|"Yesterday Pain" (?!)
"It had to happen sooner or later! Mario Giugni always seems to succeed in interviewing his idols, as
recorded here across five mythic pages..."
This article is from issue 108 of "HM", an Italian Heavy Metal magazine. It dates from Hawkwind's
Brock-less European tour in Spring 1991. The Rome date referred to in the text took place on 4/4/91. And
the title of this piece is not something I made up, nor is it part of my translation from the original Italian to
English; it's what *they* called it.
Memory can always play tricks on you, but a friend of mine remembers one of the last times that
Hawkwind came to Rome, around 1972 for an open-air festival; nobody managed to see them as they were
too bombed to go on stage. Twenty years later everything has changed (although the Hawkwind collective
still hasn't enlisted the sympathy of [Italian female politician] Rosa Russo Jervolino!) and so it seems as
though it will be much easier to buttonhole the members of this brilliant group, post-gig.
But, for an interview that would be perfect for posterity, the ideal would have been to speak with Dave
Brock, the guitarist, songwriter and vocalist who is the undisputed leader of the band, having been in every
line-up from the very beginning down to today. That will not be possible as Dave decided against doing the
European tour in order to stay home. It would be pointless to ask relatively recent arrivals in the ranks
about the events of the distant past, and perhaps even offensive (since the current band has just as much
validity as past incarnations). In fact, drummer Richard Chadwick has been a member of Hawkwind for
two years, Bridgett Wishart joined Iast year, and bass player Alan Davey, whose role in both live
performance and in the studio is ever more important, has been there for six years. However, dedicated
keyboard player Harvey Bainbridge has more years of service in the band than anyone else, apart from
Brock, with whom he co-ordinates the whole act, having joined in 1978.
So, at the end of the concert, the idea of an interview with Harvey was conceived at a moment's notice
(completely unplanned and with nothing prepared), in the the hope of speaking about the days of "In Search
Of Space" or "Warrior On The Edge Of Time". Although that was the band's most illustrious and best-
known period, in fact very rarely, if ever since 1976, has the band's lustre dimmed or been reduced to a
mere shadow of those heroic times.
When contact was made after the gig with the gratifyingly available Mr. Bainbridge (and without the help of
intermediaries!), a host of questions there should have been. But the truth is that despite the many things I
would have wanted to ask of Hawkwind (and in a metaphorical sense, my failure to do so has since caused
me to lie regretfully awake at night), what little mental organization there was in my brain had been erased
by the ecstasy of their live performance - which opened and subsequently reclosed the doors of the
kingdom of mental confusion.
Luckily, alongside me was a certain Mr. Paolo Piccini who, cynically, had only come along to see yours
truly enjoy himself, but who found himself awestruck by the power of the gig. Having momentarily
forgotten his scepticism, Paolo helped supply, from beginning to end, an absolutely indispensable
collaboration for the accomplishment of this interview.
How come Dave Brock isn't playing this tour? Isn't that a little strange?
Harvey: "As a matter of fact, Dave decided to stay home in order to work on some old recordings and live
material. Now that, finally, we have regained the rights to much of our material, we wanted to do
something with it, so that it can be released in America. Above all the songs from our period with
Charisma, like 'Damnation Alley', 'Spirit Of The Age', 'Reefer Madness', could be exploited and published, or
republished, in America. So, even if nothing else was happening, we could still put them out again in some
Passing on to your last album, "Space Bandits", it's been said that this has marked a clear conceptual change
regarding the prevailing topics for Hawkwind. That is, the central figure is the Native American Medicine
Harvey: "Hawkwind has often dealt with fantastic themes, with fantasy, and this time we made a deliberate
change. Because we wanted to make an album that dealt with the truth about Indian lands -in a certain sense
a more political album- via the medium of having an Indian medicine man called Black Elk as the focal
point.. I think that the environment is amongst the most important things happening today. So yes, 'Space
Bandits' does represent a return to earth for Hawkwind, at least if compared with some of our previous
Do you think that in the future you might work with Michael Moorcock again?
