|Dave Brock / Huw Lloyd Langton interview, September 1982
Actually I thought you were just going to do the interview, now
DB: Well that's all right, I can talk to you alone
Huwie can interrupt...and all the questions I thought about asking, I was going to ask them to you, but that's
all right, anyone can just chip in. First thing I wanted to ask was - how long have Hawkwind been going
now, is it about thirteen or fourteen years?
Yeah...do you ever get the feeling that it's - do you ever get pissed off doing it?
DB: Well sometimes, you know... (laughs)
Because I know I've read a couple of interviews with you in the past and it was always, like...well I first got
to see you in 1972, which was quite a few...ten years ago, now, in Cornwall. And, er, I remember I've read
a couple of times since then you saying that you were going to jack it in.
DB: Well I have actually done it, yeah
Someone said you sold your guitar in New York.
DB: That's right, yeah, but in San Francisco. Yes, I did it!
What's kept you going, what's kept the band together?
DB: What's kept it together? I suppose...me! (laughs)
Because you're the one constant member who's remained...What's...
DB: What keeps me going, you mean?
Yeah, what keeps you going?
DB: Well, there's nothing else to do, you know! It's like having a wife, this band, I suppose it's the same as
having a wife - you're married to it and you live it. And there's nothing else to do.
But you still enjoy it, obviously
DB: Yeah, sure. It's a real hustle, quite often, and a task. Isn't it? Getting all this... There's so much to do
all the time. Like, we get these programmes, books, lyric books, albums, you know. Well letâ€™s face it,
this year we've been working a lot.
HLL: Very difficult playing...and much talking, you know
DB: Yeah, lots of talking, and it's...we haven't actually worked very much. We did a tour of Europe earlier
on this year, and then did an album earlier on as well, and like, one we just finished. But we seem to only
ever have meetings, and like, getting programmes and we've got a lyric book, and just got a book together,
like the actual Hawkwind story, and it's like... It's become like a big business, hasn't it, you know! But we
haven't actually played...well, we did do Stonehenge, didn't we...
DB: Which was good fun. But Donington was horrid. Well actually, Donington, we done a parody of
everything that... We got slagged off by the press, because they missed the point. They did not understand
what we were doing, not one bit. We did a parody of everything that went on down there, you know.
Because, like, it was a parody of all the heavy metal, you know.
That's what I thought seeing Hawkwind on that bill, I thought 'I don't know, this is a bit...' seeing them in
the middle. When I've seen Hawkwind in the past I never looked on them as a heavy metal band, you know
- the complete opposite, really. That's what attracted me to them in the past.
DB: Yeah. We thought 'We'll go there' actually, and do it. I hate playing at big festivals like that. You just
see a sea of faces, you can't see the people at the back. I'd never dream of going to a festival like that
myself. I mean, fifteen thousand at about the most - people can actually enjoy themselves when there's
fifteen thousand. But when there's about forty-eight thousand...!
How many was there?
DB: Forty-eight thousand. But you see, we did a parody of everything heavy metal, because you know
they're always prancing around doing all the big poses. So we thought we'd do a parody of it, you know,
like we had dancers on sort of doing all these...
HLL: ...posing round the guitars, sort of thing...
DB: Yeah, and doing the whole thing. And all we did was get slagged off, didn't we, by the press, because
they missed the whole point of everything we did there, it was a parody of what went on there - the big star
scene...where everybody's gear was all set up, except ours, wasn't it, which had to be slung on and slung
off, you know...
DB: So we thought, right, this is it, we're going to just go along there... But they didn't know what the f***
we were doing.
Another thing, I suppose, that's changed over the years is the audience as well. It hasn't changed in a way
because I remember the first time I saw you, in Cornwall... This is another story...I mean, it was a time
when people used to go to concerts, a lot of the time they would sit down, and I was about thirteen or
fourteen and went up the front and stood up. 'Sit down, sit down!' 'They're only kids!'
DB: Where was that?
That was at the Flamingo...
DB: Oh, Redruth, yeah, right, yeah...
Do you remember that? It was a long time ago
DB: Yeah. We always used to do West Country tours where we'd do Redruth, we'd do Barnstaple,
Torquay and Plymouth and Exeter. That was in July, usually, June or July we used to do that. It was our
summer holiday, our holiday tour. It was really good, I used to enjoy doing that! It was good fun. We donâ
€™t do it any more, it's a shame.
Well there's no place down there for it, apart from that Coliseum place, you know. Very big...it doesnâ€™t
get the same sort of atmosphere as the places like the Winter Gardens, which is shut...
DB: Down in Penzance, yeah
They changed it to Demelza's, which is a club...
DB: We usually play at St. Austell when we're doing a tour. We're one of the only bands doing it now.
That's the only place that's big enough. We did play at Truro Market Hall, you know. It echoed
everywhere, you can't hear a thing. When you play a note you hear it coming from back there, it's coming
back, you know. Awful place. And also Plymouth Guildhall, that's another place to play in, because you
can't hear what's going on. It's like a church, isn't it?
