|The Flipside Of Nik Turner
From Flipside issue number 89, dated April / May 1994. Written by "Al", who also took the posterized
photos accompanying the original...
Nik: I turned it into an album at the time and promoted it with a pyramid stage and took it around to
festivals and had a really wild, theatrical tour. It was really good and it sold around copies and then it was
deleted. Brian thought he'd like to reissue it. But Virgin Records wouldn't let him do it, and they wouldn't
reissue it either, so we decided to make a new album. I couldn't get over here at the time so I did some
recording, and ran into a lot of problems with equipment and what not. The original recordings of the flute
was done in Egypt, on a Sony tape machine powered by motorcycle batteries. So Brian wanted this album,
but I couldn't get it together properly so I sent Brian the tapes and he enlisted the help of Helios and
Pressurehed and they got thing together and produced it. I went to India in the mean time for 6 months with
my family. It's a filthy, stinking place but it's fantastic as well. Lots of flies and disease and poverty but it is
a fantastic place too...
Helios: I've always wanted to go there.
Al: How did you get involved with this, Helios?
Helios: Well, I've known Brian for a couple of years because of Pressurehed. I did a show here at Rajis and
they came up and introduced themselves. So every time we played here since, we stayed at their house. I
knew that they were huge Hawkwind fans and I was like, yeah, I'm influenced by old space rock, too. I
used to listen to that when I was a teenager and do acid and stuff like that. Although I didn't know who was
who - but they were always talking about Nik Turner and how he was the craziest guy from Hawkwind.
Nik: (Laughs!) They were putting me in the same bag with Roky Erickson and Syd Barrett I seem to
Helios: I started to realize that his trip was very similar to my trip in the sense that there was this partner
that took off with the band and the name...
Nik: A music business bullshit trip...
Helios: Yeah, music business bullshit sort of left him without credits and stuff like that. So I feel maybe
he's more of a Hawkwinder than the Hawkwinds, you know?
Nik: Well I used to be called Hawkwind, that's where we got the name.
Helios: So I sort of knew all about Nik before I met him. People thought we were old friends!
Nik: I had never heard of Helios, and then suddenly I got this record back ('Sphynx') with Helios Creed on
it. I said to a friend of mine "Do you know who Helios Creed is?" And he was like "yeah, he's great!" So I
got Helios to send me some albums of his. I told other friends that I was doing this tour with Helios Creed
and they were impressed, saying how they admired his playing and his albums, brilliant...
Al: Oh, when I saw that Nik had teamed up with Pressurehed and then teamed up with Helios, it was like
how f*cking perfect!
Nik: It's a match that I am very interested in making work, it's very exciting.
Helios: Music, since it's been so negative all these years - the cold part of it... In the late 60's and early
70's, maybe this is kinda corny, but it was really positive music. Then we went into punk rock and explored
the negative aspects of music, now I think music could kinda reach a synthesis of negative and positive
knowledge. Sort of a tree of life. A lot of Helios Creed songs are like bad acid trips but a lot of them are like
GOOD acid trips.
Nik: A lot of the Hawkwind stuff, a lot of that was like bad acid trips too. The first album was exciting, and
in many ways it was great but a lot of it was Dave Brock trying to freak people out. And not in a nice way.
He used to go around his house and just try to freak you out all the time. You would think it's funny
sometimes but when you're feeling a bit sensitive... like what happened to Huw Lloyd-Langton, he took
some acid and, well, he got freaked out by it all and Dave wasn't very understanding about it. He's quite
Helios: One approach that we had, that I guess I discovered by accident in listening to other bands -
something that is really fun on acid is when the music is scary AND funny at the same time. It really creates
an... you laugh, you're scared and all of a sudden you're at a different level. That's what the Butthole Surfers
like to do, on that song "Late Bloomer". It's like this big monster thing, and I lower the frequency and it's a
scary kind of song but what he's saying is how he has to stay in bed... "his mother said you gotta to stay in
bed, or you'll catch a cold..." You know what I mean? If you hear the lyrics, you go "What? This doesn't fit
the music." I like tt. That's the one I want to do with this band because our set needs a funny/scary song.
