Legendary Bauhaus frontman and acclaimed solo artist Peter Murphy takes pride in his “Godfather of Goth” designation. But he doesn’t let it go to his highly prized cheekbones.
“I’ve been called that from the beginning,” says the English vocalist, who famously crooned what many consider the first gothic single, “Bella Lugosi’s Dead,” in the opening of the 1983 cult film “The Hunger.” “I think most journalists posit my work and the band in the Bauhaus years as a seminal moment. It’s something of itself and extremely rare. It was powerfully terrifying, musically, and erotic and theatrical. To be taken so seriously to be called an ‘icon’ is quite a compliment. But it’s not something I identify with. It’s just what I do.”
Murphy will speed fans through his impressive 40-year career over a three-week residency at The Chapel in San Francisco, where he’ll perform each of his albums in their entirety. Initially slated to start Tuesday with his 1986 solo debut “Should The World Fail to Fall Apart” (that show has been postponed until Feb. 1, due to travel difficulties), he’ll end Feb. 16, with “Mr. Moonlight,” a 2013 Bauhaus retrospective tour he’s recreating with the band’s original bassist, David J.
For Murphy, remembering the lyrics to his eight albums, including late 1980s alt-rock favorites “Love Hysteria” and “Deep” — not to mention almost 20 Bauhaus classics — proved less challenging than some might think.
“When you created it, sang it and performed it, it’s in there somewhere,” he says. “Every song I’ve ever done is in my muscle memory, and also the emotion behind it all.”
To breathe new life into his back catalog, Murphy, who famously swung from wires in early Bauhaus shows (and sang “Bella Lugosi’s Dead” upside down at Coachella in 2005), says he has a few stage tricks up his sleeve.
“I have lots of ideas that can now be realized that I’m not going to reveal yet. The core, though, is a band playing the music, and we’re the theater. You can feel from the performer whether they’re really performing; it’s something that even with nothing to use, I always work out,” he says.
Still, with such a devoted fanbase, the original vampire-like frontman (who in 2010 was geniously cast as a vampire in “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”) knows that the antics backstage during post-show encounters with followers often can eclipse anything happening onstage.
“There’s a great sense of loyalty, devotion and respect from my audience,” he says. “But when I do my meet and greets, there’s always going to be a few who throw themselves at me and try to kiss me, where it’s like, ‘Get off of me.’ But staunch fans have a real investment in your work and you as a person, so I get it.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Jan. 26-Feb. 16
Tickets: $33 to $200
Contact: (415) 551-5157, www.thechapelsf.com
Jan. 26-27: “Love Hysteria”
Jan. 30-31, Feb. 2-3: “Deep”
Feb. 1: “Should The World Fail to Fall Apart”
Feb. 4: “Holy Smoke”
Feb. 7: “Cascade”
Feb. 9: “Dust”
Feb. 10: “Ninth”
Feb. 14-16: “Mr. Moonlight”