That Truro place is the worst because they're doing beer festivals and things like that, guinea pig showsâ
DB: Yes, afraid so, yeah!
But you seem to attract...when I saw you last time at the Hammersmith Odeon, I think there was...the
amount of people there that were about 13 or 14, you know, and I thought 'What is it...?', you knowâ€¦
DB: Yeah, young now...young people
Young people, you know, and it is a very young crowd, which... Do you think that this - because when, you
know, Hawkwind, going back to like 1970, were still, you know, very much identified with the 70's thing...
Do you think that your audience see you as another rock band? In the same way that they might paint your
name on their jackets along with all the rest of them. Because people I knew that used to like you ten years
ago, they used to see you as something slightly *more*, in the same way that perhaps the Sex Pistols were
seen as slightly more than just a punk band...
DB: I think they see us as slightly more than that now, you know, because I mean, we still do a lot of little
free festivals, CND things, but the thing is, we never actually, it's never heard of as we don't get the press.
We just carry on like we've always been doing things, you know. We play at free festivals but you never
actually read about it in the paper.
HLL: All you read about in the papers is nasty, isn't it, nastiness...
DB: Yes, it's true, isn't it. They're still carrying on...people do still identify with us - we are touchable.
We're not that untouchable band, you see, which is really important.
Yeah, that's what I saw as one of the attractions of the group was that, people could see you on stage and
could see you're not posing...
DB: And they see us in the cafÃ© around the corner! It's true, though, you know, because unfortunately
the syndrome in the rock business is to cut yourself off, and live totally devoid of contact...
HLL: Like living in a castle...
DB: ...yeah...audience-wise. And unfortunately a lot of bands change into their old clothes and actually
appear on stage looking very scruffy. The audience actually identify with it, thinking they're like that, but
then they get into their big cars and put their brand new clothes on, which I think is... Well, that's the rock
and roll business for you.
But, you know you said, like, when you said you got to Donington you threw your gear on and things like
that, I mean, there is this notion that behind Hawkwind, that things were done -I don't know so much if they
are done like this now- but, there's always that kind of shambles, a semi-chaotic kind of thing about you...
DB: There was a bit of a shambles. (Laughs) It was shambolic there!
HLL: For some reason it always turns out that way, I mean, it's through no sort of planning or anything but
it just seems to happen. It's always a last moment rush.
DB: It shouldn't have been, should it? I mean, it did... I actually felt like we were the poor relations there. I
mean, you know, over the period of time we've had sixteen hit albums, you know, like sixteen albums in the
charts. And average bands now like Saxon or Gillan, you think, you know, they're always at the forefront
of the paper, it's like they're forever blowing their own trumpets, and we're always the poor relations which
was what it was at Donington. But then, see, we would have played at Stonehenge, you see, which was
completely different, it was really good fun. It was real chaos there, absolute chaos, but it was really
*good* chaos! Everybody had a good time, it was completely different. They paid eleven quid to go into
Donington and every band had sort of plastic bottles and things thrown at them, and mudballs, you know...
HLL: What you see is not unlike, you know, a skittles job...
DB: Yeah, you watch these things come hurtling towards you, you know, sidestep that one...
HLL: Quite enjoyable, as an experience, keeping your eyes open!
DB: It's good fun keeping your eye on watching these objects coming flying at you, you know! (Laughs)
It's like boxing...You're sort of playing away there, you become on automatic pilot, you know. Every band
there had the same thing there, you see, it wasn't just us...
HLL: Yeah, but the odd person in the audience got hurt, from what I heard.
KT: A girl got her eye cut or something. [KT being Kris Tait, who interjected in a couple of places]
Yeah, it always happens with this type of thing, doesn't it
HLL: Yeah, it's crazy
You always get factions. When I was at Reading I saw a reggae group there once. They had two reggae
bands on the bill and the rest was, like, rock and variations of rock. It was terrible, it was like people just
wanting to enjoy the mill. They weren't even canning the group, they were canning the audience.
HLL: I got my head cut open at Reading one year. I was just doing a favour for <inaudible>, they wanted to
know if I wanted to do the gig. By the time we got on the stage it was swamped in beer anyway, cans and
slipping about all over the place. It was nothing but a barrage all the way through.
DB: What they needed was a good dose of LSD, that would have stopped them - they wouldn't be throwing
beer cans then, would they?!
They should have had the police administering it to people as they come in. The trouble is then they would
have got really freaked out and been running around killing each other
KT: Somebody got stabbed at Reading this year, they had really bad scenes there...
HLL: I guess you do whenever you have people going to these gigs, don't you, just for the sake of going
there for whatever...
DB: Yeah, it's a bit...well, it's another world really...
Do you think, though, that the chaotic element of Hawkwind has prevented...have you ever really wanted to
be megastars? Really big, popular?
