|Dave & Huwie interview, 7th Dec 1985
Yet another in a seemingly interminable series of radio interviews captured on cassette tape for yours
truly to painfully transcribe. The sound quality of this one presented some challenges. You would
think that GWR Radio (Bristol) were having some of their DJ's doing DIY alterations to the studio
while Dave and Huw were being interviewed...
Below: Hammersmith Odeon, 4th December 1985. Couldn't find one from Bristol Hippodrome 3 days
later, I'm afraid!
...a cult band. When I say cult [it's] in inverted commas, because he's a great interview and a very, very
likeable chap is Dave Brock, and that's coming up next on GWR.
Hawkwind began and developed as part of the acid-orientated alternative stylized culture of the late 1960's.
Cosmic space themes have dominated their song content while in live work there has always been a stress on
the visual. Hawkwind have always been an anti-group, an attitude which still remains, even if in rock terms
they have become a long-lasting and much-liked institution of British rock. Along the way, members have
included Robert Calvert, Simon King, Dik Mik, Simon House, Lemmy of Motorhead, Ginger Baker and Nik
Turner. Although nowadays Huw Lloyd-Langton and Harvey Bainbridge form the nucleus of Hawkwind
along with erstwhile founder member Dave Brock. Collaboration with old friend and science fiction writer
Mike Moorcock has spawned Hawkwind's fifteenth album, the Chronicle Of The Black Sword, based on the
Elric series of books, and on a thirty-five date tour production featuring stage sets, back projections,
slideshows and mime artists. I spoke to guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton and the very likeable Dave Brock prior
to their final date at Bristol's Hippodrome, and asked main spokesman Brock if he was pleased with their
last -live- album, especially considering there were so many imports available...
DB: "Yeah, I mean, it's one of the better ones. It's only these awful albums they've put out that
unfortunately we don't seem to have any control over."
HLL: "I would like to tell the public *not* to buy..." (Laughs)
DB: "They're really bad recordings, it's a real drag because one, we don't get any money out of it, and two,
people complain, and think we're behind it. But we're not, you know. In fact there's a couple that have
come out this month."
HLL: "Nothing that we've even heard about, in fact..."
It's funny you should say that Huw, because a lot of people have asked me, you know, what are these albums
all about. There's an import, I don't know where it's from, called 'Utopia 84'. Do you know about that?
DB: "Yeah, it's Mausoleum, that is. That's a Belgian company put that [out], and imported it over here. In
fact I actually threatened them, and got a copy, you know? The guy who actually took the photographs on
the front cover, you know, he never got any money out of it, it's a crazy situation."
HLL: "We're absolutely agreeable for that to be released *in Europe*, you see, and we said at the time, under
no circumstances was it to be released here, even as an import, really, because all the material on it had
already been released here, hadn't it?"
DB: "Yeah - on Flicknife."
HLL: "So it was pointless."
Now you two, yourselves, are sort of like main members now, along with Harvey. You've got a couple of
new members, haven't you, new boys, since we saw you last time in Bristol. Who is it, then?
DB: "Alan Davey, who's playing the bass, and Danny Thompson playing drums."
Did they come from anywhere that we might know?
DB: "Well, not really, no, because Alan had been writing to us saying that 'I'm your man, I'm the bass player
and I really want to play in the band, I'm a real fanatic', you know."
HLL: "And it's hard to find bass players..."
DB: "And Harvey had sort of got a bit bored with playing the bass, and so he went onto playing the
keyboards. I phoned Alan up and got him to come down to my house, you know. He was really good, he
knew all the old Hawkwind numbers, I mean, I couldn't remember half the things, he was really on the
Is he very young?
DB: "Yeah, both of them are young. Danny's his mate, actually, and Danny...this is the first big tour they've
ever done, and they've kept it together really well, actually."
I suppose another delicate question is, what happened to Nik? Because he was really a lot of fun, wasn't he,
HLL: "Well, he had that thing on his head. His unique-horn."
