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"Rest in peace," uttered Bauhaus bassist David J. as he left the first generation of fans wanting more. That initial "final" performance, over twenty years ago, was retracted with a 1998 reunion. Now with rumblings of a new album, Mister Moonlight is rising once again. And though the volatile members eschew the "gothic" branding iron, J. accepts the haunted past.

Westword: Is the feeling different now than on the Resurrection tour?

David J.: Oh, tremendously. The mood back then was very frivolous. It was a different time then. The political climate was different.

Like the Reagan/Thatcher era?

It's ironic that a time like this cultivates great music.

Are you planning a new album?

We're looking forward to recording new material. Right now it's just enjoying touring. We're not thinking about the album right now. That's way, way off. It's a very far, distant, twinkling star. Here we are in the full heat of playing live, and that's what it's all about. My hope is just that we maintain the level of performance we've established so far, and that it's recognized on a big scale. If we can maintain that level, the rest will follow.

Bauhaus has tried to avoid the "gothic" label.

We've gotten past that. There's a dark element, but we've always been moving into the light. That's the difference between us and some other so-called goth bands -- that we're not wallowing in that.

Nick Cave has tried to distance himself from that as well. But he still gets a theater full of vampires.

Yes, he's another one; he's one that I admire. He does songs about love, but it's a fierce love. He tries to bring the light through.

You've never been a band to play the album note for note.

Within the set, there's always the possibility of improvisation. There are passages where we can go off the map a bit, and there are cues to bring it back in. So that keeps it alive for us. When we do "Bela Lugosi's Dead," it's never a certain rigid format. God, we must have played it hundreds of times, and it's always different.

That's one of the things I respect about artists like Van Morrison.

Well, I love him. He's connected to the mystic -- a true shaman-musician. He goes to that place and retrieves souvenirs that he shares with the audience. He allows you to experience that kind of spiritual elevation, which is fantastic.

Do you strive for that?

Oh, yeah, and I know we get it. Peter is a medium in that way. It can be a scary thing. On the edge. Someone like Ian Curtis.

The Swans have done that to me.

I like the Swans. I recently did some work with Jarboe for her next album. Devendra Banhart is of that ilk as well, and Antony and the Johnsons. He's really special.

Is there tension when you get back together?

There always has been, but it's evolving. There's a deeper fraternity amongst us now. A very deep brotherhood.

And that can affect the music positively.

Oh, very much so.

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Rick Skidmore