Nik Turner Email Interview

Nik Turner offered to do an email interview, and I just got the answers back from him today (29/05/02).  
There are some contentious questions and answers in this interview.  I express no views, unless you think
you can discern them from the way the questions were phrased...the answers are all Nik's and I set them
down here without further comment, positive or negative!

Thanks to Ben Fagin, who arranged this interview
Well OK then, I do have an opinion.  
Nik should call his band the
Kittyhawks to defuse the issue of
xhawkwind being confused with
Hawkwind.  (I was getting a sore arse
from sitting on that particular fence.)
Left: Scanned from Oct 2001 issue
of Mojo, advertising the Astoria
bash that Nik mentions in the
interview.  Note the credit to
"members of the Hawkestra",
which Nik describes as a term to
include everyone who's ever been
in Hawkwind.  IIRC Mick Farren
and the Deviants did not play, let
alone any special guest members
of the Pink Fairies
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Q1: You've played a number of instruments, i.e. alto sax, tenor sax (?), flute. What's your favourite (&
why is it we've not heard much flute for the last few years)?

A1: Favorite instr. for stage, - tenor sax, has mid-range power, and melodic lyricality.  For busking, - alto
sax, for convenient carrying about, speed of playing, not so much punch as tenor, but nice upper range
lyrical quality, great for practice.  For recording - baritone, almost more balls than brains, hits in seat of
pants, or below the belt, [but nicely], but heavy to play continuously, and carry around.  For magical
acoustic situations, and healing vibrations, jigs reels, and latino bop - flute, keep it in your pocket, play
anywhere, convenient like.  More recording soon available, [recorded music in the tomb of Lord Pacal in
Temple of Inscriptions at Palenque in Yucatan, maybe soon to be used].

Q2: I saw you play at Stonehenge with Sphynx in 1978. I was surprised that Sphynx had a much 'lighter'
sound than the previous band you had been in.  Was that a reaction to the heaviness of Hawkwind, and
was ICU, in its' turn, a reaction against Sphynx in particular or hippiedom in general?

A2: I think you have the general pic.  Each thing was a reaction against what went before, in a contrasting
way, not a negative way.  Sphynx was a spiritual, enlightening, magical, healing, sci-fi experience, Inner
City Unit was a hard-edged, urban, political, satirical, sci-fi, high energy, wild fun band.  It was not really a
reaction against hippiedom, [after all Johnny Rotten and Sid were both self confessed Hawkwind fans,
Malcolm McClaren was a friend of mine, in fact he introduced me to the band after their first gig at the
Marquee, where they'd just trashed Eddie & The Hot Rods' gear], and so the whole anti-hippie stance was
just a convenient media pose, against apathy, complacence, and middle class values.

Q3:  Re: Hawkwind, what was your favourite album / tour / gig?  What would you say was the best song
you wrote for Hawkwind and what were your best musical performances among Hawkwind recordings?

A3: Favourite album, Space Ritual, favourite tour, UK 73, or 84, fave gig, Timothy Leary benefit in
Berkeley California, or Bickershaw fest, or Pentonville prison.  Best song, Master Of The Universe.

Q4:  Did you find Hawkwind to be a good vehicle for your songwriting?  Did being in a band with other
writers like Brock and Calvert cast you in the George Harrison role?  (Not that anyone ever called you "the
quiet one", I believe!)

A4: Yes, good vehicle for songwriting.  Yes, since you put it like that, I guess you could say that [no, i
didn't think i was all that quiet either].  George was actually a friend of mine, cool dude.

Q5:  It's been said that the release of any CDs from the Hawkestra (21/10/2000) is being blocked by you,
and/or that the recordings are in your custody - is this true?  If so, what would it take to resolve the
issue...this could have been a major release but the longer it goes on the harder it will be to market it...(not
one of the Hawks' strengths...)

A5: Re: the Hawkestra gig at Brixton, I actually organised the recording, 48-track digital, and videoing, 5
camera pro digital shoot of the concert, which are owned by the Hawkestra, and these are in their custody,
[I personally don't actually know where they physically are], of which all members of Hawkwind past and
present are a part.  They are being held until a deal can be struck for the mutual benefit of all, and are
available for that eventuality, the purpose being to prevent any bootlegging by anybody at all.  I might
mention that I was asked by a large % of the Hawkestra to represent their interests in this and other
matters, i.e. Terry Ollis, Steve Swindells, Alan Powell, Harvey Bainbridge, Capt. Rizz, Thomas Crimble,
Dikmik, Danny Thompson, Adrian Shaw, Ron Tree, Jerry Richards, Martin Griffin, Mick Slattery, Del
Dettmar, Paul Rudolph, Dave Anderson, Jill Calvert [pp Robert].  As you imply, it may be hard to market
the recording etc. due to the large quantity of sub-standard product [supposedly bootlegs] currently
available, and obviously completely undermining and watering down the value of the catalog, and any
potential that the band may have enjoyed.  These have obviously come from within the band [where else?],
and yet I'm getting absolutely f.a., as are many others.  The only album which I have had any thing to do
was 'Bring Me The Head Of Yuri Gargarin' on Demi Monde [Dave Anderson's label].  All will be accounted
to for this, Dave says it has not recouped it's costs yet.

Q6: Were you boyhood friends with Bob Calvert and DikMik in Margate?  Did either of them flog "Kiss Me
Quick" hats on the beach like you are reputed to have done?  If so, who sold the most?

A6: Bob and I were not actually boyhood friends, we became involved with each other about 1965, going
wild together and being inseparable, and Dikmik appeared, around 1967. We got into Hawkwind around
69.  It was me that sold Kiss Me Quick hats, they just depped for me. {I also sold shades, psychedelia,
joss sticks, and buckets and spades [i feel a song coming on]} and drive the guys, about 10 of them, to
London all night psychedelic experiences.

