Love and Rockets - Biography
Love and Rockets formed in 1984 after Northampton natives Daniel Ash (vocals, guitar), David J. (bass, vocals), and Kevin Haskins (drums) finished out their years in the British goth band, Bauhaus, vanguards of the goth-rock genre. Upon Bauhaus' 1983 demise, David J. (born David J. Haskins, Kevin Haskins' older brother) recorded a solo album and did some work with The Jazz Butcher. Daniel Ash, meanwhile, had been trying to get his own side project, Tones on Tail, off the ground. Instead, they broke up, even after Kevin Haskins had signed on as a member. The duo then decided that the best idea would be to revive Bauhaus. David J. soon joined them, but a pretty important piece of the puzzle was missing; lead singer Peter Murphy wanted nothing to do with a Bauhaus reunion. And so, the trio began a brand new project called Love and Rockets, taking their name from an underground comic book by famed artists Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez.
Love and Rockets' first order of business was to distance themselves from the goth-rock sound that they had brought to life in Bauhaus. The first single the band released was a cover of the Motown classic “Ball of Confusion,” something that would be inconceivable in their previous band. Signed to Beggars Banquet, Love and Rockets released their debut album, Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven (Beggars Banquet), in 1985. Although the reviews were not spectacular, the trio already had a fan base waiting for them, thanks to the credibility they had gained with Bauhaus. The next year, they returned with Express (1986, Beggars Banquet), a more assured effort that landed them in both the US and UK charts. The band had fully embraced their new sound, one that actually made post-punk sound fun through twinges of pyschedelia and old-fashioned rock & roll. “Yin and Yang and the Flower Pot Man,” the band's biggest single off Express, showcases this sound perfectly over a raving Bo Diddley beat.
In 1987, they released Earth Sun Moon (Beggars Banquet), an album of lighter, spacier songs that was certainly as good as Express, if not better. The one song that did not share the more ambient mood of the other tracks was the rocking “No New Tale to Tell,” which became a hit on college radio, reaching number 18 on the modern rock charts. In the US, the album peaked at number 64.
By that time, Love and Rockets could consider themselves a moderately successful band, but it was not until their self-titled fourth album, released in 1989, that they earned their mainstream popularity. “So Alive” became a top ten hit and Love and Rockets broke the top 20. It eventually became gold-certified. The success was so unexpected that longtime fans were accusing the band of selling out, when in fact, the T. Rex sound-alike “So Alive” was the only commercially viable song on the entire LP.
For the next four years, the band members did not attempt to follow up on their success. They instead concentrated on solo projects before reuniting in 1994. After signing a deal with Rick Rubin's label, American Recordings, the band recorded Hot Trip to Heaven (1994, American), an album that came out too late to capitalize on any popularity they might have had. Besides the poor timing, the band just sounded confused on the album. Making an obvious bid for radio, they added elements of house and dance music, which were popular in the UK at the time.
For the recording of their sixth album, the American label set them up in a house where they could live as well as record. During the sessions they would have there, a massive fire broke out in the house, consuming all of the band's gear as well as the tapes containing all of their work. The members themselves were uninjured, but a subsequent legal battle between the band, American, and American's insurance company left them with a hefty sum to pay. Sweet F.A. (1996, American), the album that resulted from all of this drama, saw Love and Rockets fall to 172 in the album charts in the US. Again, they had made another play for what was popular instead of being themselves. This time, they tried to cash in on the loud alternative rock that had come out of the US, turning up their guitars and paying little attention to songwriting. It showed.
After severing ties with American, Love and Rockets signed to Red Ant Recordings. Lift was released on that label in 1998, finding the band returning to the dance themes of Hot Trip to Heaven. They actually experienced some success in this genre, as “Resurrection Hex” became a number 36 single on the hot dance music charts. Aside from that, Lift received the same indifferent reaction as the last two Love and Rockets albums. Later that year, Haskins, J, and Ash would finally take part in the Bauhaus reunion they originally asked Murphy to do almost fifteen years before. The singer was now ready and willing, and Bauhaus, after a few introductory Los Angeles shows, went on a full-fledged tour.
A year later, it was announced that Love and Rockets had officially disbanded. The trio resurfaced with Murphy once again in a 2005 tour as Bauhaus. A year later, they went on tour again, this time supporting Nine Inch Nails. On December 2nd, 2007, Love and Rockets reunited to play one song, the Clash's “Should I Stay or Should I Go” as part of “Cast a Long Shadow,” which was a tribute concert to the late Joe Strummer. After they played it once, they started in again, this time inviting audience members onto the stage to dance and sing along.
After releasing what was touted as Bauhaus' final artistic statement, Go Away White, in 2008, Love and Rockets reformed again to play the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April, and then, in August, they showed up in Chicago to play Lollapalooza.