DB: We nearly did - we've nearly been that... I'll tell you what it is: a true revolutionary is to getâ€¦it's a
revolutionary band because we've been to that point lots of times, but you've got to tear it down. Because
unfortunately, you know you can become - well, you know what it's like, it's a real corrupt business, you
know. And like, we've been in America, where we played really big places. I mean, in America we could
have made it really big at one point. We were playing 15,000 seater places. All the bands that are really big
in America were our support bands then! (Laughs) But every time we get there, you know, it's like, you
tear it down. It's a strange thing, because once you go over to that side, I mean...we'd all be well off, mind
you. It's a very hard thing to explain. It's built into us, to every time we nearly get there, something's got to
happen to stop it.
Deliberately, or just happens automatically?
DB: Deliberately! (Laughs) Because I think, once you get there it changes so dramatically. I mean, OK,
things were really nice...one half of you wants that. One half of you wants to have a bit of bread, because
we were always scrabbling around for bread, weren't we. And we'd secretly think 'Oh, if we could only
just be well off and not have all the scenes that we have.' But then, at the same time, when you get to that
point it becomes really easy. And unfortunately you get all these terrific... hangers-on, you have a huge
entourage of people. And then in the end you find out you're paying all these people round you, and like,
they're not doing anything. You're still back to square one, earning about the same amount as you were.
Well it's a bit easier, mind you, but that's the only thing...
You must have had quite a lot of gear, and I presume you still do have quite a lot of stuff with the lightshow
and things. Do you still have the big lightshows, because you used to have Liquid Len...
DB: Yeah, well we did actually, the last tour we had Jon Perrin, who worked with Liquid Len. It's the â
€˜Astral Projections' it's called, his lightshow. But this tour we're doing at the moment, weâ€™re trying
something different out, actually. If we had enough money, we'd have Jon Perrin do the liquid thing like we
did last year, plus the lightshow we've got for this tour. But it would cost too much money to do, which is
rather unfortunate because it'd be so spectacular! It would be really good. But I do like having liquid
lightshows, and our audience love them, because they've not seen this. We're about the only band in the
world doing it, you know?
I was going to say, yeah - because I remember Nektar used to do it years ago - this would have been at
about the same time, in 72 or 73... I remember <inaudible> doing it, and Gong, I don't know. But there
was the odd group playing it. But as you say, nowadays, no-one.
DB: There's not, anywhere in the world...
Everyone uses slides, even like New Wave, kind of like synth groups, like...the Eagles use slides and they
used to do liquid lights.
DB Yeah, I don't understand, I mean it's crazy really: it's so simple to actually do.
So what do you do, just have the liquid effects, or do you use slides and projections on the top of that?
DB: Well, everything: the whole thing's very visual, it's difficult to explain it. When the Silver Surfer
appears, you know, we've got a big space backdrop and the Silver Surfer actually comes out and moves out,
because the projector's going and they're putting the slides through it fast so it can, it's like a film. So you've
got the dry ice come up, and what happens, when you're projecting onto the dry ice it gives that complete
three-dimensional effect, like he's coming out into the audience. It's, I mean, we've got a video of it and it
really is good. And that's the other thing, we never had any videos and we were always lusting to do it.
And you'd think that we'd have a video of all this...
HLL: Nobody would pay for a video to be made
DB: Which I think is crazy, because we're a very visual band, we're one of the most visual bands in the
country, you know? And we've never ever had a video...
You haven't got any old videos of the band doing the Space Ritual, with Lemmy, or anything?
DB: Nothing, no...we've only got the thing the BBC did. They came down and filmed the Space Ritual in
1972. I mean, they filmed a load of stuff then...
Did they? Did they film the whole thing?
DB: Well, they filmed about half of it
Yeah? So there was 'Silver Machine' on Top Of The Pops...they only showed that. Other than thatâ€¦?
DB: Yeah, they've only actually done Silver Machine, I mean they have got some more actually. But, er,
there you are. I've got to get in touch with the BBC archives. (Laughs)
Getting the things out of them must be pretty difficult as well, I should imagine.
DB: That's all we've done, ever, which is crazy. I mean, we have actually done sort of the odd video
things, but nothing really spectacular, that you could say 'wow, that's fantastic', like last year's lightshow
which was really good. I mean, it took a long time to get that together, didn't it, we hustled for a long time
to get that, and we did it. But it was very expensive to do. That's the only problem with doing these things.
Yeah. Along with the lights, the thing that always used to get, years ago -it's not so much now- is the actual
level of sound that Hawkwind played at. Was that just an exaggeration, I mean, was it just like, a kind of
in-joke, or was it... What kind of levels did you play at, and what are you doing now in application to those
DB: What, you mean high volume levels?
Yeah, just high volume...
DB: Well, I mean, you better speak to Huwie about that! (Laughs)
HLL: I'm always getting the blame
DB: Loud-Langton, his name is, Loud-Langton (Laughs)
HLL: No worries. The volume thing always ends up coming from the PA anyway, it depends on how big
the PA is that you're using, because the actual equipment you're using on stage is all fairly minimal anyway,
it's only 100 watts. For the size of the gigs we're doing if we're playing on those sort of stages without the
PA you wouldn't hear it anyway, would you, really.
So it's just something that's just got attached to you rather than deliberately looked for?
DB: I dunno really, I'm deaf in my right ear...
HLL: Lemmy was always very loud, wasn't he?
