|Hawkwind - In Search Of New Space
This article is from the 5th January 1974 issue of Record Mirror
Once they were London's best-known freak band - now Stevie Wonder and Alice Cooper go to see
them in New York...
"America was good with us," Simon King, Hawkwind's drummer, says with obvious relish at the thought.
"Some of our discs had been released there but sales hadn't exactly suggested we were sensational or
anything - yet in places like Chicago and Detroit, New York and L.A., the crowds were there."
Hawkwind have joined the current success roster of British groups in the States: "When we played Detroit
the city had, in the space of a few days, ELP, The Who, Genesis and Humble Pie. Chicago is like a home
town. It was a tremendous gig. In New York Alice Cooper and Stevie Wonder were in the audience.
"American kids may not have seen you in action before but they don't take long to get into it and we're not
the easiest of groups to get into, seeing we play a solid two hours without a break. We plugged our Space
Ritual over there because that's how we were advertised, but we're more. The change should be seen on our
current British tour."
That, my friends, is the important story for now. America is an important music public. It can make a group
rich and certainly offers a richer monetary harvest in concert and record sales than here, but if you're not
American you obviously have to spend some time there and in any case most groups want appreciation from
their own kin.
Hawkwind have gained legions of supporters with their Space Ritual. The group have produced a single
destined to become with age a classic: Silver Machine. Simon King knows well that the interest created then
has to be kept alive. He knows the group have to progress. America is past. The current tour is the vital
event. What has made it all the more important is the "Autumn Guerilla Happening". Simon King explains:
"At the time we were a bit divided about the whole thing. We wanted to have a single out to keep Hawkwind
interest alive whilst we were on our American tour. Anyway, we decided to make Urban Guerilla our release.
"Then came the various bombings and threats in London. The record wasn't about that and yet could be
interpreted in such a way and we thought it best to withdraw the single. At the time it had just entered your
single chart. To do this was to create a vacuum. We had a live album released early in '73 but once Urban
Guerilla was removed from the scene we really had nothing."
So what then does the immediate future mean for Hawkwind? Simon King talks further, "We have been in
the studio a few times but now we're touring and in fact within 48 hours of arriving back from the States we
were off. When you play live it's a positive thing, you create interest in a large number of places. However
then the record side does become a problem.
"I guess any new recording will have to be done bit by bit. I would like to see an album put out with two
distinct parts. The first would be a recording of our new live material. The other side would be very much a
studio job, something not really suited for stage. We would be able to utilise to the full synthesizers, tape and
"What helps us I think to keep there in the music public's mind is our uniqueness. I don't think there is
anyone with our kind of scene. Our light show has really developed from say the kind of thing you might
have seen during '67 psychedelia. We take round with us a special lighting crew under Jon Smeeton with the
name of Liquid Len and The Lensmen.
"Andy Dunkley, the DJ, comes with us too and he's a great bloke and has always worked with us. He had
the American audiences right there by doing a countdown on our act's beginning. You know he would say,
"Ten minutes to Hawkwind" and then nine and so on.
"We couldn't think at first what to call our present tour and then we came up with The Ridiculous Road
Show with the Silly Hawkwind Brothers. Anything ridiculous can go down well under that, anything in fact!
The tour's beginning has been good. We still get people who come because we made the Top 20 but are
winning back the hard-core, the faithful from underground days.
"Those days are still with us. It's impossible to exist playing for free. Our travelling expenses which includes
crew, upkeep of equipment, transportation and so forth are enormous. However we still aim to play free gigs
from time to time, particularly if it's for something within our thinking and needs money help.
"Some might say talk of the space image is a serious trip but we're really a fun BAND - we enjoy playing
more than than anything else. I mean we get some ridiculous happenings on stage. Our sax player went on
well souped up one day. He I begun to play a ridiculous sax solo and then fell flat! The strobe lights were
busy and it was quite hilarious with him falling and three of us picking him up and carrying him away!
"Our gig musical programme is always flexible though we always now have a standard number of pieces we
know people want to hear. We jam quite a bit and when we tour next in America it looks as if Man will be
with us. I tell you every show can't help but ending up with both of us there playing away, they're a great
bunch of people.
"We're still playing bits of our Space Ritual but rather mixed up amongst other music. What we need to find
and get going is another theme, something we can develop and get out teeth into."
In a way Simon King is vague about Hawkwind's immediate future and yet in a positive way he's saying at
the same time go and listen to the group's music and be part of the people getting into their scene.
In a musical sense the individual members have been progressing with their own respective music
instruments and electronic techniques. Del and Dave have been getting more and more into the synthesizer's
magic carpet whilst Dave Brock is becoming more versatile on guitar. Lemmy is making the bass talk and
Simon? Modesty lets him say:
"Me? I tell you drum solos are a waste of time, unless excellent, nothing worse than a mediocre one, that's
why I don't do one! Now give me Baker for power, Keith Moon for tremendous energy but all in all, Buddy
Rich, he's governor."
Ask Simon for THE GROUP and he names The Who. Now Hawkwind obviously are not of The Who's
stature but then few are. Hawkwind though are building a reputation both sides of the Atlantic. They're not
small-timers, far from it. Ask Chicago music freaks. Ask any audience on Hawkwind's current British tour.
They'll tell you Hawkwind are BIG.
|A photo probably from late 1971 or early 1972 (L-R) Del Dettmar, Nik Turner, Lemmy, Terry Ollis,
Bob Calvert, Dave Brock, DikMik