Grandfathers of the Universe

Sounds – 2 February 1974

HAWKWIND, GRANDFATHERS of the Universe, have gone a long way since their “far out, motherfucking” days of the Psychedelic era. They’ve become a part of the British hippy constitution, like the headbands and beads, but those were abandoned years back, so where do Hawkwind stand now?

Nik Turner was in a very relaxed mood when I spoke to him, while Del Dettmar, electronic elf, was perched on my right attempting to phone some obscure country. After all, this was United Artists Record Company’s office and they did owe the band a favour or two.

Hawkwind have recently returned from touring the States which has been a series of sell – out tours and rave reviews: “I don’t know why the States has never had anything like us before,” said Nik,”I mean I couldn’t believe it we’ve had fans there for years.”

One thing that really pleased the band was the audiences, why? “They were mostly freaks, and they weren’t so young as our British audiences, ranging from eighteen to thirty!”

The two agreed that the tour tightened them up and the reaction pleased them.”We got used to good reaction in England,” commented Del, “It was nice to see a calmer, more critical audience that sat and watched.”

The band are nearing the end of their Silly Road Show and will be returning to the States in March supported by Man.

One thing that has puzzled me is the fact the band have lasted out so long. Their music has changed quite a bit since their inception but that’s more of an internal thing than a change with times and commerciality.

Although they do credit their success to the “Silver Machine” so maybe they adapted their music to the kind of audiences they attracted. But I’ve always considered Hawkwind as a community band, the playboys of Notting Hill Gate, their fans were sparse but uncannily loyal.

Was Turner aware this may have lost a lot of followers on the release of their single? “I don’t know, if they were that loyal. I don’t see why the release of the single should affect it.”

But isn’t there a difference in say playing the Roundhouse and Liverpool Stadium? Do they feel they can still communicate with the audience? “There are some halls that leave me a bit cold, but that’s just the place, the kids are great.”

“I don’t know what they’re thinking,” Del cut in, “sometimes I cut myself off completely from the audience, from the band, when I’m setting controls. Sometimes I really don’t know what the kids are thinking.”

“I don’t agree,” Nik retorted, “I feel when I’m getting off the audience are getting off or vice versa.”

Well whatever it is that has maintained their success one thing’s for sure, Hawkwind are becoming big business and it’s spreading.

They’re organising the tour themselves in the States and, as Nik explained, “We’ve been ripped off so many times that we decided to take over the show ourselves.” Will they be releasing a single in America? “No I don’t think so, we’re releasing some of our old albums there but not until we do something that we feel should be a single.”

“What I’d like to see on an album,” Del suddenly interjected, “is if we could all do a track each, because personally I’d like to do an electronics track because personally I think that is more exciting on record than on stage, there’s more scope.”

So it seems that the good ship Hawkwind still coasting along, now they’ve abandoned their “Space Ritual.” “That was tying us down after a while,” Del reflected. “we’re more into improvisation and gradually this became a set thing, although we’ll still be playing parts of it now and again.”

I asked Nik how he felt about the situation at Leeds where bands could not play over 96 decibels.

“I think that’s good, I wish we turned down sometimes. It would be interesting seeing bands playing at that level.”

Surprising answer if you consider the level Hawkwind play at, come to think of it just what are they going to have on the next album? Will it be acoustic? Nah, never! It wouldn’t be Hawkwind, would it?

PETE MAKOWSKI

A Plastic Fragment Hawkwind Press Cutting

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