|Welcome To The Future
This is an unusual article. It comes from the 12/02/1997 issue Time Out and was penned under the
pseudonym of 'Spyder' by Steve Swindells. But what distinguishes it from the run of the mill is that it is a
review in print of what was in those days the band's official website...
Everyone, as Warhol once said. should have their 15 minutes of fame. In my case it was more like 15
months: in the late '70s I was the keyboard player in a highly influential, pioneering, leftfield band called
Hawkwind. Yes, really. It was a brilliant experience. But I wasn't called Spyder.
A strange coincidence led to me writing about 'Welcome To The Future', the band's new website. My best
girlfriend, who used to run their office in the '70s, came to lunch the other day. As I opened the door, I
noticed some late post, including, much to our mutual surprise, a letter from the Hawkwind manager, Doug
Smith. It transpired that he had been trying to track me down after all these years to let me know that I was
due some royalties! Karmic returns, one might say.
When I rang, he told me about their site and I felt it was only natural to dip into my past, as it was sending
me a much needed financial upturn. Welcome to the future? Let's case the joint.
The site is a classic of its genre. Hawk-fans are known for their loyalty and their obsession with the
minutiae of literally anything to do with the band (who have now been around for over a quarter of a
century). God knows how many musos have passed through the group's cosmic portals in that time. And
me? Wanna clue? Just to get the emails buzzing, I wrote 'Shot Down In The Night', which they released as
a single in 1980 (after I'd left the band) and it went Top 50.
Hawkwind News is a well written and cheery run-down of what the band are up to in '97. They're off to
the States again; and Ozhawks, their newly formed Australian Appreciation Society, is helping to organise a
mini-tour Down Under. Then there's all the info on ex-member's projects, bands and solo outings. Hey wait
a minute... I'd better get started on that trippy, inner-city, instrumental CD I've been planning to make for
The 'Live '74' album is currently being mixed: talk about laid back. The album will, we're told, feature rare,
original photos, along with never-before-seen artwork from Hawk stalwart Barney Bubbles. I wonder what
happened to Liquid Len?
[At this point the piece cuts over from nostalgic musings to a run-down of what was on the website]
The Hawkwind Network is a Pandora's box of Hawk-fan ephemera, with an encyclopaedic collection of
listings, including fanzines (there are 11), distributors, labels, merchandise and loads of Hawk-related links.
When I was in the band, the delightfully batty Robert Calvert was the lead singer. Sadly, this talented and
visionary character is no longer treading the boards -he's in Hawk-heaven- but my favourite title for a linked
site is Spirit Of The Page, the one dedicated to his memory. I'm sure he's wafting around on a cloud
somewhere wearing a safari suit and a pith helmet and quoting from Camus - in the style of Frankie
Howerd, of course.
The 'UA / Liberty Re-mastered Series' features the band's first five albums, which are now available on CD.
'The Hall Of The Mountain Grill' is a title and a half, so here's a bit of Spyder trivia: betcha didn't know that
The Mountain Grill was a greasy spoon favoured by the band on Portobello Road during the early '70s.
The Cyberspace Interviews are a novel and original way for the fans to gain access to their heroes without
any of the associated hassles. Guitarist Dave Brock remains the band's head-Hawk. 'Iain' asks him: 'Which
newer bands do you think fit well into the Psychedelic "Space Rock" genre which you more or less
invented? Can any of them stand the pace?' Dave replies drily: 'Ask me in 25 years.'
Mark Painter enquires: 'I know that the musical style has changed from tribal chants to laid-back, modern,
swirly synths. Do you think this has reduced the band's popular appeal?' Dave's response is: 'Could be...
perhaps we should be doing some swirly chants!'
The creators of this excellent site, the DC Web Design team, deserve mention. I wish all music-related
pages paid as much attention to detail. Oh, and let me dispel one myth: Hawkwind have the reputation of
being the ultimate druggy band. Oh really? When I was with them (getting it together in the country -
naturally!) they were more interested in the footie on the telly than astral travelling. And the only trips they
took were to the supermarket.
Get Hawk-eyed on www.hawkwind.com
Silver surfer - Spyder's future meets his past in a blast of Hawkwind