DB: "And he used to walk around with this little brief towel around his waist, in front of young girls, after
gigs! (Laughs) No, he left to form Inner City Unit, to carry on with Inner City Unit. And that's when we
got Tony Crerar, who lives in Wales, who was in the Space Ritual and used to work with us then, to come
and be the mime artist, you know, to be Elric in the show."
I'm glad you mentioned that about the Elric thing, because that's the subject of your new album. And what
an album to produce. I mean, everybody's sort of really raving about it. It's much more direct, if I may say
so. But first of all I'd like to just briefly touch on the story, it's a team-up again with Michael Moorcock,
isn't it, and again...I've got it down here..."we reconstruct the tale of Elric, Stormbringer and the Lords Of
Chaos." There were originally six books and you got them down into one?
DB: "Yeah, that's what we had to do. We all read the books, didn't we..."
HLL: "Well, I was on the fifth book when I found out there was a condensed single version...I didn't
actually finish all of the six, but..."
For those people who don't know too much about this sword and sorcery business, what actually, or who was
DB: "Well Elric is the king, really, he's the ruler of a nation, a big country - basically it's supposed to be in
the future or the past, whatever you like... And it's a race that has become very corrupt, he has to take loads
of drugs to keep himself going, he's an albino. And he hears about this sword that...in fact it's based very
much on British mythology, in British mythology there's loads of sort of stories about magic swords, magic
shields and all these things, you know."
It sounds a bit like the King Arthur story
DB: "Yeah, but it's not the same as that, it's a bit more brutal. Because he gets the sword -it's a long story
how he gets the sword- but he gets the sword and it sucks people's souls, and as it takes their souls it gives
him more power. And he thinks he has control over the sword, but really the sword is cursed, an old curse.
He doesn't realize this, because he's also a sorcerer, and there's lots of sorcery going on against different
people, and eventually, basically, you know, the sword kills him. In the book he throws it away and it's got
so much energy now, the sword turns around and says 'no, because I am the master' and it kills Elric in his
turn and the sword fulfills the curse."
Hence the title of the album, 'The Chronicle Of The Black Sword' !
[Song Of The Swords is played]
Now, I think you've been telling me porkie pies, because last time you came in you told me you were working
on 'Earth Ritual'...
DB: "Yeah, we did. We did it, as well, but we didn't have any money to do it, you see, unfortunately. The
'Earth Ritual'... "
You did the 'Earth Ritual Preview', didn't you?
DB: "Yeah. It was going back into, sort of... Normally we do more spacey sort of things, but we thought
we'd actually get back into doing more earthy sort of things...sings, things... And anyway, we did it at
Stonehenge, actually, we did the Earth Ritual at Stonehenge, we had mistletoe and the sword and
everything... So we did actually do that, but to actually take the show on the road - we couldn't afford to do
it because it meant there were too many dancers, and so consequently we did this instead, which, er..."
Well a lot of people are saying it's the most direct Hawkwind and the most, ahem, in inverted commas,
"commercial" album for quite a while, but I think it's definitely, you know, a turn, and an interesting turn. I
mean, for those people who've followed you for a long time I don't think they'll be surprised. There is a lot
of exciting bits on there, and interesting bits. I'd like to speak about some of the tracks. Interesting actually
that you're here because one of my favourite tracks from the album is the one that you wrote and are singing
on, it's the one called 'The Sea King'.
HLL: "Oh yes, yes."
DB: "He's done a couple of other good ones since then, and they're in the show now...hopefully, I mean,
we're going to try to do a live album, because we recorded at Hammersmith. There's 'Moonglum' and
'Dreaming City' - really a couple of nice tracks, as well... The actual... I mean, the thing with the album, we
couldn't actually get everything we wanted to..."
HLL: "If we didn't have a time limit we were banging, we had about two weeks to do it all in, there was
absolutely no allowances, as usual."
DB: "We had to mix it as well, in two hours in the studio..."
