|Dave Brock on Radio Trent, 26th March 1984
Welcome back. Now, nearly a fortnight ago at the Sherwood Rooms saw the latest visit to Nottingham by
Hawkwind, who proved they still have a large and loyal following, even though it's now twelve years since
their solo hit single "Silver Machine". Since then they've hopped from record company to record company,
releasing a string of space-based albums, all unmistakably Hawkwind with that unique electronic rhythmic
sound. This is all the more surprising bearing in mind the band's immense number of ex-members, most of
whom occasionally reappear with Hawkwind, and as Dave Brock confirmed to Jon Shaw, the most recent
tour nearly -and I say nearly- saw the return of their most famous member ever.
DB: "We were going to have Lemmy doing this tour, and... As you probably know, Motorhead had sacked
their guitarist, and were in a state of disarray. That's why Lemmy was on this E.P.. And he was going to do
the tour but he's been auditioning guitarists in London, so therefore he's not doing it. Heâ€™ll probably do
the London gigs. And also Mike Moorcock will do London gigs too."
So there seems to be a difference then, between Hawkwind live and Hawkwind on record. Is that the case or
is that just the way it works?
DB: "Well, I mean, it differs actually. Sometimes, we've had Bob Calvert - on the last album, and Mike
Moorcock was on the last album with us. It's just, sort of...fluctuates. We're a very fluctuating band,
actually, you know. We do sort of have people coming in and out and doing things, you know, whereas
most bands... I mean, we have got Huwie, Harvey and me, you know, together as the same sort of line-up
since 1979, which people forget about, you know, which is quite a long time! But it's only because we've
been going for a long time, I think, that they tend to sort of look and see all these long lists of people who've
been in and out of the band, and think 'Gosh...' "
Yes, the fluidity of the Hawkwind line-up became legendary, and you're right, it is five years since you three
became the nucleus of it. So, has that made the organisation of the band -I mean for you, as the longest-
serving permanent member- has that made life a bit easier for you?
DB: "Well, it does. But I would like to have a permanent drummer. Because last year you know we had
Andy Anderson, who's a really good drummer, he's a really great guy to play with. And I think heâ€™s
playing with The Cure now. But I mean, last year...since February, we've played Stonehenge, and that's all
we've done. We didn't do one gig or anything, you know. I also cut the top of my finger nearly off, I had to
have it stitched back on, which put me out of action for three months. That's why Andy joined up with
another band, because we were just sitting around doing nothing, really. We didnâ€™t have any money,
either, which was a bit of a let-down for him, too, you know!"
That must be just about the longest layoff you've had, since '71 or '72...
DB: "Yeah, it was a long time. Really stupid, you know. But unfortunately, it's like... We're like a
racehorse, you know. You take him out, he jumps over fences, wins the race and he's put back in the field
for nine months to graze, I think, yeah."
So are you enjoying being out on the road again, has it given you a new stimulus for that?
DB: "Yes, it is, it's good fun. I mean, I do enjoy it. This is the only reason we come out, I mean, two hours
out of the whole day - that two hours on stage is really important, you know."
But do you find the audience this time round is much the same sort of people who were watching you in the
very early festival days, or is there a second generation of Hawkwind fans?
DB: "Well, there's a huge generation of Hawkwind fans, I mean it's just like from, I suppose, from twelve to
forty, you know. It's vast. It's really nice. I think music has changed so dramatically now anyway, you
know, that people no longer just sort of.... They follow bands for a long time, you know. Sometimes,
obviously you make good and bad albums, but I mean, if you make a few bad albums, then maybe you'll
make a good one. People who bought the bum one think 'Oh, I won't buy their next one' but then the one
after that, they hear the band again, it sounded pretty good, you know... Whereas before, people would just
sort of concentrate on one band, one era, and that's it - down the drain!" (Laughs)
I suppose also with your audience there's a very strange effect, in that a lot of people turning up will be, er,
will have turned respectable, shall we say, since the early 70's!
