Kevin Haskins on Bauhaus Undead, Poptone, and Eating Vegan on the Road

There are few artists with a career as storied and influential as that of Kevin Haskins. With a pedigree that includes Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, Love & Rockets, Poptone, and composing credits for television, film, and video games, you’d think that Kevin Haskins would be nigh unapproachable, only coming down from the lofty heights of music legend-dom when it suited his fancy. Not only is this the farthest thing from the truth, I’d dare say that Kevin is probably one of the more down to earth and friendly interviews I’ve done. I mention this because they always say “never meet your heroes” because they’ll always let you down (Mesh even wrote a song about it!). I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to come out of the other side of an interview with a musician who has shaped the course of your musical tastes with their career. It’s one of those moments where all the late nights, tens of thousands of types words, and hours of work pay off in a big, reaffirming way. In short…thank you to Mr. Kevin Haskins for being so gracious with his time and for making this blogger’s year with a phone conversation.

Kevin Haskins live by Judy Lyon (2005)
Kevin Haskins Live (2005) / Photo Credit: Judy Lyon

Alright, now that I’ve gushed a little bit, let’s get down to brass tacks. Kevin Haskins has been a very busy man. First up, to commemorate the upcoming 40th Anniversary of Bauhaus he is releasing Bauhaus Undead – The Visual History and Legacy of Bauhaus book. According to Cleopatra Records, where you can pre-order through the 16th, the book contains the following:

Original stories penned by Kevin Haskins| Hand Made Flyers By The Band | Backstage Passes | Show Posters | Photographs From Kevin’s Personal Collection | Band Artwork
Set Lists | Contracts | Fan Club Material | Ticket Stubs
Pins | Recording Schedule | Photos Of Vintage Instruments
Tour Itineraries | Letters | Bauhaus Comic Strip | Hand Written Lyrics

Follow the link HERE to get your copy now, which is pretty much a must own piece of history for any Bauhaus fan. If you want an autographed copy get your order in NOW. There will be no more signed copies past the pre-order period…you have been warned.

Poptone Rehearsal by Paul Rae
Poptone Rehearsal / Photo Credit: Paul Rae

Beyond that, Kevin Haskins and his Poptone bandmades, Daniel Ash and Diva Pompe, have some big news on the record front. They’ve got a 13 track Part Time Punks session ( likens it to a modern day Peel Session) that’s going to be released on Cleopatra Records! This is fantastic news for all the Poptone fans out there itching to get their hands on some physical media (myself included). We’ll be sure to keep you posted on this release, so keep your eyes peeled!

Alright, how about we dig a little bit deeper into these topics with the man himself? This is a transcribed from a phone interview I had with Kevin Haskins on March 9th, 2018. Hope you enjoy!

The 40th Anniversary of Bauhaus is almost upon us. Has it felt like that much time has passed?

*Laughter* Some days it does, and some days it doesn’t. It does seem like it was a million years ago. Yeah, it does seem like a very long time ago.

Bauhaus 1 by Judy Lyon (2005)
Photo Credit: Judy Lyon

You’re marking the 40th Anniversary with a new book, Bauhaus Undead. What kind of treasures will Bauhaus fans find inside?

One thing that comes to mind is a letter my dad wrote. We’d played our first show in our home town at this beautiful theater, it was a great evening, and we wanted to do it again. So, my dad writes this letter to the theater manager, and he wrote a letter back, and it’s really amusing…I’ll just say that. That’s something that’s never been seen before. There’s also about 20 candid photos I took of the band and Peter, a lot of photos that haven’t been seen before of us larking around, just having fun. It’s quite a lot of material that’s been shut away in a box in my basement for years and years…decades! I also wrote about 30 stories, kind of fly on the wall recollections of things that went on.

While all of this anniversary talk has been going on, Poptone has had some pretty big record news. What can you tell us about your Part Time Punks session?

Yeah, Michael Stock asked us to do one. We’re playing really well together as a band…we just really gel. It might…I don’t know…it might be the tightest band I’ve played with. Live, we’re really just killing it and all of the shows are going really great. I had hoped to bang out our whole set, but by the time we got our gear set up at the studio we had about two hours to play. I think we got 13 songs down. It was great working in that way again…I haven’t done that in forever. Usually nowadays you build songs up gradually, you may still play them as a band, but you’re going to add overdubs, and effects, or whatever. It reminded me of the way we used to do John Peel sessions, so it’s got a very live, very raw feel to it. We’re really happy with it! We’re going to realise it on Cleopatra Records on vinyl, cd, downloads, and streaming, hopefully in May to coincide with a West Coast tour we’re going to do.

