an incline, covered in snow, dragging all our gear, and there was the French door, like this big glass door that opened up and we just opened the door and we just set up really fast in the corner of the room and by this time it was like 7:00. People were just coming in and The Pretenders had just done their soundcheck and we just set up and started playing. So, a crowd appeared around us, and we got about two or three songs out of the way, we didn’t have many songs, we had just started, and the student union came up and he was like, “Wait a minute, stop, what are you guys doing?” We’re like, “Oh, we’re the support band.” And he’s like, “Really?” And we’re like, “Yeah, we’re the support band.” And he was like scratching his head and like looking at us very suspiciously and he turned away and he walked away and he was kind of looking over his shoulder. And we sold it and then we’re like, “Get into the next song!” And we managed to get two more songs done and then he brought everyone from the student union and they shut us down. They said, “Hey, you’re not the support band!” So, we supported The Pretenders, punk rock Guerrilla style. (Laughs)

50thirdand3rd: That’s awesome!

Kevin Haskins: I’m sure Chrissie Hynde would’ve appreciated that. I don’t know if she heard that we did that.

50thirdand3rd: I hope she finds out!

Kevin Haskins: We were dying to play, all we wanted to do was play.

50thirdand3rd: That’s really cool! So, The Bela Session EP you recently put out, could we talk a little bit about that? I understand it was the first time you guys worked with Derek Tompkins. Like, he was really important to like Bauhaus and he produced Love And Rockets, too, right? Like he was Engineer/Producer at Beck Studios for you guys, can you tell me a little bit about that?

Kevin Haskins: Sure, we’ll start with Derek. I think we went to Beck before Bauhaus, we were in other bands, like The Craze, Jack Plug and The Sockettes, these kinds of new wave bands, but it was Peter’s first time in the studio when we went with Bauhaus. And Derek was this amazing character. I always kind of viewed Derek as our George Martin. Mainly because he was older than us and he really didn’t know anything about fads or fashions which was good because he just approached it from what sounds exciting and what sounds good. He just instinctively knew how to produce bands and also he was a bit of a rogue, he was a really funny guy, very smart, very opinionated, a bit of a rebel. And he had a great stutter, he stuttered and just consumed endless cups of coffee and cigarettes. Like really unhealthy, but he kind of like built the desk. He built of a lot of the equipment in the studios. 

So, anyway, The Bela Session was the idea of Andrew Brooksbank. He emailed me one day and he said, “What do you think about this idea? Why don’t you release the entire recording from the day you recorded ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’?” Three of the songs had never been released and I just said, “This is a brilliant idea! I can’t believe no one had thought about it, before!” And he said, “Yeah, it would be the holy grail of the band’s fans.” And I said, “Marvelous idea!” And for some reason, he had the original 1/4” tape and box. I don’t know how these guys get hold of these things, you know, I know they’re in good hands. And so, his idea was to use a scan of the tape box and it’s to the cover and I later thought, it would be great for the inner sleeve. So, that’s what the inner sleeve is and you can actually see the front and back of the original tape box. It’s marvelous, it’s got the aged patina and the picks, crossing things out and notes, so it’s a wonderful thing just to view.    

50thirdand3rd: That’s really cool!

Kevin Haskins: Yeah, and just for the cover we came up with the idea of just doing a negative of the original cover, so, it’s white on black and yeah, so it has three unreleased songs and they’re interesting to hear because, you know, some of them, one of them, in particular, I think “Some Faces” doesn’t sound like Bauhaus, at all. It’s kind of a chirpy, bright sort of a new wave song, but it’s interesting to listen because you can kind of see a bit of an evolution. Right, like this is us. We had only formed about six weeks before, I think. So, it captures the band in a period of its formative period. 

 

 

And we ended up going with Leaving Records which are an imprint of Stones Throw and they did a marvelous job, I think. They really chose a great kind of engineer and they’ve really been wonderful, I’m so happy with the product and also Bela hasn’t been available on vinyl for, I don’t know, twenty years or something crazy. It’s really nice to have it in record racks, again. And I just remembered another story from that day. So, “Bela” is about nine minutes long, but we actually laid down eleven or twelve minutes.

50thirdand3rd: Oh wow!

Kevin Haskins: And we kind of listened back and we thought, “This is a little bit too long.” And we could kind of imagine if we cut three minutes out of this, we’d probably be good. And Derek said, “I..I can do that!” And we were kind of naive and it was probably only our second or third time, Peter’s first time in the studio. And he (Derek) disappeared and he came back with a little razor blade and he got the tape and he laid it down and we were like looking at him like, “What’s he doing?” And then he began bringing the blade down towards the tape and we all knew we had recorded something really special and he was gonna cut the tape and we were like, “No! Stop!” “What are you doing?”

50thirdand3rd: Gasp!

Kevin Haskins: Then he like turned around and he’s like saying, “What’s your problem?” And he explained that he’s done this many times, before and not to worry, you know, you can always put it back together, again. And he did a great edit, you can’t hear the edit if you really listen out for it, though. He did a very good job.