DB: Half deaf in my right ear, yeah, because of like, the loudness of the music we played. I mean, we used
to have these speakers, the ones that are in the compressed tubes, these speakers that were really
dangerous. They're Electrovoice speakers that are in compressed cardboard, so it went directly out. And
that's what done my ears in. The sound sort of...if you imagine like straight lines, the way it comes out, like
that, and these things were awfully loud and dangerous, and that's what done me in. Itâ€™s like a
synthesizer for high frequencies.
I was going to say that because I remember reading Del Dettmar say that, I think it was Del Dettmar or Dik
Mik, one of the pair, a long time ago, said he could deafen people in the audience if he wanted to! But he
said he would try it on himself first. Just as well...
DB: Well I mean this is it, you can actually do all sorts of weird things like, especially playing synthesizers
with headphones on, it's like you get involved in another world, you know. You take the headphones off
when we're rehearsing and do some weird things. Take the headphones off and you're in another world,
and you go walking out the room, you know, arrgh, you're like that! (Laughs) There are a lot of things you
can do with synthesizers in terms of frequencies and sounds.
Yeah. Is that an area that Hawkwind...I mean, like, after listening to the Church Of Hawkwind album, is
that an area that...the synthesizer thing, that's going to be...because it's always been a part of the band, but
with Del Dettmar and Dik Mik playing the audio generator... Yeah, something like that.
DB: And EMS, Del used to have an EMS, same as what I've got now
I've read that Dik Mik couldn't actually play, is that true? That he couldn't actually just respect...go along
with the music and fill in.
DB: Yeah, he'd just fill in, yeah. But when I listened to him once, he actually used to *play* the generator,
he used to play it like a saxophone. He used to play it. Until I heard him one day, I actually never used to
listen to him too much on stage, because he was, you know...
HLL: ...he was the effects guy
DB: Yeah, effects. And when we were doing an album, we actually sort of had him up loud and we were
listening, he was actually playing along with what was going on. And I suddenly realized, he could play the
thing, you know.
HLL: Which we didn't
DB: He actually could do it.
Is he still living abroad? Didn't he go to Canada or something?
DB: Yeah, Del. He's got a band out there. Dik Mik still lives in Notting Hill Gate.
Yeah? Is he still doing anything musically at all?
HLL: He's waiting for a court case to come up actually
DB: Yes, he's always in trouble! (Laughs)
I still want to ask you a question about your actual guitar playing. Because again, and I keep saying â
€˜When I saw you a long time ago...' but the band's been together a long time so the changes are
noticeable... Am I right in saying that you seem to mix, to keep the guitar less prominent than it used to be?
DB: I don't know. Well, it's not down to me, it's down to...in fact I've got to talk to Dil [soundman] about
this! A lot of people have been saying this, saying they never hear my guitar at all, you see...
I listened to a couple of tapes, you know, live tapes of recent gigs, and I think it was like the last time I saw
you, so I don't know... It's just that a few years ago you used to be right to the fore, very prominent...
DB: And now it's right in the background
Now it's in the background, you've got lead [guitar] over it...
DB: It's not my fault...(laughs) I'll see him!
I just wondered if it was deliberate, if it was just like a change in emphasis, really...
DB: No, actually it's not, really, because I know what you're talking about and I have actually started to do
something about this. Because a couple of tapes I've heard, I couldn't even hear what...I might as well not
have played, you know? And next time we're going to make sure -
HLL: It's down to the man mixing this album...
I suppose it's very difficult when you're playing live
DB: We do sound very alike, you see, Huwie and my guitar are very similar sounding too, you see, tone-
wise... So obviously when we're both playing rhythm... When Huwie does lead it will come up loud on the
PA anyway. But then, when we're both playing rhythm, I mean, it probably does get sort of... It shouldn't!
HLL: Yeah, it should be separated
DB: Yeah, you should be able to separate - like, one on one side and one on the other side. We are looking
into that! (Laughs)
What guitars do you have nowadays anyway?
DB: Well I've got this guitar from Westone, it's called a Paduak. They're really cheap, actually, a cheap
guitar. But it's really good, I've been using it all the time just recently. I've got an Ibanez Artist, and also got
a Fender Jaguar as well.
What was the great big white one you used to have?
DB: That was, um...that was a Dick Knight. This guy used to work at...this guy called Grimshaw used to
make guitars in London. Emile Grimshaw - old boy... He used to work with him.
HLL: It was the first Les Paul copy, that, wasn't it - Grimshaw...
DB: Yeah. He only made two of those guitars, as well, yeah.
What happened to that one?
DB: I sold it! I've had some wonderful guitars and I've had to sell them because I wasn't getting paid...
You used to get a really good sound out of that one. Was that the one you sold in America?
DB: No, that was another one I sold in America. I've sold some really good guitars. I really regret selling
them too, you know. It's just that you get to point where you get really hard up. Eventually, you know, you
get really quite skint and I've had to sell. I've only managed to keep one guitar, I've always had two usually,
one as a spare. But I always ended up selling one of them, and I've always regretted it two or three months
later when my finances have got back to normal.
