Alec Dartley spoke with Kevin Haskins about time slowing down, valuing simple functionality in his work, the experience of forming his band with his art school classmates, collaborating with his daughter for the first time and the trials of self-publishing.
There were no preconceptions with the band; we were trying to keep the music simple and functional. With our original art, we saw a mirror of that.
In 1988, I had a neighbor who introduced me to your records, and for the last 30 years, I’ve had bits and pieces of Love and Rockets songs playing in my head from time to time. But I read that you went to art school, and I’m real curious as to what you were making then.
I was studying graphic design, so we did illustrations and lettering that would be used in advertising. But this was way before computers, so we actually had to paint the lettering. It seems so archaic now.
Thus the name Bauhaus? Were you kind of involved in the naming of the band?
Actually, David came up with that name. We really just liked the way it looked. We loved the logo. When we were offering the tracks in the early days, they were likely to choose the name because it looked good. Also, there were no preconceptions with the band; we were trying to keep the music simple and functional. We saw a mirror of that with the original art.
I’ve never really been into jamming. My experience with jamming is that I see it as very boring. You don’t really do anything. It’s just not my thing.
What was your personal experience in Bauhaus like? Did keeping things simple and functional play into the writing of the songs?
Yeah. When we started out, aside from Peter, we had been in different bands together before. We had no idea if Peter could sing or not, but he was remarkable. After a week of them rehearsing in Daniel’s bedroom, Daniel called me and told me he wanted me to be in the band. It took quite a bit of ear-bending for me to persuade Daniel to let David be in the band, because David had been such an influence on the previous band and had very strong views, while Daniel wanted more control. You don’t want to compromise with David. But in the end, he relented. David then brought the lyrics to “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” in the first rehearsal. I thought that was quite a good idea to have him in the band.
And you guys are working together again, right?
Daniel and I, yeah. We formed a band called POPTONE a year ago. I mean, the idea initially was to do a career retrospective, playing music from Bauhaus, Love and Rockets and Tones on Tail, and we were like, “Well, we could call it ‘Kevin Haskins and Daniel Ash play the music of…’” but we thought the band might have more longevity and be kind of viewed as more of a band if we had a band name. We auditioned bass players, and my daughter Diva won out. It’s a real blessing to have her in the band. She brings so much to it.
What is it like to be in a band with your daughter? Were you guys jamming together as she grew up?
Not really, no. I’ve never really been into jamming. My experience with jamming is that I see it as very boring. You don’t really do anything. It’s just not my thing. I’m more into a punk kind of thing. Anyway, yeah, we never really played music together. Maybe for a minute or something. She’s released about four full albums already, and I did co-produce some of the songs on one of those albums. So, that was interesting and rewarding and nice to work with her.
What currently makes you feel like you’ve had a good day?
I guess I like to accomplish a lot of things. I’m kind of managing POPTONE and running the merch. Aside from that, there’s the day-to-day things and this and that. That’s a good day. Also, a good day is spending time with my family. I have a granddaughter now, and that’s marvelous. So that’s also a really good day, to have some fun with my family.
And I have to say, with POPTONE, we’re having so much fun touring. We have a great crew and we’re kind of like family. The audience reception has been just beyond my expectations. Marvelous. People still really want to come out and hear these songs, and it’s heartwarming. So that’s also a very good day.
I was thinking about Love and Rockets and how there’s these moments and parts where time seems to slow down and you enter this new space, some sort of alternate flow of time. Does that ring true at all to you? I feel like even when I hear the songs in my head, something slows down. When I hit rock bottom, some parts of your song “Heaven” pop in my head.
I’ve never heard that description of the Love and Rockets listening experience, but I like it. It sounds like you’re really getting immersed in the listening experience, which is a wonderful thing.
I wanted it to resemble more of a high-end art book that presented fliers like they have their own page — giving them their own space and their own importance.
Well, I actually attempted to self-publish, which didn’t work. During that process, I did a lot of research, going to Barnes and Noble and different bookstores just to see how many pages are in a book, what size they were, how heavy they were, getting a feel for how books are made. But I think it’s pretty average for the size.
I can tell you how the idea came. A good friend of mine, Matt Green from Cleopatra Records, they publish books and his movies. He suggested that I put all my memorabilia into a coffee table book. And I had no idea how to do this. I’d just collected all this stuff that was just sitting in a container, so I thought it was a great idea. And he offered me a deal and it was a standard deal, very fair. But I just felt that I wanted to go into self-publishing, just go down that road.
So, I did, and I met this guy Jeff Anderson, who I kept running into at shows, and it seemed like fate had brought us together. I asked him, “What do you do?” and he said he made boxed sets and books. When I saw his work, it was so beautiful, and so much time and creativity would go into these boxed sets. He’s done them for Roger Waters, Sigur Rós, Beck, Fleetwood Mac, Nine Inch Nails. So, Jeff brought in his designers, Donny Phillips and Kaylee Carrington, and they designed and archived all the material. I kind of gave them an outline of the way I wanted the book to be, in that I wanted it to resemble more of a high-end art book that presented fliers like they have their own page — giving them their own space and their own importance.
Were you involved in making some of those fliers?
Yeah. Looking at all the memorabilia, I made most of the early fliers. My brother had a hand in those too. Daniel, David and I went to art school, so naturally, we were predisposed to design.
So anyway, we decided to self-publish, and didn’t really have a business plan and got lost in the creative side. It’s a huge book — it’s 23” x 13”. It’s ridiculous! Really heavy, huge. Didn’t think about how much it was going to cost to make, how much to print. At the last minute, I was like, “Oh my god, this is crazy.” So we had to price the book higher than I wanted to, and the shipping cost was ridiculous. I put the presale out, and I did sell about 250 books, which, after the fact, publishers told me, was remarkable when you look at the cost.
I didn’t like that money to go into production of the book, so I had to refund all the money and had a mini-meltdown. Then I picked myself up and said, “What do I do? I’ve got to go to publishers,” which I did. So, two years later, I was back in the exact same spot. And I ran into my friend Matt again, we were going out to see a band, and before we went out, he showed me this book that Cleopatra was putting out that he had given the artist a really good deal for. And I said, “Well, could you do a similar deal for me?” and he was like, “Yeah, I think I can!”
And I ended up where I started, which is kind of funny.
Curated by: Alec Dartley
Conducted by: Phone
Transcribed by: Morgan Enos
Published: April 3, 2018
Total questions: 9
Word count: 1392
Reading time: Five minutes
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About the curator
Alec Dartley is a painter and sculptor working from The Palisades in New Jersey. He received his BA from Parsons School of Design in 1995 and was later awarded a Skowhegan residence. He was born in 1973 in Englewood, New Jersey. Alec is also the founder of Aagoo, a record label for emerging musicians.
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