Back in the early 90's the advent of free-festival-aligned rave bands made Hawkwind
fashionable once again. This piece appeared in a mag called Indiecator
Dave Brock, the only original Hawklord still in the band, is delighted, if unsurprised, by this sudden interest
in all matters of a Hawk-like nature. Deep down in darkest Devon, where Hawkwind are recording their
twenty-somethingth album ("I've lost count, people keep releasing Hawkwind albums I know nothing
about!"), the wizened old hero speaks on his mobile phone (the ultimate hippy accoutrement).
"Yes, it's all very encouraging isn't it? There are so many good new bands around, although I should
mention that I got a demo from a band the other day, and I said 'cor blimey, sounds just like us!', so they
went off and changed a few riffs here and there to give it their own style. I was quite flattered, I suppose!
It's nice when musicians tell me how much Hawkwind inspired them. There was one band from Los
Angeles called DC3 that I met last year, and they said that Hawkwind influenced them to get together in the
first place, which was great. I heard a live tape of theirs, and it's very exciting stuff. They're doing covers
of some of our old numbers, but they're doing them a bit differently.
"I like Back To The Planet a lot too. They played with us at Brixton last year. It's sort of spacey reggae
music, innit? There are a lot of bands going against the grain these days. A lot of spacey music... the sort of
stuff that used to get played at free festivals in the old days. It's good news, especially since there's so
much crap on 'Top Of The Pops' these days, we really do need a backlash.
"If all this means that people are going to start buying our back-catalogue, perhaps I'll start seeing some
royalties at long last!"
But what does Dave think is the reason for this return to 'extra-sensory' music?
"I've got a pretty good idea, what with lack of money forcing more and more people to search for escapism
at home, rather than out and about. And there are lots of ways of having fun at home...two of which are, of
course, music and drugs. People are looking for more than material values these days; they want escapism,
something to help them drift out of day-to-day life. That's why even more people than before are smoking
"I do think the laws about dope should be relaxed because I think you'll find at least half the population of
this country must've tried it by now! In actual fact, the government are legalising hemp growing again for
use as rope, which is what they did in Holland... and then, of course, what happened over there is that they
allowed people to have certain amounts of dope for their own consumption, so they could grow their own
cannabis plants. You never know! Also, major chemical companies are going to start making cannabis
tablets available on prescription for anorexics and asthma victims, which is exactly the same as the cannabis
tincture they had in the Seventies. They've finally realised that cannabis does have its medical value.
"It's daft really, the government ought to consider that, because of the recession, more and more people are
staying in and having fun at home - listening to music and smoking dope - so they should start catering for
that ever-growing segment of society. Squat parties are getting more and more popular, loads of people
creating their own entertainment at home.
"Actually, squat parties are just a progression from the free festivals and, believe it or not, the house rent
parties of the Thirties! They used to play blues and jazz, they were called jug bands, because somebody
would play an old jug, and there'd be a bit of guitar and harmonica, but it was all basically the same idea.
Somebody would rent a house and invite loads of people to a big party, collect some money and buy lots of
booze and dope! It's a sort of tribal thing really."
The trouble is that, although the government is taking its time to recognise that there are a large number of
people in this country who smoke hash, the corporate side of the music business has latched on, and sees
the whole movement as a spanking new commercial venture. They've called the new generation of hippies
'crusties'; a nice, neat word with an apparent image that they can get their teeth into, exploit and make
"Yeah, the business always tries to get its claws into anything new and exciting. The music business relies
on fashion to make money. They have to make music fashionable so that they can give it a tag and market
it. Fortunately, they've never been able to pin Hawkwind down. Actually, I'm lying. Nobody wanted us! But
I've objected for years about the way they commercialise everything and cheapen it. Musicians have always
been the artists, and the artists are always the last to get paid. Without us, the business would fall flat on its
face. It's about time that all changed, and I think it is changing to a certain extent, with more and more
musicians taking charge of their own destinies. That's what this indie movement is all about. It's very
healthy and I hope it lasts."
It will last, because now that the backlash has started and people are realising that there's more to music
than what the business chooses to expose in pre-conceived packages, there's really no going back. As long
as there is an underground that remains elusive to the corporate motherf***ers, then the age of the free
spirit will continue to blossom.
Hawkwind have been boldly going where no major-label band would
deign to for a mighty 25 years. The biggest cult band in the world, the
epitome of hippydom and a law unto themselves, the Hawklords have
completely ignored all pink and fluffy conditions by which the music
industry is run. Constantly scoffed at by the rigid disciplinarians of the
business for being '...a bunch of outdated old hippies', this
ever-mutating gathering of space bandits has, through intention and
chemical intervention, remained oblivious to the so-called patterns of
musical fashion. Hurrah!
So, how ironic it is that, far from being outdated, Hawkwind have
always had their eyes firmly fixed on the future, concerned as they are
about the plight of 'Spaceship Earth'. Their marathon live all-dayers are
a feast of technically-inspired, light-fantastic future tales. From 'Space
Ritual' to 'Warrior On The Edge Of Time', 'Levitation' and 'Space
Bandits', the album titles alone are quintessentially futuristic, let alone
the warp-driven, hyper-space psychedelia of the music itself.
Basically, Hawkwind have stayed one step ahead of the game since
1968, the year they first set out on their journey of discovery.
Now the Nineties have arrived, and there's a new generation of
musicians beaming in to search for that elusive spark of enlightenment,
fighting off conformity to create religions of their own, inspired by the
life-styles and ideals of free-spirited bands like Hawkwind. Suddenly,
everybody wants to know about the old bastards again!
Following The Orb's magnificent cover of 'Silver Machine' (under the
name 'Orbwind', a moniker that's caused various legal wrangles
between the two bands), there'll be a full album of Hawkwind covers
released in September on Beechwood entitled 'This Is Earth Calling',
which will include the following contributions:
Levitation ('Levitation'), Chumbawamba ('Urban Guerrilla'), Monster
Magnet ('Brainstorm' - also on their second album, 'Superjudge'), plus
The Orb's cover and various un-confirmed donations from the Magic
Mushroom Band ('Hurry On Sundown'), Mad Cow Disease ('Masters
Of The Universe'), Back To The Planet and Big Boy Tomato.