|Hawkwind interview, October 1989
I am becoming used to transcribing interview tapes where the sound quality is muddy or muffled, but this
one overlaid the conversation between interviewer and interviewees above a sometimes blasting soundtrack
of Hawkwind playing 'Back In The Box', 'Wind Of Change' and 'Lost Chronicles' on the Autumn 1989 US
tour. So a lot of this was very difficult to follow!
I believe the interview was done for a Bay Area college radio station, on Monday 9th October 1989.
We're blessed with the arrival of Hawkwind tonight, here in the control room. It's been a few years since
they were last here...[laughter from band]...well, maybe it's only been twenty years! Maybe we could
identify the voices here...Dave Brock...
DB: "Hello everybody!"
...and Harvey Bainbridge...
HB: "Hello there, how are you?!"
...and Alan Davey...
AD: "Hi, man"
...and Richard Chadwick...
DB: "Richard Chadwick! "
You're the new guy...
All: "Hello!" "We're on holiday!" "Holiday!"
HB: "Because it's taken eleven years to get over here, we decided we ought to actually stay a little bit
longer. So we're staying here and having a little holiday afterwards."
DB: "But we'd like to come back and play a bit longer, actually. We'd love to come back here, because it is
Do you still do the free circuits?
DB: "Yeah. I mean before we came over, actually, we were playing at a festival in, or near <inaudible>, we
had a three-day binge there, actually! (Laughs) We never recovered, and then we had to fly out over here,
and we still never caught up really."
HB: "Yeah, it was complete devastation."
DB: "Yeah...devastating...but it's good fun, though! We do a lot of free festivals in England"
HB: "All the time, there are lots of the things happening."
It's always frustrating from my community, to read Melody Maker or NME and see Hawkwind dates in the
UK and not here, so I sure hope this gets together...
HB: "I'm surprised there aren't more sort of free festivals going on over here, really..."
There haven't been any for a very long time. All there is country fayres, with, er, fiddling and stuff. I
don't know, the music scene has changed really dramatically over here
HB: "Money - is it money?"
Um, in part, and it's very difficult to get permits for very large things now.
DB: "Well, we have the same problem in England, but I mean, what we do is, we just do it, you know. If
you start trying to pay attention to everything that goes on, you've just got to go ahead and do things, you
know, and get them done."
Well that's how you get anything done, you 'back door' it...
...and get the permit later... It's what I've always done, anyway.
DB: "Quite right, too. We agree" (laughs)
HB: "Blatantly go ahead and do it, and chaos ensues..."
DB: "Sort it all out afterwards..."
HB: "Because half the time nothing happens, you know, and people say 'Oh, you can't do that' and 'you
can't do that', and 'you've got to get permission'. And you say 'Yeah? Well, we're here and we're doing it.'
And the other half of the time they move you on, anyway."
DB: "Yeah, I mean we all get shifted on a lot. I mean quite often you get loads of people turn up for a
festival, and the police are down there and move them on to another site, then another site, and eventually,
you know, some...they get fed up with moving people around and just let it go on. But over here, there's so
much space and room, you should be able to do it anywhere, you know."
You would think so...it's very difficult to get outdoors permission...
DB: "You see, the other thing in England, we've got no radio stations like you've got over here. I mean,
we've obviously we've got sort of minimal sort of coverage, but to get anything out on the radio to say 'OK,
let's do this' at such-and-such a time, albeit...you know. I mean, what we have to do is, we get sort of
newsletters that everybody hands out. At a certain period of time everybody heads for a certain place, turns
up there, and there's a message where to go to next. You get about, maybe three or four hundred vehicles
of people all trying to get down country lanes, driving around looking for this spot, you know!"
It's like a road rally
DB: "Yeah, it is. It's like a game, you know, where you throw the dice, and then you have to advance a
few paces and then you get sent on to a different spot."
HB: "As soon as a vehicle has arrived and starts parking up, you know what? Half an hour the stage is
getting put together, you know, people are out..."
DB: "But people are...it's very resilient, because I mean it's amazing how it all comes together, like someone
will bring bits of the stage, the stage is set up, a generator will turn up, you know, tarpaulin for the top of
HB: "And people like us turn up"
DB: "And then someone brings you know, like cafes, and then it all starts happening. Yeah, good fun. I do
like doing it, too."
