David J Haskins has been an influential figure in post-punk and alternative music since he broke out in 1979 with the darkly industrial British group Bauhaus.
As a bassist and songwriter, he and fellow members Peter Murphy (vocals), Daniel Ash (guitar) and brother Kevin Haskins (drums) are often regarded as the first ever goth rock band.
Bauhaus rode a tumultuous wave, and broke up in 1983. Haskins then formed the band Love & Rockets with Ash and his brother. More recently, Haskins has become a celebrated solo artist. His most recent album, 2014’s An Eclipse of Ships, is a must-hear for fans old and new alike.
Now Haskins reaches back to the early days of his career and examines the rise and fall of Bauhaus in his new rock and roll memoir, Who Killed Mr. Moonlight? Haskins reads from the book on Friday, Nov. 7, at Book Passage in Corte Madera, where he’ll also play a few songs and engage the audience with a Q&A session.
“It’s a story I’ve been living for most of my life,” says Haskins by phone from his home in Los Angeles. “It became a cathartic exercise, not that that was the initial intention, but that’s how it turned out.
“It took me seven years to write [the book],” Haskins says, “and, fortunately, I always keep journals and diaries, and I have these going back to 1980, so those were my little stepping stones to retread the trail,” explains Haskins.
With a wealth of memories written down, Haskins could recall a surprising amount of detail. “There were conversations I had written down verbatim, when they happened, if they were particularly spicy or over-the-top, so I had that to draw from,” says Haskins.
The book follows Bauhaus from the early days of “enthusiasm and naiveté,” says Haskins, to the painful end, a place Haskins found difficult to return to.
“It was a very volatile relationship, that band; it fueled the music and it also fueled the calamitous explosions of emotion that would often end in violence, and ultimately led to the demise of the band,” says Haskins.
The memoir’s title comes from a Bauhaus song that Haskins explains took on another meaning. “Mr. Moonlight for us was representative of the mysterious, poetic side of the group. It was a representation of the entity of the band. So when I say, ‘Who killed Mr. Moonlight?’ I’m saying who killed the band?
“And then,” Haskins teases, “you find out who killed Mr. Moonlight right at the end.”