Hawkwind

ARTICLE ABOUT Hawkwind FROM SOUNDS, September 23, 1972

This band is quite fascinating because they are so different to all the rest. They really struggle with their new-found success in this interview and you get the impression that they are torn between the need for commerciality and a wish for something more anarchistic.
So here we go with this one – enjoy!

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In search of Hawkwind

Interview by Steve Peacock

So how did you feel when that friendly bunch of freaks, the ones you always liked to go and see when you got really out of it, are at number two in the singles chart? “Was I tripping or did I really see Hawkwind on Top Of The Pops?” someone wrote to us, and a lot of people were similarly astonished.

MURIBLING

But not Dave Brock. “It didn`t surprise us man, we knew it was going to be a hit.”
How? “Well, we just did; we know what we`re doing, see. At least, I knew it would get to number five or seven, but I was surprised when it got to number two.”
Outside the farmhouse the sun`s shining, down the lane in a converted cowshed someone`s overdubbing a track on the album they`re recording, in the rest of the house people are sleeping and falling about, and Dave Brock has reluctantly given up the idea of catching a pony and going riding to talk to “The man who gave Hawkwind a bad review at bickershaw”.
As we talk, the room begins to fill up with other people from Hawkwind and the people who surround them, all joining in, the interview getting more and more confused. Some of the things I attribute to Dave may have been said by someone else, but trying to sort out a tape of about ten different voices, all mumbling at once ain`t easy.
It`s Thursday, and they`ve been down at Rockfield since Monday, recording since Tuesday afternoon. “We`ve got enough down for two albums in fact, because it`s so nice down here. All the basic stuff`s done; we recorded bass, guitar, drums and vocals together, so it`s as live as it can be, and then we put on the other things afterwards. There`s just some sax and vocal to do now.”
Pretty fast for two albums. “Well, it`s easy for us to do – we don`t have any hang-ups. If you record in town you`ve got all that going on as well, and you have to go into the studio at a certain time, but down here it`s the country and you can just loon around and have a good time, it`s a nice farm, nice people who`re where we are, no difference, and we can relax.

CRAZY

“We just let the tapes run and play like we do when we`re playing live; do a three-hour track and then cut it up into pieces, use one piece as a complete section, and join it up to another piece with a synthesiser link or something. It doesn`t matter to us about doing tracks to a certain length or anything, we just do it.
“It`s improvised, but it`s together in the first place, that`s why we do it the way we do because the three of us know what we`re doing, so we put that down and then if the others don`t know it they can listen to what we`ve done, get some ideas, and lay their bits down afterwards.”
The thing about Hawkwind is that you feel they are, and always have been, the kind of crazy band that they`d like to go and see themselves if they were going out for a good time. You can imagine any one of them turning up in the audience of a Hawkwind gig and really getting off. They grew out of the street community of Notting Hill Gate, and despite all that`s happened, they still feel part of that community.

MARKET

“See, what we`d eventually like to get together would be the kind of scene they originally had at the Roundhouse and places, where wherever we go to play there`d be this big thing, like a market place, so everyone in the area who`s into selling things could have a stall, and you`d have a complete environment, music, lights, food, stalls, art exhibitions, whatever people wanted. That`s what was supposed to happen with the Roundhouse things and others, but then people started to realise they could make vast sums of money out of it, so it didn`t.
“We`ve been through so many bad scenes with benefits too, so now if we do a benefit we run it ourselves, like we run most of our gigs, so we know exactly where the money goes. And then we get accused of selling out or something because we won`t do all the benefits we`re asked to do, but people don`t think about all the bad scenes you`ve been through with people milking money out of you.”
Strangely, the question of bread keeps cropping up when you`re talking with Hawkwind; not, I hasten to add, because they`re obsessed with country mansions and fast cars, but because they need a lot just to keep going, to help projects they believe in, and to equip themselves so they can create the right environment for their gigs. They resent strongly any implication that they`re involved with the music business: we were talking about the way they`d grown out of one community and, by becoming more successful and popular over the country, must have got involved more in the business.
“Ah, that`s where you`re wrong; we`re not involved in the music business at all. We`re still doing exactly the same things, seeing the same people, still living round the Gate, our friends are still the same people they always were. There`s so much shit involved in the music business that none of us want to be involved at all; we`re on the fringes, like having a record contract, but only as long as we can do what we want to do.”
Fine words, but a lot of bands say those kind of things and find it impossible to act them out. Was it possible?