Harvey: "It's possible, but for the moment there aren't any firm plans to do that."
'Space Bandits' boasts some pure Simon House sounds and therefore I would have expected, or better yet, I
had hoped, to see him on tour with you. But he's not here. How come?
Harvey: "It would have been much wonderful to play alongside him, but unfortunately Simon has a daughter
who is seriously ill with leukaemia. Over the last few months the disease has gotten a lot worse and
therefore Simon had to stay home in order to be with his daughter and family. (Good luck, Simon!)"
Seeing that guitarist Steve Bemand isn't actually a member of the band, who composes the current
formation of Hawkwind? (Since there's nothing to say that we're not missing some other band member
Harvey: "No, we're all here, just Dave alone is missing. As for the rest of the group, apart from him and
me, there are Richard Chadwick, who is a brilliant drummer, Alan Davey on the bass and Bridgett, who is
the most recent arrival, and that is our stable line-up."
Right, and it feels a little strange to be talking about stable Hawkwind line-ups, seeing as you've had maybe a
hundred changes over the course of your career!
Harvey (laughing): "Yes, effectively there have been a few changes, but frankly we don't really care too
much. And nowadays we're satisfied with how things are going between ourselves, though we donâ€™t
know what will happen tomorrow..."
Speaking of changes, I wanted to ask to you, even if by now more than a year has passed, why it was that
Huw Lloyd Langton left. I have always thought he was a great guitarist.
Harvey: "You're right, he is a great guitarist and a great drinker!" (He laughs along with drummer Richard
Chadwick, who has come in for a moment). "The only reason for his departure was the fact that he
preferred to dedicate himself to having his own band. Actually they were here, playing in Europe just a
Two years ago you participated in a 'various artists' collection called 'Travellers Aid Trust' that seemed to
me to be extremely critical of and confrontational towards the English government. How did that come
Harvey: "Well, it was more of an an initiative in defence of free festivals, like the one we used to have at
Stonehenge, that the English government banned. So along with some good groups of different types, we
made this record in order to put on an event that wasn't just about the prohibition of free festivals, but also
about the movement of the New Age Travellers, British nomads, who've been forced into that way of life
throughout the 1980's."
Given your traditions, does it still strongly appeal to you to play free gigs?
Harvey: "Yes, very much. Unfortunately in this day and age it's no longer possible because of the policies of
Here in Rome the price of tickets often prevents people from getting to concerts. For example, I think that
tonight there were few people here who maybe aren't fans, but that if they had come, would have seen the
enthusiastic reactions of everyone else, and would have got into it. (And some concerts last only half as
long as Hawkwind gigs, in far worse acoustic and environmental conditions!)
Harvey: "How much did the tickets cost?"
It was average price for the concerts of this type that we have here in Italy - for the big names, you have to
pay more (and Castello club, the venue that Hawkwind played in Rome, is barely adequate and not well
suited to events like this!): it cost twenty five thousand lira, about eleven pounds.
Harvey (astonished): "Eleven pounds! Wow, that's entirely too much. In England the tickets cost no more
than seven pounds... "
Do you have plans laid out for your next studio LP, do you know when it will be released and on what label?
Harvey: "I think it's coming out at the beginning of next year, however we really haven't started working on
it yet. In any case there are lots of ideas floating about. As for the record company, we are still on
Roadrunner in Europe."
For your new LP, during the gig tonight I heard some new electronic pieces and a couple of new songs,
one instrumental and one sung by Bridgett. Will they possibly be on the new album?
Harvey: "If you mean 'Black Box' [Back In The Box] , the song sung by Bridgett, this should soon be out on
a live album, along with various other things. And that should also help us reintroduce ourselves to
America, after all these years."
In the last nine or ten years several records, credited to Hawkwind, have been released that at times seem to
be somewhat exploitative of the fans (this being my personal experience). I'm talking about compilations of
solo material, reissues of already available numbers and live albums that almost seem like bootlegs. Did all
these releases have your approval?
