How Bauhaus predicted the future

Bauhaus, the band

 

# 1. She’s in parties

Of course, fashion wise Bauhaus created the mold that would be used for goth rock for the next decades. If they were not singular in this, they were certainly the group most associated with this. And as we know it’s fashion that seems to move a movement alive and move it in landscapes around the world that would not otherwise have been dealt with the fortune of hearing this music.
It was because of their stylish and dramatic stage presentation that Bauhaus would be quoted most in the years to come. It would take a few more years for the real tribute to come in the form of music mimicry. It was 90’s industrial metal, 80’s gloom featured on on MTV and lurking into horror movies and the modern presentation of goth that’s become the universal sign of “young person unhappy with modern society (and possibly themselves)”.Then there are all those horrible teen-horror movies that need to lift a page from Bauhaus just to hope to be convincing.
Bauhaus never described themselves as goth, at least not while initially active. Singer Peter Murphy then played the odd goth convention and never shied away from singing his own greatness and encouraging comparisons with alt-rock favorites Joy Division. All of which to be fair are rather well earned.
Every now and then you’ll get a glimpse of punk or goth fashion subculture infiltrating the mainstream culture. One year it’s dark eye shadow and dark colored hair and the next it’s bluea nd green hair with large black combat boots. Then there’s also the image with a campy twist in the glam rock bands of all ages from KISS to Motley¬†Crue to Psychobilly bands of today.

 


#2 Mask

Essentially the bands the early bands that got tagged as goth were taking the manual from punk rock and infusing with their own interests in art that used a dark atmosphere. Influences came from everywhere (but mostly Bowie and Eno and expressionist cinema) but as a rule were from a world where few fans of these things existed and each was overtly enthusiastic.
Bauhaus, of course, named themselves after the influential art and design movement established in Germany in the early part of the 20th Century. They looked in the way, one would assume they assumed Iggy Pop and David Bowie looked while dancing in the Berlin night clubs. Their image was dark and cold. They paraded in their dark garments and made use of the contrast of bright light onto the minimal stage setup in their live shows. Cold, heartless and stylish much like Bowie’s character in The man who fell to earth.
As far as the Bowie association is concerned, Bauhaus covered Ziggy Stardust (their biggest hit) and were featured in the movie The Hunger with their most famous song, Bela Lugosi’s Dead.

It seems to be this kind of attitude towards alternative means of expression and overt pretension that got the ball rolling for the alternative bands of the 09’s and 2000’s. Bauhaus was again one of the most often quoted bands. For these bands though it seemed that style and irony were the prime elements in their music, where as with Bauhaus theatrics and gloomy music had been the driving force.

#3. Double dare

Bauhaus always seemed confident about their greatness. In retrospect they had every reason to be. The main period of the band’s existence came at a time when music was changing or at least so it seemed. The often cited innovators did not sell heaps of records, not even to the amount that the original punks did. Everyone does love to cite them though.
There was Public Image LTD, Wire, the Fall, Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Divison and soon New Order. There were the first generation of bands deemed as goth like the Cure and Sisters of Mercy who were to get more successful a few years later. There were bands like Japan who echoed into the success, but blandness of New Wave. (By the that I mean that they were copied by new wave bands that got terribly successful).
In their existence though Bauhaus did not sell many records. But it was after Bauhaus had split that the members of the group were able to find commercial success. Peter Murphy, the singer,
started a solo career and became a cult act. He continued on what seemed a similar vein of dark music and by now his trademark Classy Vampire image.. He scored some hits with songs like “Cuts you up”. Following the Bauhaus split, he continued his career with the
reputation he had already accumulated which by that point had become part of rock lore.

The other three members Daniel Ash (guitar, voice), Daniel J (bass, voice), Kevin Haskins (drums) formed the group Love and Rockets. The
band used some of the elements of Bauhaus, a dark imagery and brooding atmospheric sound, but melded this with pop songwriting. And for the most
part it was very good pop songwriting. They scored one big hit in the U.S.A. with “So Alive”. They continued to tour to a devoted audience in the years to come.

(The other members had various other bands that enjoyed some notoriety (Dali’s Car, Tones on tail) but most of the success of their future endeavors were due largely to the reputation Bauhaus had encompassed in the years following their disbandment. )

#4.Burning from the inside

Bauhaus could not last. In Peter Murphy’s own words it is better when and if they are apart from each other. British and polite as they were arguments would never be tossed about but it would take a disagreement to make someone from within the band decided that they’d had enough. But then again no good band seemed to be able to exist for long. Just like a lot of the good bands that had originally disbanded after a few albums they were persuaded by lucrative deals to get back together. Each time, the reunion was for a short period.
In the same way Velvet Undergroung only amassed 4 hour albums, the Beatles were effectively a band between 63-70, the Six Pistols put out only one album and the Clash 4 albums that we like to speak of in polite company, Bauhaus had a short amount of recorded material. It was enough, of course.


#5 Dark entries

To the cynical, Bauhaus are a bunch of guys singing about being down on their luck, sucked into some dark porthole into the past or being bitten by ancient vampires. easy of course to pigeonholed them as one of the initial doom and gloom bands. Of course, there is more to them then just that but it is this superficial element to their music and style that ended up being the most copied.

It is now that every pop-rock artist and band is expected to make a serious statement about life and mortality. Coldplay had their Death and all his friends (or something like that…ugh). Every pop star hoping for acceptance for their newly matured audience makes a stab at some song that expresses the anger and uncertainty of growing up. Preferably they do this in dark makeup while smashing up furniture.
Bauhaus themselves became a symbol for the dark alternative music just like the Velvet Underground did for garage rock (and twisted lyricism in rock n roll) and Kyuss for metal. All of these bands coincidentally did not manage to sell many records.
Axl Rose in the Appetite for Destruction era wore a Bauhaus t-shirt. Thanks to Narwuar’s careful research we found out that some New Kids on the Block member wore one shirt in their masterwork single THe RIght Stuff and so did soft rock Behemoth member from Chicago (that I’m simply too lazy to google or find out what their name is).
As for the band, according to Peter Murphy, they never saw a dime out of this. This, one would assume, is due to bad marketing and contractual choices. Either this or faith playing dirty with Bauhaus’ biggest potential revenue outlet.

 

#6 The goth rock sub genres, directly or indirectly influenced by Bauhaus

There are the goth-metal bands like Type O Negative and Moonspell, the industrial metal of Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, even back metal bands and alternative rock ones and most successfully (which to most is a sad sight indeed) the emo bands of the 2000s. In fact, the Emo bands ( a term that had previously been used for bands associated with hardcore punk) were so successful that it became a pre-requisite for bands of that era to share in the sound and most importantly the fashion
employed by these bands.
Pop-punk band Green Day had a second coming in terms of album sales (although we can now admit that Warning was a career
high point even without selling too much) by looking every bit like the magazine favorties My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco.
Punk innovators, the Refused recorded one of the era’s greatest albums “Shape of Punk to come” looking and being identified as an emo band. AFI
who had been active as a punk band for many years, had actual radio hits, all the while being put into the same cattegory with the pre-mentioned Emo bands.

The emo subculture itself became more famous then the bands that were supposed to be the genre’s flagships. News reports filled the airwaves and
magazines about the dangerous new trend, that according to reports favored self harm, isolation and other behavior deemed socially
unacceptable. To the ones devoted to the goth rock subculture emo was a watered down version of goth-rock, that had had the fluke chance of becoming successful to mainstream America.

#7 Savages

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