Hawkwind Becoming Reluctant Rock-Stars

Sounds – 25 December 1971

ALL THAT talk about community bands seems a little misplaced now. Hawkwind’s plans are stretching out and away from the common axis of Portobello Road, and with a major tour of British concerts planned for the spring , in which they will present a completely new and integrated concept show, loosely described as a space-opera, it looks as though they are ready to become rock stars – if a little reluctantly.

For the move from the Notting Hill Gate area and the dispersion to Clapham, Hanwell and exen Devon, was dictated by circumstances, says Nik Turner. They were all beginning to receive excessive attention from the constabulary. But they still seem to retain the loose friendliness which from the start has earned them the name of a “People’s band”, walking about in the audience, talking to them, making friends wherever they play a gig.

One result of this loose structure is the addition of a new member – well, not really new, because he’s been one of their mates for a while and has collaborated with them on their last album “In Search of Space”. He’s Bob Calvert, of course, or Captain Calvert. as Nik introduced him.

He wrote some of the words on that record, which prompted me to describe him at the time as the ‘self-styled space poet’ – which they had rather taken exception to, quite reasonably. I quickly realised.

Bob is quietly spoken, articulate, with an obvious dedication to both his own work and his part with Hawkwind, and wouldn’t have the pretension to stvle himself as anything in particular, let alone as a space poet.

In terms of instant-sell, it’s obviously, a catchy title, but it is a misnomer. Bob has come to HawkwInd from the side of straight poetry, through to concrete poetry, (poetry, that is, where words are deliberately shorn of their conceptual meanings and reduced to sounds) and combined an interest In electronic music.

OPERA

What had they got lined up for their collaboration and what exactly was Bob going to be contributing? “Bob has joined us as a vocalist and song writer”, Nik explains. “At present we’re working on a space-opera. We don’t want to make a big thing out or it though – we don’t want to set up any preconceptions.” Nick wasn’t too keen to talk much about the opera, as the ideas for it seem to be in the formative stage.

As Bob supplies a few corrections and talks about his part in it, though, you begin to get some idea of what it’s going to be about: “I’m not realIy a vocalist. I’m a sound poet rather than a singer. I’m intending to use words not in a conceptual way but as concrete things in themselves. I haven’t got all the equipment yet but I’m doing as much as can with mike and voice.”

Words will be recorded and processed through a tape machine, using all the effects possible – running it backwards, using loops and splicing pieces together.

He also wants to attack the fossilisation of words which he thinks are becoming invalid as a medium for poetry: “It’s a field which gets away from the way politicians and Press use it. It’s interesting to take words out of context and get into primitive levels of pre-lingual thought. I think the next step in communications may be using words as a non-verbal medium, like the painter uses paint or the sculptor stone.”

CHANT

One of the pieces of material he’s working on for the opera is Michael Moorcock’s “What to do in case of sonic attack” and consists of a set of instructions which he’s set in the form of a chant. He may also do something with another of Moorcock’s pieces “The Black Corridor”, a description of space which Nick readily agreed “says all there is to say about space”. As far as the music is concerned, Nik’s saxophone playing also leans heavily towards an electronic sound rather than musical: “it’s the overall feel rather than the individual parts of the music that we’re interested in. I don’t have any, illusions about my technical ability. I tend to use it as an electronic medium rather than an instrument.”

Hawkwind won’ t be presenting the results of the new project until April or May, when a full-scale concert tour is planned.

MARTIN HAYMAN

A Plastic Fragment Hawkwind Press Cutting

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