Simon King and Alan Powell
Sounds – January 1975
Notting Hill, Thursday: The last six days just have to go down as historic ones in the story of Hawkwind’s chequered existence. On January 3rd and 4th the band rehearsed, on the 5th and 6th they were in the recording
studios and on the 7th and 8th most of their road crew resigned – but they still managed to play both Cardiff and Wolverhampton.
So it was that on January 9th I went over to see the band’s two drummers: Simon King and relatively new recruit Alan Powell. Simon looked drained and Alan didn’t look too well either, but such is the life of a Hawkwinder.
As Simon says:
“We’ve definitely been getting very lazy. Six days of non-stop work was a bit much – but I think it was good for us. It got us working again. Yeah, so we’ve been in the studios trying to put down a new album,” Simon continues, sounding as if I shouldn’t believe him. “We were in Olympic studios for two days recently – and we actually went and rehearsed two days before that. How about that then? We booked a rehearsal room and on the first day we worked quite hard and got down to it and we had a go at these numbers we were going to do in the studio.
“On the second day it all fell apart, everyone was a bit out of it. But we went into the studio, and there again the first day was all right and we managed to put down two or three good tracks, but the second day was a bit of a washout. Nothing really happened at all, apart from me having a fight with my drum kit and hurling the snare drums around. It was a bit dull, really.
“It’s funny though – we went in to do the first few tracks for an album, and we got a good single out of it. It’s been said that we might even pick up another silver disc for it. It does sound quite good, actually – it’s the same as ‘Silver Machine’. Well, near enough, anyway.”
“I think it’s great, actually,” interjects Alan, “it’s actually a Dave Brock and Mike Moorcock composition. It’s very powerful – it’s got two drums on it and it sounds f***ing great. It’s like a Phil Spector thing.”
“It’s called ‘Kings Of Speed’,” says Simon. “But no – it’s nothing to do with that. At least I don’t think it is – I’ve never read the words. Hmm – it’s unfortunate that whenever we do something it always has something wrong with it. I mean ‘Urban Guerrilla’ came out when all those bombs were going off.
“It was originally going to be on Mike’s upcoming album, ‘Deep Fix’, but there wasn’t room for it. There’s a single coming from ‘Deep Fix’ called ‘Dodgem Dude’ – it’s about a fairground. I think a lot of songs were written around that theme and I think ‘Kings Of Speed’ came from that. I’m sure it
has more to do with the fairground than with chemical substances.”
You had your drum kits stolen quite recently, didn’t you?
“That’s right – from our offices in West London. It was a lucky break, but we got them back. I heard about it on Christmas Eve when Douglas, our manager, phoned me up and said ‘I hate to be the bearer of bad news at this festive time, but you’ve had your drum kits stolen’.”
Alan: “Eventually one was found on Barnes Common and the other was under Kew Bridge.”
Simon: “I reckon they probably broke in to do the office, and they hoped they could get a few bob for the kits. But Capital Radio put out announcements and they probably decided that it would be easier just to dump them.”
Alan, as I say, is a reasonably new ‘Wind member – How long have you been with the band now, Al? About three months?
“No; it’s longer than that actually. It’s about six months, or maybe even longer than that.”
“What’s the date?” wonders Simon. “The ninth? Oh…I’ve been with Hawkwind three years and three days. I’d break out a bottle if I had one.”
Alan: “Vinegar Joe split up, you see, and I was left without a gig. Joe weren’t really getting on amongst themselves and were heavily in debt. Nice people though.”
Vinegar Joe, as I recall, used to pack them in at live concerts. Weren’t the band making any money touring?
“They were making money, they were a very, very good band – but they just fell apart. So what did I do then? Oh yeah – I joined Stackridge and was fired after ten days. We just didn’t get on. I was like a Jew in an Arabian camp. So I was given the golden elbow.
“So I had to employ guerrilla tactics to get a gig, and so I broke three of Simon’s ribs playing football. That was that, and I stood in for him.”
Simon: ” couldn’t go to Europe where Hawkwind were due to play, so Al went instead. I finally made it to Holland and we played three gigs together. It turned out to be really good.”
I was listening to the “Greasy Truckers Party”double album the other day, where a whole side is devoted to Hawkwind. The record was released in mid-1972 and I was surprised to hear how much ‘Wind’s music has changed since then.
Simon remembers the Greasy Truckers gig fondly:
“That was about my third gig, and I didn’t know what I was doing. I hadn’t done any rehearsals and I thought that ‘Silver Machine’ was a Chuck Berry number – really. I did. But in this year we’ve changed a hell of a lot. Both Simon House and Al have made a great difference. Simon now makes
the keyboards into very much a part of the Hawkwind sound, whereas before it just used to be a sort of addition.”
When I spoke to Nik Turner a while back he said that he’d like to try for a triple album this time around. Was he joking, or is it on the cards?
They both groan rather painfully. Alan: “We’re going to be really pushed just to get an album together.”
Simon: “Oh dear. Well he probably wasn’t joking but – you know Nik. He’s the ultimate hippy, what can I say? No, it won’t. There’s no way it’ll even be a double album…the way things are going it might even end up as an EP.”
A Plastic Fragment Hawkwind Press Cutting