HB: "I guess it's believable that it's too loud at times, but it's usually fine"
Well that's the problem over here with outdoor things, because the sound just travels and travels, and even
small things can't be taken...
HB: "Yeah, I mean, but because you've got so much open space that I can see how you could have these
things happening which isn't going to disturb anybody. So therefore I think it's a possibility - not to have a
*crowd* of them..."
DB: "Well, yeah, I mean, it's the same thing in England. They're trying to put through ID cards now,
because we don't have to carry anything around, I mean you have to carry ID cards here, don't you... You
can go anywhere you like, but what they're trying to do is to change that, so everybody has to have ID
cards so they know where you are, what you're doing and such, you know."
HB: "In London now you can't actually walk down certain streets because they're barricaded off by the
police, like Downing Street, you've got to almost, like, book, to walk into Downing Street now. Whereas
even up to 20 or 10 years ago, there were police in the street, you know, at no. 10, but you could walk up
and down there. But it's changing, now it's barricaded, they've blocked it off and you can't walk down it."
DB: "A lot of laws have been put through, gatherings of more than ten people are not allowed, and vehicles
- not more than four vehicles in a convoy, you know. I mean, you get stopped and searched, there's a lot
of laws that have been put through that are really, you know, against any reasonable sense."
Well there's some of that going on here, they have the anti-cruising laws in some of the towns, where you
can't just drive up and down the street on a Friday night.
AD: "You can't do it like in Easy Rider? No cruising allowed?"
Right, yeah, exactly. The low riders like to do that...I did that as a kid, you know. It didn't hurt anybody.
But it seems to be going away...
HB: "There seems to be a big social control..."
DB: "Everybody's got to do as they're told, stay indoors and watch television, and eat garbage food, you
know. That's what it seems, what's going on over here. It's terrible."
Hey, peace makes the world going around, where would you be without McDonalds?! (laughs)
HB: "Wasn't it Goethe who said that if everyone was to stay in their rooms there'd be no trouble in the
No people eating...
DB: "There'd be trouble in their rooms!"
HB: "You can all get Back In Your Boxes now. Get Back In The Box."
Are there still Hawkwind Conventions in the UK?
DB: "Yeah. We had one...well, not this year, but next year now. We were going to do it this year, there
was one a couple of years ago that was really big, really chaotic."
AD: "It was five years ago!"
DB: "Was it five years ago? Oh dear!" (Laughs)
Could you explain a little bit what that's all about, most people have no idea.
DB: "Well, a Hawkwind Convention is about a thousand people all turning up in one place, where they book
a big hall and they bring paintings, or loads of artwork, rare records, videos, and they just put it on for about
24 hours continuously. Everybody talking to us, drive us nutty, asking questions - 'Tell me, do you realize
that blah blah blah'... 'No, I didn't...', you know."
HB: "You only got any peace of mind when you fell over!"
DB: "Yeah, and you have to escape every so often, I mean, it's just like real Hawkwind freaks just talking
about all these different swaps, doing swaps with each other, with records, and, er, generally going nutty
and getting stoned, I think!"
The only thing like that we have over here is Star Trek conventions
DB: "It's the same sort of thing, yeah."
HB: "Exactly the same sort of thing. They come up with their rareties, anything and everything to do with
the band, you know. Some of the things are very good actually, because people do their own paintings,
DB: "Yeah, we did the World Science Fiction fair a few years ago, didn't we, and that was fantastic. Three
days that was, they booked three big hotels with convention centres and all that, and we played in the Dome
there, didn't we?"
I've always been amazed that the band has never been used on the soundtrack to a sci-fi film, I mean it's
just an absolute natural.
DB: "We're amazed as well!"
Yeah, I bet! (Laughs)
HB: "We did make a concerted effort -do you remember?- a few years ago, we actually made an attempt to
get some music off and see what we could do..."
DB: "Yeah, we did tapes, you know, we did nice spacey tapes, but they just got thrown into the, thrown
down the toilet, and that was the end of it all."