Q7:  Do you see side projects like the Fantastic AllStars continuing into the future when you have
XHawkwind, Inner City Unit and all the various collaborations you do on the boil?  And do you still busk in
Porthcawl?!

A7: I see all of these musical projects continuing simultaneously, plus many more, encouraging new music,
young and new musicians of all ages, and no, i haven't been busking in Porthcawl lately, although it was
great playing there. i tend to busk in Cardiff, at night, more dangerous and sleazy. Tho i just spent time
busking in Mexico.

Q8:  The nickname "Conscience of Hawkwind" is sometimes applied to you. Were you a particular
advocate of playing charity gigs and benefits (I know not all members of the band were keen on
uneconomic activities!) - if not, what's the reason for the nickname?

A8: Yes, I was the main instigator of most of the benefits, free gigs, protests, prison gigs, etc.. I instigated
the Tim Leary benefit in California, as well as visiting him in Vacaville maximum security psychiatric
prison. I felt that Hawkwind was the people's band, and should benefit the people as much as possible, the
people made us popular so we owed them.  I'm doing a benefit concert for homeless people in Doncaster
this sat. at the 'Pig' in Denaby, between Doncaster and Rotherham.  Check my web for details.

Q9: What led you to rejoin Hawkwind in 1982-84?

A9: ICU had fallen apart due to drug abuse, and misdirection, I felt that Hawkwind needed me, and the
ideal, and a boot up the arse, plus needing the creative outlet, plus the dosh came in handy.  It also gave me
the opportunity to get some good players in, [Dead Fred and Andy Anderson], and stimulated me to
writing, plus giving the band girlie appeal.

Q10: There is of course something of a face-off going between you and Dave Brock over the activities of
XHawkwind, and accusations of who's ripping off whom. To sidestep this, would it be possible to re-use
the name Kittyhawks for former members of Hawkwind who want to jam with the older material?  And
I've noticed you've stopped using the name Hawkestra - any reason for that?

A10: The 'face-off' seems to be about the fact that Dave considers that he owns the name of Hawkwind.  
He is welcome to it, that's fine.  I have never tried to pass myself off as Hawkwind.  I have gone out as
'Nik Turner's Hawkwind', in the U.S.A. [I actually consider that everyone that's ever been in the band has
the right to do this, some may disagree], this was not attempting to pass my band off as anything other
than my band.  Promoters were receiving writs implying that I was attempting to defraud people, so to
keep them happy, I called the band 'Space Ritual'.  At the moment there is no attempt to pass
'xhawkwind.com' off as anything other than ex-members of Hawkwind having fun, jamming, and playin
Hawkwind songs that I, Robert Calvert, and Mike Moorcock, wrote, plus more jamming, just like the band
used to be.  It seems that Dave feels that he is the only one allowed to even mention the name. this is not
what Hawkwind was conceived as, by Bob, Barney, Moorcock, Liquid Len, and all the other guys that
created the success of the band with their huge inputs of creativity given with love, because they all
considered this to be 'the' peoples' band, and a communal project, which it was.  I get the feeling that all
those people that seem to consider that I am ripping off Hawkwind should check out the history.  I was
probably more responsible for the success of the band at that time, in the golden years, as they have
become known, than anyone else, I was the spokesperson and frontman for the band, and responsible for
the branding and public image.  I'm not really inclined to blow my own trumpet [or sax], but I sometimes
get mightily pissed off at all the bullshit, insults and lies that seem to be being spread about me by seditious
assholes who seem to be acting on misinformation. sorry guys, you seem to have it all wrong.  I guess a
lot of the negative criticism may come from people who are only familiar with Hawkwind's later work.  
Kittyhawks would be a good idea.  Lem was supposed to be involved with this.  It would be fun.  The
'Hawkestra' is the name of the band which includes everyone that's ever been in Hawkwind, so it's not
actually a name that can be used unless everyone is invited to participate, as was the case at the Brixton
Academy, and the London Astoria, [strangely enough Dave has asked the same question, why don't I call it
that?  I can't understand it].  That band may be doing some festivals shortly.  Dave will be invited as will all
others.

Q11: You've always been a good frontman and did the job really well at the Hawkestra gig in October 2000.
Did you find it frustrating being in Hawkwind during those periods when Bob Calvert was active with the
band and took on the frontman role?

A11: Thank you for the compliment, tho I never had any problem working with Bob, he was my buddy,
and brother, nor anyone else for whom I had respect.

Q12: Who have been your favourite musicians to work with?

A12: In Hawkwind?  Hard to say. Bob, Harvey, Dead Fred, Lem, Dave in the early days, I guess I enjoyed
everyone I worked with.  You do, it's like family.

Q13: How important do you think musicianship is?

A13: Musicianship can help, but primarily you've got to have heart.

Q14: What are your views on psychoactive drugs these days?

A14: I think anything goes, as long as no-one gets hurt, and it's everyone's personal choice.

Q15: Some of your lyrics have been close to the "peace and love" image that Hawkwind somehow attained,
despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary!  Were you more in touch with that aspect of the
counter-culture than the other members of the band - and if so, was this a source of friction?

A15: I guess I probably was more in touch with that aspect of the counter-culture, but I was never aware
of any friction within the band resulting from it, [more like a difference of drug of choice,] I think that
aspect helped to promote and popularise the band, and give it diversity.

Q16:  If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently?

A16: Get a proper job, then do it the same.

Thanks for your time and patience - and thanks for the music and the performances over the years :-)

Steve

Thank you Steve,

stay high,
Nik