The multi-talented Daniel Ash, formally of and in order, Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, Love And Rockets while now producing some of the most innovated music of his career. He was born in Northampton, England and at 15 he learned the guitar and all he could play were three chords.
By the way, throughout the article I’m including paintings that Daniel Ash has done.

Interestingly, each band was uniquely different from its predecessor and was complemented with constant changing musical metaphors and styles. I’m not inferring that each band became more musically sophisticated but there was a musical and thematic evolution; which is why Ash is so fascinating when it comes to music.

At a young age Ash attended art school for industrial design and had met David J. and Kevin Haskins; while year’s earlier he was a school chum with Peter Murphy who was working in a printing factory approximately 10 miles away. Ash spoke of the terrible gloom of living in England during those times between the lack of employment and the gruesome weather. His love for music is what shaped his entire persona.

Daniel’s art background at this time consisted in graphic design but deep down he felt spiritually unfilled so he decided he wanted to do music and start a band. Daniel had said that art school is where chums would meet and create their brand of music. Bands like The Kinks, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton made their collaborations through the auspices of art school.

Daniel Ash grew up listening to Bowie, T-Rex, Velvet Underground/ Lou Reed and Iggy Pop (Ash claimed that “Raw Power was the best album he’s ever heard”.)

These bands were his musical nirvana while growing up; however his younger brother was fixated with the Rolling Stones and other Classic rock bands.

He mentioned one song that would always titillate him as a young boy and  that was The Dave Clark Five’s, “Bits and Pieces”; and he would press his face right up against the
T.V. screen… My father once told me doing that lowers your sperm count!

Ash added that being in a rock band would be a good place to meet girls.
Together they started the band Bauhaus in 1978 which became the most important band of the Goth music movement. The name Bauhaus is named after a German architect whom in 1919 created interesting architecture and minimalist furniture; “art for function”. This was after the First World War and Germany was in dire need of an art movement that would represent the country’s intrinsic social redevelopment.

Ash distinctly said throughout our chat that Bauhaus was not a Goth band; it was the exact opposite! They saw themselves as a recombinant specie of “dark glam” and have always distanced themselves from the goth label. From early on, Ash was intent on sounding original, and often tried to make the guitar not sound like a guitar but tried to make it into a more atmospheric sound by using other devices; in particular an EBow.
Ash and David J were completely taken by David Bowie and Marc Bolan  and it provided the vision for their band.

They didn’t consciously try to create the dark image that the press had associated with them. They then had the divine intervention of writing the goth anthem, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, which was released in 1979 and the nine minute single stayed on the British music charts for almost two years!

Daniel Ash said, “We were not the band that people wanted us to be. Yes, we wore black and makeup but that was merely the sign of the times. During these depressing years I was into motorcycles and black is just the color I wore. The real goth bands like Alien Sex Fiend and 45 Grave all sucked; we just happened to be lucky and write the song Bela Lugosi’s Dead.

Much of our Goth attention was due to the press in both England and in America. Referring to bands like the Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cult, Joy Division as Goth Bands allowed for more interesting artist marketing and great marquee power”, but Ash vehemently insists this isn’t Goth!”

Bauhaus decided to call it quits in 1983 and Daniel Ash created his next palate of music; Tones on Tail.
From the ashes of Bauhaus had arisen a British trio that turned into one of the most impressive and macabre dance bands around. Ash was quoted, “We were a motley crew of individuals who essentially wanted to sound like a band from Venus or Mars!” There biggest track was “Go”

The band did one record and toured England and the U.S. and disbanded in 1984. While performing they would sport around wearing just white on stage.

In 1985 came the emergence of Love And Rockets! The sound was the interesting combination of alternative, pop and heavy  psychedelic. Their themes were at times lighter and involved subjects from civil right, ecology, riding motorcycles, politics and Hindu mythology. Yet, with a more palpable commercial sound they still had the fans thinking they were still a goth band. This was nothing but the press lazily trying to categorize the band into a convenient label.

The track “An American Dream” revealed the bands desire for world peace. I’ve included one of Ash’s paintings that reflect his continued alienation of American Politics and his inner Zen of harmony. The painting is named, “Freedom Ain’t Cheap” which from left to right goes from a modern style to an impressionist motif. You’ll notice on the right side Ash adroitly draws a spaceship which internalizes his alienation of the American way of life.

After living in America for over 20 years he really doesn’t speak of politics openly I sense that he is cognizant of the world’s current events and has his opinions.

During this time they had done a record under the pseudonym of The Bubblemen which they created as a lark and show that they really had a sense of humor. What started as a “doodle” soon became the alter ego of Love and Rockets.

The story of the Bubblemen is keenly told in the following video….