Nik: I used to write quite serious songs with Hawkwind - the self experience type of thing, "Brainstorm"
and "Master of the Universe", that sort of thing. But when I left the band I got into more satirical sort of
lyrics, very political, but very satirical with a lot of analogies so that it didn't appear to be about what it was
about. Things could be taken on many levels - you could take it as a cheap trashy pop song but it could
actually have a very deep meaning. A lot of people are just not into deep meaning. I'm not always, I just
want to be entertained really - so by the end of the day things have got to be entertaining.
Al: I think Hawkwind had a good balance of the "deep meaning" songs and the lighter "Sci-fi" kinda stuff.
Helios: You know I always thought it would be great to play guitar on 'Master of the Universe', and now
here I am playing guitar on it.
Al: Was there a falling out between you and Dave, Nik?
Nik: Oh no, I've never had a falling out with him. I mean I feel sorry for him really. I've been sacked from
the band twice, and he's basically instigated it to make sure it was his band - when everybody else in the
band thought it was their band. You know, we had this band that everybody put all of their energy into. I
got a lot of the gigs for the band and established a lot of its' street credibility by doing a lot of free gigs and
benefits and being agreeable to play anywhere - establishing the band like a people's band. We were even
quoted as being the British Grateful Dead, and I was like the British Jerry Garcia, you know!
Helios: You kinda are, I mean if you were still there and the band had maintained like Jerry did, you guys
would be huge.
Nik: Yeah, well that was one of the mistakes of the band...
Helios: Same thing with Chrome, if we would have kept it together...
Nik: It's consistency, really, our mistake was not following through. I mean everybody in the band though
it was their band and then suddenly Dave starts sacking people. It got to the point where people realised it
wasn't their band, it was his band - that sort of devalued the whole thing as far as I was concerned. It
wasn't what it was purporting to be. On the one hand,there were a lot of people putting a lot of energy into
it because they thought it was the democratic thing, that it was the people's band, the people that created the
imagery, the artwork, graphic design, the light show - all the peripheral people that did things for the band
for the loÂ»e of it - suddenly found out that it wasn't what they thought it was.
Helios: When we played in London some muppet boys with dreadlocks came up to us and were like "You
should do festivals like Hawkwind." And we're in this shitty club, "Sure, I'd like to to do a big festival for
free!" I had heard about the Stonehenge festival.
Nik: Yeah, they were real events, milestones really. They were quite reactionary and totally
anti-establishment, absolutely anarchistic. Thai's why they failed really, there was no organization, no
strengths to them. A sort of "divide and rule" sort of thing. Anarchy was a convenient thing to be going on
for the establishment because it was a divide and rule thing - because it was an anarchist situation it was
unorganized. Anarchy by its very nature is a disorganized thing but it's played itself right into the authorities
hands by that. The last year before they shut the festival down I was talking to guys who had been talking
to the police, and I had discussed it with the chief of police myself...they were saying they don't mind the
festival going on but they have to have somebody to talk to, who is responsible or who the people will be
responsible to so that the thing can maintain itself and not be destructive to the people around it. Because
that was what was happening, you'd go to the site after the festival and you'd find like 15 stolen cars there -
Helios: I heard there was a problem with graffiti on the stones?
Nik: No, that was never a problem, that was a publicity lie. If there was graffiti on the stones it was put
there by students from Bristol University to whom Stonehenge is nothing. It's just a pile of stones down the
road to them that they piss on when they've had too much to drink.
Al: You can't even get near them now, right?
Nik: Right, and they've used this as an excuse. They've used the whole scene at Stonehenge to actually
change the law in Britain.
Helios: It's all your fault!
This notorious English madman, along with Helios
Creed, members of Pressurehed and friends are
touring an amazing musical collaboration designed to
bring the spirit of acid / space rock out of its grave
and give it a good 90's shake up.
So I've been a big Hawkwind fan for a long time and
of course the chance to meet any of its many
members (ex- or not) is always a welcome
opportunity. Well, it just so happens that somehow
my good friends in Pressurehed have been doing these
recordings with one of Hawkwind's founders, Nik
Turner. Not only that, but f*ckin' Helios Creed, the
absolute God of guitar noise, has also joined in with
the bunch and now I hear they're taking it on the
road! My opinion of reunion shows and has-beens
coming back from the dead to play greatest hits tours
is pretty low, and when this Turner-Helios-'Hed
alliance booked themselves as the 'Space Ritual 94' tour, I was a bit puzzled.
