LOVE AND ROCKETS IN L.A. LANDING
“We played Dallas recently and everybody stood exactly three feet away from the stage,” recalled Love and Rockets’ singer-guitarist Daniel Ash. “It was so different from anything we had encountered before. There were mostly 15- and 16-year-olds and nobody actually got out of line. . . . They were very naive, which is really quite refreshing, in a way.”
Four years ago such a positive view of youthful innocence in America’s conservative heartland might have seemed incongruous coming from Ash. But four years ago Ash was a member of Bauhaus, a brooding, gloom-doom British band with a far from innocent posture.
But today Ash and ex-Bauhaus members David J (bass) and Kevin Haskins (drums) make up a much more accessible, free-spirited outfit. With Love and Rockets’ second LP “Express” showing positive signs on the sales charts, and with the band scheduled to headline the 4,400-capacity Hollywood Palladium on Saturday (as well as UC Irvine on Friday), Love and Rockets looks like a band on the rise.
But the prospect of breaking commercial ground in America isn’t a major concern to the English trio.
“I think it’s good not to know exactly how good or bad we’re doing,” said Ash, 29, in a recent phone interview from San Francisco. “Obviously success isn’t a bad thing. But it doesn’t necessarily have to do with money, which we realized years ago.
“We had a situation before with Bauhaus where we were on the verge of making a reasonable amount of money and being commercially successful,” he said of his former band, which split up in 1983. “But the fun had gone out of the whole thing and we felt it was time for a change. So making money has never been a priority--and it can’t be, or it will show in the music.”
“Express” features a neo-psychedelic sound that mixes acoustic and droning electric guitars. There is also a greater melodic thrust than there was in Bauhaus. All three members of Love and Rockets agree that the open-ended sound of the band was something they were looking for when Bauhaus disbanded.
“We’ve got more range to explore any type of music,” explained Haskins, taking his turn on the phone. “We were restricted in a sense with Bauhaus. But we feel a lot more relaxed about it now. We have to keep the music fresh for ourselves. So I think we’ll probably go off on another tangent, which is interesting for the listener as well.”
Ash and J say they’re thinking about spurning the rock elements of “Express” for a more thoroughly acoustic, introspective approach on the next Love and Rockets LP.
Some observers felt that the new group wouldn’t work as a live act without the theatrical, Bowie-like presence of ex-Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy, but Ash disagreed.
“I think our stage show is equally powerful, but in a different way,” he said. “I still personally feel that if you’re on stage you should try to present a good visual image. We have certain tricks up our sleeves with lighting and with other things we’ve been experimenting with.”
One of the “other things” is a mysterious auxiliary group called the Bubblemen, who dance and sing a song called “We Are the Bubblemen.” They also appeared in Love and Rockets’ “Yin and Yang the Flower Pot Man” video.
J said cryptically of the Bubblemen: “They’re close personal friends of ours that come from another dimension of parallel universe and they sometimes make spirited cameo appearances during Love and Rockets’ concerts and inevitably upstage the band.
“They are creatures of enigmatic whim. You never know when the Bubblemen will turn up. They’re recognizable by their distinct black and white banded attire and their large, bald, white bulbous heads with antennae growing out. You can’t really miss them.”