|Harvey in Berlin, 15/03/91
So, first of all could you just give a...elaborate a bit on Hawkwind's history - everything that's been
happening, from the very early days' inception till today. Just a very short summary of what's been going on
for all this long time.
HB: Well I reckon a group of people got together, got a bit spaced out and made some music. Then they
drifted apart, some other people drifted in, and that's how it's carried on over the years, really. And if you
want a brief...I mean, I don't know what's been going on over the years. And if I started going on about
things that have happened since I've been in the band, we could be here all night, you know.
HB: There's been so many things, I don't know, what can I say to that? A brief potted history... I'm sure
everyone out there knows as much, or has their ideas about what actually went on, or what actually goes on.
Of course it's a difficult question to elaborate on the band's history, but, why we do this is because we have
lots of younger listeners-
HB: Who've never heard of it, I suppose
Well, yeah, they might need to know a bit about the history of the band, actually. First we tell them, but
there's also sometimes good to have some additions from the musician.
HB: Yeah...well, OK. I mean, the band was formed in, what, '69 - 1969. And, er, it's had, I don't know,
quite a few people involved in it over the years. But it's kept going and it's always had this principle of being
the people's band. We play a lot of free festivals and open air shows, play a lot for various benefits, and
general good causes, because that's what we feel... We play music that we feel strongly about and we
involve ourselves in causes that we also feel strongly about.
OK. Yeah. This is maybe one of the most important questions: why does the line-up change all that time?
Why isn't there a steady line-up that goes on working and proceeding - what's the reason behind this
rotation? Is there a sensible reason for that?
HB: (sighs) Oh, I think there's a sensible reason, in that people kind of work for a spell and then go off and
do something else. Like Nik, you know, I mean, he went off and came back again, and then went off again.
Even I had a little break for six months, but I'm back again. There's a fairly...for the last three years there's
been a reasonably steady influence again, I mean it's like when Huw and myself - Huw Lloyd-Langton and
myself and Dave were the nucleus from 1980. It was steady then up until '85, you know, had a five year
spell where it was steady, then it changed again. And then recently it changed again, about two years ago it
changed again, you know, and it seems fairly steady again now. Yeah, when Nik left, you know...
So Michael Moorcock, also known as the famous sci-fi author, is joining the band from time to time. Is he
just giving you...is he inspiring you, is he just the deliverer of ideas?
HB: He is, he's a bit of an inspiration is Michael. Every so often we meet up, we bump into each other, we
get talking and then he says 'Oh, I've got a list of things here that might interest you'. And you know, and
then from there... Yeah, I mean his lyrics are good anyway and his writing's very...top-class and it's always
pleasant to have something like that to use, to put music to, you know, I mean it's really great. I like working
with Michael's words, they're good. Yeah.
Well, talking about Lemmy - he was with the band a couple of times, then he left, came back and stuff. So,
what was really going on in 1975?
HB: Well considering I wasn't there, I don't really know, ha ha ha ha! You'll have to ask Lemmy that one. I
don't know what was going on then.
We once asked Lemmy about that and he didn't want to give any comments.
HB: I'm sure he wouldn't
So we were trying on the other side...
HB: Well I don't know, you see, I wasn't there either. I've only heard the various rumours and tales, and
general things - so I don't know what really went on. You know, all the general gossip - I pay no attention to
that. There's enough of that floating around all the time, isn't there, general gossip...
From time to time he was there as a guest. Do you think there is a chance right now - because now it's very
successful with his new album 1916, do you think it's a chance that he's getting tired of touring, to join as a
project [session?] musician again?