Certainly on the strength and reputation of Helios Creed alone could they pull this tour off - not to mention
Nik Turner who, although somewhat unknown in the States, is a bona fide living legend in Europe not only
for his many years in Hawkwind, but by his solo efforts, the Inner City Unit band and now the two brand
new full length releases with Helios-'Hed ('Sphynx' and 'Prophets of Time'). And of course, Pressurehed
have two very excellent releases of their own to boast ('Infradrome' and 'Sudden Vertigo'), have done a bit
of touring and can indeed command a pretty good cult following locally. Anyway, the booking people could
call it what they want. The fact is this alliance was doing a variety of stuff from all parties concerned, and
that included a few Hawkwind tunes that Nik had penned. So be it, I was amped.
By some odd fate I ran into Nik at a Nirvana concert (of all places!) and immediately decided an interview
was in the stars. So we decided to do it during the rehearsal session for this upcoming tour. This was indeed
a gas for me, getting to see the band go through and actually develop renditions of each other's material, as
well as to chat endlessly. That was also a bit of problem since it was impossible to decide where to actually
begin the official interview - like turning the tape on.
At one point Helios, Paul Fox (ex-Trashcan School, now Pressurehed and bass on this tour), and Nik were
going on and on about psychedelic drug experiences. This topic came up when it was discovered that both
Nik and Helios live in rural areas (Nik in England, Helios in Hawaii) where Psilocybin mushrooms grow quite
abundantly. Both of these characters have deep roots in the "acid" rock underground. Hawkwind defined
"acid" rock pretty much the same way Helios' Chrome defined "acid" punk, and as you might have guessed
the psychedelic experience was a big part of shaping those sounds. Well, things have changed a bit, I guess
we're all older and wiser and perhaps of the attitude that 'you get the message, you hang up the phone!' - but
the spirit is still ablaze.
When it finally dawned on me to turn on the tape recorder, we were half way through psychedelic memory
lane and I guess that's as good a place to start as any...
Helios:...it was like 1 in the morning, then I'd look at my watch and it would be 9 o'clock, then I'd look
again a little later and it would be 3 o'clock - it kept going forwards and backwards. It was weird - I thought
it was some kind of new kind of acid, some secret government experiment or something like that because I
was tripping so hard. I mean I can't believe I was jumping around in time like that.
Helios: I'd go into blackouts too, coming into different places and not remembering what I was doing. I
was drinking a lot too...
Paul: Where'd ya get it? Was it blotter?
Helios: It was blotter. I got it at this hippie party.
Paul: Dead heads?
Paul: Oh, they've got the best acid.
Helios: I dont remember what kind it was - it may have been "musical notes"...
Nik: Oh, I had some of that in London - don't know where I got it.
Al: I always figured that those early Hawkwind days must have been wild - everybody just giving you the
best of everything.
Nik: Oh, it was, it was wild. A gig in London was like a dope dealer's convention. All these people were
there, that you knew and they seemed to be giving aÂ»ay everything. It was really good.
Helios: Acid is one of the most popular drugs now here in America, with High School kids.
Al: That's what they say, I don't know if I believe that...
Helios: It is. I know some High School kids and that's all they think about - doing acid, going to concerts, in
Nik: Things haven't changed much, have they!
Helios: Oh, when you're a kid acid is fun, it's cheap, it's better than crack or cocaine...the government
doesn't want you to do it... It's like psychedelia itself never disappeared, it just went underground. It's
always been here.
Al: That's what I mean, it always has been and now the media is just focusing on it again and playing it up
big to gain support for their war on drugs.
Helios: Yeah, it's always been here. People have always been into it and the music. I've always been
listening to old psychedelic music, new psychedelic music, but if it don't have positive lyrics I get kind of
bored of it. We just went through a kinda cold wave of depressing music.
Al: What other things were going around besides acid, Nik?
Nik: Oh, drugs... PCP, DMT, THC, mushrooms...occasionally bad speed when I was driving a long way...
Paul: Now look, you don't even get high!