What about yourself, Huw - what are you using?
HLL: Gibson - I've got two Gibsons, and I've just acquired a synth, a Roland synth, which Iâ€™ve been
getting into, you know; could be quite useful. I think Gibsons are my favourite of all time, Iâ€™ve always
liked the Gibson. I've also got a Westone, been supplied with a Westone which is quite nice, you know. But
I couldn't actually leave the Gibson in the case for the sake of the Westone. [DB laughs] Although they're
very good guitars, you get used to the feel of a certain guitar and I've always actually used Gibsons.
You used to, you started off playing blues, wasn't it. Was that your original...?
DB: Yeah, when I first started playing, yeah.
And busking outside, is that right?
DB: Yeah I busked for about, probably eight years, or six years...in the streets of London! (Laughs)
So Dave, do you think, would you do it now?!
DB: Well not at the moment, I mean, I live in Devon anyway, so...!
HLL: A long way to come...
DB: But I mean, you know, it's probably all changed. Or maybe it's not, I don't know, really. I hate coming
up to London you know, it's sort of, well, I find it very...
Yeah, as I come from Cornwall, although I live up here...
DB: You know what I mean, then!
Yeah I do, if I go home for a week and then I come back up here and think 'what the f*** am I doing here'.
You get used to it and think 'oh it's boring down there'...
DB: It's nice and quiet actually, if you can actually work away from it, if you know what I mean.
How do Hawkwind, as a group, go about writing songs?
DB: Well, I mean, we just sort of get ideas, and...
HLL: ...experiment with 'em...
DB: ...and put them down on a tape and play them. (Laughs)
Yeah...um, well, some people, you know, some musicians might say 'oh, well we've got one predominant
member' who's pushing everything, and the rest just fill in. I mean, I always get the impression that
Hawkwind is very much a collective type thing. Is that the way it comes across when youâ€™re actually
writing the songs?
DB: Well everybody writes their own thing, you see! (Laughs)
HLL: It works
Do you write together?
DB: Well sometimes, yeah. I mean...it's like, if you've got an idea, you know what you want to do and you
just do it. You play it, I mean do a cassette of it, and 'What do you think of this?' Obviously you know if
it's going to be good or bad anyway. I mean, there are 'A' and 'B' numbers, you know! (Laughs) It's sort
of 'B' ones are for B-sides of singles and 'A' ones are used for A-sides and albums, and things like that. And
then, we do, like, it is pretty...you know, we add bits and pieces.
Yeah. Do you write them very quickly, as a group, I mean, is it something that comes easily, or does it...?
DB: It's a weird thing with writing, I mean sometimes you can actually do it really well for a year. And
other times, you can't, you know. It's a strange old syndrome.
HLL: Dry periods
DB: Yeah, you just sort of fluctuate, you know. Whereas... I don't know really, it's a strange sort of thing
to explain! (Laughs)
So, just something that happens, rather than...
DB: Yeah, you can make it happen sometimes, if you really have to, you know. But I mean, as long as youâ
€™ve got ideas and you're thinking all the time, and you always sort of...it's like an adrenaline surge, isn't it,
really. It comes along and if you can keep it going, and have ideas to keep as foresight for the next project...
And you've got all these projects in your head, thinking 'OK, that one's finished, you know...', right. The
album we've just done - I'm sort of doing next year, I'm sort of on, I'm thinking up wonderful ideas for next
year's tour, in fact! I tell you man, it'll be fantastic, I've got all these wonderful ideas! I went to see a
comedian, this is with lights and all that, and we were talking about this tour, but I've got, you know, the
most wonderful ideas for the next one.
HLL: A year ahead all the time...
DB: Yeah, you know, and like...numbers and things like this, all of it. It's highly frustrating, you know.
Probably get everything out and then all of a sudden something else will come...
DB: Yeah, because whatever you do, isn't it. I mean, it's like a picture - you paint a picture and throw that
one aside and think 'Right, the next - let's do the next one', you know. And the thing is, I'm very impatient
anyway, must do the next thing, you know. I heard the album yesterday - â€˜Oh Christ!' (laughs)
Is that the new one? You just finished that?
DB: Yeah, we finished that in July.
When's that going to be released?
DB: In a couple of week's time.
What's it like? Is it similar to, like, Church Of Hawkwind stuff?
DB: Well some of it is, actually, and some of it's not. I don't know - I really haven't heard... I didn't
actually, I haven't *listened* to it, to tell you the truth. I haven't listened to it since July! (Laughs) And I...
we've got to actually work out numbers from the album for the stage show. I've forgotten how numbers
go, completely. I'm not kidding you! I cannot remember how to play the actual numbers, you know?
What I've got to do is go home and listen to the original tapes I've done, and work out on the guitar what I
was actually playing, you know, because I can't remember! It's crazy, you know...but there we are...
I read somewhere that when you did the Church Of Hawkwind one, that it turned out electronically based
because the drummer was ill. Is that right?
