Time We Left This World Today
|This article appeared in the Winter 1989 issue of Flipside, an L.A. rockzine...it's one of the best
Hawkwind interviews I've ever seen
Dez: There's a few questions I have, just to get some things straight for myself about the band. First off,
what happened to Huw?
Dave: Well, he's got his own band together... first of all we were going to come over here in March, then
it ended up being June, then July and he got really pissed of at it. â€œAre we going or aren't we going?"
Cause he wanted to tour with his own band. And we just said we don't know what we're doing. It's just
one of those things that you have to put up with...
Dez: And that is Harvey Bainbridge on keyboards playing with you now.
Dez: And who is on drums?
Dave: Richard Chadwick, he used to be in a thrash band, an acid punk thrash band. We've known him
for quite a while actually, his girlfriend Angie plays in a band as well, she's in Hippie Slags. We sort of
turned up together at festivals a lot and I asked him if he wanted to have a jam with us. Then when
Danny Thompson left we asked Richard to join and it worked fantastic. He's a great drummer and he's a
really nice bloke.
Dez: I really like his style of playing, it's simple but very effective and powerful.
Dave: He's a great drummer, much better for us than Danny.
Dez: Your bass player, Alan Davey, you've probably heard this but, well, is he really good friends with
Dave: Yeah. Yeah. He plays like him, sometimes he thinks he is Lemmy, but he tries to drink Jack
Daniels like Lemmy but he can't!
Dez: And of course, everybody wants to know, where is Nik Turner?
Dave: He's got his own band and we haven't actually worked with him for a long time. His band, the
Inner City Unit sacked him, they sacked him out of his own band because he couldnâ€™t get it together.
I know the guys in his band and they gave him a deadline to get it together or else he was sacked, but he
never got it together. He has a new band called the AllStars. A sort of rhythm and blues jazz combination.
Dave: Really well. I really like it here, I like the countryside, not so much the city.
Al: In England, you live out in the countryside?
Dave: Right, we have a farm with horses. When we finish this tour what we're going to do is go up to
Bryce Canyon, then over to the Grand Canyon and on to Monument Valley and look for secondhand
western saddles. I used to have one actually and sold it about three years ago when we moved. I want to
see if I can get one if I have to go all the way to Arizona! We met this guy last night at the show, from
Tucson, he gave us a cassette. We said give us your address and we'll give you a ring when we come
around. He says "Really, really, you would?" Of course we would, we don't know anybody else in
Tucson. So he said "Oh great!" So we'll probably go see him...
Dez: Yeah. When I was over in England, I was touring with the band I was in then, Black Flag, and we
were staying at this fellowâ€™s house. He asked "Who do you want to see, we have Anti-Nowhere
League, Chron-Gen, Exploited, this and thatâ€� and I said "I want to go see Hawkwind!" But you guys
weren't playing at the time. He couldnâ€™t believe it. But we were over there in the winter, it was cold
and nobody wanted to go out anyway.
Dave: I'll bet you were glad to get back over here where itâ€™s warm?
Dez: Well, it didn't matter to me, I'm from New Jersey.
Dave: You're used to it. We really love the sun. I wish it was like this all the time in England! I really do
like hot weather. What we're trying to do is actually get back over here in February and March and tour
again. Now that we have actually done it again, we have to carry on. The unfortunate thing is, we're
losing money. The amount of money we're getting isn't very much, and with all the equipment we got we
couldn't fit it all on one bus so we had to hire a truck also. So we have so much just skyrocketing up...
The idea is that you have to start somewhere, it's something you have to put up with. Maybe next time
over we'll only lose half as much, then maybe break even. It's like a business venture. You've got to buy
your bricks and your wood, and then you've got to start building your house. Pretty much the same as
Al: What happened with the original momentum that you did have? You did three tours of the U.S. in
about 5 years.
