Record & Radio Mirror – 5 January 1974
“AMERICA was good with us,” Simon King, Hawkwind’ s drummer says, with obvious relish at the thought, “some of our discs had been released there but sales hadn’t exactly suggested we were sensational or anything, yet in places like Chicago and Detroit, New York and L.A the crowds were there.”
Hawkwind have joined the current success roster of British groups in the States. “When we played Detroit the city had in the space of a few days ELP, The Who, Genesis and Humble Pie. Chicago is like a home town, It was a tremendous gig. In New York, Alice Cooper and Stevie Wonder were in the audience.”
“American kids may not have seen you in action before but they didn’t take long to get into it and we’re not the easiest of groups to get to, seeing we play a solid two hours without a break.”
“we plugged our Space Ritual over there because that’s how we were advertised, but we’re more. The change should be seen on our current British tour.”
That my friends is the important story for now. America is an important music public. It can make a group rich and certainly offers a richer monetary harvest in concert and record sales than here but if you’re not American you obviously have to spend some time here and in any case most groups want appreciation from their own kin.
Hawkwind have gained legions of supporters with their Space Ritual. The group have produced a single destined to become with age a classic, Silver Machine. Simon King knows well that the interest created then has to be kept alive. He knows the group have to progress. America is past. The current tour is the vital event.
What has made it all the more important is the “Autumn Guerrilla happening.”
Simon King explains; “At the time we were a bit divided about the whole thing. we wanted to have a single out to keep the Hawkwind interest alive whilst we were on our American tour. Anyway we decided to make Urban Guerrilla our release.”
“Then came the various bombings and threats in London. The record wasn’t about that but could be interpreted in such a way that we thought it best to withdraw the single. At the time it had just entered the single chart.”
“To do this was to create a vacuum. We had a live album released in ’73 but once Urban Guerrilla was removed from the scene we relay had nothing.”
So then what does the immediate future mean for Hawkwind? Simon King talks further, “we have been in the studio a few times but now we’re touring and in fact within 48 hours of arriving back from the states we were off. When you play live it’s a positive thing, you create interest in a large number of places. However then the record side does become a problem.”
“I guess any new recording will have to be done bit by bit. I would like to see an album put out with two distinct parts. The first would be a recording of our new live material. The other side would be very much a studio job, something not really suited for stage. we would be able to utilise to the full synthesisers, tape and electronic devices.”
“What helps us I think to keep there in the music public’s mind is our uniqueness. I don’t think there is anyone with our kind of scene. Our light show has really developed from say the kind of thing you might have seen during ’67 psychedelic. We take around with us a special lighting crew under john Smitton and the name of Liquid Len and the Lensmen.”
“Andy Dunkly, the DJ, comes with us too and he’s a great bloke and has always worked with us. He had the American audiences right there by doing a countdown on out act’s beginning. you know he would say, ‘Ten minutes to Hawkwind’ and then nine and so on.”
“We couldn’t think at first what to call our present tour and then we came up with The Ridiculous Roadshow with the silly Hawkwind Brothers. Anything ridiculous can go down well under that, anything in fact! The tours beginning has been good. We still get people who come because we made the top 20 but are winning back the hard core, the faithful from the underground days.”
“Those days are still with us. It’s impossible to exist playing for free. Our travelling expenses which includes crew, upkeep of equipment, transport and so forth are enormous. However we still aim to play free gigs from time to time, particularly if it’s something within our thinking and needs money help.”
“Some might talk of the space image is a serious trip but we’re really a fun BAND. We enjoy playing more than anything else. I mean we get some ridiculous happenings on stage. Our sax player went on well souped up one day. He began to play a ridiculous sax solo and then fell flat! The strobe lights were busy and it was quite hilarious with him failing and three of us picking him up and carrying him away!”
“Our gig musical programme is always flexible though we always now have a standard number of pieces we know people want to hear. We jam quite a bit and when we tour next in America it looks as if Man will be with us. I tell you every show can’t help but ending up with both of us there playing away, they’re a great bunch of people.”
“We’re still playing bits of our Space Ritual but rather mixed up amongst other music. What we need to find and get going is another theme, something we can develop and get our teeth into.”
In a way Simon King is vague about Hawkwind’s immediate future and yet in a positive way he’s at the same time go and listen to the groups music and be part of the people getting into their scene.
In a musical sense the individual members have been progressing with their own respective musical interments and electronic techniques. Del and Dave have been getting more and more into the synthesiser’s magic carpet while Dave Brock is becoming more versatile on guitar. Lemmy is making the bass talk and Simon? modesty lets him say:
“Me, I tell you my drum solos are a waste of time, unless excellent, nothing worse than a mediocre one, that’s why I don’t do one! now give me Baker for power, Keith Moon for tremendous energy, but all in all Buddy Rich, he’s the guv’nor.”
Ask Simon for THE GROUP he names The Who. Now Hawkwind are obviously not of the Who’s stature, but then few are. Hawkwind though, are building a reputation both sides of the Atlantic. They’re not small timers, far from it. Ask Chicago music freaks. Ask any audience on Hawkwind’s current British tour. They’ll tell you – Hawkwind are big.
A Plastic Fragment Hawkwind Press Cutting