Al: Yeah, you don't drink any more. Helios can't even handle caffeine! What's going on? (Earlier both Nik
commented how alcohol zaps his energy if he drinks before playing, while Helios searched for a
caffeine-free soft drink!)
Helios: Hey, I had to spray bug spray in my house that I'm moving into. I had to get the PCP bugs out of
there. I just did some mushrooms out of our field before we left - haven't done them in years - they were
OK. Went out into the field, walked around, aired out my brain - they weren't very strong. I wrote this song
on my last album about how all they try to push on us are bad, dangerous toxic drugs when they could make
really good drugs. They could make really good psychedelic experiences, where you come down and you
feel better, you're healthier - mentally healthier.
Al: They're here. I think Ecstasy's a really good drug if you can get the real thing.
Nik: Yeah, but it gets bad publicity as well, people claiming that it rots your bones...sends you mad...they
need to perfect it and they need to give you the real thing.
Helios: People say it drains your spinal fluid. Every time I've done Ecstasy it's been a totally different
experience. One time in San Francisco we were waiting for a Bomb show, and me and my girlfriend did it
and all we could do was sit in our van - paranoid, and cry. Weirdest trip. We tried to have sex...then Mike
knocked on the door to see if we were coming in and we were like "Ohhh, who is it? Who is it???" Then I
did it again and it was a sex trip. It's a different thing every time. I did it with Z once and she was throwing
up all over the place.
Nik: The things you do for kicks!
Helios: But the weirdest things I've ever seen is on mushrooms, like when trees turn into snakes...one time
in Hawaii I did some mushrooms with my girlfriend and we got stuck together! Her leg was connected to
my leg, we tried to pull apart but we couldn't! I just flipped out, man! Our skin...and there were these voices
talking in our heads, telling a story: "We are all one and flesh." NO!!!! It was weird, man...I could write a
book about how weird some of my psychedelic trips were. I still try to do psychedelics every once in a
while, but I never have trips like I had when I was younger. I don't know if it's the drug or me or, I don't
Al: Do you ever do psychedellcs any more, Nik?
Nik: Magic mushrooms, occasionally, but nothing else really. I quite like healthy drugs.
Helios: Oh we have some good pure acid for you Nik, for the desert!
Al: Well, this sounds like it could be a pretty fun tour!
Helios: Oh yeah, it's gonna be Nik Turner's big comeback.
Nik: Oh, I'm glad you think so!
Al: How did this all happen?
Nik: Well, Brian Perrera from Cleopatra Records got in
touch with me because he was interested in releasing an
album that I produced in 1978, what was based upon
some flute music that I recorded inside the Great
Pyramid, in Egypt.
Helios: That was sort of what got me, the fact that he
recorded inside of the Great Pyramid. I go, "That's
different, that's cool, I think I'll support that
Nik: Ha haaaa... They blew the whole Stonehenge
anarchistic angle up so that they made people afraid of
people with long hair. To the point where they were
sh*t scared that these people might be moving in next
door to them, or whatever, perverting their kids... So
when the police wanted to stop Stonehenge they just
stormed in, wrecked all the people's vehicles, beat up
pregnant women and all sorts of things like this and
totally justified it because the British public were
behind it. They had created this monster, this
Bogeyman, which was the freedom-seeking individual
who didn't want to live in a council house and want to
be part of the system. He wanted a slightly different
lifestyle. They created this paranoia amongst the
general public that these people were dangerous.
Helios: What did the English punk rockers feel about
Stonehenge? Was it as sacred to them as the older
Nik: No, actually, because the punk movement was a
reaction against hippies in a way.
Helios: Yeah, at first...
Nik: Although Johnny Rotten publicly sort of disclaimed anybody with long hair, he was actually secretly
known to have been a roadie for Hawkwind at one point. Unbeknown to Hawkwind too! Ha haaa. It was
only later when he was famous that he mentioned that he had roadied. I think he mentioned it to Bob Calvert
Helios: I know Jello Biafra was a big Hawkwind fan...
Al: A lot of later punk bands ended up playing at the festivals, like Citizen Fish...
Nik: A lot of the neo-punk bands, I saw Nicky Tesco at Stonehenge and said "What are you doing here? I
thought you people didn't like this sort of thing?" and he was like. "No, it's great!". The publicity angle of it
was that punk was a reaction against the old guard of long hair and LSD and drugs.
