Post-punk icons Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins, the duo behind such classically dark and gothic bands as Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, and Love and Rockets, have reunited after many years apart to form yet another band called Poptone. I caught up with them on their debut tour as they played The Stone Pony, the classic seaside venue in Asbury Park, New Jersey. It was sure to be a night to bring back the moodiest moments of the 80’s music scene and plenty of veteran alternative-rock vibes.
Opening the show was the San Fran band Pow!, who definitely channel the synthy new wave days of the 1980’s along with a roar of punk buzzsaw riffing. Guitarist and frontman Byron Blum crushes the power riff on his axe while glammed up in makeup like a cross between David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Elvis Costello, and Mark Bolan; while his counterpart Melissa Blue carried me away on an array of synthy waves (that appear to be produced by some real vintage synth equipment, like a Realistic board, from Radio Shack!). It’s easy to see why Thee Oh Sees frontman John Dwyer signed the musicians to his label, Castle Face Records, as this band has all sorts of energy and edge, both vintage and brand spankin’ new. Check out their new disc “Crack an Egg,” as it’s more than just your typical retro throwback and well worth breaking some eggs for one tasty omelet.
Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins gained some dark and mysterious fame in the old-school goth band Bauhaus, but after their frontman Peter Murphy started to experience bouts of extreme health problems, Ash began to take over many of those duties on their later releases. Eventually they officially called it quits as Ash and Haskins went on to form Tones On Tail, which eventually morphed into Love and Rockets with their former Bauhaus mate David J and broke into influential alternative success in the 90’s, only to go out in a literal blaze of glory at the end of the century. There was a prolonged Bauhaus reunion in the mid aughts, but that ended in some frayed nerves and hurt feelings. Although Haskins seemed to have a healthy business scoring video games, film, and television, the usually industrious Ash apparently floundered for a time. Apparently, it was only a few months ago when Daniel woke up one morning and decided he really wanted to play again. The two reconnected and decided to go for it, forming this new outfit Poptone, with Haskins’ daughter Diva Dompé taking over the bass, synths, and vocal harmonies.
As the stage was bathed in deep blues, the trio blazed through a set that was surprisingly heavy on their Tones on Tail era, but also included Love and Rockets and Bauhaus, as well as some of Ash’s solo work. They also covered everything from an opening of Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” to the rather unlikely matches of the Temptations and Adam and the Ants. Much of the setlist was deeper cuts, and skipping their big hits like L&R’s “So Alive” altogether, although they did play what was probably Tone’s best known track “Go!” Diva did an excellent job covering an array of duties for such a young talent (her own solo work is actually also quite amazing). Haskins was on point throughout, and Ash was full of energy and spirit he seemed like a kid in the candy store all over again. It was an amazing show that made me hungry to hear more from these three in the very near future.
Article: Dean Keim