Dave: Yeah... The last thing on that tour (1978) was Bob Calvert was suffering from depression. We
had done a tour of Europe which had gone down really good, he was really exciting - but the trouble was
he would peak and then suffer from depression afterwards. During the tour of America he was really a
manic depressive. And it really really dragged us all down with him. That's why Simon House ended up
joining up with David Bowie. Everybody was on this sort of downward spin trying to keep Calvert,
because he was so visual. But that was it. I actually sold my guitar and that was it really. That was the
end of the band as it was at the time.
What happened was the record label that we were with, United Artists, um, we changed over to
Charisma. Charisma were an English label and that was a difference right there, but after two years we
did do that 78 tour. It was basically having an American label and you also need American management.
That's one thing we have now with Vault Management. We have a record label, well, we might have, I
don't know if we do or not right now. (GWR is in the process of splitting with the American Enigma).
GWR is in England -we're not actually signed to them, we're pretty free. We like to do different deals
with different companies. In England we're in a very nice position - we know we can tour, and we can
sell out the gigs, and we can do a record when we want to do a record. That last one we did with
Enigma we did in a week, GWR insisted that we do one because we were doing a tour of England, so we
did that, we recorded in January (1988) and they didn't even get it out until we finished the tour. It was
really stupid. This time now we are pretty much in control, we can do an album when we want, which is
what we'd like to do here as well.
Al: About the time of that tour was also the punk
rock explosion in England, did that have any effect
on your particular thing at all?
Dave: No. Not really. The funny thing is a lot of
the people that were doing that kind of thing were
on a parallel with us, that's the difference. We're
still in touch with a lot of young bands. We
played a lot of shows with those bands and we
still do. We play with a lot of reggae bands as well.
Al: Eventually you lost some of that LSD edge to
Dave: Bob Calvert was very much into science
fiction, he was really good at writing words as
well. A lot of the stuff that we were doing then
was basically science fact, science fiction usually
becomes science fact after a while anyway. But
then we thought, wait a minute, we can't keep on
doing science fiction it would get kind of boring,
so we tried to even things out.
Dez: For example "Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters" getting into war stories.
Dave: That was all about Starfighters, in Germany they kept blowing up. The German government
were trying to stop the Starfighters being given to their Air Force by the American government because
so many of their pilots were being killed in these Starfighters. That was the idea behind "Do you want
to buy an aircraft... ready for take off..." That's why it was called the Widowmaker...
Al: How much of the early Hawkwind was just for a total freak out for your audience?
Dave: Oh, a lot of it. At first all we had was just a big strobe flashing and a room full of electronic
noises pulsing away - it's pretty much what we do now. The light show is quite together now, you
have to see it as a unit, it's a combination of sight and sound, we'd like to do smell as well.
Al: You must have been using pretty primitive electronic synthesizers in the eariy seventies.
Dave: Yeah we were, we just had an audio generator.
Al: Do you try to keep up on that kind of technology?
Dave: Yeah, we try to, but it's very expensive buying equipment. I bought this new M1 Korg and you
get this manual for it that is very fucking hard to understand. I just skip what you're supposed to do
and just start fiddling around. But then you get frustrated because it doesn't do certain things, "what am
I doing wrong?" And then you have to go back to the manual. I brought the manual with me, I said I
was going to read it on the bus, but I haven't gotten it out yet!
Al: How far down the line did it get before Hawkwind stopped being just a total freakout thing?
Dave: I suppose really, all of a sudden it was when you start selling records, and then it's the pressure
of the music business - to us it was really good fun, they see it as a big business, a money making
machine. You have to try to get the pair of them working together. They found it difficult to work
with us because we wanted to enjoy ourselves and not get involved in the caught-up side of it.
Dez: How do you feel those pressures taking their toll on you?
Dave: You mean now?
Dez: Or, well yeah, it's been 20 years for you, I've only been doing it for 10!
Dave: I mean we've had a really good time over here. It's been good fun. There's always silly scenes
going on but we're 10 people living in a bus together - we eat in the bus, we sleep in the bus, and we get
stoned in the bus, which is the only way to deal with it. Then we don't freak out so much.