HLL: "To an extent we were more concerned about what we were going to eat that night, rather than worry
about it. It was a bit of an awkward situation."
You actually produced it as well, didn't you...
DB: "Yeah. We done it in this demo studio, I mean we just didn't have the money. If we'd had the money to
do this album properly, it would have sounded fantastic. Because, all the sounds are there, it's just having the
But to be honest, Dave, I mean, to your credit I think it does sound very good.
DB: "Well yeah, but it could sound a lot better, I mean it could sound fantastic. There's a lot of
inconsistency, in different sound qualities that come through, if you know what I mean."
Yeah, right. One of my other favourite tracks is 'Sleep Of 1000 Tears' which is written by you and Mike
Moorcock. Especially the guitar bit, in fact.
DB: "I can't remember it! Oh, it's slide guitar, that is. You see, the funny thing is...I'll tell you something,
because we've not heard this album, you know? None if us have heard it, When we finished doing the
recording, we never actually heard a copy of the album..."
HLL: "We've heard the rough tapes, obviously..."
What about the stage show to go with it, because I believe it's quite wild...
DB: "The stage show is fantastic, in actual fact, on this tour - it's been one of the best tours we've had for a
long time. It's really because of the road crew, the light show is fantastic... It took us a long time to get this
show together, I mean, years. I can only relate to this...this show...the only one I can relate this to is 1976
when we had Footsbarn Theatre Company with us, and actually this show is one of the things we always
wanted to do, you know, it really is spectacular. And the lighting is fantastic: everybody's together, it's a real
unit, it's really great, you know."
Most people aren't able to actually come to the gig or whatever, and see it. Tell them what they missed out
on, is there a backdrop?
DB: "Yeah, there's back projections, I mean there's mime artists, dancers..."
HLL: "We're actually hoping to get a video out. It's actually all been filmed and so on."
I think I heard you say you'd recorded some of the gigs...
DB: "Yeah, we recorded at Hammersmith, two nights at Hammersmith."
HLL: "And one night at Malvern."
DB: "Yeah. Jettisoundz, who actually did the Night Of The Hawks video, the same company did it. We'll
probably get it out, maybe in January, whatever..."
HLL: "They've probably put a lot more work into this than into Night Of The Hawks at the same stage.
They filmed it three times and mixed, and edited of all the three film versions..."
What's this thing I hear as well, about the flying dragons? What's that?
DB: "Well the dragons are actually back projections, Elric stands up - because we've got steps going up, and
the projections into the centre is like looking out of a castle window, you see. You've got back projection
while Elric is lifting his sword up. One of the things I wanted to do was for him go through the screen,
because years and years ago I saw Alice Cooper and he had a split screen, he could stretch, you know and
actually go through the screen, so we could actually back project on, and actually come through the screen.
That's something else that I'd like to get together eventually."
So you're still masters of the intricate stage show, and giving people something to look at as well...
DB: "Yeah, I mean, hopefully, I mean if we can do something different. I mean, we've come up with a
bunch of ideas for the next one, you know!" (Laughs)
HLL: "It's all part and parcel of the entertainment."
DB: "Yeah. It's been a real good tour actually, I've enjoyed it. It's a shame it's finishing today."
[The Sea King is played - and Lemmy is obviously mentioned!]
...contact earlier on in the year. He did actually play with you, didn't he?
DB: "Yes, along with Vera Lynn! Amongst other people. It was good fun, because we were going to be
doing it anyway, they asked us to do it and we said 'Yes, sure'. I mean, it's good that Vera Lynn should do
something like that, as well."
What happened, did she just sort of come along and compere it?
DB: "Yeah, well no...she sung 'White Cliffs Of Dover' and..."
HLL: "I played the drums..."
DB: "Yes, Huwie played drums for her, you know!" (Laughs)
Huw Lloyd-Langton here, blowing his credibility by actually admitting that he played drums for Vera Lynn!
HLL: "This is it..."