DB: "Yeah, well I mean, it doesn't make no difference. The object of playing music is to enjoy yourself -
play. That's what I think a lot of people forget. Especially in record companies, I might add. They actually
treat you as a product - well you know yourself what it's like. Sometimes you have to conform to the way
you're supposed to behave, and unfortunately, we...well, I should say fortunately. Unfortunately for our
financial rewards, we never used to conform, you know. We'd do something and they'd think 'Well, that's
terrible and we want you to make a three-minute singleâ€™ and all this business, you know. We never used
to do that. That's why we put an E.P. out, in actual fact."
[An excerpt from 'Night Of The Hawks' is played in the background]
This is on Flicknife, an independent label. Now, how do you feel about being on an independent label, is it
easier for you?
DB: "It's ever so easy. It's no problems at all. Because that cover that you've got here, of the Earth Ritual,
now I actually took that up to RCA Records, you know? And I wanted to use that for the Church Of
Hawkwind, and they said 'Oh no, we can't print this up, it's got too many colours on itâ€™, you know,
which is a load of nonsense. As you know, record companies -well, people probably donâ€™t realise this,
but- record companies actually charge about fifteen hundred pounds for a album cover to be designed by an
artist, and the guy who's done this, Jon Coulthart, is an art student who I met a couple of years ago at one of
our gigs, and he come up to me and said 'Look, I've got some artwork'... And he's done that and the Zones
cover for us. And even a couple of other guys actually sent me some artwork which I've used in the
programme, you know. Because we've got such...we run a magazine called Hawkfan and loads of people
send artwork in, and we use it all the time. I'd much rather use fan's efforts, -a lot of them are really good
too- rather than pay a load of money. Because a lot of people really aren't involved in Hawkwind, I mean, the
fans are, they know what it's all about. "
I suppose it's a continuation of the fact that, certainly in the early 70's, the visual side of the Hawkwind stage
show was just as important as anything else, wasn't it. The visuals and the graphics side - do you still regard
that as important?
DB: "Yeah, very much. This tour we're doing is a preview, it's not the proper tour in actual fact. Like, the
lightshow is pretty good, but I'd like it to be fantastic, really. And hopefully the next tour - the money that
we get from all of this, we're going to use, because we want to use lasers, we want a lot of really
wonderful... A good psychedelic... there's not many very bands that do a good psychedelic lightshow, you
know! We want to do a lot of weird things and we can't do it at the moment because we can't afford it, you
know. This is just a build-up to the next one, really this is a build-up to get a band together, because we only
rehearsed a week for this tour, which is crazy. No band would do that, but we did. We didn't have a
drummer, you know, we didn't have a drummer until a week before the tour. â€�
Well, if the cover and the graphics are in the tradition of Hawkwind, I suppose so is the title - 'The Earth
Ritual Preview'. ('Night Of The Hawks' is the A-side of the single.) Does this mean that, with this being a
preview of the Earth Ritual, that that's the basis for the new show and a new album?
DB: "Yeah, it is the basis, because it's a similar concept to the Space Ritual that we did before. Weâ€™d like
to do a double album as the Earth Ritual. And also, I mean, what we will get together, hopefully, is to get a
video to go with all this, too, because we're doing a video on this tour. If we can actually get all this
together, it'll be very unusual, you know."
So what does the Earth Ritual consist of?
DB: "What do you mean, the concept of it?"
DB: "Well, I mean, instead of going off into space like we did, it's coming back down to Earth, getting in
touch with... It's difficult to explain, it's not the old crap that people... 'Oh yeah, weâ€™ve heard that', sort of
thing, you know. (Laughs) But in this country, in Britain, people know more about the mythology of the
Norse gods, and the Vikings, right, and Rome and such, you know... And they don't know too much about
our basic history, which is a lot...here in this country, you know. Thatâ€™s what we're trying to do, get
back to, not just to the tribal alone, but a lot more..."
The history of the world by Hawkwind? (laughing)
DB: "Well, it's the history of Britain..." (laughs)
Any idea when that album's coming out, then?