Helios: And a few years later and they were sucked up into it too!
Nik: But there was a whole crossover movement centered around this group called Crass...
Helios: Oh, I love Crass...
Nik: And Poison Girls and a few other bands and they were basically old hippies and they created this
Anarchy center, a gathering point. And they were really nice people and they would be at Stonehenge. I was
at Stonehenge when all these bikers were backstage and I think Poison Girls were on stage and they were
throwing cans at them. I was in a unique position, I was in Hawkwind and I knew the bikers and the bikers
were fans of the band, and I knew loads of them personally in England from all over the place. So there was
me, who they had some respect for, and they were throwing cans at this punk band, calling them a load of
spikey haired bastards and all that sort of thing. So I said, you know, "What are you doing?" And it ended up
it was really only one guy that was really anti- punks, and by talking to him I sort of defused the situation. I
mean, they were getting ready to have a f*cking riot, but I pulled the plug out and it sort of went away. But
this was all part of punks becoming part of Stonehenge. There were psychopunks and then they sort of
became psychedelic punks and part of the whole movement...
Helios: That's what Chrome was, psychedelic, acid punk. We were considered the first acid punk band...
Nik: And that's what Inner City Unit was, that was an acid punk band.
Helios: It was a good energy to turn into psychedelic.
(Helios leaves to set up his equipment for the rehearsal.)
Nik: And then you had Jimmy Pursey from Sham 69, he would secretly go to Stonehenge because he was a
fan of Steve Hillage! It all went round and round and at the end of the day you realised that it was the media
that was creating this rift. Nobody else. It was just the media putting words into punk's mouths, the punks
weren't really reacting against the hippies. I think, they were reacting against the music business, and what
was going down as the music business exerting an influence on what people would get to hear. The punks
were basically the same as the hippies really, it's only the media that draws this division. One minute the
hippies were great peace loving people that were into love and all the rest of it and the next minute the media
were singling them out as drug crazed fiends, sort of Charles Manson types. When I was in Inner City Unit
we'd do benefits for people living in squats and they'd crack open a squat and we'd play with these punks
and they were all taking psychedellcs. If the initial punk thing was that they didn't take drugs, well, they
were all taking speed and there's Sid Vicious taking smack. There was smack all around them. I know
people who were involved peripherally with the Sex Pistols and there were some real drug casualties
Al: The early punk scene here was a heavy drug scene.
Nik: But there were a lot of different factions: there were punks and psychobillies and skinheads and
squatters...they were all in the same boat and it was crazy really, some of them were quite militant and
fascist like the National Front, this right wing Nazi organization...
Al: More recently, how did the rave culture fit into it all?
Nik: I think the rave culture was a reaction against banal live music - what was happening as well was the
music was being produced by producers without musicians, really, with sampling and all that sort of thing.
Al: What did you think of it all?
Nik: Well, I like it but it's not the sort of thing I want to listen to all the time.
Al: Right, I like rave music at the raves...
Nik: I like live music, and I find it really boring to listen to rave music. I like rap music as well but I think
it's sort of degenerated. It used to be a fine medium of expression but it's become a medium for fanning
people's egos. I suppose it's a reflection of what is going on but I don't find it entertaining when you have
records about stuff like "I f*cked six women and I nearly killed my kids and I robbed the liquor store and
I'm gonna go sell some more crack now." I don't find that very entertaining, I think it's crap. I don't want
my children listening to that sort of thing and I don't find it entertaining. Music ought to be entertaining or
have some sort of message, but it doesn't have to be offensive. There are areas that we should be enriching.
It should make people feel good. It shouldn't make people depressed and suicidal, it should be enlightening...
It should be a spiritual experience, really, like John Coltraine, he became really engrossed in music as a
spiritual experience, as a spiritual expression, as an expression of love. I think that's a really lovely way to
look at it. That's how people should look at it but many people don't understand anything like that. Yeah, the
rave thing I thought was healthy. I thought it was great but I don't see it as a permanent thing. In fact,
there's sort of a reaction against raves, towards live music, which is quite a good thing.
