Hawkwind: hunting with the pack (St. Alban's Review, Thursday, October 21, 1982):
They've been written off and slagged off by just about every expert in the music paper business. Their
musical technique has been seriously questioned. But they don't care. And why should they? For Hawkwind
has a faithful following of supporters who know that the band isn't likely to "cop out" on them on the chance
of making quick money.
The band has been around for 13 years in various forms and has stayed true to the "underground" audiences
it sprang from. On Thursday Hawkwind opened their 1982 tour at the Regal in Hitchin with a two night stint.
In the middle of the tour Hawkwind come to St Albans City Hall (Saturday October 30).
If the show at the Regal was anything to go by it will be a mind blowing experience. The band, which plays
heavy metal or acid rock music, creates a wall of sound with its insistent beat and myriad electronically
produced sound effects. The audience becomes part of the space machine which forms the backdrop for the
group's stage performance. The throbbing, pulsating beat so evident behind the electronic sound has the
audience in ecstacy jumping up and down and flinging their heads from side to side.
Hawkwind came to prominence in 1972 with their million selling single Silver Machine, but had attracted a
small fanatical audience in 1970 when their first album had been released. Another hit single has never been
released but that was a conscious decision not to go down the popularity road, said founder member and
driving force Dave Brock.
"We could have done it all after Silver Machine. It is a very tempting situation to become rich, make a load of
money but become entirely corrupted by the music business," said Dave. He liked not being under a big
record company's thumb because "It is very hard to find someone responsible - they don't say what you
should be doing but when you try to insist on ideas it is very hard to get through the barrier, it's like an
"We are not obscured in a crowd of pound notes," he exclaimed. But surely Silver Machine must have made
them all quite rich? "All the money we get we put back into our live show." After the hit single Hawkwind
toured the country with a space science fiction fantasy called Space Ritual, which they recorded live. "We
are not particularly rich. We are against ripping people off to make money. It is quite an insult to people's
intelligence when these things go on."
For a band that's freely admitted to being "into" drugs their business ethics seem extraordinarily high. Indeed
Hawkwind will still perform free of charge for certain ideals - the legislation of cannabis and and nuclear
bomb demonstrations. But then they always have been a bit out of the ordinary as far as their behaviour
goes. At the Bob Dylan topped Isle of Wight festival in 1970 Hawkwind, uninvited, played outside the gates
as a protest at the high prices being asked of the audience. And Nik Turner gained some notoriety in the
national media when he painted his face silver gaining an accolade from Jimi Hendrix who dedicated a song
on his album to "the cat with the silver face."
1978 saw the beginning of the end and a new beginning for Hawkwind. Not long after Simon House left to
join David Bowie on tour, the band split with Dave Brock forming Hawklords, which had little impact. A
year later it too, was disbanded when Bob Calvert, Hawkwind's sci-fi mentor left having decided "he wanted
to be a writer, not a rock star."
A new Hawkwind was formed in 1979. Since then more albums have been recorded with the changes in the
band's membership being as often as ever. Although the band has a high turnover of musicians the style
remains distinctly Hawkwind. Dave Brock insists the old sound has returned. "Now it sounds a lot more like
it did a few years ago. For a few years it wavered and we lost it but now we're getting it back."
He recently turned down a Â£Â¼m deal because: "It is such a lot of arguments and bad scenes. It is very
difficult to explain unless you have experienced it. It makes people very arrogant" he said. "It is very easy to
get involved in booze and drugs along with the ego problem. You get hit by hangers-on who eat your grub.
We could have loads of people in here now eating and drinking - it's like a course in over-indulgence."
All Hawkwind's "hangers-on" have long since been given the order of the boot. The band's line up now is
Dave Brock (guitar, vocals, synthesizer), Bill Griffiths (drums), Harvey Bainbridge (keyboards, bass guitar),
Huw Lloyd Langton (lead guitar), and Nik Turner (saxophone and vocals).
Their records have been dismissed with remarks like "even technical competence is at question or which are
remarkably ill-conceived" by the Rolling Stones Record Guide. The guide also says of them: "concept
overshadows music pretty drastically throughout the Hawkwind opus and whatever social importance the
band might have been credited with has dissipated over the years." The band's dialogue with the music press
is understandably a little strained. Ignored by the media, now the slagging has stopped, Hawkwind quite like
the silence. "They don't bother to come to us. We got slagged off and then we discovered people were
writing about our concerts who weren't there!" But they don't care any more. The band can regularly fill
gigs around the country with its faithful following without the music press scribes. Even so, it is noticeable
the new album Choose Your Masques has a relic of the past on it -yes, Silver Machine- although it wasn't
included in the Regal set.
|Above: live on stage at the Liverpool Empire, 18th October 1982
The Silver Machine Powers On - Hawkwind tune up for high-tech stage show (The Oxford Times,
11th November 1982):
You can expect to see Hawkwind's Dave Brock out and about in Oxford at the weekend. For Dave, who
brings the band to the Apollo on Sunday, rates Oxford as one of his favourite venues. "I love the place," he
says. "We stay in the same hotel just outside the city centre and I always make a point of having a wander
around town. There's a really good atmosphere."
He wasn't quite as happy with his surroundings when I spoke to him at his hotel in the Potteries earlier this
week, but at least he was pleased with the way the band's five-week tour was shaping up. Hawkwind
always lay on an extravagant show and that can cause problems in the early stages. "Often it is not until the
third week of a tour that it all comes together," Dave admitted. "We've just got this one right but that's the
trouble with touring - just when you've got it going it's over."
This year's offering -to promote the Choose Your Masques album- promises to be a rea1 spectacular. The
stage set features banks of television screens all linked to a central computer and arranged into a V-shape.
By using a huge painted screen as a backdrop they've created a stunning tunnel vision effect fronted by two
girl dancers doing what the band describes as a "twenties-style mime show."
"It's a very unusual show," said Dave. "No-one has done anything quite like this before and we're pretty
pleased with the result."
Hawkwind are rock's eternal tourists. Since 1970 when the band were formed they've been on the road
almost non-stop. "We really enjoy it," said Dave. "We wouldn't do it if we didn't. We are one of the few
bands that can sell out a big tour and the constant challenge keeps us on our toes. The travelling is the
worst bit, but once we arrive and start soundchecks in the theatre it makes it all seem worthwhile. When
we step out on stage for the show it's the peak of the day."
Dave is currently midway through recording a solo album, but he insisted that there are no plans for the
band to go their separate ways. "We're off to America in April, and we're already thinking about ideas for
our next tour" he said. "We're still enjoying it and as long as we do, we'll just keep on rocking."