Hawkwind More Serious Now

NME – 27 November 1971

Nik Turner: “When Silver Machine was a hit record, when we were getting success with big gigs, it was quite exciting… And then it stopped because our drummer was taking all his clothes off.”

Right now, Hawkwind (at Ewell Tech on Saturday and Hammersmith Town Hall on Thursday, Dec. 2) are probably more involved in their music than ever before.

Said Nik Turner (alto sax): “Apart from our bass player, none of us had ever been in a group before.  When we started it was just a loon.  It was great just to be in a band.  Now, after two years it doesn’t seem to be a flash in the pan and we’re taking the music more seriously.

“Personally I’m surprised we’ve got so far.,  I never thought our music would appeal to anybody simply because we’ve never pandered to public taste never compromised and just played exactly what we wanted.,  By a happy accident people seem to be digging it… And the band has good reason to be satisfied with progress so far.  A community band in the true sense of the word, Hawkwind have taken experimental music to its’ outer limits and combined sound, colour and lights perhaps more effectively than any other band currently working in Britain.

“Originally we just wanted to freak people out,” said Dave Brock (guitar).  “We used to portray different trips -you know, acid trips- and because of our own experiences knew exactly how to get through to people.  Although we’ve got away from that, we still seem to freak people out.  Like they come up to us after gigs and say our music terrified them.  Because they can’t cope with it, they get frightened.

“And there’s no end to the things you can do with sound.  For instance, levitation, hypnosis and magnetism are all governed by sound waves.  I think if we had more time to get it together we could induce mass hypnosis on an audience.  Certainly I’d like to experiment with that.”

Hawkwind, of course, along with the Pink Fairies, have always had special connections with London’s alternative society, playing free gigs and benefits at every opportunity.  I asked whether these links were likely to disappear as the band became more successful.

“Not at all,” said Brock.  “As the group becomes more powerful, the more we can help people and change what’s wrong.  Like, before this group was formed, we were all hustlers and dealers on the scene, and we still see the same people and go to the same places.  We’re not musicians in the sense that we’ve spent all out time playing in other groups.  A lot of musicians do that and get into ego scenes and lose contact with the audience.  In fact, I suppose as musicians we’re all pretty diabolical.  We don’t pretend we’re geniuses but we do the best we can.  I don’t necessarily think you have to be a fantastic musician to experiment.  Rather than have a guitarist out front playing flashy bits, the guitar and bass provide the basic pattern which allows the electronics to become the lead instrument.

“At the moment, we’re getting a space odyssey  together which will be a completely environmental situation.  In a way, it’s a progression of what we’re doing now.  Everybody will be given a free programme so they can understand what’s going on and project their fantasies on top of it.  It should be ready in March.”

Added Bob Calvert, mastermind behind the project, “It’ll be a totally theatrical event with dancers, mime and a new way of using light show techniques.  It’ll involve the audience a lot more than we do now.”

“I don’t think our music had a real direction until Bob got this space odyssey together,” said Turner.  “It was just freaky with us enjoying ourselves.  The album was a coming together of ideas and the odyssey is a progression from that.  At the moment we’re playing some of the album on stage, some of the odyssey and some free improvisation.  It’s joined together as one number of varying moods.  Just tell people to come have their minds ripped apart,” he grinned hugely.

-James Johnson

A Plastic Fragment Hawkwind Press Cutting

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