Dez: Yeah, that's your family. We usually cram 4 people in a Dodge Ram van, equipment in the back.
All we have is each other and we find we don't fight as much.
Dave: Just so everybody has their own space and their quirks of character that everyone recognizes so
that you don't tread on each others territory, and it's alright.
(At this point we left Dave for a while and we talked to drummer Richard Chadwick...)
Dez: How has this tour been going?
Richard: Oh great, we've had a load of fun.
Dez: How many shows are you doing?
Richard: I think there are 12 all together. The final one is tomorrow in San Diego.
Dez: Dave said you've been friends with them for a while, and that you had your own band.
Richard: Yeah. The band I was in was called Smart Pils, we were a psychedelic sort of punk band,
we did a lot of free festivals around England. We did two tours of Holland and one of England, and
then the whole thing collapsed, which is why I got involved with Hawkwind. We met up at festivals
because we both used to play a lot of things like Stonehenge and things like that. We made one album
"No Good, No Evil" which is on the Blurrg label. It was Jello Biafra who turned us on to Dick Lucas
and his Blurrg label. Our guitarist was also playing synthesizer with the Amebix, who were the first
English signing to Alternative Tentacles, so he was writing to Jello Biafra. The Amebix finally split up,
but what was left of the Amebix and what was left of the Smart Pils got together to form this new band
called Zygote. And things are well on the way.
Dez: Smart Pils as in "Pilsner"?
Richard: Well it was just spelled that way to put people off the track. The idea, "the Smart Pils" came
from an old article in a magazine called Omni. The article was about a wonder drug that was being
perfected in secret American laboratories designed to change peopleâ€™s level of consciousness. Not
in the way that a psychedelic drug would do, but like a drug that you could administer to a certain
section of the population and they would then happily do what they were told. Like "go fight those
people over there", or "go and join the Army", because they were being fed this drug.
Dez: Not unlike what the government tries to do to us already.
Richard: Yes. It's not a consciousness elevating state, it's rather a manipulatable state which is induced
into the population in whatever state it would take. So the name was like a warning just to be on your
guard against outside influences on your own life, on your own decision-making process.
Dez: How long have you been playing in Hawkwind?
Richard: Just over a year now.
changed his life watching Hawkwind. I suppose that I thought that the punk movement in England, and
the hippie type movement, if you have to call it that, the freak festival types, were both closely aligned.
Even more so now. You'll find that at something like the Stonehenge Festival that there are not only
long haired hippies like me going there, but a lot of young kids and punks with soap in their hair.
Dez: If you listen to songs like "Ejection" and "Silver Machine" or "Urban Guerilla" and you can see the
influence on the Sex Pistols. I always thought that "God Save The Queen" was very close to "Ejection".
Very very close musically.
Richard: It's probably true actually. It's just rough music really.
Dez: The basic political feelings between punks and hippies was always the same.
Richard: Yes, it's about individualism really, I kind of shy away from the word 'anarchy', but I guess
that is what it's really about. The right to have the space to express yourself, as an individual, without
necessarily fucking up anyone else, but at the same time having a space to be yourself without peer
pressure or political pressure.
Dez: That's freedom...
Al: Hawkwind always had a few blatant political statements mixed in there, songs like "Urban
Richard: "Urban Guerrilla", that was Calvert, I had only met him once, but it struck me that the lyrics
were not so much a manifesto, but more like something like the Who's "My Generation" where it is one
individual singing about his feelings...
Al: Just rebellious feelings in general without being preachy or directive...
Richard: Yeah, it was written in that kind of context, so for the BBC to ban it at that time was like
taking the wrong end of the stick really. We still do play the song, we did rehearse it for this tour to slip
it in the set somewhere.
Al: Have you played it yet?
Richard: No! The set has been quite successful so far and we haven't needed to make any
Al: How did you go about picking the set for this tour. It was my impression that you started out with
an obligatory retrospective "greatest hits" medley, jamming in and out of songs...