 

 

In 1989 Love and Rockets released their self-titled album, which presented a more AOR sound. The second single from the album was the T. Rex-inspired song “So Alive”, which became a hit, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard’s Hot 100; a feat no Bauhaus-related band or artist has achieved before or since.

I was working for RCA Records when “So Alive” was released and its success at radio was astonishing. I was even invited by to come on stage and wear the infamous Bubblemen outfit and “womble” on stage. I was so blown away by their neo-psychedelic performance that I was glued to my chair! The song reeked of sexual proclivities. The rumor within the record company was that the original album did not have the track on it and demanded that Love and Rockets go back in the studio and “write a hit”. Daniel Ash, through another repetition of divine intervention went back into the basement of the studio and threw down a couple shots of whisky and within about a half hour “So Alive” was written and finally completed the following day with female back-up vocals added. RCA was so confident that “So Alive” was that strong the album cover had printed “containing the hit song “So Alive”. It was a successful gamble that paid back big time. It allowed RCA the music credibility it so desperately needed. Love and Rockets were nothing more than a band that was performing at a higher state of consciousness.

One of my favorite Love and Rockets song is “Motorcycle” because it shows how great a guitarist Daniel Ash had become. Not one interview or review mentions his mastering of the instrument and how he captures psychedelic sounds genetically jointed within a pop cell.

Daniel Ash has this love affair for motorcycles and he is currently sporting in a bike designed by another “Brit”, Russell Mitchell and his company is called Exile. Every piece is hand crafted and can run into the amount of $50,000! My favorite Exile bike unquestionably is the “Fat Bloke”.

They released seven studio albums before breaking up in 1999 and reformed briefly in 2007 for a few live shows, before splitting again in 2009.
Ash has stated in interviews that guitar solos do not interest him much since they rely on a musician’s ego, though his mastering of the guitar was always apparent. He cares much more for the craft of songwriting and the overall production of a song rather than a focus on guitar or any other single instrument. I understand Ash’s point but his guitar playing is always so dynamic and sonically present that it’s commanding in practically every song; his songs never have a “cold ending”.

In 1991 he releases the single “Walk this Way” which was inspired by Latin percussionist  Tito Puente and used his samples to create a perfect meringue song which had every earmark of being a hit record. It was a brilliant new direction for Ash. The song contains such a compelling rhythm that with Ash’s combined guitar work it makes the song a mystical journey from Argentina. Despite its Latin rhythm his lyrical vantage still contained Daniel Ash’s archetype words. The record company insisted in making a video of this track that was to be filmed at the beach with cheerleaders. Ash would have none of that!

The video is absolutely perfect; it’s sexy and sultry.

In 2000 Ash hooked up with a brilliant musician and featuring a “Annie Lennox” style singer, Attaslina, and cut a song titled, “Soldiers of Everyday”. The song contains such a compelling rhythm that with Ash’s combined guitar work it makes the song a transcendental journey. This track could’ve easily been a Love and Rockets song. Attaslina is also a brilliant photographer and from what I’ve read she’s never taken a photo class. Personally, I think this is the most unique work Daniel Ash has done during his solo music sojourn.

In July of 2009 with the help of D.J. extraordinaire, Christopher the Minister they created a masterful tribute album of Love and Rockets titled, “New Tales to Tell”.

Each song covered is interpreted with wit and originality. “The Minister” over saw the project with impeccable insight and precision that he carved an A&R master piece. Plus the artwork was designed by famous art designer Shepard Fairey, who is mostly known for his colorful picture of President Obama’s “Hope” painting.

I have many favorites but I’ll limit my choices to just two but the entire album is brilliant! The genius of doing a cover is equal sometimes to the original.

Dubfire does a stellar version of “I Feel Speed” which evokes the inner emotion of Marlon Brando’s film,
“The Wild Ones”. It’s a like a free wind with an attitude full of insulin and uses a terrific EDM sonic base.


Another track that blows me away is Blaqke Audio covering “No New Tell to Tell” whose intention captures mid-period of Industrial Depeche Mode. Its pounding beat is contagious while being respectful of the original.

Daniel’s and Christopher the Minister’s duet track is unequivocally his “Sickest” and is the most alluring… “That’s What She Said” (Where’s my leather cat suit) Listen and you will put this song in your hot stack. Just an amazing dance song with a high level of sarcasms and humor! It’s available on iTunes for downloads.

To listen just click the link:

https://soundcloud.com/laufdogpro/01-thats-what-she-said-radio

 

                                                       “Where’s my leather cat suit”

A special thanks to Daniel Ash for sharing his wonderful
art work and musical insight; and Christopher the Minister for his effort in putting together our interview.

Daniel Ash’s art can be seen at a brilliant Rock n’ Roll hotel in Ojai,CA.. The Capri Hotel… Here’s the link to check it out.

http://hotelojai.com/