DB: Yeah. Well, we have been taking to using a drum machine quite often, you see. Because they are
wonderful things that keep the time so well! (Laughs) I play with a drum machine all the time, at home,
you know. I love playing with drum machines because they've really got scope, you can do so many
wonderful things around them, where drummers sort of get tired and start slowing down, you know, the
drum machine goes on for ever! Yeah... And they are good because you can programme all these synths
with it. I mean I'm finding it really easy because I can set everything going at home and just have them all
sort of linked up...and just play the guitar, and have everything just going all the time, just carry on along.
Boring, some of this, it might be boring playing something for an hour! (Laughs) It's quite wonderful, you
Yeah. Do you have a recording studio in Devon?
You do - is it just, like, a small one, or is it open for people to come and use it?
DB: It's not. It's a room like this, in fact, with all my stuff in there, you know. I just have my gear set up in
the room. Eight-track tape, I just record everything down to eight-track
Yeah - so it's not one you've built for commercial [use], just like, for your personal...?
DB: Yeah, just for my personal entertainment! (Laughs) I spend all my time sitting up there and mucking
Hawkwind is very much like a family, isn't it, you get lots of people who come, leave, rejoin, argue, go off,
come back again, start another [band], walk in, walk out and all the rest of it. Presumably that's one
reason why it's kept going, you know, it's kept it fresh. Because you seem quite enthusiastic about it still,
though you've been doing it for...
DB: Yeah, well I think it'll go on for quite a while, actually, won't it. It's open to... It's many-faceted you
see, that's it. People come and people go. I mean we've got Nik coming back to do this tour, Nicky
Yeah, I heard that, somebody was saying that. He played at Donington, didn't he? Somebody was saying to
me that they thought he might be...
DB: And then we get Mike Moorcock coming along and doing a bit, and Bob Calvert comes along and does a
little bit, sort of just come in and out, you know, doing that...
Yeah. Is Nik Turner doing the whole tour?
DB: Yeah. We've got to rehearse, though, first. He's got to rehearse his saxophone playing to make sure he
plays in tune! (Laughs)
Yeah, I was listening to the Donington one, and it was... you know...
DB: We've got to have a master switch, I think to switch him off! (Laughs)
Why, does he get a bit carried away?
DB: He does, yes, he does tend to do that (Laughs)
That's very diplomatic
DB: I used to throw beer cans at him, actually, on stage, before...full ones, as well...when he used to go on
and on. I'd be doing the vocals and he's just play blithely across them. One day I threw a beer can,
smacked him right in the ear and knocked him down. And he fell on the floor. I was so pissed off -
'f***ing c***!' [stamps feet on the floor in recalled frustration] And he went 'whack!' and fell down, you
know. And I said 'Every f***ing time you do that!' You know, I was really pissed off. I mean, he would
do it over and over again, we used to have all these scenes before we go on - 'Make sure you don't play
when the vocals are on, Nik', 'All right', you know, and off it would go. He did it at Stonehenge. At
I know what we were talking about - we were just talking about the way Hawkwind's kept going, because
DB: Its fluctuating membership, that was it, wasn't it...
That's it, we were talking about that really. And I was interested because you were saying about Nik Turner,
and I said 'I shouldn't think...', that was just before we came in, I said would there be a chance of him
rejoining, you know, on a permanent / recording [basis]...
DB: I don't know, really, I mean he's sort of, he's just doing what he wants to do, really...
HLL: He's got a lot of things in the can that he wants to get finished, which is...his band, Inner City Unit,
was sort of interfering with, so he's quite glad that's over with, really. So he can get on with his other
projects, you know.
What about Bob Calvert?
DB: Well, he's in a mental home at the moment!
HLL: Committed himself
DB: He's completely...gone nutty...for a few months, but he'll be all right again soon.
HLL: Quite conveniently, from what I hear
DB: Very convenient. Well, he goes completely screwy, f***s everybody up and puts himself in a mental
home to escape it all, the consequences. He really seriously does, man, and he comes back...
HLL: Apparently he owes a lot of money out to different people, I mean, you're not liable to pay if youâ€™re
sort of incapable, are you?
No, that's true. Evades responsibility...
DB: Yeah, that's it, you know? So...that's what he's doing. Michael Moorcock's being thrown out of his
house up in Yorkshire, because he...
DB: Yeah, you know, he...all sorts of scenes. He's owed loads of money by lots of people
DB: Yeah, and for publishing, royalties accrued, you know. It's our old manager who's the devious person...
DB: Yeah. He's actually managed to assign things and doesn't pay anybody royalties
I always got the impression that Michael Moorcock...is he, well, financially sound? I would have thoughtâ€¦
DB: Well he's not, he's very hard up, actually. He's owed a lot of money
It's remarkable because he seems so successful in his writing. Especially the last few years, I mean, heâ€™s
really got critical acclaim - a lot...
DB: He is, yeah. But he doesn't get much. He gets in all sorts of problems with publishing, you know, and
things like that. He's a very easy-going bloke as well, he's not the normal sort of, er...he's not a nasty
person. Whereas, probably were he...if he pushed it he'd get his money. He's a very amiable sort of person,
so he's taken advantage of quite a lot, you see.