Al: Getting back to your current project, the flyers and publicity seem to put a lot of emphasis on
Nik: Yes, well there is. What these people are into doing and what I'm quite keen on doing as well, is to
recreate the sound that Hawkwind had in the early 70's. The material that we're doing, and we're doing
several songs by Helios and several Pressurehed songs, is basically the songs I wrote with Hawkwind. A lot
of them are songs that haven't really ever been performed before - or very rarely.
Al: Which ones, for instance?
Nik: Well, 'Dying Seas of Time', 'D-Rider', 'Kadu Flyer', 'Children of the Sun', lesser known songs. I didn't
really come over here to play the "Space Ritual", the album or the material, because I wouldn't feel very
good about that. But I don't mind coming over here and singing and producing material that I wrote and I
feel good about.
Al: Does Dave Brock know about this project?
Nik: I think that he does but I haven't really spoken to him about it. We've had a few problems, for one
there's a fanzine over here called Kadu Flyer who expressed interest in helping us promote the tour. And
then when apparently they talked to Dave and told him they were advertising the gig as "Hawkwind" and
how "That's not right", "They shouldn't do that"... The next thing I'm hearing is that Hawkwind are trying to
serve injunctions on some of the venues we're playing at because we're advertising it as Hawkwind.
Al: I was wondering why you were doing that?
Nik: Well, we're not. What we were calling it was
"Nik Turner's Hawkwind" to stress the fact that it isn't
Al: It is a bit deceiving, I'll admit.
Nik: Well, it might be. That is a problem, especially in
a legal situation, trying to pass something off as
something it is not. But we're not. It's been stipulated
in all the flyers and promotion material that's been
given promoters that it isn't to be presented as
Hawkwind. But the fact that they (the promoters) are
presenting it as Hawkwind is because if they don't
they'll probably only sell half as many tickets. At the
end of the day, as well, I think people coming to the
gigs are gonna like what we do. I'm confident that
they will. And I think that it can't do Hawkwind any
bad at all, it can only do them good.
Al: I think that the strength of Nik Turner, Helios Creed and Pressurehed together is strong enough without
riding Hawkwind's coat-tails.
Nik: Well, it wasn't my idea really. I came over here to produce this Nik Turner "Sphynx" album. I was
coming over here as Sphynx. Then Brian was saying "Well, wouldn't it be a good idea..." I had been toying
with this other idea in England of getting this band together called "The Nik Turner Hawkwind". It's
Dynamite - TNT Hawkwind, it's dynamite. That was gonna be a really mad show. It would obviously be
my band, it wouldn't even seem to be Hawkwind. But Hawkwind is a sort of weird thing, you talk to a lot of
people and they ask what happened to them. People don't know about them, they're not like a big name act
and I'm claiming their name and using it to capitalize on what I don't have any right to. I was in the band for
ten or twelve years and I've been out of the band for ten years and I have a name in my own right, but it
was an easy option to use. We'd like to get as big an audience as we can without going through the leg
work of one night stands with no people there. The easiest way to do that was to use "Nik Turner
ex-Hawkwind". The fact that some promoters are using Nik Turner's Hawkwind with Hawkwind in bigger
letters than my name might tend to deceive certain people into believing that that is what we are playing. A
lot of people may not know that we aren't Hawkwind, but I'm not out to deceive people personally.
Al: Would there be any chance of you teaming back up with Dave Brock?
Nik: I don't know really. The reason I left the band was because Dave Brock gave me the sack. Dave
phoned up everybody and kinda said "Well, do you think Nik... this and that... do you think he should be in
the band" and at the end of the day they said to me, "Well, you're sacked." I was like what does that mean?
And Huw Lloyd-Langton says "Oh, we think you're trying to turn Hawkwind into a punk band." And I
wasn't really at all. I was just trying to turn it into something interesting, something that would excite
people. Then Alan Davies says, "My mate thinks you shouldn't ought to be in Hawkwind, because you're
not what Hawkwind's all about." I said, "Well, I was in Hawkwind for ten years and I am what Hawkwind
is all about." Not to say that "I" was Hawkwind and I wasn't gonna argue with his friend, that's his opinion -
but that isn't justification for me getting the sack. The drummer said he didn't mind, he didn't have any
objections. He told me Dave phoned him up and asked him "Don't you think Nik's not taking enough interest
in the band? Because he's not showing up to rehearsals all the time." Basically [why] I wasn't showing up is
because I knew all the tunes and I was writing new songs. I had read all the Michael Moorcock books,
which nobody else had. I started writing songs based on these lyrics, and actually came up with the whole
concept which was from "The Black Sword." I think Dave saw me as a threat to his whole domination of
the writing credits... So I got sacked and for me there was a total loss of respect for them. It was like
"F*ck this, who wants to be in a band with a bunch of people like this." I was quite happy to leave.