 

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50thirdand3rd: That’s awesome! So, if I can nerd out on you, for a sec, I know John Peel was like one of the first people to really play “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” on his show. Could you tell me a little bit about getting to go to John Peel’s studio?

Kevin Haskins: Sure, yeah. I actually devoted a story to John in my book. I cannot stress how important he was to bands such as us and I guess, after us. I mean, the airwaves were really, this was pre-internet, of course. The airwaves were really controlled just by the BBC. There were a couple of pirate stations, Radio Powerline and Radio Luxembourg that you could tune into and that was free radio but the BBC really controlled everything. They had John Peel on at 10 o’clock at night and they probably weren’t really listening to what he was doing. (Laughs) And his taste was just remarkable and I remembered he kept devoting his two-hour show to punk rock and in ’76, I think “New Rose” by The Damned had just come out and you know, there weren’t many punk records, back then, right at the beginning. So, he did this whole show and put bands that like influenced this new movement. So, there’s The Stooges and the MC5, bands like that and then he played every punk single that was out and it was a wonderful show. And he got a lot of hate mail, apparently, from hippies of the old guard saying, “How can you be playing this rubbish?” But he went on undeterred, he wouldn’t listen to anybody, he just played what he liked. So, he was invaluable to getting bands known. And it really helped us and a load of other bands.

 

 

So, anyway, we heard “Bela Lugosi” and I think we just drove down to London, which I think was like an hour and a half’s drive and we went to the BBC Studio building and went to reception and we said, ”We want to see John Peel” and the receptionist looked at us like, “Who…Are you kidding me?” And she said, “Oh, well, I’ll call up.” And she did and his producer said, “Oh, show them up. It’s fine” which was remarkable, really. He was in the middle of a show, so, they let us come up and to us, we were in awe. It was amazing, we were actually in his studio with John and he offered us some red wine and we had a little red wine in BBC paper cups and gave him the record and he kind of sent us on our way pretty fast. He told us he’d play it and I remember, you know, when he played it for the first time, we knew that this night was gonna do it! We all lived in this house 37 Adams Avenue, it was like a little terraced house in town and you know, we would cook these awful meals with like vegetables because we were on the dole and we didn’t have much money. And it was freezing cold in this place and it was kind of haunted, it was kind of in a slum (laughs) but we were kids, it didn’t matter. But I remember we were all huddled around this transistor radio, listening to the show when he played our song. That moment is just imprinted in my mind because it was just remarkable to hear your music coming out of a radio, you know, it was just so exciting and it was like a benchmark moment. So, now, I remember that really clearly and yeah, I paid homage to him in my book and wrote a nice piece about him.

 

 

50thirdand3rd: So, I’ve gotten really hooked on Poptone, recently and I was watching the tour livestreams you guys were doing on Facebook from last year. It looks like you guys were having fun, especially with the fans. Can you tell me a little more about how those tours have been going?

Kevin Haskins: Well, it was great but we kind of wrapped it up, over the summer. Basically, we kind of exhausted where everywhere people wanted us to play. It was great, it was so much fun! You know, Daniel’s still a very close friend of mine and we always have a laugh hanging out, we got on really well and then I was so glad to have my daughter involved (Diva Dompé). She plays bass and keyboards and backup vocals and she was amazing, she really brought so much to that project, I felt.

Photo: Paul Rae

50thirdand3rd: Yeah, she’s rad!

Kevin Haskins: She had big shoes to fill, she was playing my brother’s bass lines, Glenn Campling’s amazing bass lines, I mean I can’t say enough great things about Glenn’s playing in terms of what he brought to Tones On Tail. Like, those bass lines are just remarkable, there’s just so simple but so powerful, you know, kind of like riffs and so it was it was a great pleasure to play that music. Yeah, I knew that would be an attractive thing for fans just because we only played one little tour over a year and that was in the UK, so you know, it was fun for us to play those songs, again.

 

 

And I think people really love to hear them, we had a great crew, just like a small family, and we had a marvelous time. I was really taken aback in a marvelous way with the audiences who came out to see us. They were so appreciative and towards the end, I would out after the show to the merch table and sell my book, Bauhaus Undead by Kevin Haskins, *plug*. And then I’d get to meet all these wonderful people and they were so happy and appreciative that we were doing it, so it was like a whole celebration. 

It was marvelous but it’s kind of on the back burner, now. I mean it is something that we could pick up, again. We did record an album, you know, it was kind of a retrospective project, just for people who were unaware, we were playing the music from Bauhaus, Love And Rockets, and Tones On Tail and we recorded an album. We did it as a Part-Time Punks session, Part-Time Punks radio station (KXLU) in LA and then Michael Stock he also puts a club night on and he’s a wonderful guy. So, we just kind of played pretty much live and put the songs down and that’s been released out on Cleopatra Records and so, you can go to Bandcamp and buy that or listen to it.