HB: I don't know, I mean there's always that possibility anyway, you know. I mean, as a band you don't
know exactly how long you want to go touring for, like on this tour Dave turned round and said he didn't
want to do this particular tour, because he wanted a break. Because we've been working quite constantly for
the last twelve months. So we've come over here without Dave in the band at the moment, you know. So
you can never tell what's going to happen, whether you're going to tour for a year, or have a holiday, take a
break for a year. And if you don't tour, there's a chance that you should get some work done anyway. So
why not phone up some old friends and see if you can sort of do a, you know, get a few bits and pieces
sorted out. So that sort of thing can happen, you know. There's always a possibility, yeah. It was a shame
you see that Bob Calvert - now, he was a very talented man... We were due to do some work with him, and
then unfortunately, of course he died, he had his heart attack and died. Which was a real...it was very sad,
because of being in touch with him again, we spoke to him on the phone quite a few times, and getting ideas
going... We were going to do a batch of work together, it's a real shame, you know.
|Above: everyone *but* Harvey, on stage on Cologne on 14/03/91. L-R Bridgett Wishart, Richard Chadwick
(barely visible), Alan Davey, Steve Bemand. No Dave Brock on this tour, of course...the other photos below
are also from the Cologne gig
Harvey was interviewed backstage in Berlin on 15th March 1991, before that night's gig, for a German radio
show called 'High Energy'. Thanks to Dave Law who provided me with the tape from which I transcribed it.
So, Mr. Calvert...this leads us to our next question. Well actually, you have the case when somebody dies, a
band member or whatsoever, you write a song that's specially done for the late Calvert, or for the person
who died. There was no credit given to him...
HB: No, there wasn't in the business at all. We did a big show in London, we put on a big show to raise
money for the people that he left, like his girlfriend and his family. And that was the only thing. I would
have thought that there would be a bit of support from behind, from somewhere other than us. But there
wasn't, which was a real shame. So I mean, we do lots of Bob's songs anyway, and so hopefully we keep
the royalties going for him, you know, so that the money at least goes to his girlfriend.
So in fact there was something, there was this charity...
HB: Well on our behalf, you know, we got up and did...
That was actually what we wanted to know, because nothing has ever been publicised or mentioned...
HB: No, no, it wasn't at all, you know. It's a real pity, really.
So, what's next. If we look into the history of Motorhead and Hawkwind, the bands from time to time shared
the same record label. Is this just coincidence?
HB: Erm...Doug Smith! (Laughs) A character called Doug Smith is the connection, there. Because the
times we have shared the same record label is the times that either we were under a management contract
with Doug Smith, or Motorhead were under a management contract with Doug Smith. And probably
Girlschool were with us as well, you know.
Motorhead is on Sony Records - Hawkwind too?
HB: Well no, this is new, now: they've split from Doug Smith. Lemmy's moved over to America now and
he's living in Los Angeles, lucky man!
Right. Talking about those sci-fi lyrics, is there a deeper sense, a deeper meaning to them, or it's just
something additional which goes with the spacey rock music, which needs to be there? Or is this - could you
separate the lyrics and say 'OK, this is some essential statement that we want to make'?
HB: I think you could probably find an essential statement in the lyrics, somewhere. I think everyone...
With song lyrics, with popular song lyrics, the level that you want to go into them is entirely up to the person
who listens to them, really. The fellow that writes them, I reckon, is probably just trying to give you a
picture of what he feels like at the time, or what she feels like at the time, I think. It's up to the person who
listens to the song to take as much significance from the lyrics as they want to, you know. I don't think it's
up to the writer to prove any significance in lyrics, other than that they make some sense, you know!
(Chuckles) If they make some sense to someone, that's fine. But as far as the science fiction goes, it's
turned out that we're in a very mechanical, industrial... end of an industrial era, in a sense, and it seems to be
a natural thing to use examples of words and phrases that are futuristic, to kind of use up...for up-to-date
music and up-to-date songs, you know. Even for love songs, think of Bob Calvert's 'Spirit Of The Age',
which is probably one of the best sci-fi love songs you've heard, you know. The lyrics in that are brilliant.
But yes, I think there is significance in that, that we've chosen that way. I don't think we've gone out and
consciously chosen it, it's just happened like that, you know.