Richard: I suppose it has come about that way. I was always saying "If this is a Xenon Codex tour
then we should be playing material from Xenon Codex", but of course we've been touring that show for
quite a while in England, and are basically bored of playing it. So we thought we go back a bit, we
haven't been here in 11 years. We do a lot of different arrangements to those songs, the original version
of "Damnation Alley" never had the sort of pseudo-ska section in it, or things like that. They are
vehicles to play with and jam on, that older material. People hear them and recognize the songs, but at
the same time they are different enough to be interesting.
Al: You guys are still very much into long instrumental passages.
Richard: Yes. I suppose it's very ritualistic mantraic music. It affects people more than on just the
level that most rock bands operate at - the dynamics of the show. I'd like to think that what we are
doing would still work very well if it was just drums and people singing - you'd still get the same kind of
Al: More of the early records were in that tribal, mantraic direction...
Richard: That's the side of the music that I am personally interested in, very much so. We like the
older songs that we have been doing. They've changed and evolved into this sort of continuous beat
idea, it's hard to say, they're just structures to jam on really. What I'd like to do is get more
experimental, like in the early days. It's fascinating from a drummer's point of view to be playing a
really fast rock song, and right in the middle of it just stop playing, and you can because you have all of
these electronic pulses still carrying on the rhythm. So you can do things as a drummer like that that
you can't do in a normal rock band. If the drummer stops in Aerosmith, everybody notices! I just
watched a video of Aerosmith on MTV, "Wooo Wooo" (laughter!)
Dez: Yeah, it's embarrassing to think that we're in the same business!
Al: Are you the only one doing percussion, I mean are you tied in with rhythm machines or sequencers
that have percussion tracks?
Richard: There is a drum machine that triggers all the MIDI interfaced synthesizers, that play
sequences. The drum machine triggers these sequences, so they all stay in time. I get fed a signal from
the drum machine that is a high hat sound "tsp tsp tsp tsp tsp..." in whatever tempo the music is in, and
I get that over my headphones so I can stay in time with the synthesizers. With the loud bass guitar it's
sometimes difficult to hear the pulse of the synthesizer because it is a much more subliminal sound. So
I need the headphones so everything stays solid. All of the synthesizers have percussion sounds in
them. I like the idea of saying, well I'll just play the beat and you play all the fills on the synths. The
drummer's job is to keep the beat, not to be a clever showman.
Al: Who takes on programming the MIDI interfaces and sequencers?
Richard: Dave and Harvey.
Dez: You must be the guitaristâ€™s blessing not being a showoff...
Richard: Well it probably has a lot to do with me not being very good at drumming! I never actually
learned how to play properly. I just picked them up and started jamming with punk bands. Very much
the "do-it-yourself" type attitude. That's what turned me on to playing in the first place, that punk
philosophy that "anybody can do it!". That's still where I'm coming from... I'm surprised people are
interested in what we're doing. There's only four of us and we aren't exactly leaping around like rock
Al: Well, like you said, it's just a different sort of energy. On this tour, you guys drove all the way from
the east coast?
Richard: Yes we did. I love it here, some parts of America, topographically, are just enthralling!
Fantastic, the climate, the land, changing, the distances are so breathtaking compared to England which
is so small...deserts, you don't have deserts in England. We drove through all of that, where you could
just see earth and sky and nothing else. A very uplifting experience. But I know the people that live
around there are, the mid-west farmers are a bit redneck, they don't like strangers, especially people
who look like me! I'm personally fascinated by native American Indian culture, and what went on
hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Hopefully when we come back, which is the plan, we'll be
financially prepared to post the tour to have a look at these things.
Dez: There was a song you played last night, â
€œNeedle Gun", was that about Nik?
Dave: No. "Needle Gun" is from the 'Elric
Chronicles', the sword he had - Stormbringer.
