Legendary Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins talks honestly and openly to the band’s official historian Andrew J. Brooksbank about his incredible new creation: Undead “The Visual History and Legacy of Bauhaus”
I have a very clear memory of discussing the band and its image a lifetime ago with my friend whilst wandering one night through this (Carlisle) city’s neon lights…we agreed on one thing, and that was that “Bauhaus is art”
It was never just about the music you see, for me, my friend and many, many others Bauhaus really was the whole package. It was the image, it was the clothes, it was the lyrics and of course it was the music but more than anything it was the art that intrigued me. I remember been curiously fascinated by the image of the shadowed bat that adorned their debut single Bela Lugosi’s Dead (from D.W. Griffith’s The Sorrows Of Satan – 1926) that my brother had in our shared bedroom back in 1979. The noise that came from the grooves of that record were spellbinding and that noise still resonates and makes the hair at the back of my neck stand on end every time I hear it, even today some 39 years later. For many Bela simply was and is Bauhaus.
Undead is a celebration, its’ a celebration that exposes and lays bare the very foundations of what this band created. Taking in hand made flyers, sleeve art, set lists, ephemera, backstage passes, contracts, photographs and posters fused by a series of personal recollections of his time with this hugely influential band.
Conducted as a series of conversations, we talked about the inception of this tome. We talked of the highs, the lows and almost everything in-between. Having lived with this for almost as long as Kevin it was very interesting to finally talk about the thing in the present tense rather than something in the future….
How did you begin to create this book, what was the starting point….
KH: Well early on in the process I kept running in to this larger than life character, Jeff Anderson of ainr.com. On our third meeting I asked him what he did for a living and I discovered that he makes beautiful and very creative books and box sets for the likes of Pink Floyd, Beck, Fleetwood Mac, NIN, Pixies and Sigur Ros. I felt that this was too synchronistic to pass by and basically he became my guide through the entire artistic process. Jeff bought in Kaylee Carrington and Donny Phillips who archived all the content and laid out the design of the book. I met with the three of them and showed them hundreds of bits of paper and photographs and they were blown away at the content! They then left with everything and I never saw them again! (Just kidding). They took it all away and periodically Donny would send me different styles of layout which Jeff and I would critique. During this time I set about writing all the stories. This was an interesting process as I had never written anything such as this before. I read a few books by my contempories and realized that one had to be as natural and authentic as possible. I also found it best to write down the stories as they poured out from my rusty memory banks in order to get it all down. Then I would go back edit them.
Have you run it chronologically?
KH: I made a decision very early in the process to not lay it out chronologically as I felt that that would get in the way of the visual flow of the book.
Was this creation (the book) a lightbulb moment for you or had you been mulling this over for some time and what sparked its inception?
KH: Well my good friend Matt Green who works at Cleopatra Music and Film suggested the idea. I have to extend him great thanks, as really if he had not suggested it, then all the contents would still be sitting in various storage containers around the globe. Matt knew of my very large container full of memorabilia and suggested I make good use of it.
There was much humour to the band, sadly this, for the most part, was lost on certain areas of the press are you confident you have captured every aspect of the band with the pages of Undead?
KH: It’s a good question because that was one of my intentions. In the large part, the press portrayed us as extremely serious and pretentious artists (which we were of course!) however we all possessed a healthy sense of humour. I feel that I covered that in the stories that I wrote which I expect will be quite revealing to most readers.
Bauhaus has been crying out for something like this that gives a true representation of the band, do you feel you have captured this as well as you could ?
KH: I truly think that I have. No stone went unturned, as my long suffering layout artist will testify to! I think the book was “finished” about 18 times before it was actually finished. I kept finding little gems that just had to go in to the book which is one reason why it took over two years to complete. I really wanted this to be the definitive coffee table book about the band and I feel that I have achieved just that.
Of course a solo venture by its very nature is rarely just that, at what point did you think that outside help could benefit this project and who did you approach and why?
KH: Well aside from the aforementioned artistic direction from Jeff Anderson, Kaylee Carrington and Donny Phillips, I secured physical contributions from yourself, Vincent Forrest and Gabor. You fine gentlemen are all avid collectors and archivists of everything Bauhaus and beyond. If my memory serves me correctly I probably reached out to you first in order to literally get the dates and geography correct. After assisting greatly in that respect you offered up items from your own personal extensive collection. Approximately 100 emails passed between us during the process which gives one some idea of how many hours you spent searching through your huge collection of ephemera. There exists a tight network of collectors and I’m sure it was you who also referred me to Vincent and Gabor. When I began the book I had no intention of reaching out to anyone, however I’m so pleased that I did! You fine chaps would send me material that I had no idea even existed!
It’s funny because I remember one of the very first of your e-mails, where you asked me if I could talk about my thoughts and memories from a given list of key gigs, none of which unfortunately I had actually attended! But I what I did do was give you my recollections of two early ones that I had witnessed; Daze of Future Past festival (Leeds Queens Hall September ’81) and Tiffany’s (also Leeds April ’82)….although you didn’t use these I did enjoy hauling a drag net through my memory and it was great to listen to the bootlegs of those respective shows again. So, did Undead have any direct input from David, Daniel or Peter or is this pretty much your own work?
KH: This is pretty much all my own work other than contributions from Vincent Forrest, Gabor and obviously yourself and artistic direction from Jeff Anderson, Kaylee Carrington and Donny Phillips.