Hawkwind Zoo, Hawklords, Sonic Assassins and Church Of Hawkwind...Hawkwind has played under these
different names, and is there going to be a new Church Of Hawkwind album? What to expect?
HB: Different names, yeah yeah... A new Church Of Hawkwind album? Well, I can't say, no I don't...not
for the moment. I don't think there'll be a new Church Of Hawkwind album. There might be a Tarot card
album! (Laughs) A Hawkwind Tarot album, that might be on the shelves.
Which actually relates to world events?
HB: Yeah, you know... No, I don't think there's any significance other than it's just like a painter choosing
titles for pictures. Playing with the image, as it were - playing with the band's image a bit and just...I don't
think there's anything other than that.
It gives you some flexibility
HB: Yeah, it's nice to... I've done gigs with Dave under the title of the Sonic Assassins, you know, so that,
for example, in business terms Hawkwind can't get lumbered with any problems! (Laughs) You know, it
happens. I think the Hawklords came about because of the project that Dave and Bob were working on at
the time, and Sonic Assassins is of course Michael Moorcock's sort of phrase anyway. But it just seems a
good title for a band like ours anyway.
We want to know a little bit more about the last four or five years' of development within the band...a
personal opinion is that the albums have become a little bit more...well, into the direction of pop instead of
keeping that spacey sound that you were famous for and are still famous for. But now, considering all the
outside developments, like hard rock and heavy metal is getting more popular, and they've got crazy
bands...young bands with very unique kinds of playing styles... So what we want to know is, is this going to
be influencing you? Are you going to be going back to being more spacey?
HB: No. I always thought we were more spacey anyway, the records... I'm always disappointed with the
record after it's recorded. Live shows are a different thing altogether. I think we're just as spacey as we
always were, probably a bit heavier recently, over the last five years. We went a bit light in the early or
mid-eighties, I suppose. But no. It's very synthesizer orientated in the band at the moment, you know.
Very synthesizer orientated, probably too much so! (Laughs)
So you would say there is a difference between the stuff you record, which goes into one direction, which is a
different image of the band to live.
HB: It seems to be, yeah. Live you have this psychedelic lightshow and non-stop music really, which just
goes from the beginning straight to the end. It's like a psychedelic experience, whereas a record, you know,
by the very nature of the beast you have separate entities of songs, it seems. You know, that's what record
companies want out of you, I suppose. And you try to give them as much of what you would like to do.
But I don't know, I thought the last, the Space Bandits LP, it's quite unique in a sense because we're trying a
few different, a few new things out. And certainly I've found that people have enjoyed listening to it.
Whether or not it's rock'n'roll I don't know, or whether it's, how popular it will be or could be... Maybe it's
just one of those things you try, and if it doesn't work you try something else. You're only an artist trying
out bits and pieces, you know. The thing about Hawkwind is you don't want to constantly play the same
song, you know. Because that's what heavy metal bands get into, in a sense, isn't it, and to remain popular
you've got to play the same kind of song. And what we try and do is try different things out, and if people
like them, great. If not, oh well, we'll try something else, you know.
There is tons of material of Hawkwind available - different shapes, picture disks...
HB: Yes, there's about forty or fifty-odd LP's
...and well, twenty-five different versions of 'Silver Machine' and all that stuff. So how do you see this, I
mean, all these former record companies or sampler companies are releasing them. How does the band see
this? What's their opinion of it?
HB: Well, our opinion is not very high. We don't like it, because what happens is, you track down one
release - I mean, there are so many little record companies that have somehow got the licensing contract to
put out records... And basically, to try and track these down all the time is costing us quite a lot of money in
lawyer's fees at the moment. We're involved in this and it seems to take quite a few years to put a stop to it.