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STARVED

“Surely it is. Everywhere we go we can create our own environment, and people can come and get turned on by what we stand for and by what we do. Most of the places we play, we hire the halls, and run the gig ourselves, and the thing we usually get is local councils and commissionaires and people putting a block on us doing things, like getting that market scene together or having a light show. They want us to have the hall lights up all the time and things, but that only causes bad scenes. What they don`t realise is that people will co-operate with us, because we`re into the same things they`re into but they resent them trying to impose their authority.
“Lots of bands could do the same things as us, but very few people want to – they start off saying they want to but they somehow, er, go astray. You just know how to get it together and set up the right situation.”
How had they managed to get to that point? “We starved, that`s how. You just keep on going and going until you`re skint, and then you start thinking you`ll give it up as a bad job, but you don`t and you keep going because eventually you know it`ll all slot into place and something will get together. You just keep steering the ship, and I think if we keep steering it in the direction we`re going we could do some really nice things, revolutionise a few things, without a doubt.”
The next big project will be the long-awaited Space Opera tour, due on the road in November. “It`s coming along slowly, but there`s so much work, really a lot, and you just don`t realise how much there is until you start. Our normal number of people on the road is 16, but with this we`ll need 24, and they all have things to do and they`ve all got to be paid. When I see it all written down, I tend to freak out, because apart from all that we`ve got to get it all together musically too.

STRANGE

“If we can get it done in time, all the speakers we`ve got at the moment will be done away with and replaced with new ones, all ridiculous shapes and sizes. We`re going to have them all directional, with lights inside them, and have a 360 degrees sound system, like the Pink Floyd use.”
Meanwhile the strangeness continues because however much they try to carry on as if nothing had happened, things are different for Hawkwind now. It shows on gigs, where the pulling power of a band with a hit single means they can`t play the small places they used to, and even when they play the big places, they sell out.
“It`s a bit of a drag because all the heads who used to come and see us usually turn up late, because they`re completely out of it, and of course now they can`t get in. It`s good in a way too, because the average age of our audience has dropped to 14 or 15 or something, and they probably get turned on to new things when they come to one of our gigs, see things a bit differently maybe, but we get really pissed off about the people who can`t get in.”

RIOTS?

If they`d seen what was going to happen with the single, so clearly didn`t they see that problem coming as well? “Well, no. Not as much as it has. I mean there`ve been some really bad scenes, riots almost. Like when we played at Croydon, that was really silly – 1,500 people got turned away, and the alley where they got in was packed with people and they started freaking out, hitting each other, chicks with broken noses and cars getting turned over – really bad, you know?
“And there`s not much you can do about it except play in bigger and bigger places, but that`s all right if we keep the prices down and make sure we can create our own scene there.”
And will they be releasing another single?
“No.”
Never?
“Ah. Well not yet, not `till the time is right again. Not ever yet.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: John Kay (Steppenwolf), Sandy Denny, Head, Hands and Feet, Maggie Bell, Ten Years After, Manassas, Frank Zappa, Rick Nelson, Barry Dransfield, Andy Brown, Carly Simon.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

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ARTICLE ABOUT Lemmy (Hawkwind) FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, February 8, 1975

This is quite special – to read an interview with Lemmy before he started his own band. Only a few months later he would be fired from Hawkwind and we all know what happened thereafter. Rarely does a member from a band go out and start a bigger band than the one that he/she was originally with, but Lemmy did it. He and…Joan Jett? Who else? Anyone?

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“Knock knock!”
“Who`s there?”
“Lemmy”
“Lemmy who?”
“Lemmy in or I`ll kick yer door down!”

