Fans of gothic and post-punk music know the name David J well.
As a founding member of both the pioneering late-'70s British goth-rock band Bauhaus and popular mid-'90s alternative rock group Love and Rockets, J (born David John Haskins) played a pivotal role in the sound and culture of both edgy underground, early '80s pop culture and its later, slightly more mainstream (and decidedly college and club-centric) variant.
Over the course of a lengthy and somewhat circuitous career, the dapper, singing songwriter (who also plays bass, guitar, keyboards and harmonica) has reunited with his original Bauhaus band members for two successful concert tours and a farewell studio album, produced albums for acclaimed British cult band The Jazz Butcher and collaborated with such disparate acts as Jane's Addiction, The Dandy Warhols and the Pixies' Frank Black Francis. He has also written (and sometimes directed) three original stage plays and released more than a dozen records under his own name.
For several years now, David J has toured as a solo artist, performing stripped-down, semi-acoustic shows that mix his latest material with a broad swath of tracks drawn from his esteemed back catalogue. These Living Room Shows are usually held in the private homes of his most devoted fans, and designed as intimate, whisper-quiet events geared for the smallest possible number of listeners. It is a chance to see and hear J up close, without distraction.
June 11 marks the performer's first visit to Savannah, for a sold-out Living Room-style show in the chapel of fabled, 170-year-old Bonaventure Cemetery - a fitting location for such a legendary goth-rock figure. Opening the concert will be the critically acclaimed Atlanta-based "dark psychedelic" band The Hot Place, featuring indie-rock icon Jeff Calder of The Swimming Pool Q's (recently seen locally at the Night Flight CafÃ©'s reunion) on guitar.
The Hot Place's frontwoman and bassist Lisa King spoke at length about her upcoming visit and her long association with David J.
When did you first become aware of David J's music? Were you immediately a fan?
King: I am a longtime Bauhaus and Love and Rockets fan, from very early on. When I was 14, I actually got a Bauhaus symbol tattooed on my ankle, much to my parents' dismay. I had the pleasure of visiting the UK as a teen, and picked up many albums by Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, Joy Division and the like.
I immediately enjoyed David's solo work, and have pretty much all of it on cassette, vinyl or CD. David is a real poet. So, I suppose the first thing that drew me in to his solo material were his words, then perhaps his melodies. His bass playing and guitar work heavily influenced my own playing and songwriting. There is real truth, honesty, vulnerability, passion, lust, longing and "magick" in his music, which always attracts me to an artist.
How did the two of you come to know each other and work together?
King: Though I met David off and on throughout the years, as a fan, we really hit it off after a show at Atlanta's Echo Lounge, in 2002. We stayed in touch, and in 2016, he invited me to play with him on a total of five shows. They were all very successful, and most sold out. The rest, they say, is history.
How did you become involved in this unique double-bill here in Savannah?
King: David invited me. A Savannah resident named Shannon Scott had seen one of our shows last year in Athens and offered to host the event. We were looking for something both historical, scenic and very "Savannah-esque." He operates the Bonaventure After Hours Tours, and suggested their chapel venue.
Do you feel this setting (historic cemetery in an area famous for supernatural activity) somehow enhances either David's music or your own?
King: Well, I attended SCAD for almost a year in the 1990s - when I was at the peak of my own Goth persona - so I felt Shannon's suggestion to play Bonaventure would be perfect. I am very interested in magick, shamanism and the occult, so playing darker music in one of the most haunted cities in the USA is certainly exciting! I believe the setting will be extraordinary for both groups, which lean toward a love of the otherworldly.
What is most challenging about such a stripped-down performance?
King: These Living Room Shows are very different than performing in a dive bar or rock club, where people may be talking or drinking, and not necessarily paying attention to you. As a singer, it can be very intense and intimidating to have such an enraptured, attentive and physically close audience, who hang on your every word. Coming from a rock club background, the first few shows of this sort we did were very difficult for me. But something happened along the way. As I watched David and learned from him, I started really enjoying it. I have become a better singer and performer very quickly, as a result.
I know you have occasionally spent time in Savannah in the past several years. What do you recall most about the city?
King: It is so lovely visually, and I always feel the presence of "being followed" by ghosts, which is kind of thrilling in its own right. The last time I spent a lot of time in Savannah was in art school, when I often trod the cobblestones, Sony Walkman in hand, with a Bauhaus cassette playing in my ears. I'm mainly just digging the idea of returning to the same streets, with an actual member of Bauhaus treading the cobblestones by my side! It's as if the music suddenly came to life. You really can't come more full-circle than that, can you?
IF YOU GO
What: Living Room Show with David J and The Hot Place
When: 7-10 p.m. June 11
Where: Bonaventure Cemetery Chapel, Bonaventure Road, Thunderbolt
Cost: $25; sold out