Al: I know they've had their ups and downs since then, but there have been a few great records recently...
Nik: I don't denigrate their efforts in what they do, I just don't listen to it. It's not really what I'm into. I
listen to Miles Davis and Charlie Parker, John Coltraine, some Ska music, big band music... I play in a big
band, a soul band, a jazz/funk band, a modern jazz dance band, a circus band - I just do a lot of different
things - I play in a space rock band as well! I personally feel quite strongly, and to a lot of people this is
true, that Hawkwind is a concept. It's not just a band and it never was just a band. At the time Hawkwind
became popular it was the product of a lot of people who put their love and energies into the band. Those
people have all withdrawn their support now, one of them committed suicide, as I was told, as a result of
the way Dave treated him... A guy called Barney Bubbles who handled all the graphics of the band, created
the image of the band. He created the propaganda machinery behind the band. In a way, -I mean this is a bit
corny, but I've heard people say similar things and I've found it rather corny as well- but to me it's a rather
spiritual thing, in as much as I'd like to do this for those people. There's a lot of people who liked the light
show, done by Liquid Len. I mean he was really into [the] band and I coerced him into doing the lights for
the band. He was really into it for the spirit and he won't have anything to do with them now... I know that
people aren't interested in that side of it - all they want to see is the music and that's fair enough. That's fine,
but for me things go a bit deeper. I don't like doing things that I don't like to do. I wouldn't do this tour as
anything to do with Hawkwind if I didn't feel some right to it or for a reason that is justifiable to me. That
reason, to me, is to do something for the people who created Hawkwind. A lot of people that got involved in
the band and were responsible for the success of the band, to a large degree were friends of mine, that I got
involved in the band. Like Robert Calvert, I got him involved in the band. They did it because they believed
in it and it was me that gave them the belief. Not to blow my own trumpet about it but I was there and was
a catalyst to create a situation where they felt like they really wanted to do it. Things were right, in that
Al: There must have been a lot of energy around the time those first Hawkwind albums were coming out...
It was so different, the whole approach, I enjoyed the spoken interludes between songs...
Nik: Oh it was, it was really good. It was a totally different concept really. Having the spoken words
accompanied by electronics, there was a marriage together of a lot of things; simple music that anybody
could think "Oh, I could play that!" I know loads of people who "Master of the Universe" was the first tune
they ever learned! Some accessible music, like Can and all these other bands doing fairly simple based
electronic music, rhythmic things...it was all happening at the same time. The different elements that were
around at the time got all pulled together. People were building things for us - things to plug my sax into and
play through. Sort of avant-garde and new and untested ideas, and it was very exciting.
Al: It seemed to me that when "Space Ritual* was completed there was a sort of turning point.
Nik: I think "Silver Machine" was a sort of turning point. We had this success generated by a pop record,
and it was selling a lot. We generated a lot of success and a lot of money that we were able to plow back
into the band and create this stage set. This whole show, which to a large extent was engineered by Robert
Calvert. He devised this "Space Ritual" idea as a concept and wrote a lot of poetry to be used in it. Michael
Moorcock contributed partly. So all these very creative people were contributing towards the creativity and
success of the band. It broadened the appeal of the band - with Michael Moorcock we were suddenly in the
realm of a public that Michael Moorcock was catering to. He had created this new genre of "science
fantasy," I don't know anybody else who had popularized it so much. Actually he's in the process of moving
to Austin, Texas...
Al: I kinda felt that pre- "Space Ritual" Hawkwind was more along the lines of psychedelic inter-dimensonal
space and drugs and personal insights, and after "Space Ritual" it went heavily to the science fiction /
Nik: Yeah, I think Robert Calvert was one of the prime instigators of that change, really, because of "Silver
Machine" - a sort of ambiguous song about, oh, I don't know what it's about - hypodermic syringes or
silver motorcycles or rocket ships or just a fast car...
