Sounds – 30 November 1974
As you doubtless know, the schedule for Hawkwind’s forthcoming British tour has just been announced. It’s a massive, just about completely extensive set of gigs, taking in the big cities (naturally) as well as a large number of provincial towns (unusual).
It’s good to hear of at least one reasonably big band that still bothers to tour our country in no mean fashion.
Nik Turner, a founder member, is a positively quiet person and almost, though I hesitate to say it, laid back. Unusual for a Hawkwinder? Together with wiry, goat-like beard and hollow-looking face, he looks like a grandfather of the universe. All right perhaps more of an aging hippy.
Outside the not-so-plush walls of the Hawkwind office is a carelessly parked, not-so-clean, noticeably battered Beetle, which serves as Nik’s limo. Inside, an “In Search Of Space” album sleeve is being used as a doorstop (“and a very good doorstop it is too”) and a silver metal model of a half-wrecked spaceship lies discarded on a cabinet.
“The British tour is getting a lot of publicity,” Nik murmurs abstractly, “and it should be a nice tour. We’re only getting into playing one tour a year at the moment. In the past we used to do a lot of little tours instead of one big one.
“Still, when you work it out, we’re going to do just about the same amount of gigs that we used to — except all at once, this time”.
Which is good news.
“That’s right, yeah. There’s really a lot of British bands that don’t seem to play in Britain any more. A lot of them are concentrating on going to the States, even a lot of them are moving to the States because of the tax situation. Yeah, it’s a drag that a lot more bands aren’t touring Britain because you never see them otherwise.
“Maybe they’re trying to make a living, that’s basically where it’s at: but we like to, you know. We enjoy playing Britain best of all — maybe because it’s the only place where we seem to make any money.” Still in a lot people’s minds, I guess, is that ill-fated incident mid-way through the band’s recently-completed American tour where they had their equipment impounded. In order to sort out the whole situation the tour was delayed for a couple of weeks and it gave the band a chance to return home or, alternatively, bum around America.
Nik did the latter and went to Texas, Canada and New Mexico — he saw some friends, took photos, tried to get on an Indian reservation and went to some of the Southern States, apparently “gun law” prevails and women are still treated as second class citizens. “I had a really nice time, though,” he says.
But after that, wasn’t it a bit of a struggle to start gigging all over again?
“Going back on the road needed a bit of mental re-adjustment, but it was okay, but if things got a little slack it was hard sort of keeping into it”.
And you didn’t have your equipment taken away again?
“No, just that once,” he says as if it was an everyday occurrence. “Luckily we got it back a few days later. It didn’t really matter anyway, because at that time we didn’t have a lot of gigs on — I think we had three days off, or something like that. I think it’s more or less sorted out now, but we had to pay the US Government about 10,000 dollars to get the equipment back in the New Year.
“It should never have arisen, actually — it was something that should have been handled by our accountants in New York, they were supposed to sort all that bullshit out — but I don’t think they did somehow. I don’t really see how they could hit us for that amount of money when in fact we haven’t made any bread in the States, except maybe on our first tour, when we were financed by our record company. Maybe we broke even, I don’t really know.
“I think the US Government owe us some money, actually, but the Internal Revenue will sort that one out. We’re losing money everywhere. I think we should apply to the States for Social Security.
Enough of this. To happier things and a sneak preview of the SOUNDS poll results — Nik Turner comes in seventh in the wind instrument (British) section, and eight in the International part. How’s it feel, Nik?
“Well, that’s nice. I’m really pleased,” he says with a wonderful ring of insincerity.
“Now you’ll have to learn how to play sax,” someone interrupts.
“I think I’m going to have to start having lessons,” Nik replies. “I don’t claim to be any sort of technician. I just try to have a good time and enjoy what I’m doing with it. I don’t know if I would enjoy it so much if I was just a technician.”
Way back, when Hawkwind first started, they became very much a people’s band — whether through the media, or simply by playing a lot of free gigs, or whatever. It’s a tag that I reckon the band have clung on to, despite album successes and general acceptance. Nik agrees, after a fashion.
“Well, I don’t know if we’ve retained that tag or not. I don’t know what a ‘people’s band’ really means. I don’t think… well, I hope we haven’t lost touch with the people”.
If they have lost touch, it’s not their fault. The highest ticket price on their upcoming tour will be $1.50, and in the smaller towns it will be a lot less. They play no small amount of benefit gigs, and plan a future concert on behalf of Radical Alternatives to Prison (RAP). They also hope to do a gig or two inside jails again.
“I think we should play in Wandsworth or Wormwood Scrubs, that would be good,” Nik says.
And what of future Hawkwind plans? Well, for a start they seem to be moving away from the science fiction thing, as you may know, and into the realms of science fantasy, thanks to Michael Moorcock.
Nik envisages a rather vague path ahead, as always, but he hopes the band will build and elaborate upon the slightly uncharacteristic “Hall Of The Mountain Grill” album.
“That album was more complex, I suppose, less heavy, more sort of musical perhaps, or so I’ve heard tell. But I think that’s the influence of Simon House, both as a musician and in his personality. We’ve also been doing some work with Michael Moorcock, and he’s devised a very loose framework for a show, using some of his poetry and stuff. We hope to have Stacia saying some of it”
Moorcock, who wrote ‘Sonic Attack’, I think on the “Space Ritual’ album is an author and creator of such characters as Erekose, Corum, Dorian Hawkmoon, Elric of Melnibone, Jerry Cornelius and a host of others. A few members of Hawkwind are involved in his ‘Deep Fix’ project, which is soon to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. “Michael Moorcock’s Deep Fix” — it has a certain ring to it, don’t you know?
Meanwhile, Moorcock’s giving the band a helping hand as well. It’s hoped that something similar to the ‘Space Ritual’ will eventually evolve out of it with, once again, bits of poetry to link the various musical passages.
But we’ll have to see.
Hawkwind never get anything together and plan it. Things just happen.
Nik mulls the whole concept over. “How about a triple album for the next one?” he asks. Stoney silence.
A Plastic Fragment Hawkwind Press Cutting