You had a pretty busy live schedule last year with Poptone. Did you enjoy the tour?

Yeah, I did. I’d forgotten how much I missed it and liked it. What we decided to do to keep our sanity was to only go out for a maximum of two and a half weeks. We found that if we do 8 or 10 shows, that’s a really good model for us. By the time it comes to an end we’re thinking, “It’d be nice to go home now.” Then we get home and we’re thinking, “It’d be nice to go on tour again.” So that worked out really well and kept things fresh. We’re also having a lot of fun. We’ve got a great crew, some of them have been with us for a long time…they know all the songs, so yeah, it’s been a really good time.

Bauhaus by Stella Watts
Photo Credit: Stella Watts

What is your favorite “road food?”

Well, I’m vegan, and the majority of my food intake is avocado sandwiches. If I can’t anything else, that’s what I’ll have.

Funny you mention that. I’ve interviewed several vegans and they mention it’s a real struggle on the road, especially in the southern parts of the United States.

We fly sometimes and I always get everyone there early…I’m kind of like the tour manager. In some airports I’ll try to find a vegan burger but you often find these veggie burgers, but it might not actually be vegan…it could have egg or something in it. I remember this conversation, and it was in the South, with these two elderly ladies running a cafe in an airport.

I’ll present it below as if you were reading a transcript of the conversation:

Kevin walks up to the woman at the counter and asks, “Is your vegetarian burger vegan?”

The elderly lady responds “Vaygon?” (Say it in your head like bacon but with a “v” and a “g” and you’ll get the idea).

“No, I said vegan.” Kevin repeats

“What’s vegan? Hold on…” The elderly lady yells into the back, “Hey Cheryl…this guy wants to know if..” Then turns back to Kevin and asks, “What did you say? Vegan?”

Cheryl comes over and says “Oh…oh…we don’t know.”

“Well, could you look on the package?” Kevin asks “To see if its got any dairy in it?”

She shakes her head and says, “We’re kind of too busy for that.”

End transcript

What is it like sharing the stage with your daughter, Diva?

It’s wonderful. I never thought that would happen. When we started the process we auditioned a lot of bass players, it was close, but she won out. I have felt very blessed with my whole career and this is kind of like the icing on the cake.

Speaking of Diva, she’s got some projects over her own. How involved are you  in her work?

I co-produced a few songs about 5 years ago and then she didn’t want to work with me again. I think we were recording in my studio and sometimes I would mix a few things after she’d gone home for the day. Then she’d come in the next day and try to be polite about it, but she didn’t like some of the stuff I did. On the other hand, she did like some of the other things. What she’s doing now is kind of out of my realm. It’s extremely contemporary, and I don’t really have a fix on it.

Poptone poster by Paul Rae
Poster Credit: Paul Rae

Who are some current artists that have caught your attention?

I like Savages a lot. We’ve had some really great support bands. We take a lot of time researching and finding them. We think that it’s very important to not take any old band out on the road with you. POW! is really good, they’ve supported us. Geneva Jacuzzi, she’s been with us for a few tours and she’s really fantastic. It’s a one woman act and it’s very theatrical, inventive, and unique. Check her out! My daughter Lola started a band called Automatic, which you might be interested in. It’s synths, drum machine, guitars, and bass. Some of it is in the realm of Suicide, while some of it is in the realm of Velvet Underground, and shoegaze…lots of different sides to it. They’ve done four shows and I’ve been to three of them.

What does the rest of 2018 look like for you and Poptone?

We’re going to carry on touring where the interest is. We’re doing the West Coast again and then probably head back to the East Coast and Midwest. We’re looking at Europe and see what interest there is there. There might a chance at Lollapalooza. We’ve got the new record coming out on Cleopatra. I’d also like to do some new music so I’m hoping that will happen.

Any parting words?

The street date for Bauhaus Undead is March the 16th and it’s going to be distributed around the world, available through Amazon, and very accessible. Everyone should know that after that date though there will be no more signed copies, so if you want a signed copy you need to pre-order through Cleopatra. I’m also doing a raffle. I’m raffling off an original poster from when we played the Metro in Chicago in 1982. I’m trying to raise money for Mercy for Animals (Click HERE and scroll down for all the info related to this). I’m doing a signing on the 16th in LA @ Lethal Amounts from 8pm onwards. There will be limited t-shirts, a screen printed poster, some of the contents of the book will be there to see, so there will be goodies to be had.

Thank you very much for your interest in what I’m doing!


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