But over the years, you see, now we've been going for so many years, all the copyright of all the old songs is
reverting back to the writers of the songs, so we're in fact amassing the copyrights back. So at the moment
we're in the process of (a) blocking releases, certainly new releases in America, but they get round that by
importing them over there... And that's the next thing we're trying to stop, the importing of these records. If
we stop that, then they'll stop putting them out, then we'll have some more control then of what we want to
put out onto the market. Because we find, we go out, say in England, we'll go out on tour, and there will be
four or five different LP's released, you know, from all these different companies, and you know it's just so
tapes dug out of old cupboards, you
know...really bad quality tapes, it's
embarrassing, you know.
We've had the cover art on Warrior
On The Edge Of Time, the In Search
Of Space booklet, Quark Strangeness
HB: The Church Of Hawkwind
booklet, the whole thing, yeah...
HB: Nothing! (Laughs) In a word,
shall I tell you in a word?
The artwork has been kind of
decreased, you know...
HB: Well, you know the Live
Chronicles LP? The double live LP
of Michael Moorcock's Chronicle Of
The Black Sword? There's a live one of that... We wanted that to come
in an open-out sleeve, and the record company said fine, yes, we'll do it.
Then they worked out how much it was going to cost them and they said
no, we can't do it. And we said 'why don't you?' and they said no, it's costing too much money. And that
was basically...that's the reason, now: record companies will not do it because their profits are cut by the fact
it costs them a lot of money to print up interesting covers, you know. It's like, years ago a record company
was into it because the whole package was part of the thing, wasn't it, maybe the record cover and a poster in
it and the whole thing, you know. But now it seems they want to make as much of a profit as they can.
Their paper costs to make the record sleeve have gone up, printing costs have gone up, the whole thing, you
know. They 're just trying to cut costs the whole time. So unless you really insist, then, you know... But it's
true, it is a record company prerogative, unfortunately.
Hawkwind was always more drawing people in Britain than let's say in Europe, and this might be one of the
reasons why a record company should afford, or take the time and take the money to give better artwork...
HB: I agree, I agree entirely. We spend our...you see, everything we do these days we finance ourselves.
It's like any business in a sense, you've got to...if you can't afford it, you can't do it, you know. You can go
so far, but you can only... What we need is someone with lots of money to come along and say 'OK boys,
five year investment plan, quarter of a million pounds, let's get something sorted out'. We could spend money
on getting a bit of artwork together, good new show, new lighting, the whole thing you know, all linked
together...but it takes a lot of money. It does take that kind of investment, unfortunately. But if someone's
around to do it, then wonderful - get in touch! (Laughs)
We've got to shorten this up...
HB: Yes, I've got to go, yes....
If you look into the press, papers, magazines, all that stuff, there is nearly...hardly anything mentioned about
Hawkwind's activities, Hawkwind's albums to be released, all this stuff. So what is, do you think, what are
HB: One of the reasons is we don't pay a publicist to print our name in the paper every week. The other
reason is probably that we're not a young pop star band that a record company's trying to promote in a great
way. They know that they don't have to promote a band like us, they can just put the record out and it'll sell
enough copies to make their money back, and they'll be OK. It's the same reason as why there isn't big
gatefold sleeves any more, you know, and stuff like that. It's a financial promotion aspect, that's why. And if
we were signed to a big record label who invested a lot of money in us, they'd want to get their money back
so they would give us publicity, they would make sure that our names were in the paper and all that kind of
thing. I mean, we play at free festivals all the time in England, we're always doing, you know, lots of different
things, there's enough publicity there if anyone was interested, but you know they're just not interested!
Wouldn't you think that the popularity of the band would be increased by having a new video that goes
together with the album?
HB: There is a video that's with the Space Bandits album: we did one, there's an hour-long video ready for
that. GWR Records in England have got that at the moment. I don't know what they were planning. The
idea was it was to be released at the same time as the album, but they've just sat on it, they haven't released it.
They paid for it so they have the rights to it for the moment.
So let's come to the present and then we're about finished. How so far has the tour been, what's the reaction
of the audience and what do we have to expect tonight, visually, and...
