Disc – December 1970
THE HARD slog round the country seems to be reaping rewards at last for Hawkwind, the freakiest and most electrifying band doing the rounds at the moment.
Talk to them about their growing fame and success and they’ll laugh, tell you they’re working too hard for their liking and start off on long theories on how the road can send you mad. Then Dave Brock will start complaining that six gigs a week is ruining his busking career, and vowing that the next free day he’ll be back on his old beat down the Portobello Road. Busking, he’ll tell you, is good practice and good for the voice.
Hawkwind have always had this approach to their music, while being most serious about it at the same time. They cause their management – Clearwater Productions – not a little worry because they will play for free, and wreck the economics of the whole thing.
“Clearwater need expenses of about £200 a week to keep going,” says Dave Brock. “And they get, about £140 a week. We realise the necessity of not doing too many free gigs, but we would like to undercut bands. We played with Free recently and they were getting something like £800 for doing a series of numbers that all sounded exactly the same.
“People like that are going out for ridiculous prices. We don’t mind getting a lot of bread off universities because they can afford it – small clubs can’t and we’d like to help them. We’d like to do them for expenses only.
“For what they play, Hawkwind are still going out for around £70 – cheap at the price. In January, however, they’ll be going up to £125 which is still cheap.
Why the boom in their popularity has happened, they’re not really sure. Presumably it’s through sheer hard work, and the fact that wherever they go they seem to gather friends.
In London when they play, the hall is often overrun by Hawkwind friends, and they tell proudly of how they engulfed the Northern Polytechnic and upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s.
Also, Nick Turner – he of the flaming red hair and leather trousers with silver stars on – has been getting quite a bit of solo publicity for his flamboyancy. “I’ve been in the Telegraph magazine, Vogue and Paris Match,” he’ll tell you proudly. The main reason for this was that he painted his face silver and leapt around brandishing a flute at the Isle of Wight.
Like the Floyd – the nearest comparable group – Hawkwind are beginning to go down big on the Continent and their album is selling fast there. But the main drag, due to all this work, is that they’ve had no time to rehearse and write new things, and collect stuff for a new album.
Also they’re staging a small strike with their record company until they get a VCS 3 Synthesiser. “We refuse to make any more records until we’ve got one,” says Nick.
A Plastic Fragment Hawkwind Press Cutting