Yeah - well, um, so he might be...do you think he'll still be doing, might come along, might do poems and
things like that?
DB: Oh yeah, I'm sure he will, yeah. I'm sure when we get touring he'll probably pop up in a few places up
North, because he lives up there, near Richmond.
Yeah - I thought he still lived in Notting Hill, I suppose because it's in the front of his books...
DB: He did. Yeah, he does...he used to live in Notting Hill Gate, but he moved up to Yorkshire. But I think
he's probably going to come back to Notting Hill Gate because he's getting kicked out up there!
Is there anybody else that you've been involved with, apart from the old favourites? I mean, other people,
not only in music but in lights, or...well, you've said about...
DB: ...Jon Perrin, who used to work with us... No, not really - is there? There's no-one else, is there? No...
can't think of any
What about your own...the Sonic Assassins? Because I know you've...
DB: Yeah, well the Sonic Assassins thing was the nucleus of the band, really, in 1977... Sort of, that band
was Hawklords, the Sonic Assassins. That was just sort of...you know...
So it's not meant to be like an outlet for you to do solo things?
DB: Well, not really. I've got a solo deal for an album next year, which I've done anyway, [and] which I've
got quite a few people playing on. But I mean, I can't really get that together until after we've finished doing
Yeah. It's quite a big tour, isn't it?
DB: Yeah, I mean we're working every day for about four weeks, which is all right, it's not too bad once
you get going, it's OK. In fact it's quite good fun, isn't it Huw?! (Laughs)
HLL: Oh yeah, it's great, it's good fun doing a long tour, like
DB: Sitting in hotel rooms, getting up and driving the car to the next one and in sitting in more rooms,
watching... All it is, is like, waiting for the two hours to play on stage. That's all it is. Such a weird thing,
you're only living for that two hours. So that's what you do, only live for those two hours, itâ€™s most
peculiar. Two hours of pleasure and sometimes they're not pleasure, something goes wrong, you know...it's
a long punt...
As a group, Hawkwind has...because as they were identified, perhaps, with I don't know, years ago, anti-
authority, when you used to get busted and all the rest of it... How did you react when the punk thing
happened, as a band? Did it any way seem...remind you, perhaps, of when you were a few years younger?
Did it affect you as a group, in that...?
DB: Yeah, well actually...no, we actually did influence a lot of people in a lot of these bands...
Well, that's what I reckon...
DB: A lot of the musicians come up and see us at gigs, and say, you know, even Bad Manners. You know
what, we were going to get Buster [Bloodvessel], yeah... You see, all these bands are still pretty much doing
the same things as what we were doing. We haven't changed, we've carried on doing the same things, you
know. I mean, really, we don't become public whereas they do, you know, they go to all the same things
like LSD, dope smoking, getting busted and getting harassed by the police. I mean, thatâ€™s what we used
to have all the time. Because if you're in the forefront you always get that, you know. Well, it's in the front
line, the front line of the battle to legalise cannabis. You're going to get harassed all the time by the police,
which is a real pain in the arse, you know.
I mean all the things like what we did then, like in the 70's, to try and get all these things under way, are
actually, it's like a great wheel and it gradually turns. Now the police are saying 'yes, it's not so bad after all',
you know, even that Anderton guy supported it. There was a programme on the telly about it just recently.
It actually had the police, I think a couple of Inspectors, from up in Yorkshire, coming up and saying it
should be legalised, decriminalised. Which is like, you know...all through the 70â€™s we were sort of
saying, you know, 'it's got to be legalised' and things like this, Because itâ€™s crazy to think that two thirds
of the population smoke dope, you know. And like, the police and so on seem to have downers on people
that do - you know what I mean.
Do you ever get any police trouble any more, or is it...or they leave you alone?
DB: Not all that much, we have actually had a few things, which have been really foolish and stupid. Iâ
€™ve been stopped and searched, you know...followed all the way from London by the police, thinking they
can cleverly outfox me, and I've sussed it out, you know! And we've been pulled over amd strip searched
and everything, so we still get all the hassles.
Do you think they know who you are? Because I've got a theory that they take your car number. I mean, I
was at Bracknell free festival in '76, something like that, and I had a car - a beat-up Triumph Herald. And
I was driving down to Cornwall afterwards and this car just pulled in behind me, a cop car, and went off.
I'm sure they like, phoned up or something. They stopped me. The car was like...they could have done me
for something, I'm sure. But they didn't look at the car, they just said â€˜Where are you coming from?' I
just said 'Camborne, Camborne in Cornwall'. They said â€˜Oh, that's a good place for growing cannabis,
isn't it - all those little plants rising up to the sky.â€™ And I'm sure that they've got these... They went on
like that for ten minutes! I just couldnâ€™t get over it, I just drove lightly, you know.
