When David J talks about all that jazz these days, he's not speaking euphemistically.
The former Bauhaus and Love & Rockets member has made a jazz turn, thanks in part to a group of Detroit musicians J (nee Haskins) met a couple years ago when he was playing a DJ set at the annual Theatre Bizarre Halloween festival at the Masonic Temple. The house band, led by Joshua James, approached J to do something together; the resulting improvised version of Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead" -- "By way of Cab Calloway," J says -- hatched an idea for a full-fledged album due out this fall, along with a documentary and a performance at this year's Theatre Bizarre.
"After that gig some of the members rushed up tome saying, 'This cannot end here. We have to carry on and do something!' and I was not about to argue," the British-born J, 58, says by phone from Grand Rapids. "What we've come up with is an audio depiction of the flavor of the Theatre Bizarre, this very much sort of twisted circus carnival, 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' type of thing. It's sort of like this macabre, off-kilter shadow side of circus.
"It's an evocation of all of that, and I think we nailed it. It's sounding pretty extraordinary."
J and the Theatre Bizarre are planning to finish the album this week at Tempermill studios in Ferndale, with owner Dave Feeny engineering. Besides originals the set will include covers of Van Morrison's "St. James Infirmary," Beck's "Cloaks" and Nick Cave's "The Carney," along with "Bela Lugosi's Dead."
"It's been very spontaneous, and very different from anything I've ever done," J says. "I've never really played with a band like this, real jazz and such a big band, so it's been a real thrill for me." He does, however, view the Theatre Bizarre Band collaboration as a one-off project, though the group plans to play live in support of the album.
Meanwhile J is keeping himself busy with the private concerts and other endeavors. And he's confident that we won't be hearing any more from his previous bands -- ever.
"They're defunct," says J, who's working on a follow-up to 2014's "Who Killed Mister Moonlight? (Bauhaus, Black Magick and Benediction)," his memoir about Bauhaus. "This one won't be like the Love & Rockets story; It'll be more anecdotes that pertain to Love & Rockets but also go beyond that. I'm just sort of piecing it all together now."
David J and the Theatre Bizarre Orchestra
Thursday, March 31. Doors open at 8 p.m.
The Magic Bag,
Tickets are $15.
Call 248-544-3030 or visit themagicbag.com.
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