DB: "No!" (Laughs) "No, I can't even visualise it at the moment, because Bob Calvert's written some stuff
for it, and Mike Moorcock. In fact, in the moment, before I left to go on this tour... We might be getting an
album, a sword-and-sorcery album together. So we'll probably incorporate that into it, eventually, as well,
you know. So I mean, when this tour's finished, we've got to sit down and actually start working on the
next one, really. Because it does take a long time. It's silly just doing it in a few weeks, but you need about
Do you find that people are still attracted to the band by the philosophy and lifestyle, as they were, certainly in
the very early 70's and again perhaps in the late 70's as well? Is that still an attraction or is it very much
down to the music and perhaps the visuals?
DB: "Well, I think it is a bit of both, you know, because we still play Stonehenge, I mean we don't actually
publicise it - a lot of bands, you look in the paper, it's 'Oh, so-and-so is playing at Stonehenge' you know.
But I like it, to go and turn up there and spend a few days there, and decide to do it. 'OK, we'll do it', you
know, and the rest of the band are actually staying there and not sort of coming to do the gig and clearing off
syndrome, you know. But I don't like playing in big festivals at all. It's good fun, people are able to talk to
us, know what I mean?"
One of the things that Hawkwind were very important for in the early 70's was the use of synthesizers,
particularly. Now, that is something that has changed beyond all recognition in the rock scene, in the pop
scene in general in the intervening fourteen years or so. Have you found it difficult to keep up with the
technology which you were at the very beginning of, the state of the art?
DB: "Yes..." (laughs)
Because it can do so much more now, it can alter an entire outlook on the performance of the things, canâ
DB: "I think you're right, yeah. You see, it's like regimentation. You know it's very easy to get...well, kids
can buy Casios now, I mean I've got a Casio, a thirty-two quid Casio, and it's wonderful. And I sort of lent
it to my boy, you know, and he could play it better than I could, eventually. He got all these really weird
sounds out of it, you know, and he said 'Can I borrow your echo unit?' and I said all right, and he plugged it
in. And it is very easy to do all this now. And also you can buy really expensive gear, drum machines and
such, but the thing is, where they probably -a lot of New Wave bands- actually miss out on, is they read the
books. You see, I don't read the books or try and use it very often, I mean, I've got keyboards that I don't
treat properly. We use electronics like barbarians, more thanâ€¦ You know what I mean!"
Rather than scientists?
[The intro to 'Spirit Of The Age' is played in the background]
DB: "Yes, scientists. Though we shouldn't..." (Laughs)
One thing that I've always found most attractive about Hawkwind -I'll be interested in your reaction to this-
and it's something that I think has been missed by an awful lot of people...I think thereâ€™s an awful lot of
humour in a lot of Hawkwind tracks.
DB: "Yeah. Everybody reads it a bit differently, which is good really, in a way, because that's how it should
be. I suppose it's like the old soothsayers, you know, they'll sort of tell you, or read a poem out and you've
got to take your different variation from it, you know. Whether you believe what he's saying, one way or the
other... There's cults in America that listen to the words of the songs and have all these hidden sort of
meanings that were written by a being from outer space, you know. The words that he's written in, they
sort of dissect the lines. I have a wonderful book that they sent me, all carefully worked out, it's fantastic...
That's where the idea of the Church Of Hawkwind came from, ha ha ha! But it's good, people should read
what they want into it, anyway. I mean, we read what *we* want into it, I write a song and think 'Well,
that's what I think'. If people want to think along those lines they can, they can go either way - it's like
scales, isn't it, really..."
The title there was 'Spirit Of The Age' from Hawkwind's 1977 album 'Quark Strangeness and Charm'.
Before then, 'Night Of The Hawks' which is the main track off the current Hawkwind E.P. on Flicknife
Records, and Dave Brock, the cosmic superstar himself of Hawkwind, was talking to our very own
frustrated druid, Mr. Jon Shaw, and don't forget Jon's back... [fades out]
|Above: what is he Harping on about? This radio interview with Dave Brock was broadcast on
Nottingham's Radio Trent on 26th March 1984...one of many promotional interviews for the Earth Ritual
Preview tour. The original duration was 10 minutes and 30 seconds.
Thanks once again to Dave Law who provided me with the tape from which I transcribed this.