HB: Well visually, tonight you've got a nice psychedelic lightshow which is pretty spectacular really, and just
expect a bit of a psychedelic experience. I mean, if you just want to be carried off somewhere, that's fine,
you know. We've been to Holland so far and we played in Cologne last night, and it's gone down really well.
I'm really quite pleased.
The last time you were in Berlin was 1977, you know, and -1991- still, this is fourteen years: so will we see
you again in [another] fourteen years?
HB: Yeah, this is what they said in America a couple of years ago: we went over there and we hadn't been
over there since 1978! But we went back again within 10 or 11 months and we'll be going back over there
when we've finished here. So there's a good chance you'll see us here much sooner than that.
I hope so.
HB: So do I, it's the first time I've been, personally, as I wasn't with the band when they were last here. This
is the first time I've actually been to Berlin.
So you don't see the difference with the wall, without the wall... OK. So the last studio album was about two
years ago, it was released about two years ago. Why does it take so long to work on a studio album - other
bands do it within a couple of months?
HB: Yeah, well we do too. The last studio album was last September, Space Bandits. Have you not got that
one? The Space Bandits? Yeah? That came out, we recorded that in Spring of last year, in about three or
four weeks. Then the record company released it in September, in England. And I don't know whether...they
Here it's just been released, just recently, in [the last] two months.
HB: Really? Is that all? (Laughs) It's crazy, I mean what are these record companies playing at?! Oh bloody
We can put this out, Hawkwind and their trouble with the companies...
HB: It's like in America, they released the record over there before we went, you know. That's right, we
didn't go until November, they released it at the beginning of September, and we didn't get there until
November, so it was all gone and forgotten by then.
Now you've got a female singer with you...how did this happen?
HB: Mmm, Bridgett. Well she just joined in at a free festival, and we thought it would be worthwhile just
taking a chance, because it was interesting, you know. See what happens, she was keen to do something.
She's quite good as a mime artist, she dresses up, so it's quite a visual thing, she doesn't just sing. She comes
on and does club swinging and dresses up in different guises to do different numbers...
Coming back to Space Bandits which is released right now, there is an Indian talking with one song. What's it
HB: That's all about the state of the world today. It's a bit of a fable really. It's a whole thing, it's Black Elk's
farewell speech to the rest of the world, hoping that the people, that his people who listen to it will remember
how they used to treat the world, and that if they want to keep the world, then that's how they should keep
treating the world, and all this buying and selling and exploitation is just a road to ruin, and it certainly is, I'm
afraid. We're going to find out that.
Last question: is there...considering the new material on Space Bandits, is there any concept behind it this
time? Or is it just separate units?
HB: There was a concept of basically, the idea of trying to separate ourselves from the general run, the
general flow of what's going on. Because what I was saying about the Black Elk Speaks track - that's the
Indian talking about the world going wrong, we're not treating it right. There was that kind of idea. I did a
song about the TV -Suicide- and it's about how TV just takes you over, eventually and you're told, your whole
history is given to you down the television tube, you know. And if you're not careful people will actually
switch on the TV to find out what's going on in the world when they shouldn't - they should actually go
outside into the world and have a look, rather than get it from someone else, which is what the TV is. It's just
someone's idea of what's going on, not actually what *is* going on. So the whole idea behind the LP was
this, you've got Images, you've got Out Of The Shadows, which is a song about, you know, the paradoxical
nature of how we're living, that it's all going to fall to bits, it's completely wrong - arse about tit, as we say in
England. That's basically the notion behind the whole album, really.
So, thanks for having a chat with us...
HB: Thanks very much, it's been nice meeting you all
It's been cool! The last thing I'd like you to do is a station ID, just mention your name and the show is called
HB: 'High Energy'... Hello there, this is Harvey Bainbridge from Hawkwind, and I'd like to thank you on the
radio show 'High Energy' for listening in...
annoying, because we never see any royalties whatsoever!
It seems to be out of control, the fans get worried about being ripped
HB: It is. Fans get a bad deal, because a lot of these records are just