DB: "As she was singing...I think she must be about in her 70's. I mean, she's a real character. My old man
- I told my Dad because during the war he was, he used to think she was wonderful..."
HLL: "I suppose to an extent it wasn't much different turning out with a bunch of rock bands than it would
have been, like, turning out with the forces in the war... Much the same sort of thing, a bunch of hooligans,
you know!" (Laughs)
I actually spoke to Kirk Brandon on the phone in the <inaudible> period and he said a lot of bands refused
to do it because of the Cause... [They're referring to the Anti-Heroin gig at Crystal Palace on 24/08/1985]
DB: "They must be a bit stupid, then."
I want to ask you something a bit more personal. I think you've now been going for quite some time,
DB: "Now that's very personal, I don't care, that's very personal!" (Laughs)
I know Huw and Harvey have been with you quite a while now...I always tend to sort of ask you this: what
keeps you going, man?
DB: "Well...only enjoying doing it. If I didn't enjoy doing it, I'd stop, you know. And that's it, yeah."
Don't you get fed up with the hassle? I mean, thirty-two dates is a lot...
DB: "No, I mean, it's all right, you can cope with it. We all end up with flu at some point or something like
You always manage to come up with something different...
DB: "Well I mean, if we didn't, then we'd be finished. If we can't... It's like I always say, you paint a
picture, and when you've finished doing that picture, then you're off on another one. If you don't keep on
doing that, and you rest on your laurels, and how wonderful what you've done [is], it's pointless, you know.
There's a lot of things actually, you must keep tabs on, you see, because there are places that you can do it,
and you don't think at the time, it's a matter really of just booking places, and you know... 'we could have
really done that, but it's too late.' "
So what's in the future then for the band? You've of course got your own little project, haven't you, you're
doing 'Earthed To The Ground' right now...
HLL: "Get out when Hawkwind's not doing anything and achieve a few things or two..."
DB: "Got to make some money somehow!" (Laughs)
HLL: "This is it, basically."
DB: "He refuses to sign on!"
So what's for the future then, for the band? What are you going to be doing next year? Go to Europe or
DB: "No, nothing! It just comes to a complete halt. I mean, you know, literally - it's crazy. Absolutely
crazy. You do a tour like this, and that's it."
HLL: "We're hoping that something's going to pick up, and go forward, and carry on..."
Because I heard that this album, possibly it might have opened a few more doors...?
DB: "I hope so, I really do. Because we need a few doors opening up for us. Because I would love to
actually go off with this tour now, and the crew that we've got, and do a world tour, you know, because it's
HLL: "That's what Hawkwind need behind them, is people with a lot of power, you know, to open the
doors, and people that are respected worldwide as opposed to just in England."
DB: "So if you're out there listening, any executive company...(laughs)...realise the potential this band has
got! And unfortunately..."
And also the history as well...
DB: "Yes, it's got a lot of history. The other thing is....I find it's very unfortunate that a lot of bands don't
use their power into doing lots of different things, which they seem not to do. They seem to earn a lot of
money, sit in their Rolls, sit in their big houses, living it up, you know, when they should be actually using
their ways and means to sort of get a few ideas and things across - which is a bit of a drag in a lot of ways,
you know, that they don't. But a few bands do, of course."
Well, it's lovely to see you back in Bristol again. It's almost like one of your home cities...
DB: "Well I live in Devon, you see."
Yeah, I know! But they love you so much in Bristol, they surprise me sometimes...
[Needle Gun is played...followed by this taped message:]
DB: "Hello this is Dave Brock of Hawkwind...and I'd like to say to you all out there...on the radio
airwaves...a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And don't forget to go to Stonehenge next year!"
Masters Of The Universe, Hawkwind. And in interview with them, tracks you heard were 'Song Of The
Swords', 'The Sea King', and that one which is going to be the new single for 1986, called 'Needle Gun'...all
from the album 'The Chronicle Of The Black Sword'...