Do you believe in magick?

We spoke to Bauhaus/Love and Rockets cofounder David J about his memoir Who Killed Mr. Moonlight: Bauhaus, Black Magick and Benediction.

David J
David J
Having been a founding member of two legendary bands — ground zero goths Bauhaus and ’80s/’90s post-punks Love and Rockets — David J (aka David J Haskins) had a bounty of material for a book. Seven years ago, he began organizing information, culling memories from diaries, journals, timelines and recordings to write Who Killed Mr. Moonlight: Bauhaus, Black Magick and Benediction, launching locally this week at Drawn & Quarterly. The memoir emphasizes his first band and, as its title lays out so concisely (if mysteriously), some of the blacker periods in his early life.

david-j-book“I’ve always been intrigued by the occult,” says David J. “I had a psychic instinct that was handed down from my mother’s side. My mum was really psychic and my great great aunt was a spiritualist, so there’s a lineage there, but my interest was really stirred up by my friend Alan

Moore, who had really gone full tilt into the spiritual realm to the degree that he’s a self-proclaimed magician, and he is that,” he explains, referring to the legendary graphic novelist behind V for Vendetta, The Watchmen and Batman: The Killing Joke.

“An audience with Alan Moore is something that you don’t easily forget. [At the time] his latest obsession was magick and the occult, and he suggested that we should get together and have an exploratory magickal experience based around a structured ritualistic approach that Alan organized. That was how that really exploded for me.”

That said, the black magick episode described in Who Killed Mr. Moonlight was perpetrated by people who were far from friends, “to a quite devastating degree and effect,” according to J. He says that an sealing aura placed around him by a Mexican shaman has protected him from such magick/psychic attacks in recent years.

“You engender this kind of thing when you are immersed in this, and I’m not anymore. I don’t practise ritualistic magic itself. It’s more of an intuitive way of connecting with the universe, which I feel I’ve always had, but I can identify it now and recognize what it is, and it is a pure magic, but I don’t court entities through ritual anymore. When I was doing that, it attracted activity both positive and negative. You open up some gates there and you don’t really know what’s going to come through, and you can’t control it. If you think you can control it, you’re either a real magician or a fool.”
Daniel Ash, Peter Murphy, Kevin Haskins and David J
While his book will appeal to anyone with an interest in magick and the occult, it is primarily a documentation of a vital and exciting period for music and culture. Bauhaus emerged from the same post-glam/counter-punk British scene that produced Joy Division and the Cure, though their brief initial lifespan and subsequent reunions were fraught with personal tension. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t much consultation between J and his former bandmates Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins (J’s “taciturn” brother) during the making of the book, and the little communication there was wasn’t exactly positive.

“I told Daniel that I had revealed the secret of the Bela chords — there’s a certain unconventional chord that runs through that song [‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’] and he was most put out about that. In deference to him, in the second printing I actually took it out.

“I later sent him a copy of the book, and then it came back to me. I thought I had an out-of-date address, so I sent him an email saying, ‘Send me the new address and I’ll send you a copy,’ and the response I got was ‘No thanks.'”

With Bauhaus and Love & Rockets on ice, J has forged ahead with his own music, theatre and film projects (as discussed in our conversation with J when he played Montreal last year — see it here). He’s currently seeking a filmmaker to direct a screenplay about Henry Miller that he co-wrote with Don C. Tyler, and has been making music for a Patreon website.

“I’ve just had a spurt of writing new songs, that’s really flowing at the moment,” J says. “I’m gonna make [the Patreon site] that my main target, as it were, and put my music out there exclusively. At the moment it’s a really small cabal; hopefully it will expand. I like the idea of it and I really like the interaction that’s going on — it’s very one-on-one and intimate, for people who appreciate my music. What’s grown out of that is playing these living room shows, one of which I’m going to be doing in Montreal. I love doing those shows. They’re all different, of course, but you always have a very attentive audience, highly appreciative, and it’s very relaxed and casual, but it can get intense. It’s just a joy.” ■
David J launches Who Killed Mr. Moonlight: Bauhaus, Black Magick and Benediction at Drawn & Quarterly (211 Bernard) on Thursday, May 21, 7–9 p.m., free