If it wasn’t obvious from my profile and the types of blogs I write, I’m a former Goth boy. Granted, I always saw myself as Goth lite. I wore the all the black, sometimes unusual clothes, but I never got into the make-up or the tattoos or piercings. I died my hair a variety of colors and cut it unusually, but nothing I couldn’t reformat into something for my day job. For me, it was all about the music.
I’d always been a fan of the new wave 80s music like Adam Ant, the B-52s and Depeche Mode. But then my tastes took a dark turn, and my love of Goth was born and has yet to die. I got into the scene so early, we were still called Death Rockers. And to be honest, I don’t know when the word Goth came about.
Few despite that the advent of Goth was Bauhaus’ 1979 underground hit, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”.
A song reminding us that the master of horror was no longer with us. Featuring the haunting refrain: “Undead, undead, undead.” To watch lead singer, Peter Murphy, perform the song live is a theatrical treat. I saw him perform it in a solo show earlier this year and he was amazingly terrifying. Bauhaus put out four albums in about as many years (and one later reunion album), but they’re dark tunes still echo through college radio and have influenced many a future Goth. And don’t forget to check out their spin-offs: Love & Rockets, Tones on Tales and the solo works of Peter Murphy.
My gateway band was Siouxsie & The Banhees. Oddly, she’s considered a one-hit wonder with her song Peek-a-Boo. But before that, she was the Queen of Goth with her unmistakable eye make-up. The band’s pre-Peek-a-Boo output was superb, especially Juju and Tibderbox. She did go solo a while back, but has been silent for a few years. I’ve a feeling she’ll soon surprise us with another transformation.
No Goth collection is complete without an entire Joy Division catalog. Ian Curtis’ dark lyrics and mournful voice should have made him the Godfather of Goth. But perhaps his darkness lacked the theatrical-ness of Bauhaus. Unfortunately, Ian Curtis committed suicide the eve before the band’s first American tour. The remaining members went on to become New Order. Though they started with the same dark tone as Joy Division, they ended up becoming more of a dance (or Acid House) band. But their “Blue Monday” is almost as big of a Gothic anthem as Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart.
And almost every Goth has a Joy Division Unknown Pleasure’s t-shirt.
Probably the most popular Goth band is The Cure. They still sell out stadiums (and play three hour plus shows). Thought songs like “Just Like Heaven”, “Lovesong” and “Friday” I’m in Love are more pop, their albums, especially Pornography and Disintegration are Gothic masterpieces.
A lesser known to the masses Goth Band is The Sisters of Mercy. They only put out three albums and a ton or singles, but Andrew Eldritch’s band will be immortal for its music and its artwork. First and Last and Always is a great Goth primer, but Floodland is my personal favorite.
If you like your Goth more ethereal and hypnotic, check out The Cocteau Twins. Elizabeth Frazier uses her voice as an instrument and in meshes perfectly with Robin Guthrie’s dreamy guitar. Try to get their albums on CD or Vinyl because the artwork is heavenly.
Speaking of photographic bands, Echo & The Bunnymen know how to work a silhouette. Though not the dreariest of Goths, their album Ocean Rain (featuring the still popular “Killing Moon”) is another Goth Masterpiece.
And that’s just the tip of the gloomy Goth iceberg. There’s plenty more music if you want to get deeper and darker. As well as plenty of t-shirts of classic Goth bands and album covers. Happy wallowing!