But there was even a film that came out over here, called 'Damnation Alley' and I thought 'this is it!', but...
HB: "There was one called 'Brainstorm' "
DB: "Yeah, there's lots, there's all sorts, like 'Death Trap'...all these things, yeah, they all come out of, er..."
HB: "And even on, um, when you see things like event parachute jumping - 'Free Fall', that song sums up
the whole thing but you've got Pink Floyd burbling away."
And now we've got toys over here...
DB: "Yes, the Hawkwind Air Raiders! And there's computer games with us all featuring in the games as
well. Only, it's... quite a lot of things happening, but I mean it's very strange that musically, with what
we're doing, we're very sort of 'swept under the carpet', I suppose. Because we're always anti- everything
that goes on, I think."
AD: "Yeah, that's right, you know"
Well there's a distinctive lack of new content in the interview pages of the NME and the Melody Maker...
DB: "They don't ever do anything, you see."
HB: "They don't like us."
DB: "They don't like us at all, you know, because you see, we're completely separate, we can do anything
we want in England, we can go where we want, play where we like. And we've got complete and utter
control, we don't have to spend any energy on the media, really, do we? And sort of, you know we can
play concerts with lots of people there, people seem to have a good time with lots of good things
happening. And that's it, so we don't need to use all that."
You've snubbed them, you've made it happen despite them, then, they don't like that.
DB: "What they used to do, they used to turn up and say that we'd been, give us a slagging review, oh yes,
and half the time they'd go home and not see the concert. We found this out a few times and thought,
'right, that's it' - never are we going to have anything to do with them any more, you know. But
unfortunately, you know, in this, in the music business, you know as well as I do that it's so corrupt, there's
so many backhanders going on..."
DB: "Yes, of course! They say it must go on in America even more, you know! But we would love to be
able to get over and actually do a few things, you see, but it's pretty much the same, you know. I mean,
there's lots of...I'm sure we could do a few free festivals over here, and have a good time, you know.
People want that. It's very easy to do, everybody, just a concerted effort and, you know..."
HB: "Just get outside, that's all we want, in the country..."
Well, it's so wrapped up in this country at this moment with the commercial radio, in the aeroplane and all
that stuff, that a lot of people just don't go outside that, and so a lot of folks don't know enough about who
you are or whatever. I'm always happy, almost, and pleased when I talk to somebody and talk to them
about Hawkwind and who they are, and they say 'do these guys have any records out?', you know.
DB: "Yeah...we've released hundreds in twenty years!"
Yeah exactly, there's forty or fifty albums and you know, all this live stuff, and singles and things, and they
say 'What?!' I noticed some of the folks at The Stone, Saturday night in San Francisco, they'd never seen
you before and they were totally amazed, kicking themselves around the blocking because they didn't know
about you. It's twenty years of history...
DB: "They're up to date now, though!"
I guess they are, yeah! (Laughter) They'd better stay with it... Any passing words for North America?
DB: "Well, it's a beautiful country here, don't spoil it!"
Too late! (Laughter)
DB: "There's too much eating going on here!"
HB: "Yes, it's a beautiful country you've got here..."
AD: "Don't go building all over it!"
Well, what will we do with all the more people?
DB: "Well, there's plenty of open space..."
But how are we going to find places for Hawkwind to live over here and play over here if we don't build
DB: "Vans, we live in vans in England...and we're quite easy to accommodate - isn't that right, Richard?"
On the beach - or you can always stay at my house...
DB: "You ought to see where he's sleeping now, he's sleeping in this bus, on shelves in this bus! I mean,
you know, you wouldn't believe it, right... We travelled, I tell you what, we travelled in two days, we
travelled nineteen hundred miles in two days, on these little shelves, you know..."
AD: "Like battery hens...."
Battery hens! Did you cryogenically suspend yourselves, or even have the windows open?!
DB: "Well, we were smoking up the old pipe - but up the chimney!"
Well I certainly hope you're back soon and I hope your show goes well tonight. And welcome back to
America after eleven years!
HB: "Let's hope people come out and see the show and enjoy it. Thank you..."
DB, RC:, AD: "Thank you - thank you - thank you..."