DB: Well they do do it, I mean, it's computerised now, they can immediately... I think they have actually got
a complete dossier, on a computer, obviously, of *everybody*. 'Cause even if you, if you do CND festivals,
I mean like we do a CND festival, we're always, you know, like, they're checking up on that. They've got a
dossier, OK, that we played at that, they know the facts. Down at Pye Worthy there was a, against a
nuclear power station, they actually had a meeting down in Devon, you know. Not really... Top people
turned up down there, MP's, and the police were down there taking car numbers and it was on the televison,
it was on the news, was it News At Ten? Yeah, it was News At Ten, they actually had a thing about the
police taking car numbers. Why were they doing this? 'Cause there were MP's down there, that's why
caused a scene. But they have probably got a huge of dossier of what everything's been going on all the
way through your whole lifetime. So I mean, they can do that now. â€˜Oh yeah, well, they've sort of been
put out to pasture a bit, I should imagine they're out of the front lines, now that the other boys have come
HLL: They've got a lot to deal with these days, anyway, haven't they, apart from all that
DB: They do it, you know.
And as well, they end up hassling just the people who are not going to pluck up... the free festivals, you
know, the people... When I was at Bracknell they were photographing people and taking names and
addresses, and we said to them -I didn't let them get mine, I kept out of the way!- but they were doing the
ones that were, like, really stoned out of their brains. I mean, those people aren't going to do anything. I
mean, they've got it hard enough to get by from one day to another. So we said to them, you know, the ones
who weren't in such a bad state as some of them, we said 'What are you doing this for?' They said 'Oh, it's
to protect ourselves in case any of you take out court action against us for police violence'. I said 'Well
what the hell is *he* going to do, I mean do you think he's capable?' I mean, you know, look at one of the
blokes who they were photographing, name and address... And I said 'You're making a criminal out of him'
and he hasn't committed any offence because he hasn't got any drugs on him. He hasn't done any...you
know. It's quite frightening, really, I think...
DB: That's what they do on sort of everybody, I mean what they're doing is any free festivals like that, it's
a...nobody thinks they do. Take pictures, they note all the car numbers and they're all out there taking
photographs all the time. Tying in who knows so-and-so, who comes from maybe the Midlands, knows
someone down in Devon. And what they do is, they sort of get all the...it's like, you know, a huge dossier
where they can actually control people's movements and how they actually fluctuate and know each other.
And they keep tabs on what's going on. I mean, that's what they do all the time, really. But then you just
ignore it. If you start sort of getting heavily involved, you get paranoid and too completely frightened to do
anything. It's crazy, really.
So you think that...you *know* that you influenced quite a few people, a lot of the people - in music or just
in the spirit of the group?
DB: Well I think both, actually, music and spirit, you know, because of what we've been into, I mean, like all
the underground newspapers that we used to finance. Even last year, I mean Nik and me actually paid for
Stonehenge to get under way, we actually put the money up front to get it going. Things like, that, you
know, we're still doing it, really. Though we just take a back seat, really, now! (Laughs) But weâ€™re still
What do you think about the present musical climate, like with the so-called... Well, the punk groups have
either become famous or they've faded away. And you've got like the new heavy metal groups and you said
yourself, you didn't see yourself really as part of that when you played Donington. What's your opinion,
both of you, on those sorts of things that are going on? Musically, really, I suppose...
HLL: Well, it's all over the place, isn't it? I mean, there's nothing that's particularly popular, I mean more
popular than, you know... Heavy metal has faded a bit over the last year, you know, it's not as dominant as
it was, it's not as popular as it was. But I mean, it's still there and so is the New Wave...
DB: It's what the record business wants it to be, really. I mean, they want all these sort of different
categories of music to be successful, they can actually front money up like that lot up there, who work hard:
I mean, all these bands work hard but they are fronted by the big companies to actually push 'em to that
peak, you know, where the fans are convinced they are fantastic, sort of, you know what I mean.
HLL: I think it's all mellowed out a bit, you know, there's no sort of...it doesn't seem as fanatic as it has been
No, it seems to me, if you like, there's been two peaks, one of which you were a part of ten years ago, as a
DB: It's all offshoots, it's like that at the moment, there's no... It's like you were saying about, when punk
rock come out, which really has been going for years - all these things have been going for years, it just
come in vogue, you know? And so, I mean bands like Kraftwerk, which are, influenced all the New
Romantic sort of side of music, you know, which is just drum machines, you know what I mean. So
you've got all this sort of levels of things, and they think 'OK, we'll have a got at trying to sort of push this
sound, try and make it popular, make a lot of bread out of it' 'Cause that's what they want to do, and then it
fails. Probably the next thing that's going to happen is the Forties, you know, they're going to try that as the
next thing. Because that's what they do. 'Cause whereas things sort of last a decade, they don't do that
now, they last for two years now.
DB: Yeah, and notice, because people are trying to hear, they're trying to find something definite which they
can relate to. And sort of, music quite often is the only thing they can relate to, it's the only thing in the
world they can actually relate to. Because, I mean if you're in a forest in Africa you can carry a transistor
|Above: Huw and Dave on stage at the Monmore Festival, June 1982. The following interview dates from a
few months later and clocks in at 47:03...thanks once again to Dave Law who provided me with the tape
from which I transcribed it. I don't think this interview was ever broadcast in audio form, and if a transcript
was published anywhere, I don't know about it. So this could be its' first outing for all I know!