Al: Some of the science fiction stuff was a bit corny for me personally, but I really liked the metaphysical
Nik: It depends what you call science fiction really. Hawkwind started to get into the realms of sword and
sorcery, which is a form of science fiction...
Al: Or science fantasy, I guess I didn't see early Hawkwind as either fantasy or fiction...
Nik: Yeah, Robert Calvert, he tended to draw the band into sort of J.G. Ballard style of science fiction, with
crashed cars and all that sort of thing. Then Robert got into this whole thing of Captain Lockheed and the
Starfighters, he went off on his own doing all these solo projects about things that he cared about.
Al: Are you doing "The Right Stuff" on this tour? (A Captain Lockheed song that Nik played sax on and
Pressurehed cover on their new CD.)
Nik: Yeah! It's quite a varied repertoire we have actually, with a few Robert Calvert songs in there and
we're gonna be writing material on the tour as well.
Al: Good, I'd really like to hear songs that you come up with as a band more so than doing Hawkwind
covers - although I'm looking forward to that as well.
Nik: Yeah, I've just come over from England a week ago and we've hardly had time to rehearse. But we're
going to be doing a lot of playing together, with some long soundchecks - that's what I'd really like. I'm
really curious to see what will happen, I'm really excited and stimulated by it. It's a strange beast really, I
hope people aren't expecting us to be performing the "Space Ritual" as it was performed in 1973, verbatim,
with the same light show, with the same dancers, same everything...
Al: When you came over here in 1974, you played a lot of songs from "Space Ritual" but a lot of everything
else as well. Was the "Space Ritual" set a tight sequence of songs with the dancers and lights...
Nik: I can't really remember what the "Space Ritual" set was - I know what the "Space Ritual" album was
and we did do a tour in Britain with the "Space Ritual" with all these dancers - and then we came to the
States and did the same show - more or less. It wasn't exactly the same because we didn't have all the
Al: You had one...
Nik: Yeah, a girl, Renee from San Francisco.... (Helios returns from setting up equipment and is a bit
concerned that some stages might not be big enough for the band that includes 7 members now...)
Al: So Del Dettmar has joined in for this tour!
Nik: Yes, he's been living in British Columbia, Canada for the last 18 years. I've been keeping in contact
with him quite a lot. He's still doing music, he has a studio and does a few gigs now and again and does
different things with different people.
Al: Does he still have his old synth equipment?
Nik: Yeah, he does, he has his EMS VCS3's - which was a sort of "state of the art" electronic gadget in
probably 1970 or something like that. It was state of the art in that it was a totally variable package. It
wasn't something like you push a button and that's all you get - you had to program it completely. You cant
sample sounds on it but it has all these variable contacts that lets you do a lot more than you could ever do
with any sort of preprogrammed synthesizer. It's got a lot of versatility and it's still in demand. When I
asked Del if he'd do these gigs I told him that if he had any problems getting his equipment in that he could
use some of the equipment we have here: Korgs, Moogs and things like that. And he said, "Really, I've been
playing this thing for 25 years and I'd rather play that!"
Al: What will become of this project. Is there another recording in store?
Nik: Yeah, we're gonna do a live recording on this tour, a video as well.
Brian: And there's the new studio album "Prophets of Time". It's got Simon House playing keyboards and
violin on it as well as some spoken word stuff that Michael Moorcock donated that Genesis P-Orridge
Nik: It's really good actually...
Brian: And Helios is on there and the guys from Pressurehed.
Al: When did that get recorded?
Brian: In the last couple of months. I like it better than "Sphynx", it's a lot more diverse, more spacier...
Nik: It is, yeah... A lot of it is Inner City Unit based material, but using this lineup. It's quite interesting and
quite different as well. The album is like, more or less, the best songs that Inner City Unit had, in my
opinion anyway! I like the songs and I felt quite happy about doing it. But on this tour we'll be doing a live
(At that point Helios got his equipment warmed up and breaks into "Master of the Universe", of course,
nothing else could be heard....)