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David J (left) and Peter Murphy play two nights of Bauhaus at the Oriental Theater this week.EXPAND
David J (left) and Peter Murphy play two nights of Bauhaus at the Oriental Theater this week.
Courtesy of Raybee, Inc

Peter Murphy and David J Celebrate Forty Years of Bauhaus

Before embarking on his current tour celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Bauhaus, Peter Murphy had a hell of a time securing an O-1 non-immigrant work visa to play in the United States.

Last year, Murphy, a British native who’s been a longtime resident of Turkey, was scheduled for a number of shows at the Chapel in San Francisco, where he would play his solo albums in chronological order as well as few nights of Bauhaus with original bassist David J. But the month-long residency had to be pushed back to 2019, because Murphy says it took him nearly a year to finally get the work visa, “which is basically down to the Trump administration and nothing else," he explains. "There was no reason for it. It was kind of outrageous to wait that long. I had congresspeople out there lobbying these immigration people and everything else.”

While waiting to get his visa to play in the States, someone mentioned that the fortieth anniversary of Bauhaus was coming up. Since he had already planned to have David J on board for the Bauhaus portion of his San Francisco residency, which starts next month, Murphy put out feelers to promoters about a tour where he and David J would play Bauhaus’s debut album, In the Flat Field, in its entirety, as well as other Bauhaus classic cuts.

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“And it turned out to be very positive,” Murphy says. “And that’s proven true. We’ve been selling out everywhere. And it’s just a brilliant show.”

Guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite and drummer Marc Slutsky have joined Murphy and David J on more than eighty shows around the world since starting the tour last year, and Murphy says working with David J again has been great.

“It’s almost like wearing an old pair of gloves,” Murphy says. “And it’s his music, too. It has an authenticity about it, and it feels right. It feels home to be doing it. So there’s that element. And that really does also show through to an audience. I think people can read that, and that’s great.”

While Bauhaus formed in 1978, the post-punk quartet parted ways five years later after releasing four albums. While still in Bauhaus, Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins formed Tones on Tail in 1982 and a few years later started Love and Rockets, while Murphy launched his solo career with his debut, 1986’s Should the World Fail to Fall Apart. Bauhaus reunited for a tour in 1998 and a decade later got back together in 2008 to record Go Away White.

Murphy says the members of Bauhaus never really got on outwardly; rather, “it was always very unspoken, very repressed, which is kind of unspoken weird stuff that would just burst out into some sort of irrational business decision."

During the early days of Bauhaus, Murphy recalls, it was established that everyone in the band would get exactly the same cut on everything they did. These days, he says, they all collectively manage the band’s estate, so they’re all in contact on business issues.

Although the original lineup of Bauhaus may never reunite, Murphy and David J will perform Bauhaus’s 1980 debut, In the Flat Field — the first album released by the British indie label 4AD, started by Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent.

“We were the ones that really gave 4AD its existence,” Murphy says. “After the first album, we wanted to get out of 4AD because Ivo, who was then running 4AD, [was releasing] good stuff, but we were fearing that we’d be stuck in some sort of, like, cul-de-sac of alternative navel-gazing albums like other artists on the label. That kind of alternative, kind of obscure label which was basically miserable and sort of, you know...and so we elected to go over to Beggars Banquet, which was the mother label of 4AD.”

These pair of shows at the Oriental Theater will also include other Bauhaus material like “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” the band’s first single on the Small Wonder imprint, and “Dark Entries,” which Murphy says was actually recorded during In the Flat Field sessions but released as the first single on 4AD.

“But we didn’t include it on the album, because we had a history of releasing singles that weren’t on the album,” Murphy says. “Singles would have great success. We didn’t actually include them on the album, and they would be very one-off things — artifacts. It was a special kind of way to do it then.”

Peter Murphy: 40 Years Of Bauhaus: Ruby Celebration, featuring David J, 8 p.m. Monday, February 25, and Tuesday, February 26, The Oriental Theater, sold out.

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