Basically "Needle Gun", it sucks your soul out, the
dangers of needle gun is injected heroin â€“ the
dangers of heroin. They both do exactly the same
Dez: How has the tour been going?
Al: And you can still play the free festivals with hippies or whomever...
Dave: Oh yeah, we still do that. You know, on the way to the airport, we actually stopped off at
Stonehenge because every season they let you into the stones, normally it's all barricaded up. We
stopped off there and called in on the stones, I thought it was neat to go there and wander around the
stones just before we started this American tour, it had great spiritual significance to me.
Dez: Were you happy with the sound of "Xenon Codex"?
Dave: Yeah it's a good album for doing it in a week. I actually haven't listened to it since we recorded it
in January 1988. After you do a record you never listen to it cause you start thinking "Oh, I wish we
would have done this or that..." We did a record store signing a couple of days ago and they played it
and I heard it and I wish we could have cut the tape here and done an edit there. Some of it is all rright,
some of it isnâ€™t.
Dez: Is that the end to the trilogy of the Chronicle of the Black Sword?
Dave: â€œThe Live Chroniclesâ€� is, not "The Xenon Codex". Even 'The Live Chronicles' that we did,
if you recall, had Michael Moorcock doing all the spoken parts... the original masters are not out, we had
a gatefold sleeve, with all kinds of photographs and a program with all the words to the songs in there.
The label decided it was too expensive to do and put both of the albums in one sleeve. It was all done
on the cheap. Michael Moorcock freaked out, the guy that had done it also owed him some money, and
he didn't want to be on it. We had to take Michael off of everything. I think that is a good album as
well, but we had to cut it down a bit. I'd like to get it out over here in its proper form, we just have to
find a record label over here that is interested in our stuff.
Dez: That was all based on a Michael Moorcock book?
Dave: Yeah, "Stormbringer". He's written about 6 stories, where Elric goes off on his quests... and we
had to condense that down so we could sort of do it in one show. It was quite an expensive show that
was, but it was successful, we were hoping to bring that over here - we had a huge backdrop and lots
of stage scenery. The idea was to come over here and get some mime artists to do some theater work
with it. But it never came together which was a real shame. I've read a lot of his books, they're all very
similar. He's a very shy man actually... he has all these plots, and he draws out these plots and he plugs
his characters into the plots.
Al: Early on it seemed like the Hawkwind records were not so much into science fiction as they were
talking about your own philosophical concerns with inner space and such.
Dave: Well, yeah they were. I think it was a lot more LSD orientated then too. We used to take loads
of LSD. When we would make the albums we would take LSD and then record. We knew that all of
the little things that we put in there people would catch and listen to.
Al: But even on the back of the very first record you mentioned wanting to "levitate peoples heads
without using acid".
Dave: That was all just with sounds, see, the idea was that you have synthesizers and you have pulses
going through your headphones, and if you are working with that for 2 or 3 days, when you take those
headphones off you can actually hear everybody talking in pulses, and it takes a bit of time to wear off.
Being brainwashed really, I think.
Al: Some of the things you were singing, I could never figure out the words to, especially in some of
the chanting parts...
Dave: We actually just made it up as we went along really, we still do the same thing now. Nothing is
the same every night, we go off on a lot of tangents, it's like taking risks. It's worth it sometimes and
sometimes it doesn't work and it wasn't worth it. But if you don't take the risk it becomes boring.
Playing as a 4 piece has made a lot of difference too. Having a lead instrument, and then not having a
lead instrument (all members play at least 2 or more instruments simultaneously live) means that all of us
have to pull together and get tight as a rhythmic unit. I'm not a lead guitarist, I'm a rhythm guitarist, so
in actuality we have no lead instrument. I can only play a bit of lead - but we can get by as a unit.
Dez: "To levitate without the acidâ€� is a kind of a feeling I get from your music, and other music I
enjoy, the escapism that I get is more real than what other people may be able to understand. Do you
feel the same way?
Dave: Of course, but you don't get that unless you do really...
