|The Truth About Hawkwind
This first appeared in the 5th February 1972 issue of the NME...
Like them or not, you must admit that Hawkwind are honest. Guitarist Dave Brock is not loathe to admit
that most of the band's musicians are at best mediocre, while Nik Turner (sax) never ceases to be amazed
by their success.
Partly, it's all due to the band's beginnings. When they first came together Hawkwind was just a means of
having a good time - "a pleasurable sideline," as Brock puts it. Only when people actually seemed to like
their music did they begin to take it seriously. And even now the main motive of the band is to provide fun
both for the audience and themselves.
"I think that's the only reason why we get across to a lot of people," said Turner. "They see that we're
obviously having a good time, and they get something out of that.
"In the beginning I never thought our music would appeal to anybody, simply because we've never
pandered to public taste, never compromised and just played exactly what we wanted. By a happy
accident people seem to be digging it."
Now the band are probably more involved in their music and in assorted projects than ever before. Upmost
in their minds is a space-opera they hope to take on the road in late spring.
The brains behind it all is wordsman Bob Calvert who explained:
"It doesn't have a plot like a traditional opera but is an opera nevertheless in the way it presents a situation.
It concerns dreams people might have if they were suspended in animation in deep space. Whereas our
last album concerned a journey into space, this is more about actually being there.
"On stage it'll be a totally theatrical event, with dancers, mime and a new way of using light techniques
which will cover the whole audience. Hopefully we want to get together the best-ever light show ever put
on the road. And it won't just be complementing the music but actually part of it. The guy operating the
lights will be playing them, if you like, just as the others play their instruments.
"I really don't think groups give enough to their audiences," said Brock. "They don't seem to have much
contact. If you go round dance halls in the country and see the miserable conditions people are in, you feel
you should give them as much in a live show as you possibly can. Most groups don't do it. They go
through the same routine so much that they might as well be working in a factory."
Hawkwind, of course, have always had special connections with what's loosely called the alternative
society. Again it stems partly from the beginnings of the group - as Brock explains:
"When the group fanned we were all hustlers and dealers on the scene, and now we still see the same
people and go to the same places."
But do the group see themselves as any different from others?
Bob Calvert replied: "I suppose if the underground has any meaning at all we're part of it, simply because
we don't see ourselves as part of the music industry or aligned to the profit motive which is what that
industry is about.
"All generations have had some sort of revolutionary feeling in them but this is the first that isn't based on
any political ideals or programmes. Consequently it's the job of the musician to put these feelings into
music that people can recognise.
"Gigs seem to get into a very ritualistic, tribal thing where people come to lose their personal identity and
expand their consciousness collectively."
Probably the greatest link the band have with the underground is through playing numerous benefit gigs
for various organisations. Trouble is, though, as the group become more successful more requests for
them to play benefits pour in. Obviously this presents problems.
"Quite honestly the benefit scene has got completely out of hand," said Brock. "Because so many bands
don't do them, people rely heavily on those that do. Then when you can't manage all of them people say
you've sold out.
"Also there are a lot of rip-offs at benefits when you just can't tell where the money has really gone. It's a
pity because there are so many people who are really into nice things but can't get the bread to do it that
we feel we should try and help as best we can."
Don't encourage him Dave.... (L-R: Bob Calvert, DikMik, Dave Brock)