Poptone poster by Paul Rae

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50thirdand3rd: Can we talk a little about the FOXES TV show you’ve got coming up and how you got involved in that?

Kevin Haskins: Sure, yeah! So, I met Tina and Julian (de la Celle), they are the creators of the show. I met them at one of their events. They put on events around Los Angeles, they get local musicians, they’ve done kind of thematic events where they portrayed Andy Warhol’s Factory, they had a bunch of young bands get together and play Velvet Underground songs. They did the same with CBGB’s and the Bat Cave, they’re really nice people, they love music and fashion, it’s such a strong passion for them. They have a magazine called FOXES and it’s a beautiful magazine, comes out twice a year, and they get really great photographers to shoot for them and they do interviews, so, I did an interview about my book, Bauhaus Undead, my coffee table book, plug! plug!  

50thirdand3rd: Right, yeah!

Kevin Haskins: There’s a singer from the New York Dolls who goes under the name, Buster Poindexter, now, and does kind of a lounge act, he was in the issue. I think Duff from Guns ’n’ Roses and they have these great fashion spreads. It’s shot very beautifully, kind of cinematic and stylish, stylized. So, they decide to turn the magazine into a TV show because there’s nothing really to watch like that, you know. So, anyway, they approached me around September time, last year and asked me if I wanted to be a producer and music supervise and I thought it was an exciting new challenge. So, we just kind of went on from there and the three of us kind of learned how to navigate the industry and what you have to do to get a TV show made. So, it’s taken us this long to really figure that and so we made like a great concept sizzle reel where we’ve taken slotage from other shows like The Tube and fashion show footage and just still photography and it really sort of represents the aesthetic of the show. And then we worked together a treatment which is kind of PDF, you do a similar thing, just for people who don’t know what treatments are, you explain what you’re going to do, you’ll explain what the episode will look like, and the sequence of events during that episode. You put bios from everyone who’s attached to the project. Your dream hosts, presenters, so there you go! So, when Richard submitted that to the network to my agency and we’re now waiting to hear back.     

 

 

50thirdand3rd: This sounds really cool! Can you tell me a little bit about what views can expect to hear and maybe see?

Kevin Haskins: Well, the original feel for the show is very rock and roll. Basically, Tina, Julian, and I, we love glam, punk, post-punk rock and roll, you know, that area of things. But what we’d really like to do is we’d really like to broaden it more, now. Hmm, I don’t know who would be on the first show, I know Tina loves Duran Duran, so our dream show would include them, maybe for an interview or performance. And the project has to depend on who’s available for the team.

50thirdand3rd: Of course.    

Kevin Haskins: And we want to give space for unheard of bands that we really like. Actually, we did shoot my daughter’s band, Automatic.

50thirdand3rd: Oh, cool!

Kevin Haskins: They’re worth checking out. Also, there’s a band called POW! I would definitely have them on. Other LA bands, Froth, Numb.er, and then, I’d love to get Nick Cave on, for instance. You know, it’s really wide open but they’re the artists that come to mind, right now.

Photo: Jenna Putnam

50thirdand3rd: Cool, I can’t wait to check that out! So, do you have any other music projects coming up for this year?

Kevin Haskins: Well, I’ve actually been invited to kind of produce, also, I’ve been kind of involved in writing on another tv show and I can’t say much about it for obvious reasons, but it’s a comedy set in Los Angeles. One of my close friends has created it and helped me write it, now, which is something I’ve never ever done, before and it was challenging and it was fun, so, I’m excited about that. I feel that it could really work out well, so, a completely new thing, once again, like the FOXES TV thing. And I have a new musical project that I’m very excited about. I don’t know if I can say much about that, but, I’ll give you some cryptic hints. There’s primarily three of us and we’re looking for a vocalist, right now. We’ve put word out to who we really want. We’re going to be recreating music from the bands we were in and also creating new music, but the instrumentation is very particular and different from what you might expect. (Laughs) And I think I’m going to leave it at that, but it’s a teaser and you’re really the first person I’ve told about.

50thirdand3rd: Thank you very much! An Exclusive!

Kevin Haskins: And the way things are going, we’ve got quite a ways to go, there. We’re just starting out and we haven’t got a full band, yet, so it might be the fall until we play or release something but we are going to work on a release and I’m really excited about it. It’s got great potential.

50thirdand3rd: Very cool!

Pick up a copy of Kevin Haskins’ Bauhaus Undead from Cleopatra, Rough Trade, and Amazon. Pick up Poptone’s self-titled LP and follow Kevin Haskins Official Facebook and Instagram for the latest on FOXES TV, updates on his next series, and more on his upcoming music project —You read it first, here at 50thirdand3rd! 

Special thanks to Kevin Haskins, Shauna McLarnon and Shameless Promotion PR!


About author View all posts

Ms. Moneynine

Musician, Music lover, Maniac! I’m also a freelance writer and contributor at Please Kill Me. And I’m presently calling the PDX my home. You can also follow me on Bandcamp.

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