|Hawkwind at the Ledge of Darkness - Alan Davey Interview, 1988
This interview with Alan Davey comes from issue 1 of a magazine called Foundation (thx Alan Taylor
for the info!), and was very kindly supplied by the famous Wilfried Schuesler - cheers!
Above and left; the interview as first seen by me.
I have retyped the text below...
The legacy continues...
Almost three years since 'The Chronicle of the Black Sword', Hawkwind have finally released a new studio
album, 'The Xenon Codex'. It's been a hard three years of gigging and management problems.
"Oh, we had huge problems", recalls bass player Alan Davey. "Thing is, it never changes, things were the
same when Hawkwind were with RCA or Charisma. At the moment we are managing ourselves, and we've
got a promoter and a solicitor working with us for the gigs".
Their present show is a stunning affair, something I was surprised could better the 'Black Sword' shows,
and it signals a return to a flurry of activity for the band.
"The 'Xenon Codex' is a run-up to our next project which will be the 'Ledge of Darkness'. That will be
based on the third 'Hawklords' book, which is being written at the moment. It'll be like a big Hawkwind
parody. Mike Butterworth is going to be doing it. We want it to be a big project - there will be videos,
comics, albums and there is even talk at the moment of a cartoon in the book."
The connection with literature, of course, is a strong one; Michael Moorcock is a frequent collaborator with
the band, the 'Black Sword' project being based on the 'Elric' books. Moorcock's success has ricocheted
with his work for Hawkwind.
"Oh yeah, he's done all right out of us", continues Alan, "the Elric book sales went through the roof. Most
writers can write very strong lyrics, which complement the power of the music."
Why did the album take a long time?
"It didn't. It took us fourteen days in all - that was rehearsing and recording. Originally, we wanted to do
an EP, but GWR came up and said we'd got to do an album; I mean, we finished it ages ago, I don't know
what has held things up. It's annoying, because you do the album quickly and get the show together, then
the album isn't out in time for the tour. We've sold out a lot of gigs on the tour, but people were only able
to get the album during the last week of it."
Are you happy with the end results, though?
"Yeah, it's great, we're really pleased with it. It's not the best produced album in the world, not in the sense
of quality, but it has a very raw edge to it, similar to a lot of the live albums that came out in the seventies."
Hawkwind's success has been a remarkable tale - each generation has fuelled this, even during the punk era,
but more recently the 'Acid Daze' events proved them still to be a force to be reckoned with - two all-day
events in Finsbury Park and Leeds which were both packed-out.
"Yeah, both of them were a great success...and it looks like we're going to be involved in something of a
similar nature in Europe when we go over there soon".
How successful are you in Europe?
"Well, more than we thought, actually. We went over there last May, and it was just great. Trouble was,
we were only getting about Â£15 a day, so it was a real breadline situation; we knew before we went over
there that we would just about break even, but it had been about seven years since Hawkwind played over
there, so we had to go."
What about America?
"We'll be going to America later this year, hopefully. Again, it's been a long time since Hawkwind played
there...about ten years, I think. With the show we've got at the moment, I think the Yanks would go
bananas over it. All we need is a big promotion, get something like 'Needle Gun' on the FM radio and it
would go well."
Will GWR be giving you their backing?
"Mmmm, not sure; I'm not too happy with what they've done for us so far, though."
Why did you leave Flicknife, then?
"It was just because GWR had a bit more mouth and gave out a list of promises. Frenchy, who runs
Flicknife, grew up alongside Hawkwind, and while he didn't have a lot of idea at first, he does a good job
now, and he's a good guy."
Who is it keeps putting out all of these albums of old material?
"That's Dave Anderson...he's responsible for them all."
Dave Anderson played bass with the band for a time in the seventies, but now owns a studio in Mid-Wales,
and itâ€™s there that he sorts through all of the old Hawkwind stuff. Is there no way that he can be sued
for it all?
"Not really. It's all very complicated and long-winded."
Outside of Hawkwind various members are involved in their own projects. Huw Lloyd Langton's band are
set to release a new album on GWR soon, and Dave Brock has only recently released a solo album. Does it
help with Hawkwind for the band members to go away and work on their own thing for a while, before
coming back to the Hawkwind projects?
"Before we started rehearsing for the new album we hadn't played together for about two months, It's good
they have other things to do, and it usually only takes about two weeks before things start to click again."
How important is your show - would you be able to go out and play without the lasers, etc.?
"Yeah, we do frequently, but having a good show is very important to us, it is all about giving value for
money. I know there have been times in the past when we haven't been in the position to be able to put on
such a show. You can pay ten quid to see someone play for an hour with a hundred lights flashing
overhead, that's not value for money, but we are doing it."
Do you respect the loyalty of your fans?
"Oh, absolutely, they're great. When we go on the road a lot of old faces are always there. If we do thirty
gigs, you can guarantee that they'll be at about twenty of those; we care about those people - give them
passes for the gigs, it's the least we can do for them. There are a lot of young kids coming to see us, too,
which is encouraging - when we played at Portsmouth there was a kid of twelve with his mum and dad -
brilliant, he even had his denim with Hawkwind patches all over it."
Hawkwind's music would be ideally suited to film soundtracks....a lot of atmosphere and moody pieces
there, have you had any offers for that kind of work, then?
"No, not really: but I know what you mean, it'd work really well. We've found the film industry to be one
of those things where if you're already involved, you're okay, but if you're not you just can't get in there; I
mean we've got a good publisher, but there are never any offers. There was a track off the 'Levitation'
album that was used in a film a few years ago, but that was it really."
With the Glastonbury Festival being put on hold this year (or possibly the next few years too, if some people
get their way) there is possibly going to be stronger action to get something going around the area of
Stonehenge for the Mid-Summer Solstice. Hawkwind have always had a lot of involvement with the
festivals there, and Dave Brock sits on a committee to battle it out with the local council's decisions...what
is going on this year?
"Well, because there is no Glastonbury, there will be a lot of people trying to put some alternatives together
which'll be great if they can do it. It should be easier this year, because they will have to deal with more
people putting on festivals, so it should be unstoppable."
We talk of the surveillance that has come to bother the band.
"Well, Dave's phone's tapped, definitely. He's recently moved house and I had been calling him up, and
after about two weeks there was a strange clicking every time, and it had happened to us all in the past...we
hate it, obviously but it doesn't surprise me."
It's just very sad...