Dez: And I've been there. Last night I was there. Every time that I've peaked came back. I just
wanted to say that it was quite a good show.
Dave: You think that everyone is different but you find out that everyone is the same really, it's only
when you actually stop talking about it that you find out about it when you are on the same wavelength.
And obviously there are different wavelengths.
Al: Is acid or stuff like that still an inspiration for recording or lyrics?
Dave: Weeelll... Sometimes, it depends. Sometimes we bake a hash cake, but that really lays you out
sometimes. We do have some good jams on it though. In England you can get Psilocybin mushrooms
which you can go pick and we make mushroom tea, which is very psychedelic, it's very gentle in minor
Al: How did that whole psychedelic, hippie punk
scene embrace bands like Hawkwind. Were they
mentors, or was it just an entirely different thing?
Richard: It was really strange, I met Jello Biafra
the other day, a wonderful experience, and he
was saying that Hawkwind was one of the major
influences behind the Dead Kennedys music.
Dave was telling me when Pete Shelley of the
Buzzcocks came up to him and said "I really
want to shake your hand, you really inspired
me", Johnny Rotten did the same thing, said that
A lot of you probably wonder who Hawkwind
is, well, Hawkwind is the band that influenced
your influences. They certainly are a big
influence to me.
Hawkwind started out in the late 60's, and
became very popular during a time when
England was known for It's 'progressiveâ€™
music scene. They did to progressive music
what the Sex Pistols did to rock and roll -
stripped it down, played it loud and hard, and
very anti-establishment, anti-music business, and anti-rock and roll attitude. They were known for
playing lots of free shows, or even setting up and playing In front of shows they weren't supposed to
play at. They played louder and faster than most bands and they used instruments that no other bands
used. They were also known for their freaked out audience and they had no problem with providing the
perfect psychedelic experience.
Their first album came Out In 1971, quickly followed by the absolute rock masterpieces â€œln Search
Of Space" and â€œDoremi Fasol Latido" in 1972. Finally us Americans got to hear what the English
press were raving about. Hawkwind sang about travelling through time and space, about other worlds,
astral bodies, galactic wars and such with a very hypnotic tribal chanting edge backed by wild
synthesizers, loud guitars and a thundering bass (played by none other than Lemmy, who would go on
after being retired from Hawkwind to form Motorhead). They sounded like no one else, and no-one
sounds like them to this day. I was hooked. These guys blew my mind.
For their first American tour Hawkwind played locally at the Santa Monica Civic, and sold out the
venue with no opening act. They were not disappointing, probably the best rock show (lights, dancers,
props, costumes...) I had seen to date. A year later they were back for another sold out performance,
this time at the Embassy Auditorium (the Scream's location In 1987-88), and released a double live
album titled "The Space Ritualâ€�. I'm sure you get the picture by now. Besides one weird
appearance at the Starwood in 1978 (with Nick Gilder and Detective!), they haven't toured America
since. But they hadn't disappeared either. In those dark years for this side of the Atlantic, the band
had gone through many many personnel changes, teamed up with science fiction writers Robert Calvert
and later with Michael Moorcock, spawned quite a few offshoot bands and played all over England
many times. 52 releases (!) later, they're back in America with a new band, a somewhat new LP, a new
label, and a new tour. Dave Brock is the only original member left, and he certainly is the spirit of the
band, having song credit for at least 90% of their material, including all their best tunes.
I have met a lot of people who are as big as Hawkwind freaks as me, and I guess this interview is for
them. But I also hope this will turn on a lot of new fans. It was a great honor for us to be able to talk
to Dave Brock, however briefly. I know we won't remember this summer because the Rolling Stones or
the Who toured, but because Hawkwind toured again!
Dez Cadena (whose band DC3 cover the Hawkwind song "Master Of The Universe" on the â
€œMelting Plot" comp), Gus, and I met with Hawkwind on a rather hot October afternoon In
Hollywood. Just to warm up and to see who was who, we started to talk about the new band...