How did the deal with Cleopatra come about and what went wrong with the original deal?
KH: Well as I mentioned before; my good friend Matt Green who works at Cleopatra Music and Film first suggested the idea that I make a book and after making the decision to self- publish, I went off on my merry way! After two years of hard work and after placing it on pre- sale, it unfortunately failed! Basically I made a book that was too large, too heavy, very expensive to manufacture, and very expensive to mail. Consequently I didn’t gain enough orders to be able to afford to get the book made, and had to refund all the money. Therefore anyone who ordered the original version will need to order it again, but this time directly from Cleopatra’s website: bauhaus-undead
So over the following months I reached out to several art book publishers and came very very close to making a deal, but it was pulled at the last minute. So in February 2017 I was back at square one. Well not exactly because I did have the art files and stories all completed to go to the printing press, but no way to finance it. One night I met at Matt’s apartment to go out that night to see a band. Whilst there he showed me a book that he had just produced, that had just been released on Cleopatra. He said that the band received a very favourable deal. I had a light ball moment and asked him if I could also get a very favourable deal! After consulting with the head honcho the deal was granted.
When the original concept failed, I can only imagine what you must have felt like, what spurred you on? I remember sharing the heartache to some degree when you shared it, it must have been so disheartening for you, where on earth did you get the strength to see it through as I’m sure many would have given up.
KH: When the original concept failed I was devastated! It was very stressful and hugely disappointing, and I had a mini meltdown. Once I had refunded everyone and had recovered, I was determined to get the book out. I had put so much blood sweat and tears in to it, and the content was so good, that the thought of giving up never occurred to me. My family and friends were all very supportive and gave me great encouragement to see it through. I couldn’t let them and our fans down.
Surely you must have felt like giving up, not only with the mammoth task you had undertaken (the work that was involved in creating the product) but more so with the other unseen areas of the project; having to talk to shipping companies / production companies / layout & design people etc you must be an expert now!
KH: LOL! Yes, I know way more than I want to know about book production: publishing, shipping companies, fulfilment companies, debossing, website legal terminology, shipping containers, page thickness, Hi Res files, packaging supplies, printers, binding, customs duties, book publicists, setting up an LLC, cover fabrics, contracts, ocean freight and the cost of mailing a book to Timbuktu.
Are there any elements of the band that you have deliberately ostracised yourself from or felt it would perhaps be more prudent to leave out?
KH: There’s a lot of negativity in the world, in news, media and books. I decided at the outset to not air dirty laundry and rake band members over the coals. What’s the point? Other than to make yourself appear superior. There’s one thing to relate fact but another to add personal attacks. So I set out to make this a celebration of the band. I didn’t want to drag up dirt and sully our legacy, rather I wanted to focus on the love we had for music and for each other, and the great times we shared.
What did Peter, David and Daniel think to your concept?
KH: They all gave me their good wishes and blessings.
Can you talk a little about the idea you had of adding a vinyl album to the project and why did you drop the notion?
KH: The idea came from you as far as I can recall. I know you own a very impressive bootleg collection. So I listened through many, many songs, but at the end of the day there was not enough material that I felt mirrored the high standard of the content of the book. So I decided that it should exist on its own merits.
I thought that concept actually came from you actually? I can recall during that period in the project (August 2016) I was actually away on a family holiday and I took a large handful of your chosen shows with me and would often steal away in the late evening listening through some of those shows to find the definitive versions, and them mailing them over to you, I remember my wife questioning me as to what on earth I was doing bringing a stack of CD’s and then staying up until some ungodly hour listening to them! I was very disappointed when you dropped this idea, although not entirely surprised either, that said, you must be absolutely thrilled to finally see the project through to its completion, any regrets or disappointments?
KH: I am extremely excited for the day that I actually hold the book in my hands. Even though the first attempt at getting it out in to the world failed, I’m a believer that everything happens for a reason. For example after the pre- sale failed, I added several amazing bits of content that wouldn’t be in the book had the first pre- sale succeeded so, no regrets.
Has the format and cost of the book changed from the original self published version?
Yes it has. As I mentioned before the original book was very oversized at 13” by 19” with a slip case. It was very expensive to manufacture and extremely heavy to mail out! This time round we are making a more standardized book which is 13” by 10”, however it still has the same page count. My intention was to make a decent sized book that is more affordable. I am signing as many copies as I can before my hand disintegrates which will be priced at $98.98 and unsigned at $69.98.
So with the book finally available on Cleopatra website, you must be thrilled that its finally here, of course when the last one failed it left fans slightly bemused to say the least…
KH: Yes, the pre-sale this time around was different from the failed one in so much as the book has definitely been manufactured! I couldn’t bear the idea of going down that (self publishing) road again for my sake and the customers. In doing a deal with my publisher; Cleopatra Music And Film, they front the cost of getting thousands of books made, so this time there will actually be a book to mail out! The other reason that I wanted to go with a good publishing company is for distribution. Come March 16th, the book will become available on Amazon and book stores around the world. Therefore if someone can’t afford the cost of it being mailed to them from Cleopatra’s webstore, they will soon be able to buy the book with little or no extra cost. I should add that come that date, signed copies of the book will not be available anymore.
If you are in Los Angeles March 16th: Lethal Amounts & Cleopatra Present: Undead~Bauhaus Book Signing
Meanwhile, Kevin is set to join Bauhaus guitarist Daniel Ash on the road again for another series of Poptone dates:
Poptone tour dates:
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