A Feature Profile on H. Wind`s Spaceman Bassman, supported by occasional out-of-context quotes provided by the Interviewee

By Tony Tyler
Pic: Pennie Smith
Harley-Davidson: Lemmy`s mate

Lemmy`s real name is Ian Kilmister but “Lemmy” sounds a good deal heavier. And if you remember the BBC`s “Journey Into Space”, you might just recall that the original Big L was the sidekick of one Jet Morgan, urbane spaceman for the airwaves of fifties Britain.
Now Jet Morgan`s Lemmy was a sort of 21st Century Tonto, the Sancho Panza of the Spaceways. He was a cheerful syncophant and a boy wonder at fixing meteorite patches. However, unlike his earlier namesake, Lemmy the Bass sports no visual anonymity to mask his image. For Lemmy, Image is just about everything he`s got (and I`m assuming he`s finished paying for his bass).
This single-minded concentration on a particular Image has produced some curious side-effects in Lemmy, not the least of which is his natural friendliness. Mind you, he`ll probably kill me for calling him “friendly,” because the way Lemmy sees the world, overt sympathy goes badly against the Image and is therefore unacceptable. But we`ll get to all that later.

No, there`s not been much about the music of H. Wind so far. In fact, there isn`t going to be. In fact, I`m leading up to an examination of the premise on which `Wind touts its sounds, and of the illusions under which I believe they labour – if their seemingly-menacing-but-actually-soft-as-old-roaches bassist is any guide to the rest of the group. To tell the truth, H. Wind`s music is not really my bowl of ginseng, although its remote progenitors did once have an effect upon by youthful cerebrellum, and the real reason for The Lemmy Interview is because…uh…because I`ve known him for years; and so when his name cropped up in the Great Publicity Roundup recently (not unconnected with a then-concurrent tour of Our Damaged Isle), I volunteered for the gig.
Because I felt I`d Probably Get Him to Open Up, that`s why.
And anyway, the idea of actually interviewing Lemmy seemed at once so grotesque and so appropriate that it just had to be done.

Swift resume: my first-ever view of Ian Kilmister was way back in `67 and I came with a friend to, er, score. As I recall, Lemmy wasn`t holding any real quantity but we skinned up anyway; and so my first recollections of the lad involve incense, exotic cheroots, the Beck “Truth” LP and Lemmy (who even then had a decidedly unhealthy complexion) turning green as he copped the Beck licks on a battered Strat, a joint like a 105mm cannon traversing from side to side of his trap.
Those were the days of the Rockin` Vicars, I guess – a saga that`ll have to wait.
At all events, one collided with one spasmodically over the next few years until Lemmy announced that he was joining a band called Hawkwind.
Hawkwind? Are they like Quintessence?
Three years passed. H. Wind began to acquire a kind of buzz that, back in `66, would have netted them some real kudos. As it was they got Stacia; and lights; and they got Underground Credibility, which says a lot for the state of U.C. in `70 or so. The music? Four hours in 4/4 with an occasional trot into 8/8 (“Because it`s there”) and little else, apart from farts from Putney synthesizers. But they began to attract Followers, notably SF novelist Michael Moorcock, the Dennis Wheatley of our Time. (Whom `Wind still take to, by the way.) Bleary-eyed, redded-out infants nodded cataleptically to the True Inheritors of Hapshash. Coloured Coat and all. And Lemmy played on.

Underground papers wrote features. One I remember was by a fresh-faced ingenue called Nick Kent and appeared in Frendz. It was of course well-written…but it was naive (and it`s been a long time since anyone used that adjective about Nicky the K.)
Other music papers wrote features. They had to, really. In `70/71 the Undergrounds were running rings around the weeklies (NME included) for depth and breadth of commitment etc – all good grassroots Wind territory. Mind you, the weeklies` articles tended towards Coy Chronologues of Chemicals Consumed, or pieces on How Hawkwind Got Busted In Guildford For The Ninety-Eight Time Last Tuesday – and NME`s Aaron Zilch Was There etc. But there actually wasn`t much to write about…hippies…dope…a few lights…tits…there was no middle ground, and The Wind were dead lucky not to be totally savaged when `72/`73 dawned and the current of critical sympathy began to run against counter-cultural dinosaurs and simplistic political theorising.
But really, all Hawkwind actually ever did was play some instruments (more or less as they`d planned to), fall about a bit and generally come off a lot less unpleasant than, say – oh, sod these perjorative asides. They got the Vote. Or enough of it.
Also, the rhythm section improved.

