|A couple of odd bedfellows here - the only common thread being that they date from 1990 and both hail
from mainstream UK publications. I don't actually know which particular(ly) wretched organ carried the
first of these articles, but the tabloid style of presentation is unmistakable
So Dave, do you still experiment with drugs?
"Experiment? I don't have to, I'm a doctor now!" Dave Brock, guiding light behind Hawkwind's brew of
quark, strangeness and charm ("I suppose you could call me the captain") laughs as he reclines in his seat in
the dressing room prior to the band's performance at Liverpool's Royal Court Theatre. The Hawks are on
yet another annual UK trek, this time taking in twenty-five towns, as they release their new, typically titled
Space Bandits album.
Brock is in reasonably good spirits considering he's suffering from a badly bruised and consequently
bandaged left ankle - after being kicked by a horse! The result is that he plays most of tonight's gig sitting
down, not that this matters for, as ever, a Hawkwind performance offers an experience based as much on
the light show and overall hypnotic-like sound waves as the movements of the personalities on stage. It's an
event that has evolved into some kind of ritual for the band's hardcore following, who support them ardently
despite the lack of any real corporate promotion.
"We've become like a laughable institution now," Brock says of the Hawks' ability to survive through the
fluctuations in fortune the years have brought. "Don't forget we are still playing space music. We still sort
of play like West Coast acid guitar stuff, there's not many people who actually play in that sort of style any
more. We're still using lots of electronic sounds. It's a sort of rhythmic beat music.
"We're quite unpredictable," he continues. "We never play the same number the same way twice. It's
always a bit different. The light show's different, every year we've got different things happening on stage.
Sometimes we're good, sometimes we're bad, but I used to go and see bands knowing there was always
something unusual going to happen. Most bands nowadays are very predictable and boring."
After a turbulent 20 odd years, Brock could well be forgiven for looking back on the band's career and
thinking "What a long strange trip it's been" - appropriately, an album title by the Grateful Dead, whom some
would say are their US counterparts (in spirit at least).
"We're still ongoing though, we're still doing it," he says. "I don't look back, I don't consider it as a career,
you see. We do it for fun."
Fun as it is, the guitarist / keyboard player / vocalist is still mightily miffed at the endless plethora of
unofficial Hawkwind product that has found its way onto the market over the last decade.
"So many bloody stupid companies keep putting these compilations out, I tell you what you can put down,
about the load of owed royalties we never get. Half the time we don't know what's coming out. People do
these little deals, form their little labels, put a record out and the only thing we do get is publishing (money).
But we don't get any royalties for the record. We've tried suing and everything, it's cost a lot of money.
But it's all corrupt this business, isn't it?"
"It's like a painting, you get a painter who can paint a picture, and a band who create music -which is
basically an art form- and out of this you get huge amounts of people making money out of them and the
band are always bottom of the pile."
Mention the revival of interest in things psychedelic and Brock is quite happy to see its return, be it in the
shape of certain Mancunian bands stealing from the past or not. And talking of the past, ask him to think of
highlights or low points over the last 21 years and all you'll get is "there's been loads of both."
He ponders for a while, then perks up. "We never actually got any gold or silver discs! That's another
piss-off. We sold a quarter of a million records or something, and the record company were gonna give us
our gold discs at some big feast they were laying on. We never went and we never got them. I wrote and
so did Lemmy but to this day we've never received any. It really pisses me off to think they can't put
themselves out to do little things like that."
His mention of Lemmy (now, of course, established as the driving force behind Motorhead) brings back the
tale of when the man was sacked from Hawkwind in '75, after being caught in possession of some
amphetamine sulphate (speed) as the band were crossing the US / Canadian border.
"We had a meeting and it was decided, as a band, to replace him with Paul Rudolph (from the Pink Fairies
with whom the band used to play - Pink Wind, it was called). And I was the one who had to tell Lemmy.
It was very sad. But it was a bad mistake. Such is life!"
The name of Hawkwind has always been one to conjure up visions of drug-oriented controversy. It
obviously has been quite a druggy band over the years.
"Well yeah, because dabbling in psychedelic drugs does influence you in your way of life, really."
Has that continued through the years?
"Not the way we used to in the seventies. If we'd continued to do that we'd all be wrecked. You learn all
the time. You take LSD and you learn from it. You don't have to be obsessively taking things all the time.
Some people are addicted to these things, other people aren't. I find myself I'm not."
"Loads of people drink a lot. That's more serious really because a lot of people won't face the fact that
they're alcoholics. They have to go down the pub every day, and they won't face the fact that they're
addicted to alcohol. Huwie (Lloyd Langton, former Hawkwind guitarist) came to learn that."
Changing tack slightly, it should be mentioned that the current Hawkwind entourage includes new female
vocalist Bridgett Wishart, formerly of all-girl band The Hippy Slags and the daughter of a retired Navy
commander! A new addition to what Brock describes as "the Hawkwind family".
But convention has never been Hawkwind's thing.
"Hopefully next year we're going to be doing a big circus tour of Europe," Brock says. "That's the plan, to
go across Eastern Europe with this circus tent and get lots of circus acts to get involved with us."
Hawkwind play the Hammersmith Odeon on November 6.
|Blast From The Past
Psychedelia, hippies, drug busts, rip-offs, topless dancers, free festivals, even Lemmy... Hawkwind have
seen and done it all in their twenty-one years. Over 30 albums and 25 members later the space bandits
are still on the road. (Captain) Kirk Blows meets with (Captain) Dave Brock, and enters the strange
This comes from the 30/10/1990 issue of Time Out