Harvey: "If you're referring to the albums that have come out on Flicknife, you must keep in mind that in the
beginning the label was practically ours. Over time, things changed and basically we lost control over what
was coming out. So for some time, we have had to put up with these releases which have resulted in
overexposure. However we can't stop them completely. I remember that when we authorized the issue of
the triple Anthology album, we stipulated that the release had to be limited to the UK: but that did not happen
and it got reissued in several different guises."
You first joined Hawkwind, when they had extemporaneously changed their name to Hawklords, as the bass
player. You did that for some years, but then changed to keyboards. Is this new role better for you? That
is, was it your choice to change over?
Harvey: "I prefer it, and what happened in practical terms was that I had left the group in 1984 and they
replaced me with Alan. Then I returned and having been with Hawkwind for such a long time, and as they
didn't have anyone on keyboards, I dedicated myself to that. I had already played keyboards before, as well
as the bass, on all the albums except the live one."
As a keyboard player you do a lot of work with electronics, which has been one of Hawkwind's most
important characteristics ever since their debut. What influences do you have in this field? For example,
Schulze, or Tangerine Dream...
Harvey: "This might seem strange to you but I have never listened to Tangerine Dream very much, nor have
any of the Germans interested me all that much apart from Can. However I would put down as influences a
lot of classical music, which I like greatly, and music from films, which interests me as I can relate to it
electronically. Another example is Tomita, a Japanese songwriter who has done some beautiful things. In
practice I love to insert electronic or classical elements into a rock or psychedelic sound. However thatâ
€™s not the only kind of music that has inspired me and needless to say, there is the 60's West Coast stuff
like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead..."
What's the state of your current relationships with the British press? I wonder if you recall reading some of
the more scornful articles directed against you in the past decade, which seemed to aim at casting you into
oblivion. In fact, it seemed like they had a score to settle with you (same as with Queen or the Stranglers...)
Harvey: "That's just what some journalists think, and these days the relationship with the press is not too
bad. If memory serves, it used to be worse years ago, but it never worried us since our relationship with
the press has always gone up and down..."
Is it a difficult life, being a member of Hawkwind? Especially as you are not a particularly fashionable
Harvey: "Effectively we are not just a group that's about fashion, but we've succeed in carving out our own
But with the revival of 70's hard rock, perhaps there will be a groundswell of interest towards you.
Harvey: "Do you mean the neo-psychedelic stuff?"
Not that so much as bands like Soundgarden, Thee Hypnotics, or Jane' s Addiction (mention of the latter
reminds of the Hawkwindian intro to "Ocean Size", which recalls the inspiration of "Space Is Deep"): bands
that in different ways have revived the sound of the early seventies...
Harvey: "No, or at least, I wouldn't say they have much in common with us. However I don't know these
groups well. Now Richard, he knows them very well..."
Finally, in order to consider one of the more metal chapters of your history, many years ago Hawkwind had
Lemmy in the ranks: in recent times he's joined you on some live gigs and appeared on an EP. What is your
current relationship with him like?
Harvey (laughing): "Well I wouldn't get married to him, however when we do meet up the friendship is
there. Alan and he get on very well."
Staying with Lemmy, have you heard the most recent Motorhead album?
Harvey: "I like some of it, but they appealed to me more when they were a trio...On the album there is a
piece that is similar to a Hawkwind song, or at least, close to our style..."
Yes, 'Nightmare'; but Lemmy was honest enough to say in an interview that I read that it was inspired by
you. However, in order to conclude this and stay on topic this evening, the set list excluded "Silver
Machine". For you it must often be pretty boring. I imagine that you've had to play it so many times...
Harvey: "Definitely, and it's a number that we have not really played of late. However it's not that we've
dropped it from the repertoire, it may not have made the set list this evening, but on other dates, like those in
Germany, we have played it."
|Above: Spring 1991 tour line-up (L-R): Harvey Bainbridge, Richard Chadwick, Bridgett Wishart, Alan
Davey and Steve Bemand