Interview: Bauhaus’ Daniel Ash On Guitar Style That Influenced Jane’s Addiction & Soundgarden

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Don’t let the title of the latest solo release by groundbreaking Bauhaus, Tones On Tail, and Love & Rockets guitarist Daniel Ash fool you – it may be titled ‘Stripped,’ but it is not an “unplugged” or acoustic recording. In fact, the twelve-track album is full of EDM sounds, and features guest appearances by the likes of Mat Mitchell of Puscifer, Adam Bravin of She Wants Revenge, and producer John Fryer (Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Love & Rockets). Mr. Ash was kind enough to answer some questions recently for Alternative Nation, and gave some insight into his original playing style that served as a major influence/inspiration for two of alt-rock’s all-time great bands.

Alternative Nation: How did the idea come up to re-work earlier tracks for ‘Stripped’?

Daniel Ash: The idea to rework these songs came from a meeting with the guys from PledgeMusic – John Lenac, long time supporter Bryan Mead from Ingrooves, and Christopher the Minister, who I have been working with since around ’97. Although it was suggested that I do acoustic versions at the time, that idea lasted about 7 minutes once I got into the studio (not a big fan of a hippie sitting on a stool strumming on an acoustic guitar). Makes me feel like the guitar scene from ‘Animal House’ (check it out on YouTube).

Alternative Nation: How was it working with producers John Fryer, Mat Mitchell, and Adam Bravin?

Daniel Ash: With John Fryer, Matt Mitchell, and Adam Bravin that was an idea from Christopher the Minister my executive producer for years now, and it was a case of me sending them some vocals and guitar parts and them building the track around them, or vice versa. So we never actually worked in the same room. The wonders of modern technology!

Alternative Nation: How similar or different is the songwriting process for Bauhaus, Tones On Tail, and Love & Rockets?

Daniel Ash: Songs come from a guitar riff or the start of a lyric or an inspiring drum loop (with many of the lyrics, I’ve used the Burroughs/Bowie cut up trick).

Alternative Nation: Your guitar playing style circa early Bauhaus proved to be quite original-sounding and influential (both Dave Navarro and Kim Thayil have listed you as a guitar influence). How did you come up with your style, and who were some of your guitar influences?

Daniel Ash: My style of playing comes from a mixture of extreme laziness to learn proper scales/chords and a burning desire to sound original and new. Although I am a huge fan of Hendrix and Mick Ronson, Robert Fripp on Bowie tracks is also fab, and what about Earl Slick!!

Alternative Nation: What do you recall about the writing and recording sessions for “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”?

Daniel Ash: Recording “Bela” was one of those magical moments in the studio. We had only been a band for about a month but the chemistry between us all was on fire. It was a first or second take with us all playing live – including Peter in the vocal booth. I remember he had a cold but sounded great anyway. It was pretty much instant, just adding some echo to the guitar and drums. I remember being in the bathroom after mixing the song, and “Bela” was coming out of the smallest cheapest speaker you’ve ever seen – and it still sounded perfect. That’s when I knew it was going to be noticed and remembered. A classic 🙂

Alternative Nation: What were audience’s reactions to the song when it was first performed live?

Daniel Ash: From the first time we played “Bela” live, it had an extreme reaction. Everyone would go quiet. Transfixed I think you call it. Must have something to do with the kick drum, haha.

Alternative Nation: Any idea it would become a classic, that many point to as trailblazing the “goth rock” genre?

Daniel Ash: As for it being a goth classic, goth did not exist in 1978.

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Bio: After having his articles posted from other outlets on Alternative Nation (and before that, Grunge Report) for years - heck, he was even interviewed by GR back in 2009! - Greg Prato finally began contributing articles to the site in 2014. He has written for various sites/mags over the years (Rolling Stone, All Music Guide, etc.), and is the author of quite a few books. And as evidenced by such titles as Grunge is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music, A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other: The Story of Shannon Hoon and Blind Melon, and Too High to Die: Meet the Meat Puppets, he also has a deep fondness for alternative rock n' roll music. You can check out info on all of Greg's books here, see what he's up to on his Twitter page here.