Ok, so that`s Hawkwind`s progress more or less encapsulated, minus that odd hit single and the gradual climb up the ladder of solvency. What about Lemmy?
Now our interview went on for a very long time, and during that session we talked a lot, mostly about politics/economics/etcetera, i.e. Lemmy`s ideas on the aforementioned. And in all that tape there seemed to be very little that broke new territory. And we hardly talked about music at all.
What actually emerged was a sort of study of one particular individual, a musician, who (I believe) actually holds opinions almost the opposite of those he believes he holds, whose philosophy of life is based on easy-to-assimilate ideograms which he knows will stay in his brain despite what else he pours in on top; and whose desperate pursuit of a tough-guy image is simultaneously comic and oddly moving.
Nonetheless, let`s kick off with a heavy quote, the kind that reveals plenty about Lemmy the Guy. Quite frankly, I couldn`t give a hoot about Lemmy the Bassist. Who needs music when your interviewee comes out with things like…

“My father was a vicar – a padre in the RAF. I last saw him on Fulham Broadway when I was 26.
“That was also the first time I`d seen him.”
Huh?
“He`d sworn to `love, honour and obey` – and when the child was a few months old, off he goes. And that`s it for 26 years!
“Now that`s the lowest kind of shit.
“Then he wrote to my mother saying `What can I do for the boy?` – pangs of remorse! Anyway, we arranged to meet – went for a  meal and talked”.
And?
“What could he do for me, he asked. Sure, he wanted to help, but only on his own terms…college…a course or something -he`d have paid, he said.
“I said `Give me five thousand pounds and get out of my life`.
“He said `What for?` I told him: to start a group. He said `No`. I walked out of the restaurant there and then. Haven`t seen him since.
“If I do I`ll break his back.”

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The point of that harrowing little tale is to perhaps draw an arrow in the direction of where Lemmy`s street-outlaw “toughness” comes from.
Yet, Lemmy, can`t you forgive the poor fart? I mean, a vicar? He must be in a much worse state.
And Lemmy duly withdraws the back-breaking “threat”, but there`s no real identification with the plight of the rockin` vicar so far as I can see. No, the padre has blown it el permanento so far as his son is concerned. And I`m not in Lemmy`s place, so I can`t argue.
Anyway, Lemmy made it, didn`t he? In music, that is. So he must have been right to walk out on his old man.
Now don`t go getting the idea that Lemmy is some kind of patho, all bitter and twisted on account of his runaway pa. On the contrary, as I`ve said above, he`s unconsciously nicer than he would probably prefer to be, quite a decent fella in fact, not stingy with his stash if you take my meaning. And he likes a nice chat does Lemmy.
Now here`s where the other worry sets in, the bit about him – and presumably, his colleagues in Britain`s Longest-lived Underground Band – not thinking his ideas through. He contradicts himself, just at the very instance when he needs to do the opposite, and though he`s an unselfconscious rapper, too often his phrases go round in circles.

What`s that got to do with the music? Plenty, I should say.
Yet he can still get to the point when he wants to (which is, as you`ll have observed, when there`s a chip on the leather shoulder.) “I got well pissed off at that piece in Melody Maker. The guy wrote in these…sounds, like `uh` and `um` that I`m supposed to make when I`m talking. Just to make me sound gormless. I don`t talk that way”. Nor does he, but he`s newly-enough come to fame (well, sort of fame) to be rather naive about journalists and journalistic techniques. In fact, for a while he was all set to have me submit this article to him for “approval” or even “a quick look”. The word “censorship” would of course quite genuinely horrify him.
Are you still with us? I mean, you might have pissed off to read the LP reviews. That`s it, be a good little consumer…meantime, my friend Lemmy and I will give you a few choice extracts from the H. Wind Lifestyle Rulebook.
Lemmy: “The main thing this generation is learning is how to be a good criminal!”

