“If you look at the whole of that so-called ‘Industrial’ scene from Cabaret Voltaire to Marilyn Manson, the band with the most far reaching influence wouldn’t be Throbbing Gristle, but… Hawkwind!
This is something that they rarely mention in the press, as Hawkwind have this reputation as a British ‘hippie band’ who do ‘science fiction’ and theatrics, and therefore must be naff.
Whereas if they were a German hippie band… Zoviet France have told me they were very keen on Hawkwind. SPK were well into Hawkwind back in Australia. And what are Graeme Revell (SPK) and Brian Williams (SPK, Lustmord) doing nowadays? Making soundtracks for science fiction films – I rest my case!
I think it’s about time Hawkwind were reassessed. I have long been tired of those outfits who cite influences no-one has heard of, or can stand listening to. Back in the early 70s, Hawkwind were the first band I was aware of to popularise the idea of sonic attack – infra and ultra sound as a weapon. Listen to ‘Sonic Attack’ on Space Ritual. That of course has long since been taken up by that whole noise scene, but Hawkwind were rarely acknowledged.
If you look at the ‘information war’ thing, you’ll notice that Hawkwind had the post-modern writers, Michael Moorcock and Bob Calvert working with them. Though Moorcock is best known for his very popular science fiction and fantasy genre work, it’s more accurate to call him a postmodernist or at least a modernist. Moorcock pointed many in the direction of William Burroughs and J.G. Ballard and – stone me, he even wrote for Re/Search.
When Hawkwind’s ‘In Search of Space’ came out in the early 70s, it came with a booklet of very similar material to what the London Psychogeographical Association, The Association of Autonomous Astronauts, Iain Sinclair, and Tom Vague have been doing more recently. Whenever I used to see Psychic TV, I thought ‘Hawkwind’. Whenever I saw Throbbing Gristle I thought ‘Hawkwind without the lights…and without the tunes’. That combat clothing thing – Hawkwind!
Which brings me to the point that I would definitely question the history of punk rock and weirdy music that overlaps it – that media hacks have tended to spout. I remember that, apart from media darlings the Sex Pistols, the DIY punk scene in early 70s Britain seemed to be much inspired by the efforts of Hawkwind, the Edgar Broughton Band, the Pink Fairies and even Gong – and the context of the free festivals: Free festival – a self-organising proletarian cultural gathering often involving a bit of a knees up and maybe a punch up with the coppers.
See also ‘rave’. Brian Eno, for example used to hang out with the Pink Fairies. The whole set-up and costuming of Roxy Music was a direct crib off Hawkwind. AMM – my arse! Eno’s a popularist, otherwise why’s he working with U2? In 1972 Hawkwind followed up ‘Silver Machine’ – a million selling hit about a time travel machine built by the pataphysicist Alfred Jarry – with the single ‘Urban Guerrilla’. It was pulled by the record company because of fears about an IRA bombing campaign in London at the time. They later re-recorded it with Johnny Rotten.
Joe Strummer’s 101ers and The Stranglers used to play on the same bill as Hawkwind in the free festival days, pre 1976. In interviews at the time, Strummer cited Hawkwind as an influence on The Clash’s first album. Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks admitted he spent a lot of his youth listening to ‘Space Ritual’ and derived a lot of his musical direction from it.
And of course Lemmy of Motorhead used to play bass in Hawkwind. I went to see Sun Ra and his Arkestra once, and I got bored after 20 minutes of that jazz shite and went home. I’ve seen Hawkwind loads of times and they rock!”
Having said that, I had the misfortune of seeing Hawkwind once at the St.Albans Civic Centre circa 1987 and they were shite.