Peter Murphy Talks Meth Arrest and 35 Years of Bauhaus: "I Was Never a Punk"
Let's start with Peter Murphy's infamous arrest on March 16 in Glendale, California, for allegedly fleeing a hit-and-run crash that left another driver's car damaged and ended with Murphy's detention and a meth charge.
Asked for his version of events via cell phone while riding on a tour bus headed to the first show of his Mr. Moonlight tour in San Antonio, Texas, Murphy responds, "I can't talk about that. The court case is going to happen soon."
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After entering a not-guilty plea, a judge released him on his own recognizance on the condition that he does not get behind the wheel of a car. His court appearance has been scheduled for May 17. "You'll still hear the truth of it once the court case is heard," Murphy adds.
With that unsavory bit of rubber-necking out of the way, the 55-year-old Murphy opened up about the early days of Bauhaus and what a strange, incongruous sort of band he had created with guitarist Daniel Ash and brothers David J on bass and Kevin Haskins on drums. As he starts a tour playinf only Bauhaus music, Murphy seems eager to consider the band's place in modern music's history.
It was the end of the 1970s, and the British music scene was in the middle of a renaissance. Punk rock had outlived its novelty, and genres like new romanticism, goth, and twee were far from the lexicon of music journalism. It was all postpunk.
"They called us postpunks, but we were archigans," Murphy says in an allusion to the band's interest in the archaic. "Bauhaus were archigans, or I was an archigan. I was never a punk. I was never a postpunk. I was already formed. I would say I was a dandy poet, appreciating the romantic but not at all new romantic."
Murphy speaks for himself when he talks about the influences he brought to the band. "Kraftwerk were among my influences, very early on," he says, "and of course, early [David] Bowie. I was very much into [Brian] Eno's stuff, very early Eno work, the ambient stuff, Taking Tiger Mountain, seminal works that really informed music. This is my school, really. This is where I'm from."
He can speak only for his influences, however, and notes the magic among the four souls of Bauhaus comes from an almost surreal level of trust among them. "Once we got in [the studio], we were inspired by each other," he says. "We dropped everything. We left everything out. You don't walk in there with any baggage. You walk in with each other.
"You inspire each other, viscerally. You do it as you play, not with words. Less talking, more creating. The moment the members of Bauhaus, particularly the members of that band, started to exchange and intellectualize, that was the point at which it would fall apart, because we're not very friendly to each other."