Windmanager Doug Smith: “Now hang on–”
Lemmy: “–By hangin` on to us, by lockin` us up, by fining us whatever they like for walking through the streets dressed the way we wanna look…”
Smith: “Now it`s not as bad as–”
Lemmy: “–Lockin` us up–”
Smith: “Listen Lemmy, what those kids out there” (he means Windfans) “are doing is one thing only: surviving. In a society based upon someone else`s economic planning.”
Yeah, it`s a bit like Dave Spart and his older sister Clara, but Smith, older, suaver, more cultivated and commanding and somehow not too overbearing (certainly he`s well thought-of by many folks I know) is less extreme, more reasoned, far less sloganised. And in debating the subject of economic exploitation, Smith wins – because not only has he thought about it, he does it. Every day.

It turns out that the Wind-wealth is handles thusly: each week Smith prunes off enough to float the next week and pay the wages, and the rest gets ploughed straight back in. Times are hard, and there was that enormous and spectacular Tax Bust in the States recently which could only happen to Hawkwind, when you think of it. (So carried away is Lemmy with the frankness in the room that he`s actually on the point of telling me how much his weekly wages are before Smith forestalls him.)
Let`s face it: Hawkwind are still on the road, still fielding a road crew, still giving Lemmy his wages every week so that he can go straight out and – I promised not to say. So the system works as far as they`re concerned. Outlaws?
Anyway, suffice it to say that during the three-way rap we ran the entire gamut of Cradle Thinktankery, with Lemmy`s passionate naivetes gently and almost endlessly being corrected by the careful Smith. I get the impression that Lemmy believes in Peoples` Capitalism – and can`t make it work, no way, not for him or anybody else. Whereas Smith can articulate it – and most obviously makes it work – but doesn`t hold it as an ideology, no matter what he protests.
But Lemmy`s not really interested in cash, just in what it will buy, like any other reasonably sane person. And what it buys Lemmy is a superb black leather-gubbins a la mode, with Camden Passage Nazi regalia dangling from his neck. To him, this is his Lincoln Green – the garb of the Street Outlaw.

What is an outlaw, Lemmy?
Is an Outlaw posing on a borrowed Harley for an NME front cover? (In fact, after that issue, in another part of which we mentioned that Lem`d been seen gazing hungrily into the window of the Take 6 boutique, we received a postcard from France: “Ta for the front page but watch it with the Take 6. This is a shit country. Lemmy”. But he sent it; hardly the gesture of an Ulrike Meinhof, or a Patty Hearst, hein?)
No, for Lemmy an Outlaw is still largely a Romantic Figure – and you can tell RFs by the way they dress most of all. Hence the leathers and the Iron Cross and the long lank hair, and the prized relationship with Hells Angels.
“See this?” “This” is a grimy, much-patched card, proclaiming Lemmy an Honorary Member of such-and-such a Chapter. Lemmy says, yes, he can ride a motorcycle, he just doesn`t happen to own one right now. Not yet anyway. In the meantime, he`s got all the accessories, including the cultivated air of hoodlum menace which is about as valid or as necessary as that sported by various members of Sha Na Na. Just like those guys, he doesn`t need all that jive.

But I don`t think Lemmy`ll ever be convinced. His pose, though discernable to other as such, is completely real to him. His emotional commitment to a stylistic chimaera is 100 per cent complete. And I got to say he seems no less cheerful than anybody else I know, so maybe he`s hit on something without realising it.
As I rise to leave the Urban Guerilla apologetically starts rooting through a filing cabinet. He`s looking for…a photograph! Of himself! But he can`t find it.
A week later it arrives. It`s a pic of Lemmy on a huge, huge motorcycle. You know, the one he borrowed from a friend.

Some succeeded and others never did.

Some succeeded and others never did.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Elliot Cahn (Sha Na Na), John Cale, Nick Drake, Eric Clapton, Sly Stone, Bo Diddley, Supertramp, Chick Corea.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.